Lines in the sand- Part 1 (Dedicated to the other two cross-bearing out of the box Michael's I know who helped inspire this and get me writing again)
"Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes and do not see; who have ears but do not hear. Do you fear Me? declares the Lord. Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed a boundary for the sea, an eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they will not prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it. " [Jeremiah 5:21, 22]
As the passage above makes evident, God Himself has fixed certain boundaries for the purpose of separation. At times this separation can be physical as above (although with spiritual implications) and at other times the dividing line is for a very specific purpose as in this passage in Job 1:1-6 where God allows Satan to make Job suffer but prevents him from taking his life in death. Although Satan and his demons are experts in blurring the lines that God has established; nonetheless those lines remain fixed and cannot be altered by men or demonic forces.
Throughout the scriptures we find these inpenatrable lines. For example, consider the lines God has established between;
- His people and those belonging to satan
- His kingdom and this world's evil system
- His spiritual works and man's fleshly dead works
- His Ekklesia and man's Church
- His authority and man's institutional authority
- The Christian faith and every religion of man
- His truth and man's lies
In each of these categories, there is a clear distinction between what originates with God Himself and that which derives from man. The two do not mix and cannot be brought together or into harmony. That does not mean that our adversary, his workers or even deceived Christians do not attempt to try to merge them which they often do.
The lines God has fixed are ignored and slighted by men who fail to see and hear the reasons behind why these distinctions are necessary. In their failure to fear God and His established ways these men attempt to "change" what God Himself has instituted. For example, despite men everywhere telling us we're all children of God, this is plainly not true. Until a man is born-again spiritually, God says he cannot enter nor see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3-7) Furthermore, those exempt of the Spirit of God, He who is received personally when Christ is received by faith are also none of His. (Romans 8:9) A line has been drawn by God, no?
We've also talked here about how God's Ekklesia is not synonomous with what people are calling church these days. Despite the greek word ekklesia being translated into "church" that doesn't make that translation accurate. A simple dictionary shows the two words have differing definitions. A line has been drawn between the earthly and the heavenly.
We could go on and on how mankind has minimalized or trivialized these obvious contrasts. We can and have easily proven how the authority men exercize through religious institutions is not the same thing as having God's authority, nor is it exercized in the same manner. Men utilize this authority to set up man-made religious traditions which keep God's sheep living in fear and bondage to the dictates of men and set aside God's actual commandments. Is this acceptable or commendable?
Where God has drawn a line, it may be ignored, it may be forgotten, but nonethess it still exists. To attempt to cross that line has inevitable consequences for all who participate and contribute to suppressing any of God's truths.
"But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart;and they have turned aside and departed. They do not say in their heart, "Let us now fear the Lord our God, who gives rain in its season, both the autumn rain and the spring rain, who keeps for us the appointed weeks of the harvest" [Jeremiah 5:23, 24]
It seems apparent here that the professing people of God not merely forgot about the boundaries God Himself established for them, they couldn't remain grateful for the benefit that was derived from those distinctions. For example, God repeatedly warned Israel about interacting with the nations around them. Inevitably their refusal to listen to Him led to taking upon the sinful and idolatrous practices of those other nations. It was made plain to them that such behavior would bring about a curse upon them- the exact opposite of God's blessing, part of which is described in the verse above.
Ignoring God's warnings, mixing truth with error and a lack of gratitude toward Him as their provider only led to actively living in even more sin.
"Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have withheld good from you. For wicked men are found among My people, they watch like fowlers lying in wait; they set a trap, they catch men." [Jeremiah 5:25, 26]
One inevitable result of exchanging any truth for a lie is ignoring and then abandoning the true shepherds and prophets God sent His people for their protection and well being. Without this protection and care, the void is filled by others who take advantage of the weakness of the people for their own benefit. The false shepherds and prophets know all too well how to exploit these weaknesses and simply offer to provide exactly what these weak fallen sheep desire in their sinful flesh- all in the name of God of course!
"Like a cage full of birds, so their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich. They are fat, they are sleek, they also excell in deeds of wickedness; they do not plead the cause of the orphan, that they may prosper; and they do not defend the rights of the poor" [Jeremiah 5:27, 28]
These false self-appointed leaders, like Oreb and Zeeb, and all their princes like Zeba and Zalmunna, who said, "Let us possess for ourselves the pastures of God" [Psalms 83:12]
Why did they desire to rule over God's people? It afforded them the opportunity to be recognized, to exalt themselves, to exercize authority over others and get rich in the process. They literally put themselves in the place of Christ over God's people!
The totality of what equates to the rejection of God's truth, leading, leaders and provision is summed up here:
"An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?" [Jeremiah 5:30, 31]
It isn't hard in our day to recognize the many similarities in this passage in Jeremiah 5 with what we see today in most if not every American city. The similarities are more than coincidence. Not only have the real prophets and shepherds been ousted from amongst the people, they have been replaced with the new breed of self-made prophets and apostles with their thousand dollar sleek suits and watered down crossless versions of religious ecumenical foolishness. Is not God justified when He says of such;
"Shall I not punish these people? declares the Lord, on a nation (denomination, church, household) such as this shall I not avenge Myself?" [Jeremiah 5:29]
A Christian's Response
The purpose of this writing was not merely to point out the obvious for the few who do see and hear what God is speaking to His Ekklesia. There is a fair amount of awareness as to the problems above, but sometimes we fail to grasp the deeper implications for those of us on the outside. Like many of you, I also am concerned about the rampant apostacy in our day, but much more is my concern for you. In the midst of our sorrows we need to see what our responsibilities will become as the entire religious system of men merges into one huge ecumenical conglomerate. We can witness today via the Spirit and through our various media devices that this is happening. Have we not been forewarned by God Himself?
Our first Priority
If we look back over what we deem today to be the tragic consequences of sin in our day, we ought to learn to sorrow over what makes God sorrowful- only what makes God sorrowful. We may be sad because we were forced to leave "our church," forced to "resign a position" or because we can no longer influence those people at the religious institution where we used to work. Please realize that God is not sorrowing over churches compromising or collapsing. God is not sad because one political candidate triumphed over another or because America has turned into such an immoral nation. He does not cry out and call us to do what we can to save this country or any other. He's not worried about any of these things and really has one object as the apple of His eye- Christ in you, the hope of glory.
From the very beginning our Father set out to make a name for His Son among men, to exalt Him and eventually to provide for Him a spiritual body complete with living stones for which He is Head. Despite what man has done, God's intentions have never been thwarted by man and are moving ahead according to His plan. It's up to us to work with our Father in bringing this to completion. But we must be careful how we go about this. We are not to take shortcuts. We are not to start our own fires. We are not to build for God. We must not cross His lines!
Allow God to show you what must come to pass. Use this verse to show you what will remain.
"See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, "YET ONCE MORE WILL I SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN. This expression, "Yet once more" denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." [Hebrews 12:25-27]
A line has been drawn
God's heart is with His unshakable kingdom. Sadly, many if not most of us have for years been investing in what Jesus Himself says He will shake…..and why?…..because it competes with His unshakable spiritual kingdom! Is it Jesus who builds churches out of bricks? Is it Jesus who tells men to start religious organizations to solve this worlds problems and our spiritual dilemmas? Was Jesus really behind that "ministry idea" you were so sure was His will? Would you like to know whether it was or was not? Can it be shaken? If so, it not only can be, it will be. If God is presently shaking the kingdoms of men for the purpose of their destruction, why would that sadden us? Shouldn't we rather rejoice?
The line between
Between the seen and the unseen, this is where the real battle rages. Man in his supposed ingenuity has devised all manner of solutions to the problems that plague him. Quickly forgetting that man's real dillemna is the principle of sin residing within, he has launched out and used his imaginative genius in an attempt to superimpose his own solutions upon God's own provision. The waters have become murky these days have they not?
Contrary to the complexities and confusion that derive from man's offers to help and heal, a still small voice still beckons us- come up here! Huh? How can I do that we ask? and a multitude of books, tapes and the like come from all directions. You would think the sheer amount of paper being used would convince us that something is really, really wrong.
Man's solutions keep men questioning, they keep men occupied, distracted and running. God's solution stops men in their tracks, dead.
Do you want to be useful in God's service? Die. Do you want to impact others, die. Do you want to have friends, die. Do you truly want to glorify your Lord. Die. Don't try to fix yourself. Don't attempt to be better or more faithful. Don't start a ministry. In fact, just give up trying. You'll fail anyway.
When the cross of Jesus Christ so possess you that it stops your desires, stops your every intent for God, maybe then, maybe you might become useful. The cross has one purpose and it aims to crucify you! Are you up for that? It will cut off your pride, your plans, your independence. It will cut off your desires, your dreams and most of your hopes. In fact, it will empty you of everything.
A line of overcomers
I can't speak for you, but when I read about the overcoming power of Jesus Christ Crucified it rips at my heart. On the one hand, an immense tragedy, and yet a tragedy that became the greatest of triumphs. This is the very triumph that Jesus says that we can and do share. Whether children, fathers or young men, the promise of triumph is for all in Christ Jesus. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith. [1 John 2:12-14; 5:4]
"By this we know we that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him" and does not keep His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." [1 John 2:3-6]
And how did He walk?
"For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many" [Mark 10:45]
Jesus picked up the cross, embraced that cross and died on that cross- willingly. How about you?
Draw your lines and swords
Each of us as Christians needs to decide where our lines need to be drawn. Although some lines can and do move (as when some individual is transferred from darkness to light), nevertheless they never compromise God's truths, nor do they make exceptions for others who continue to live in sin. It is a high and holy standard we are called to uphold and that in the face of every adversity, trial and adversary.
With swords drawn, cutting down the brambles and brush that would hinder us, we press on into knowing Him. Along the journey we find others on the narrow road to life- a brother in sickness, a sister in poverty, a soldier in prison. Let not that family member suffer alone. They need you as much as you need them. Never forget that.
Simple peculiar people born from above, each playing his or her part, each walking the line. The tune is being written, the chairs placed and the living stones finding their home in Him- Him alone.
Don't settle for less. If we've truly been raised in Him. then our heritage as faithful overvcomers is secure. Let's not fall short of all He's purchased for our good and His glory- let's triumph, not just in, but through the cross. Amen?
"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God" [Colossians 3:1-3]