The Way Back – Get Your Christian Life Back On Track

Take Your Life Back: How to Stop Letting the Past and Other People Control You

by Pastor Ray Patrick

Is your life spinning out of control? Is your life heading in a direction that you don’t want to go? We all have days when we feel life is out of control. Oftentimes, this happens when we allow our circumstances to dictate our thoughts and attitudes. You might say, “the economy is wreaking havoc on my business,” or “this relationship is just too far gone.” But I say, today is the day to take your life back!

You may ask how? You take your life back by choosing to take your thoughts back. Even though we live in this natural realm, as believers, we are not limited by this natural realm. We can tap into God’s power by making every thought line up with the Word of God. We don’t have to let circumstances control us. Instead, meditate on His Word and let the truth in His Word give you the strength to take your life back and set you free!

Today, It’s time to take your life back from life’s circumstances. As you take captive every thought, and boldly declare God’s promises over your life, you are setting yourself up for victory. You are positioning yourself to partake of His blessings. You are taking your life back and positioning yourself to embrace the abundant life He has prepared for you!

“…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

(2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV)

Pray With Me
Yahweh, thank You for empowering me to live in victory today. Father, I will take my life back by taking captive every thought and submitting it to You. God, help me live a life that is pleasing to You, despite the daily pressures I face today and every day, in Jesus’ Name! Amen.

https://godinterest.com/2019/09/20/the-way-back-get-your-christian-life-back-on-track/

Why do politicians take oaths they intend to break?

Bill Federer recounts importance of morality, faith in governance

Sept 20, 2019

 

Chief Justice James Kent explained in People v. Ruggles, 1811, what made oaths effective: “In Taylor’s case … the court … said, that Christianity was parcel of the law, and to cast contumelious reproaches upon it, tended to weaken the foundation of moral obligation, and the efficacy (effectiveness) of oaths.”

This view was held by President and Commander-in-Chief George Washington, who stated in his farewell address, Sept. 19, 1796: “Let it simply be asked where is the security for prosperity, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligations desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in the Courts of Justice?”

Yet this is exactly what Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James announced Sept. 17, 2014, that the U.S. Air Force oath need no longer include the mention of God.

James Kent was appointed Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court by New York Governor John Jay in 1804. At that time in early U.S. history, the New York Supreme Court was more influential than the United States Supreme Court. This was due in part because New York City had been the capital of the United States from 1785 to 1790, and it was the largest city in the nation.

From 1793 to 1798, James Kent served as the first professor of law at Columbia College in New York, which was the oldest institution on higher learning in the state, being founded in 1754 as King’s College. Kent is considered the premier jurist in the development of the legal practice in the United States, known for compiling “Commentaries on American Law,” 1826-1830.

Earlier in his career, 1796-1797, James Kent was as a member of New York’s Legislature where he opposed a regulation requiring African-Americans own property before they could vote. Kent was responsible for enunciating what would become the Cherokee doctrine, where American Indian peoples were considered sovereign nations.

After his death, James Kent was elected to the American Hall of Fame, 1900. Named for him are:

  • Kent County, Michigan
  • Kent City, Michigan
  • Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Columbia Law School’s Kent Hall
  • Chancellor Kent Professorship at Columbia Law School
  • Chancellor Kent Professorship at Yale Law School

A bronze statute of Chancellor James Kent is in the Library of Congress’ Main Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building.

Chief Justice James Kent wrote in People v. Ruggles, 1811: “In the case of Rex v. Woolston … the court said … whatever strikes at the root of Christianity, tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government. The same doctrine was laid down in the late case of The King v. Williams. … The authorities show that blasphemy against God, and contumelious reproaches and profane ridicule of Christ or the Holy Scriptures … are offenses punishable at common law … because it tends to corrupt the morals of the people, and to destroy good order. … They are treated as affecting the essential interests of civil society. … We stand equally in need, now as formerly, of all the moral discipline, and of those principles of virtue, which help to bind society together. The people of this state, in common with the people of this country , profess the general doctrines of Christianity, as the rule of their faith and practice; and to scandalize the author of these doctrines is not only, in a religious point of view, extremely impious, but, even in respect to the obligations due to society, is a gross violation of decency and good order. …”

Chief Justice Kent continued: “Nothing could be more offensive to the virtuous part of the community, or more injurious to the tender morals of the young, than to declare such profanity lawful. To use the words of one of the greatest oracles of human wisdom (Lord Bacon), ‘profane scoffing doth by little and little deface the reverence for religion;’ and who adds, in another place, ‘two principal causes have I ever known of atheism – curious controversies and profane scoffing.’ … Things which corrupt moral sentiment, as obscene actions, prints and writings, and even gross instances of seduction, have, upon the same principle, been held indictable. … The free, equal, and undisturbed, enjoyment of religious opinion … is granted … but to revile, with malicious and blasphemous contempt, the religion professed by almost the whole community, is an abuse of that right. Nor are we bound … to punish indiscriminately the like attacks upon the religion of Mahomet or of the grand Lama … for this plain reason … that we are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply ingrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those impostors. …”

Chief Justice Kent stated further: “It is sufficient that the common law checks upon words and actions, dangerous to the public welfare … whose morals have been elevated and inspired with a more enlarged benevolence, by means of the Christian religion. Though the constitution has discarded religious establishments, it does not forbid judicial cognizance of those offenses against religion and morality … punishable because they strike at the root of moral obligation, and weaken the security of the social ties. … The (New York) Constitution … declaring that ‘the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, should for ever thereafter be allowed within this state, to all mankind’ … (was) never meant to withdraw religion in general, and with it the best sanctions of moral and social obligation from all consideration and notice of the law. … To construe it as breaking down the common law barriers against licentious, wanton, and impious attacks upon Christianity itself, would be an enormous perversion of its meaning. The proviso guards the article from such dangerous latitude of construction, when it declares, the ‘the liberty of conscience hereby granted, shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness (sexual immorality). …'”

Chief Justice Kent added: “Christianity, in its enlarged sense, as a religion revealed and taught in the Bible, is not unknown to our law. The statute for preventing immorality (Laws, vol. 1. 224. R. S. 675, s. 69, et seq.) consecrates the first day of the week, as holy time, and considers the violation of it as immoral. This was only the continuation, in substance, of a law of the colony which declared, that the profanation of the Lord’s day was ‘the great scandal of the Christian faith.’ The act concerning oaths, (Laws, vol. 1. p. 405., 2 R. S. 407, s. 82) recognizes the common law mode of administering an oath, ‘by laying the hand on and kissing the Gospels. …'”

Chief Justice Kent concluded: “Surely, then, we are bound to conclude, that wicked and malicious words, writings and actions which go to vilify those Gospels, continue, as at common law, to be an offense against the public peace and safety. They are inconsistent with the reverence due to the administration of an oath, and among their other evil consequences, they tend to lessen, in the public mind, its religious sanction.”

Addressing the topic of oaths, President Calvin Coolidge told the Holy Name Society in Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 1924: “More than six centuries ago … there was much ignorance, much wickedness … the common people appeared to be sunk in hopelessness. … The speech of men was too often profane and vulgar, until the earth rang with the tumult of those who took the name of the Lord in vain. … The foundation of this day was laid in the formation of the Holy Name Society. … It sought to rededicate the minds of the people to a true conception of the sacredness of the name of the Supreme Being. It was an effort to save all reference to the Deity from curses and blasphemy, and to restore the lips of men to reverence and praise. …”

In affirmation of Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, Coolidge continued: “This is the beginning of a proper conception of ourselves, of our relationship to each other, and our relationship to our Creator. Human nature cannot develop very far without it. The mind does not unfold, the creative faculty does not mature, the spirit does not expand, save under the influence of reverence. … It is only by a correct attitude of mind begun early in youth and carried through maturity that these desired results are likely to be secured. It is along the path of reverence and obedience that the race has reached the goal of freedom, of self-government, of a higher morality, and a more abundant spiritual life. … He who gives license to his tongue only discloses the contents of his own mind. By the excess of his words he proclaims his lack of discipline. …”

Coolidge added: “The worst evil that could be inflicted upon the youth of the land would be to leave them without restraint and completely at the mercy of their own uncontrolled inclinations. Under such conditions education would be impossible, and all orderly development intellectually or morally would be hopeless. I do not need to picture the result. We know too well what weakness and depravity follow when the ordinary processes of discipline are neglected. …”

Discover more of Bill Federer’s eye-opening books and videos in the WND Superstore!

President Coolidge continued: “The very first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence asserted that they proposed ‘to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them.’ And as they closed that noble document … they again revealed what they believed to be the ultimate source of authority by stating that they were also ‘appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of’ … their ‘intentions.’ When finally our Constitution was adopted, it contained specific provision that the president and members of the Congress and of state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officials, should be qualified for the discharge of their office by oath or affirmation. By the statute law of the United States … such oaths are administered by a solemn appeal to God for help in the keeping of their covenants. …”

Coolidge added: “I scarcely need to refer to the fact that the Houses of Congress, and so as I know the state legislatures, open their daily sessions with prayer. The foundation of our independence and our Government rests upon basic religious convictions. Back of the authority of our laws is the authority of the Supreme Judge of the World, to whom we still appeal for their final justification. …”

Coolidge stated further: “All liberty is individual liberty. … The principle of equality is recognized. It follows inevitably from belief in the brotherhood of man through the fatherhood of God. When once the right of the individual to liberty and equality is admitted, there is no escape from the conclusion that he alone is entitled to the rewards of his own industry. …”

President Coolidge concluded: “It seems to me perfectly plain that the authority of law, the right to equality, liberty and property, under American institutions, have for their foundation reverence for God. If we could imagine that to be swept away, these institutions of our American government could not long survive.”

Brought to you by AmericanMinute.com.

 

Original here

VIDEO Why Is There Pain and Suffering?

By:  Jason Malec

If God is both powerful and good, why doesn’t he eliminate pain and suffering?

What is the meaning of it, Watson?” said Holmes solemnly as he laid down the paper. “What object is served by this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable. But what end? There is the great standing perennial problem to which human reason is as far from an answer as ever.Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Cardboard Box

The Universal Question

There is perhaps no greater challenge to faith than the presence of pain and suffering in the world.1 Whether theist or atheist, pain seems to be the testing lab of faith.

This question—Why is there pain and suffering in the world?—has plagued humanity since our very first thoughts about God. Even the earliest narratives of divine beings wrestle with the idea of pain and suffering.

In the Ancient Near East, three- to four-thousand-year-old Mesopotamian and Akkadian stories provide explanations for why bad things happen in the world.2 Simply put, there are good gods, and there are bad gods. Good gods do good things in our world, and bad gods are responsible for bad things.

In Eastern theology, particularly in Confucianism, this idea is incorporated into the “yin and yang.” Just as life presents us with polar opposites that are interconnected (think “light and dark” or “hot and cold”), so too do we experience “good and bad.”

However, this says nothing about why things happen—just that they do occur.

Theodicy: The Great Problem

But when most people wonder about pain and suffering, they want to know the cause. And that cause, almost by definition, comes back to God.

In a polytheistic worldview, as noted above, pain and suffering are simply factors caused by malevolent gods. But in a monotheistic worldview, why would God allow pain and suffering?

If God is good, the thinking goes, he would eliminate pain and suffering. And if he’s powerful, he’d be able to eradicate it, right? But there is evil in the world. So either God is not loving, he is not all-powerful, or there is no God.

Philosophers and theologians call the endeavor to overcome this thought process “theodicy.”3

This conundrum has perpetually plagued believers and nonbelievers. But there are a few observations that clarify the question and even provide some explanation for pain and suffering.

Timeless Question

Regardless of when or why the question of pain and suffering is posed, one can propose that it is a problem primarily in the Christian worldview.

If God is the benevolent creator and sustainer of life depicted in Christian tradition, then he should be able and willing to eliminate our pain and suffering. He obviously does not. Consequently, Christians find this tension particularly acute and troubling.

Evangelistic atheists argue that this is the last nail in the coffin of faith: God would not allow suffering and outright evil to persist in his creation. Therefore, he cannot exist (or if he does, he lacks the characteristics of a good god).

The Morality Question

However, in order to consider something “evil” (or even bad or unnecessary), one presupposes a moral standard by which those things or experiences are deemed “evil.” In fact, evil is only such when compared to something not evil.

But if human experience is entirely random, then “good” and “bad” things are just the way things are—we cannot attribute moral weight to anything we experience. Without an Arbiter of Goodness, theists argue, there is no such thing as a “bad” experience.

An assumption that God or a god exists is implicit in this discussion. So why does God allow pain and suffering?

Reframing the Question

To answer that we must first ask, “Would a good god eliminate pain and suffering?” C. S. Lewis addressed this very question in his book The Problem of Pain.

In it, he argues that humanity desires not so much a good god, but a kind god. Kindness “cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering.” We want “not so much a Father but a grandfather in heaven.” Lewis suggests that a truly loving father “would rather see [the loved ones] suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes.”4

In other words, a good God may not eliminate pain and suffering from the world because they are used to accomplish meaningful ends.

No Pain, No Gain

In my own life, I’ve seen this principle at work. When my eldest daughter was nine weeks old, she was diagnosed with a rare lung disease, which required immediate surgery to remove the defective lung. In preparation for surgery, the doctors requested an MRI, which would enable them to operate effectively.

As you can imagine, a nine-week-old baby isn’t going to respond to instructions to lie still during a twenty-minute scan. So I had to stand over her, pressing her shoulders into a cold, hard, metal table while the machine did its noisy work.

It was a painful twenty minutes. And I could only imagine the thoughts going through Cassie’s mind: Dad, why are you doing this? You’re hurting me! Please stop!

But if I’d obeyed the look in her eyes and the message they sent—if I relieved her of the temporary pain I was causing her—she would have died within days. I knew more than Cassie did about her circumstances and desired truly good things for her, not just temporary relief or pleasure.

If God knows more about our circumstances than we do and desires good things for us, perhaps he also uses painful circumstances to better ends than we can see or imagine.

Intellectual Limits

One thing is certain: Any intellectual response to the question of pain will not make the experience go away or any easier to endure. C. S. Lewis himself quipped, “You would like to know how I behave when I am experiencing pain, not writing books about it. You need not guess for I will tell you; I am a great coward.”5

Pain and suffering, no matter how much we know about them intellectually, have a way of tapping into our very core. They expose what we’re made of in ways that other emotions do not.

Perhaps this is why Lewis, through the experience of great pain, discovered that “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.”6

A Choice

Could it be that in this way pain helps us grow—though it can be hard to see at times, even in retrospect?

No matter the reason, it seems pain and suffering are unavoidable; we seemingly have no choice in the matter. What we do control is our reaction, how we deal with our pain, and what we do with our experience.

What will you choose to do with your pain?

https://www.exploregod.com/why-is-there-pain-and-suffering

Politician Investigated For Posting Scripture

Quote from New Testament calls same-sex relationships ‘shameful’

 

Police are investigating a lawmaker in Finland for posting Bible verses on Facebook.

Päivi Räsänen, a member of parliament, was expressing criticism of the national church’s support for the LGBT agenda when she posted Romans 1:24-27.

“How can the church’s doctrinal foundation, the Bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of pride?” she wrote.

The Scripture she posted was: “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

The British multi-media group Premier reported Räsänen’s criticism of the official Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland for its support of the Helsinki LGBT Pride events in June.

ELCF, with some 3.8 million members, has declined at a rate of 1 to 2 percentage points annually.

Finnish police have begun investigating the claims of incitement against sexual and gender minorities.

Räsänen previously was in the news for her conservative views on abortion, euthanasia and marriage.

“I am not concerned on my part,” she tweeted Aug. 13, “as I trust this will not move on to the prosecutor. However, I am concerned if quoting the Bible is considered even ‘slightly’ illegal. I hope this won’t lead to self-censorship among Christians.”

She is a member of the Christian Democrats party in Finland, a minority group that holds five of the 200 seats in parliament.

The Christian Institute in the United Kingdom  noted Finland legalized same-sex marriage in 2014, but the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland still officially teaches marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“Almost 8,000 members left the church when a previous archbishop commended the same-sex marriage bill as it was passed,” the report said.

Evangelical Focus reported the ELCF, as the national church, “plays an active role in the public sphere and has the right to collect church tax from its membership that is largely secularized but contains an active minority of conservative ‘revival movements.’”

Politician investigated for posting Scripture online

The political usage of “judge not” in scripture to support abortion (or any other evil)

September 3, 2019

 

This brief article will address the wicked practice of people using God’s holy scripture to defend sin.

Here’s scripture that is so frequently wrested out of context:

Luke 6.36,37

“Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:”

For starters, I am not judging anyone, God will do all of the judging of people. I am abhorring evil & reproving the unfruitful works of darkness, (as God tells us Christians to do in scripture, as you will soon see).

I’m also telling the workers of iniquity that God offers them salvation in the risen Lord Jesus Christ by grace through faith. And I’m telling them that if He saved me in my wickedness, then He can do it for you too. If anyone hasn’t come to Him for salvation to be cleansed of their guilt, then they haven’t come to Him legitimately for salvation. We are all dead in our trespasses and sins apart from being saved, (Ephesians 2.1, Colossians 2.13).

[Moreover, if defenders of iniquity really embraced that section of scripture regarding “judge not” (as they define its meaning), then why would any abortion supporter defend the prosecution of any mother who kills one of her toddler children?

(Hypocrites of all ilk) wrest scripture out of context for their personal gain, just as false prophets do].

Why don’t these same people also reference the following scripture?

Isaiah 5.20

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

Psalm 97.10

“Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.”

Romans 12.9

“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”

Ephesians 5.11

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

Proverbs 6.16,17

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,”

Killing defenseless children is wickedness, and claiming Holy scripture as a defense to do it is extreme wickedness! It’s blasphemy against God to use His words to defend evil!

Repentance unto God is the solution to these sins, but for such people who will not repent unto the Lord Jesus Christ, terror will overwhelm them at their judgment such as they have never known.

Matthew 24.51

“And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Hebrews 10.30,31

“For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

All glory to the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

https://logosdot.wordpress.com/2019/09/03/the-political-usage-of-judge-not-in-scripture-to-support-abortion-or-any-other-evil/

https://leeposkey.wordpress.com/2019/09/03/the-political-usage-of-judge-not-in-scripture-to-support-abortion-or-any-other-evil/


Anything …With God

 

September 6, 2019 by Discerning Dad

 

How many times have you heard it said, “You can do anything you set your mind to”? As great as that sounds, there are many bothersome things with that statement, the least of which is that it is flatly wrong. When I was a young ridiculous teenager, many, many years ago, I was a Beatles fanatic. I would dream about being on stage singing “She Loves You” with thousands of girls screaming for me, and, of course, being able to perform so well. I started taking guitar lessons and was certain I would be turning heads in no time.

Then reality began to set in. After years of effort, that golden voice that resonated in the shower, that made me certain girls would be chasing me down the block when I left my house, was typically way off key when heard in the real world. Not to mention other missing traits, excellent guitar skills, superb song writing skills, rhythm…sadly the list goes on. As I got older it became clear, I will never be a Beatle. DUH! This was simply absurd, as is our propositional phrase. God had gifted those men with extraordinary abilities, and no amount of practice, money, or coaching could ever cause these abilities to inhere in me.

Yes, reality does at times stink. And, can you imagine if we could do ANYTHING we set our mind to? There have been times I’ve wished for some dreadful things. I am grateful I wasn’t able to accomplish any of them—thank God for my limitations. HUH? Yes, we are fallen creatures with the ability to do great harm. Limitations, among other things, limit the damage we can do.

The phrase “You can do anything you set your mind to” is only true for one person, really three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Only a being that possess omnipotence and complete sovereignty over all things can produce and guarantee a particular outcome. How unbelievably fortunate we are that our God possess these wonderful qualities and is also good, perfect, and without error or malice. Otherwise we would be doomed.

It’s really the word ANYTHING that kills the phrase. Still, most people, at one stage, or even several stages in their life, ask the question, what CAN I do with my life? Is it too lofty to believe that we have something special to offer? No. The Lord himself not only encourages it, but has also ordained it:

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 KJV

Aside from the fact that the works are to be good, the phrase “God hath before ordained” means that God had been intimately involved in planning our lives before we were born, and with that has instilled in us the traits necessary to achieving these plans, though we may not know it, or maybe we do? God is not limited in what he can instill in any human being, that is, within the bounds of what he has decided a human being can or can’t be.

For example, he gave David the power and skill necessary to defeat lions and bears in hand-to-hand combat. And who can forget he was given the ability to defeat Goliath. God had ordained this for David. I don’t believe anyone else could have defeated Goliath, but David. If we pause here as David is faced with the challenge of Goliath, and ask the question, what can David do with his life at this instant, we can see that God had provided the evidence David needed to make his decision. The question arises, did David have any assurance that he could do this? The obvious and typical answer is, yes, of course. David had great faith in his mighty God. This is true, but the more relevant question, is, did David believe God could and would do this through him? That is the question at the core after all, right? He knew, in the Lord, he could overcome incredible odds from his experiences fighting lions and bears. In David’s case, I would argue that he was provided sufficient reason for trusting that God would use him this way. David was keenly aware that God had been working in his life from long ago as we can see from his words in this Psalm:

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” Psalm 139:13-16 NASB

We must do away with the notion that God only started working in our lives when we got saved, when in reality He started in eternity past and continued through our birth to present day.

Furthermore, we must be aware of any unwillingness in us to do what God has prepared for us, as it was in a certain great figure from the past. Long before David, was Moses. Raised in the Pharaoh’s household, he became intimately familiar with the ways and mindset of this aristocracy. And they with him. God did not choose at random, a man to lead his people from bondage in Egypt. He purposed to use Moses and orchestrated circumstances that lead to Moses being taken from his true family and placed in the palace of Pharaoh to be reared in Egyptian culture. All this was done to prepare Moses for his future calling. Unfortunately for Moses, unlike David, when his time came, he did not greet it with open arms. He was resistant and full of excuses. He did not see himself as fitting the part. He did not consider his history as being woven by the sovereign hand of God to prepare him for this day. Thankfully, God in His mercy condescended to Moses concerns, and appointed Aaron to be his mouthpiece. This is a wonderful picture of how God is willing to help us succeed in doing what he has called us to do.

One last example from the life and ministry of Paul. Being the humble guy, he was, Paul said:

“Although I myself have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee; as to zeal a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness that is in the law, found blameless.” Philippians 3:4-6 NASB

Yes, yes, he does say in the next verse that whatever things were gain, he now counts as loss, but this is meant in the sense that it is not those things that contribute to his salvation and relationship to Jesus. The things he calls out here did have value in Paul’s ministry. And the Lord is the one who sovereignly instilled them in him and did so before Paul came to know Jesus. Paul’s vast knowledge of the scriptures contributed greatly to his ability to express how Jesus fulfilled the messianic scriptures. Most Christian biblical scholars, if not all, consider Paul to be the greatest theologian that ever lived. His knowledge, under the power of the Holy Spirit, has given the Church a great understanding of the essence and power of the Gospel. This, along with his zeal for the Gospel, allowed him to spread the message to so many, in the face of great adversity. This man was well prepared beforehand by God. We can easily see how God used these divinely instilled qualities strategically for spreading the Gospel.

You may say these are lofty examples, and I’ll never be a Paul, David, or Moses, and you would be correct in saying so. God does not need you to be Paul, David, or Moses. He needs you to be you. You are at your best when you are being the person God made YOU to be. You Christian, are the missing part in someone’s life, or in some community or church. YOUR effectiveness may be on hold until YOU discover from the experiences YOU’VE had, the way YOU feel, the convictions YOU hold, the skills YOU embody, the sufferings YOU’VE endured, and even from the weaknesses YOU possess, that YOU have something precious to offer, instilled by the hand of God.

Discerning Reflection:
Think through your life experiences from as far back as you can remember, both good and bad. How did people and events affect your life? What drives you? What do you feel deeply about, and why? What things have you learned to do well? What skills have others noticed in you? Instead of just thinking about these things, write them down…it will help to paint a clearer and more useful picture.

Prayer:
Lord, help me to open my heart and mind to what you have instilled in me. Help me to understand who you have made me to be and do. Help me to let you use my life, that it may be profitable for you. Amen.

Mark DiSalvo

Guest Discerning Dad

 

Guest- Mark DiSalvo- Anything…with God

VIDEO When Sin Entered the Church, part 2

Sept 28, 2014 by John MacArthur

Acts 5.  “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.  But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?  While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own?  And after it was sold, was it not under your control?  Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart?  You have not lied to men, but to God.’  And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it.  The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.  Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.  And Peter responded to her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?’  And she said, ‘Yes, that was the price.’  Then Peter said to her, ‘Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test?  Behold, the feet of those who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.’  And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.  And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard these things.  At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico.  But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem.  And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number.”

Frankly, that seems a bizarre approach to church growth; killing people at the offering, frightening the people in the church and terrifying the people outside the church.  But as it turns out, based upon that text, that kind of divine action bringing judgment on the church, God used as a means to add more believers.  This is the first sinful event in the life of the church, the first sinful event.  In fact, it is in this text that we have the word church used for the first time in the book of Acts.  Even though the church began on the Day of Pentecost, that word, which is so familiar to us, doesn’t actually appear until the passage that I read you. 

This is not the first sin.  There was always sin from the Day of Pentecost on because though they were redeemed, they were still sinful.  Believers sin, but this is the first sin recorded in Acts.  This is the first public discipline of sin, and it all started out so wonderfully.  Jesus rose from the dead.  He spent 40 days, as the Book of Acts begins, meeting with His disciples, speaking with them of things concerning His kingdom.  Then they select somebody to take the place of Judas, a man named Matthias so the apostles, it is back to 12.  Then the Day of Pentecost comes, and the Spirit arrives.  By the work of the Spirit, by Christ through the Spirit, He literally creates His body by the Holy Spirit placing all believers into one by sharing the common life of Christ.

The church is born on the Day of Pentecost.  There are miraculous evidences that God is at work and something remarkable is happening.  Then the gospel is preached and 3,000 people believe.  First, it’s 120.  Then it’s 3,000, and then Peter preaches again and another 5,000 men.  So it’s 3, 000 men, then 5,000 men.  Add the women, add the young people to that, and the church is 20,000 or so, and it’s all flourishing, and it’s all joyful.  Chapter 4, as you remember, verses 32 to 37 ends with a look at the unity of the church, amazing unity.  They were all, according to verse 32, “one heart, one soul.”  Nobody was holding on to property that they possessed.  Not only liquid assets that they possessed, but even those assets that weren’t like houses and property, they would be willing to sell in order to provide money for needy people, so that verse 34 says, “There was not a needy person among them.”

They weren’t trying to control their giving.  They laid it as the apostles’ feet, verse 35, and let the apostles distribute the money to anyone who had need.  Well, a man came along that becomes a very important part of the Book of Acts.  His name is Joseph.  He is a Levite from Cyprus.  We know him as Barnabas because he was nicknamed “son of encouragement.”  He owned a tract of land and sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet to be distributed to the folks who had need.

Remember, there were a lot of believers in Jerusalem who had come for the feast of Pentecost from other towns around the Mediterranean, other countries.  Since this was the only church, they stayed, and there was nothing to go back to.  So they’d become a burden for the church, and they need care.  So people are literally selling their assets in order to meet the needs of those who depend on them in this situation.  Even later in the Book of Acts, Paul is going around Asia on his missionary journeys collecting money from gentile churches to give to the Jews who were still in Jerusalem. Also, I have to add the fact that when these people identify with Christ, they would have been put out of the synagogue.  Not long from now, they’ll begin to feel some serious persecution, but they would have been cut off from social life.  So these folks wouldn’t have been offered economic opportunities and jobs.  Maybe the opposite would have happened.  Some of them would have lost their families, family support, inheritances as well as jobs.

So, everything looks absolutely wonderful.  We come to the end of chapter 4 on a high point.  The gospel is being preached.  People are being converted.  Unity exists in the church, and then we hit chapter 5.  Against the background of all this wondrous work of God is this really devastating Sunday in the early church.  This, by its nature is a sin that the church has to always recognize.  It is the sin of hypocrisy.  It is blatant in this case.  It is devastating.  It is exposed.  It is exposed because the Lord exposes it.  Normally, it’s not exposed.  It normally survives for a very long time, a very long time.

In fact, in some cases, we don’t ever find out about hypocrisy.  People die as hypocrites.  Some men’s sins, the Bible says, follow after them, but some don’t.  Time and truth go hand in hand, but sometimes hypocrisy is so well-managed that we never find out.  But just to let us know that this is of dire consequences in the life of the church, this is what Paul calls the leaven that leavens the whole lump.  The Lord exposes such a sin to make us aware of its presence, and shows us how He feels about it by executing in front of the whole church the two hypocrites.

By its nature, hypocrisy is hidden.  That’s what it is.  By its nature, it’s a disguise.  It’s a mask.  It’s a rouse.  It’s covered, but Scripture is very clear on the seriousness of religious hypocrisy, spiritual hypocrisy.  Our Lord’s most strong devastating malediction that ever came out of His lips, Matthew 23, was given against the hypocrisy of the leaders of Israel.  God hates hypocrisy, even in the early years of human history. 

Go way back to the patriarchal period and look at Job, for example, and his conversation with his friends because the issue of hypocrisy comes up a lot in the Book of Job.  Job is in the time of the Pentateuch, historically, very early in redemptive history.  In Job 8:13 we read, “The hope of the hypocrite shall perish.”  In Job 13:16 we read, “A hypocrite cannot stand before God.”  In Job 15:34 we read, “The company of hypocrites shall be barren.”  Job 20:5, “The joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment.”  So way back at the very beginning of redemptive history we find out that whatever hypocrites hope for, perishes.  They cannot stand before God.  Their lives are barren, and their joy is only for a moment. 

In the New Testament, 2 Corinthians 5 the apostle Paul warns those who he says, “Boast in appearance, but not in heart.”  Hypocrisy is unmasked by our Lord again and again.  I’m not going to take the time to delve into all of the things that He said about hypocrisy, but obviously just knowing Matthew chapter 23, and being familiar with that gives you a full idea of how He viewed hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is a corrupter, and it should be exposed, and it should be judged, listen, for the sake of the hypocrite and for the sake of the church.  It needs to be addressed.  So-called churches, so-called churches today welcome piles and piles of people who make a pretense of interest in Jesus Christ and never warn them about hypocrisy.  To be called a hypocrite, to be warned about a being a hypocrite is very offensive, very offensive.  But we have to do that for the sake of the hypocrite who needs to be exposed for his own sake and the sake of the church.  It needs to have the hypocrite exposed for its own health sake. 

But again, churches that are that direct and that concerned about hypocrisy and that targeted at genuine conversion, genuine sanctification, genuine godliness are not the norm today.  They’re just not.  The idea today is to make everybody feel comfortable and to welcome people who have a nominal or superficial interest in Jesus, but that’s not God’s attitude towards hypocrisy. 

His church is a gathering of truly redeemed people, and He is not eager to have hypocrites hiding in it.  That, in fact, is a work of Satan.  Jesus said, “An enemy sows tares among the wheat,” and the enemy is Satan who sows the hypocrites among the genuine.  This literally sucks the power out of the church, corrupts the unity of the church, devastates the testimony of the church, confusing the world.  Having superficially committed people in the church is not helpful.  They may feel good about it, but it doesn’t help the church.  It doesn’t help them, and it doesn’t advance the gospel effectively because it confuses people as to what a Christian really is, at least those who know the truth about those hypocrites.

So against that beautiful backdrop is the reality that Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 13 that when the wheat begins to grow, the enemy will sow tares and those are the hypocrites.  Here, we have a perfect illustration of the fulfillment of Matthew 13, Matthew 13.  This sin is a sin that needs to be recognized.  There are sins that are easy to recognize.  They are overt.  They are manifest.  They are experiential.  But what you can see is not nearly as dangerous as what you can’t see.  And this is the kind of thing that literally sucks the very power and testimony out of the church because, by design, it intends to be invisible.

Now, as we look at this account of this sin, we’ll just give you four little titles.  First of all, sinful pretense, sinful pretense.  “But a man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property and kept back some of the price for himself with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.” 

The little word “but” is there.  We know something is up.  Against this beautiful backdrop of verses 32 to 37, and you could even go back to verse 31.  They had all been filled with the Holy Spirit.  They were speaking the Word of God with boldness.  There was all this wonderful unity, one heart, one soul, all this love, sacrifice, giving, all this trust in the apostles.  Against the beauty of this background is the word “but,” “but.”  A word of failure, a sad word.  This is the word that signals evil.  Two members of that church, two of those believers, and they are professed believers, and I think it’s fair to say they are very likely believers because there don’t appear to be in this congregation folks whose faith is called into question.  Why do I say that?  Because they were all, all continuing in the apostles’ doctrine, prayers, fellowship, breaking of bread.  They were all, verse 31 of chapter 4, “Filled with the Holy Spirit.” 

So these wouldn’t be false Christians at this early point, but these would be hypocritical believers, hypocritical believers.  Two believers caught up in pride are the first hypocrites who are identified in the church.  Ananias’ name means “the Lord is gracious” and Sapphira’s name means “sapphire, beautiful, jewel.”  The deed is anything but gracious and anything but beautiful.  They are believers.  You say, “Well, wait a minute.  This kind of severe discipline against believers?”  Absolutely.  According to 1 Corinthians 11:30-32 there were actual true believers that God was killing at the Lord’s Table.  “Some of you are weak and some of you are sick, and some of you – ” what? “ – sleep.”  You’re dead because of how you desecrate the My table.  Some of you, some of you. 

“Among believers – ” 1 John 5:16, “ – there is a sin unto death.”  So this is that kind of situation.  You have sinning believers, and their sin is this hypocritical pretense that begins to unfold in verse 2.  This piece of property that they sell brings a certain price, but they kept back some of the price, both of them agreeing, and they brought only a portion of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 

Obviously, they had publicly declared they were going to give it all.  That was what others were doing.  That is what we see being illustrated.  For example, back in chapter 4, verse 34.  If there was someone who owned land or houses, they would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet.  Then there was Barnabas who did that, owned a tract of land, sold it, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.  Now, obviously, there’s gratitude.  There’s affection.  There’s love.  There’s honor.  There’s praise being heaped on the people making the sacrifice, and Ananias and Sapphira want to get in on this.  So they decide they’re going to sell a piece of property, and they make a public declaration that they’re going to give all the proceeds, that it’s all going to go for God, but this is a complete pretense.  They are like Pharisees, Matthew 6, “Doing their alms before men,” to be seen.

But nonetheless, they sell a piece of property, as the others had done.  They show up and they lay an amount of money at the apostles’ feet minus what they had kept back for themselves.  The sin is not that they didn’t give everything.  That’s not the sin.  You don’t have to give everything.  In fact, they weren’t commanded to give anything.  God didn’t command them to sell their house, sell their land.  God never demanded that.  The selling was voluntary.  The sin was not that they kept back some of the price, that they could sell the land if they wanted and keep some of the price.  They could sell the house and keep some of the price.  It’s not a sin.  It’s not a sin to keep it, not a sin to sell it and keep some of the price.  It is a sin to lie about it.  That’s the hypocrisy.  They had vowed to the Holy Spirit to give everything, and this was a pretense before the congregation and before the apostles while they were secretly holding back some of it.

The sin is not in the selling.  The sin is not in the keeping.  The sin is in the lying.  They committed a secret sin and, of course, secret sin on earth in open scandal in heaven because you can’t hide it.  They wanted spiritual status.  They wanted to be elevated.  They wanted to be exalted.  They wanted to be honored and appreciated as others who had done this.  They sought prestige.  They wanted to be thought of as great and godly and generous and sacrificial, but they weren’t willing to give up everything.  They just wanted to appear to be giving up everything. 

So they made a pretense of giving it all.  The lie was simply the vehicle that their greed used to gain their ends.  The sin is the sin of hypocrisy.  It’s a dirty sin.  It’s trying to create the impression you’re something you’re not.  You’re doing something you’re not, you’re giving something you’re not.  Thus, did Satan move from the outside persecution to the inside?  What did I tell you about persecution?  What did persecution do to the church?  Empowered the church, expanded the church.  The old saying, “The blood of the martyrs becomes the seed of the church is absolutely true.”  The more the church is persecuted, the more it flourishes.  We saw that.

So Satan was being counterproductive by persecuting the church.  He’ll do it again and he’s done it through history, but a persecuted church is a purified church, and a purified church is a powerful church and a growing church.  So Satan decides that his external work didn’t gain his end, so he goes inside the church to corrupt the church from the inside.  This sin, which God hates, is the sin of hypocrisy among believers, among believers. 

It’s not wrong not to give everything you have.  It’s not wrong to hang onto your property, to hang onto your house.  That’s a choice God allows you to make.  The Lord has given us richly all things to enjoy.  It’s just wrong to lie.  It’s wrong to create an imaginary image of yourself.  It’s wrong to be a hypocrite, and it also needs to be said that you’re lying to the Holy Spirit.  Verse 3, “Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?’”  Did you think you could fool the Holy Spirit?  This is so ugly in God’s eyes, so ugly.  To paint spiritual beauty where it doesn’t exist, to paint virtue where it doesn’t exist, but it happens in the church all the time. 

People say there’s hypocrisy in the church.  Of course there is, of course there is.  There always has been.  That’s the first sin that is recorded in the life of the church.  But you need to know God’s attitude toward that hypocrisy.  That’s why the story is here.  Yes, it’s in the church.  Yes, it’s in this church.  Yes, we’re all subject to putting on a mask of spirituality that’s not legitimate.  You just need to know God’s attitude towards hypocrisy in the church by the people of the church.  Sinning saints feigning holiness, feigning virtue, pretending godliness.  Very dishonoring to God.

So we see the sinful pretense in the first two verses.  Then we see the spiritual perception.  Spiritual perception comes quickly in verses 3 and 4.  “Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land?  While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own?  And after it was sold, was it not under your control?  Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart?  You have not lied to men, but to God.’” 

Peter immediately saw the deception.  How?  How did he know that?  I don’t think he took a look at the books, their private accounting.  I don’t think he necessarily knew whoever did the transaction or brought the property or knew the price.  I think the Holy Spirit is at work here, and he was given the ability to discern this.  This is pretty bold on Peter’s part because everything is going really well.  Peter might have said, “You know, things are going so well.  The church is booming, people are being converted.  This is a glorious time.  There’s so much love and so much unity, and we did get a lot of money from Ananias and Sapphira.  Maybe I ought to just cool my heels here a little bit.  Why do I want to make an issue out of this?  It’s better that they sold the land and we got what we got.  After all, Ananias and Sapphira are some of the wealthier people in our congregation.  We need his shackles coming in to keep the work going, and he was generous, and we want to be appreciative.”  Those are not his thoughts.  Those are the thoughts of a rationalizing compromiser. 

Ananias comes to church, and he’s ready to receive honor from the apostles for the money that he places at the apostles’ feet in verse 2, and instead after he’s deposited his money, and assuming he’s still standing there, Peter says, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?”  Whoa!  Immediate spiritual perception, immediate. 

The whole church back in 4:31 was filled with the Spirit, but here the same word filled is being used of Ananias being filled with Satan.  I don’t know all the dynamics of this.  Literally, this man opened himself up to satanic influence.  I don’t believe that Christians can be demon-possessed in the sense that demons take up a permanent residence in them, but I believe they can be demon-influenced, Satan-influenced.  The apostle Paul says, “Don’t let Satan take an advantage of us.”  The apostle Paul say, “Put on the whole armor or God because we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against – ” what? “ – principalities and powers and the rulers of spiritual darkness and wickedness in the heavenly places.”

We’re in a battle with demonic forces.  They don’t live in us because we’re the temple of the Holy Spirit, but they have influence over us.  Because of the lie and the hypocrisy, they had given place to the devil.  They had given place to the devil.  It isn’t so much that they were money lovers.  They were.  It isn’t so much that they were greedy.  It isn’t so much that they were liars.  All of that is true.  They were really glory-seekers, and that’s so ugly.  Glory-seekers pollutes the church.  Just be honest.  Just be real. 

Do you not think the Holy Spirit knows?  You open yourself up to Satan’s influence.  That would be the last thing any true believer would want, right?  I mean we don’t want to open ourselves up to the influence of Satan.  That’s what hypocrisy does.  So we see the sinful pretense and the spiritual perception of the apostle who nails it while a man is still standing there just having put the money on the altar.  Thirdly, come swift punishment, very swift.  God moves fast to perform surgery. Cut out the hypocritical cancer from this beautiful creation, the body of Christ.  The judgment is swift.  The judgment is terminal. 

Peter says, “Look, you didn’t have to give it.  While it remained unsold, it was yours.  You didn’t have to give all of it.  Even after it was sold, it was under your control.  You could do what you want.  Why have you conceived this deed of lying that you’re giving it all when you’re not?  You have not lied to men, but to God.”  This is so corrupting in the church.  Hypocrisy, spiritual hypocrisy is so corrupting in the church that God’s action is shockingly swift.  “And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last.”  He died on the spot.  What an amazing moment in the church.

What killed him?  Well, you remember reading from the twelfth chapter of Acts how God struck another man, and he was eaten by worms and died who usurped undue glory to himself.  What killed Ananias?  We don’t have any clinical report.  We have no idea.  There’s an old record, kind of interesting in English history that says, “One day, Edward I,” the king who was a fierce guy, “blazed in such anger at the dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London that the man dropped dead on the spot of fear, under the sheer power of the verbal barrage from Edward I.”  I don’t know how true that is, but it is true that there can be literally such an overwhelming terror that grips the heart. 

Just imagine Ananias comes.  He’s all decked out.  Sapphira’s not there.  She needs three more hours to do her hair.  She doesn’t show up for three hours.  He’s there.  He’s ready for his big moment.  He walks up, lays down his money.  Peter says, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?  You blatant Satan-influenced liar,” in front of the whole church.  His conscience went into immediate tremors.  His heart surely began to beat fiercely as he was trapped in the horrors of his hypocrisy.

You could say he died of a ruptured heart, or you could say God killed him, but whatever happened, no doubt he was so literally terrified of that moment that he must have been horror-stricken.  When that killed him or God added to that, I don’t know.  He came up for glory and he was stunned at what faced him.  Burial, as you know from Lazarus, was immediate in Israel.  So the young men got up and covered him up.  They went up and put some kind of cloth on the dead man lying in the front of wherever they were meeting there, and carried him out and buried him.

Burial was immediate in Palestine, immediate.  No embalming.  We saw that, right?  Just to review that.  Burial was immediate.  The body begins to decay and rigor mortis sets in.  You know the whole process.  So the burial is right then.  That’s the perfect illustration of how the Jews dealt with dead bodies.  The young men take him out to wherever the appropriate place was, and they bury him.  This takes three hours.  There elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in not knowing what had happened.

As I’ve often said, this proves that church services should be at least three hours long and maybe even longer.  They should be at least long enough for people to fall out of the window, break their neck and die, be raised from the dead, come back, and hear the rest of the sermon as we’ll find out later in the Book of Acts with Eutychus.   

She comes to church, puffing up her hair.  All excited to get a little of the glory because by now it’s rippled through the crowd.  Everybody knows they’ve given the gift.  She’s coming in.  It’s all theater for her.  She walks in.  Peter responded to her.  “’Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?’  She said, ‘Yes, that was the price.’  Peter said to her, ‘Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test?  Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they’ll carry you out as well.’  And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and carried her out and buried her beside her husband.”

Why would it take three hours to do that?  Because burials always had to take place outside the city because grave sites, caves, places of burial were never inside the city.  Notice the question in verse 9.  Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test?  Are you trying to see if the Holy Spirit can spot hypocrisy?  Is that the test?  Is that what you’re doing?  Do you think you can deceive the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God?”

What folly.  What stupidity.  It wasn’t as if there was any question about the Holy Spirit being present.  This isn’t now where we don’t see manifestations of the Holy Spirit that are visual; but from the very beginning on the Day of Pentecost, when the Spirit of God came, there were visible manifestations of the Spirit’s power.  Languages were being spoken people didn’t know.  There was a loud noise like a mighty rushing wind.  There were tremors.  There were all kinds of phenomenon going on, and then there were miraculous signs and wonders being done at the hands of the apostles.  Miracles were flourishing in the early church, and it was very clear that the Holy Spirit was present and powerful.

The question says, “How ridiculous are you?  How stupid are you?  Do you not know that the Holy Spirit is present?  Do you think you need to give Him a test to see if He can spot a hypocrite?”  So she fell at his feet, Peter’s feet, just like her husband had fallen at Peter’s feet.  It all happens in the same spot.  Ananias comes, puts the money down, falls over dead.  Haul him out.  She comes to Peters, falls over dead.  They haul her out.  Right where the money was laid.  Ah, it’s just a stunning Sunday in an otherwise glorious beginning in the life of the church.

Somebody might look at this and say, “Well, this is the end.  I mean this is the end.  There’s no hope for that church.  People are going to run like mad.  They’re going to flee.”  I remember when I first came to Grace Church, I’d never heard of a church, never through all my years as a student, through all of the times that I grew up in my dad’s church and knew lots of churches and pastors.  Through all of my seminary days, I’d never heard of any church that did discipline like Matthew 18.

If a brother sins, go to him, confront him.  If he repents, you’ve gained your brother.  If he doesn’t, take two or three witnesses, confront him again.  If he repents, you’ve gained your brother.  If he doesn’t repent, tell the church, tell the whole church to go confront him.  If he still doesn’t repent, put him out and treat him like an outcast, a tax collector because you treat him like an unbeliever because he’s acting like an unbeliever.  Get him out because as 1 Corinthians 5 says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”  That’s the first instruction in the entire New Testament given to the church. 

It’s in Matthew chapter 18.  The church is first time mentioned in 16.  The first instruction to the church is to confront sin in the church.  I had never ever heard of a church that did that, never, no church.  Nobody suggested that in any course I had in seminary.  So I came here, and I’m looking at the Bible, and I’m saying, “Why don’t people do this because it’s clear?”  So I asked some older, wiser pastors.  I said, “Why don’t you do this?”  “Well, people will leave.  It will drive them out.  You can’t do that.  You can’t confront sin.  People will run.  You’ll frighten them away, and who are we to sit in judgment.” 

I would answer by saying, “But what do you do with the passage?  What do you do with this?  You just ignore it?”  So I was warned that if you do that, you’ll destroy your ministry and you’ll be out of there.  But really I was hoping to get better advice than that, so I did what the Bible said and guess what?  People didn’t run away.  They ran toward us, and they’re still running toward us because the Lord wants a pure church, and the Lord blesses a pure church.  True believers want a pure church, and the Lord adds to a pure church. 

This is the most critical lesson of church disciple in the Book of Acts because this is before anything is actually implemented and God does the whole thing.  This is 1 Peter 4:17, “Judgment must begin at the house of God.”  This is where judgment begins.  The Lord was saying, “I am dead serious about my church.  I’m not playing church.”  I’m dead serious about my church. 

That leaves the fourth principle, the sinful pretense followed by the spiritual perception of Peter led to swift punishment and that produced a solemn purging, a solemn purging.  The end of verse 5, “Great fear came over all who heard of it.”  Great fear.  Fear of whom?  Guess.  Fear of God, fear of God, great fear.  Verse 11, “Great fear came over the whole church and over all who heard these things.”  Twice, same thing.  Verse 5, second half, verse 11.  This is a holy terror, holy fear. 

The Lord is serious about the church.  What do we draw out of this?  God hates the sins of the saints.  They corrupt His church.  God hates hypocrisy.  God hates lying.  God punishes sin.  People died in the early church and people died at the Communion table.  There was a sin unto death.  Purity is critical to the church, and critical to the power of the church and the testimony of the church.  Now, we’re not perfect people, but we don’t want to hide hypocrites, and we don’t want to be hypocrites. 

I don’t know.  If you come up to me and you tell me, “Here’s who I am spiritually,” I’m going to have to take you at face value, but I don’t have any apostolic revelation.  I don’t have any insight.  I promise you I’m not going to judge you.  I don’t have any secret knowledge.  I have no more access to the mind of God than you do.  All I know about God is revealed to me in His Word.  Okay, I don’t have any secret knowledge, so I don’t want you to worry when you come up to me that I’ve got some kind of spiritual radar that’s seeing the real you.  I don’t have that.  I’d like to have it, but that would really be devastating.

I will take you at face value, but I will do this.  I will pray that God will reveal hypocrites.  I will pray that God will reveal hypocrites for their sake and for His church’s sake, and for the sake of the world that is watching us. 

Solemn purging, the Lord will do some of that.  The Lord will reveal some hypocrisy.  The Lord will uncover sin, and we have to be involved in that.  If your brother sins – what?  Go to him, take two or three witnesses, tell the church, pursue purity in the church.  Did it destroy the church?  No.  Verse 12, “At the hands of the apostles, many signs and wonders were taking place among the people.”  Then parenthetically, we read this: “And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico.”  There they are back in that place that we saw Peter with them in chapter 3 and back in the very place in John 10. They’re all back in one accord.   

Somebody said this is where Hondas are first mentioned in the Bible, but that is not accurate.  If you don’t know what I mean by that, you’ll figure it out.  They were all in one accord.  It is a moan.  It’s worthy of a moan.  I understand, yeah. 

But I just want you to know that they all went back to the same unity that they had back in verse 32.  After the sin was dealt with, the corruption was removed, the hypocrites were dead; they were back to where they were before.  The signs and wonders take place.  They’re all unified again.  Verse 13, “But none of the rest dated to associate with them.”  Is that good?  That’s kind of contrary to church growth strategy isn’t it? 

The whole idea was that the Lord was designing a church that non-believers would not want to belong to.  I don’t know how to say that more clearly.  The Lord had designed a church that non-believers would not want to belong to because it’s so pursuing purity.  It’s a place of judgment on sin.  It’s a place of confrontation of sin that we all desire because we have holy affections and divine aspirations, and we want to honor the Christ we love and glorify Him.  But it can’t be a place where non-believers are comfortable.  None of the rest dared to associate with them.  They didn’t have a church growth strategy.  They didn’t have any model to follow.  The pastoral epistles hadn’t been written yet. 

God was designing the church His way and His way was to frighten non-believers as well as to frighten believers.  However, the people held them in high esteem.  Ah, now that does matter.  The people held them in high esteem.  They had immense respect for their purity and their morality and their virtue.  That’s what we want.  We want the world to see our unity.  We want the world to see our purity.  We want the world to see that we are a group of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who confess Him as Lord and Master, and we are His loving, devoted slaves.  He calls us to holiness, and we pursue that holiness.  We want heaven to come down in the church, and heaven is a place of holiness and purity.

So we want to confront sin and judge sin and remove sin and corruption and hypocrisy.  But at the same time, when the world looks at that, they don’t want to be a part of that because they don’t want the exposure.  Jesus clarified that in John 3 when He said, “Men don’t want to be exposed by the light.”  Okay?  So we understand that, but at the same time, they will respect our unity and our purity.  That’s the Lord’s design for a church, and it worked.  Verse 14, “All the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women were constantly added to their number.”  Who adds to the church?  Who does that?  The Lord.

So what do we think?  We’re going to do it by developing our own strategy.  Confronting sin, purifying the church will drive away and frighten those who love their sin.  It will make them uncomfortable, but it will attract those who hate sin, and that’s necessary to become a believer. 

This is so far away from the interest of the contemporary church of our day.  Uncalled, unfaithful pastors who try to build their churches on tolerance.  Tolerance for sin, making unbelievers feel welcome.  This is totally contrary to the very action of God Himself in the Book of Acts. 

Look at 2 Corinthians 12 for a minute.  I’ll wrap this up.  Verse 20, 2 Corinthians 12:20 Paul says, “I’m afraid that perhaps when I come – ” come back to Corinth, “ – I may find you to be not what I wish.  I may find you to be not what I wish.  Perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances.  I’m actually afraid – ” verse 21 “ – that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality, sensuality.” 

He says, “I’m afraid to come back to the church and find strife, jealousy, anger, disputes, slander, gossip, arrogance, disturbances, impurity, immorality, sensuality.”  That’s what I’m afraid of.  Verse 1 of chapter 13, “This is the third time I’m coming to you – ” and I’ll tell you this, “ – every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”  What does that mean?  When I get there, if I find this, I’m going to confront it, and I’m going to do what Matthew 18 says.  I’m going to speak, and if you don’t repent, I’m going to get two or three witnesses.  We’re going to do it by the book.  “I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well that if I come, I will not spare anyone.”

That’s a real pastor.  That’s a true shepherd.  I will not spare anyone.  I will do it by the book, by the plan that God has ordained.  So, verse 5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith.  Examine yourselves or do you not recognize this about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you unless indeed you fail the test?”  You’d better take a look at your life.  You’d better examine whether you’re a true believer or not because when I come, it’s going to be a no-nonsense approach.  I’m going to be looking to see if any of those sins are there, and if they’re there, they’re going to be confronted, and I won’t spare anybody.  I don’t care who you are.

There’s an, “I don’t care who you are” in the Ananias story because they were wealthy, just the kind of people that leaders don’t want to offend.  This is the strategy for church growth and the church grew.  Back to the book of Acts.  “The Word of God – ” verse 7, chapter 6, “ – kept spreading; and the number of the disciples – ” chapter 6, verse 7, “ – continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem and even a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.”  Chapter 8, “The crowds as one accord were given attention to what was said by Philip as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing.  More crowds, more crowds.  This in the ministry of Philip. 

Chapter 9, verse 31, “The church throughout all Judea now and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up, going on in the fear of the Lord.”  There it is.  They were going on in the fear of the Lord, the kind of fear that gripped them on that very Sunday when Ananias and Sapphira were killed.  That fear of the Lord, “And as well in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.”  This is the biblical plan for church growth.  Chapter 11, “The hand of the Lord was with them – ” verse 21, “ – and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.”  A large number.  The end of verse 24, “Considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.” 

The church just exploding and exploding and exploding off this base of purity and unity, unity and purity.  The apostle gives us a summary I think that’s really helpful.  In 2 Corinthians 11, “I wish that you would bear with me – ” verse 1 “ – in a little foolishness.  Indeed, you are bearing with me for I am jealous for you with a godly jealously.  I betrothed you to one husband so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.”  He sees this church like a pure virgin that he has sought and found to give to Christ.  “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”  This is a real pastor.  This is a sanctifying shepherd who is concerned about the purity of his people.

You can read Revelation 2 and 3 on your own and you can read the letters to the churches, and you will notice how the Lord Himself says that when a church is impure, He may come and fight against that church with the sword out of His mouth.  Where there is an impure church, judgment is hanging like Damocles sword over its head, and the Judge will come.

This is a great message for every church in every age to know and to learn, and the motivation from this is that we would be unified in our pursuit of holiness and purity and confronting sin.  At the same time, generously and graciously forgiving others as we have been forgiven by Christ.  It’s a place of the confrontation of sin, forgiveness, grace, and restoration.  That’s for another message. 

Lord, we are grateful that we are not lost in any confusion about what you desire, what you require.  You made it crystal clear how important your holiness, your character is to be upheld by the church.  You were doing this in your church through your Spirit.  This sets the standard for us.  May we never be so brash as to lower that standard.  Keep us faithful.  Keep us one.  Keep us pure.  Keep us joyful we pray in Christ’s name.  Amen.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/44-20