“Hey Jude? What is SIN, really?”

THE DOCTRINE OF SIN:

THE PURPOSE of Jude is a call for all Christians to DEFEND the Faith.

Jude is a tough, sobering, book in the Bible to read.  So get ready!

WHO WAS JUDE?

Jude 1

“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James…”

He was the brother of James, who presided at the Jerusalem Council and wrote the epistle of James, and was the half-brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3).

The Perversion within the Church

[Verse 4 ]  For certain men have crept in stealthily [gaining entrance secretly by a side door].  Their doom was predicted long ago, ungodly (impious, profane) persons who pervert the grace (the spiritual blessing and favor) of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality and disown and deny our sole Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  [AMP]

Jude talks about APOSTASY, basically a turning away from the Faith.  We learn that they are sneaky, ungodly and pervert the Grace of Jesus.  They deny that Jesus is Master and Lord.

And they stand condemned!

The media today is influencing the church.

The politically correct police are on high alert!  You can mention God as long as you don’t mention His absolute truth.  You can mention Jesus as long as He was just a good teacher.  Pastors are required to be politically correct rather than biblically correct to be accepted.  The trend in churches today is to be welcoming, but primarily affirming.  Sermons are designed to tickle the ear and not convict the heart.

God help us!

It’s sobering and it makes me sad to think of those I know who could very well fall into this category of being apostate.  Understand the APOSTASY is false teaching, its false living.  It is the Christian form of hypocrisy.  It’s saying you are a Christian but in truth, you are not.  Your action, your attitude, bear the lies that come out of your mouth.

So Jude gives a WARNING to the apostates, the enemy of the TRUE CHURCH.

He begins by giving us some examples of people who are exposed to the truth, to the grace, and totally reject it and face eternal punishment.  It truly squeezed my heart when rereading this passage of scripture because there are many I know today that could very well experience this punishment.

The LORD delivers people from bondage, but sometimes people fall back.

One Example:  God’s chosen nation (vs. 5)

[5] “Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the LORD at one time delivered His people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.” [NIV]

Jude says here that Jesus (more accurately translated LORD) saved a people in the land of Egypt.  That is the Hebrew people, the future nation of Israel.

Later, He destroyed those who rebelled and didn’t believe.

The word DESTROY literally means to abolish; to destroy completely.  [See footnote [i]]

Understand that God didn’t DESTROY the nation, but He did destroy many within the nation all because of their unbelief and disobedience.

It was continued unbelief and disobedience. 

This was an outward circumcision but not an inward circumcision of the heart.

A person can go through all the outward hoops and identifying with Jesus, but the only thing that really matters is your heart.

Does your heart belong to Him?

Are you TRUSTING Him alone to forgive you of your sin?

Are you TRUSTING Him for your SALVATION?

Are you TRUSTING Him in your life?

Are you denying Him, Master and Lord?

If your answer is “NO” to any of these questions, you fall under the same destruction.

BE WARNED!

God’s Chosen Servants–Messengers–Who were they? (vs. 6)

Judgment is coming. Hebrews 9: Jude 1:6. Acts 17: Timothy 4:8. John 12:48. Jude 1:6.

We see here that even ANGELS, heavenly beings, are subject to the great day of JUDGMENT.

Many commentators take this verse and its parallel in 2 Peter 2:4 to be a reference to the primordial fall in the bible of wicked angels under the leadership of Lucifer.  This creates somewhat of a dilemma.  Clearly, not all the dethroned angels are “cast into hell and committed to pits of DARKNESS”, reserved for judgment as Peter writes.  This same Peter says that Satan is still somewhat loose, and prowls around like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8).  

The simplest way to resolve this questioning is to take the “angels” in this passage of Jude is referenced to the Godly line of Seth in the Bible; the “sons of God.”

The Background of the “sons of God” in Genesis 6.

The angels portrayed here forsook what God ordained them to do.  They chose their own thing!  [i.e.  They became their own god.]

Numerous interpretations I have read suggested that the “sons of God” were fallen, angels who married earthly women and produced children…Giants in the land, although how “angels” could intermarry has never been explained.  Jesus clearly states that angels don’t marry (Matthew 22:30), and there’s no evidence that angels have gender or genitalia.   A few have suggested that “demon-possed men.” as an alternative theory, but this is still rather unsatisfactory, and neither of these interpretations offers anything of relevance to the historical evidence of Genesis 6.  [See footnote [ii] ].

The result was eternal punishment. 

They forsook being in God’s presence to follow their own path.

Bringing this all back to Jude, those who are APOSTATE are the ones who choose to be their own God.

I believe that the biggest ACT OF APOSTASY in our day is….you are a Christian, continuing to live like the world, or even worse than the world!  This type of SIN denies Lordship over one’s life.  It cheapens the GRACE that believers are supposed to live under.

If my understanding of the passage of Scripture is right, then that type of living is APOSTASY; to be judged by God just like the Hebrew people in the wilderness, just like the angels who denied their rightful place, just like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The LORD delivers people from bondage today as He did when the Hebrews were delivered out of Egypt from bondage.  But sometimes people fall back into bondage. We’ve all probably done this, but Jude lists some who didn’t and was punished.

  • Angels who left home.
  • People who left morality behind.

Whatever it is, God can deliver us!

BUT…but we must not turn back.

No Turning Back into our old ways will get us into trouble every time.  And for some people, it could mean eternal trouble.

GOD SAVE US!

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i]:   The word, DESTROY – Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words

Footnote [ii]:  “Who Were the Angels of Jude 6?” by Biblical Horizons (Copywrite).

Photo Images:  Google Image search.

Bible Translations used:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or as noted.

Commentary:  Restoration, Sermon by Jeff Strite, Jude 1:1-7, Sermon Central.

 

PRAYER PITFALLS

SCRIPTURE READING:  Matthew 6

Our Scripture in Matthew 6:5-8 is speaking to those who PRAY; people who take prayer seriously.

PRAYER is one of the greatest acts of the Christian believer.  It’s talking to God, whether by thought or tongue and the way a BELIEVER fellowships with God; and the one thing God desires is FELLOWSHIP with His people.

So it is essential that we PRAY and PRAY often and sharing all day long.

However, that we pray is not the concern of Jesus in this passage.  His concern is HOW WE PRAY.

It’s possible to PRAY and never be heard by God.

It’s possible to PRAY AMISS– with wrong motives and the wrong way.

Let me rephrase that in a different way.  An omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God cannot fail to know what’s going on this planet.  But when we pray with wrong motives, God chooses to ignore that prayer.

It’s possible to PRAY and to be speaking only to ourselves, to have our prayer go no higher than our own ears.  Therefore, Christ sets out to teach us the right and wrong motives for PRAYING.

  • The WRONG MOTIVE; praying to be seen by men (v. 5).

PRAYER CAN BECOME HYPOCRITICAL

A person can pray for the wrong reasons, with the wrong motives.

PRAYER is a wonderful experience, very rewarding emotionally and mentally and in having our needs met as God answers our prayer.  We can begin to LOVE PRAYING and still be praying amiss.

Praying Amiss is simply praying outside the will of God; it’s the offering of prayer but one that is done in ignorance and it’s akin to asking God to go against Himself.  For this reason alone is why at times I pray Bible verses–God’s Word for I know with confidence that I’m praying in God’s will.

And it’s easy to PRAY AMISS!

The Scripture declared that we don’t know how to PRAY as we should, hence the GIFT of the new nature and the Helper in the person of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 2:12).

So what is “Hypocrisy”?

In essence, it refers to the act of claiming to BELIEVE something but acting in a different manner.  The word is derived from the Greek term for “actor”–literally, “one who wears a mask”–in other words, someone who pretends to be what he isn’t.

The Bible calls hypocrisy a SIN.

There are TWO forms HYPOCRiSY can take:  that of professing belief in something and then acting in a manner contrary to that belief AND…that of looking down on others when we ourselves are flawed.  OUCH!  Both forms are prayer blockers!!

PRAYER can also become empty repetition.

A person can take any phrase or form of prayer and make it a meaningful experience, or make it a formal and meaningless occasion.

Every Sunday morning before our pastor gives the message, he calls the ushers forward and asks for one to PRAY for the tithes and offerings.  And that’s a good thing!  However, when it becomes just a ‘formal and meaningless occasion’ the words go unnoticed to man and to God.

Just think how often the LORD’S PRAYER is repeated from rote memory with the mind focused elsewhere.

PRAYER can become too long.

A believer can begin to feel he is heard because of “many words”.

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words”  (Matthew 6:7 – New International Version).

“Many words” OR “babbling” – 

“Babbling” in the Greek language, the word is “kenophonia”, literally, “making an empty sound” (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:16).

BABBLE sounds like Babel, the Biblical tower where everyone was talking in their own language.  Everyone was babbling without paying attention to their neighbors, like the kid who won’t stop talking about his trip to the water park three years ago.

PRAYER can become self-glorifying.

A person can begin to feel he/she must inform and convince God somehow of their great need.

PRAYER can become self-deceptive.

Christ says “when you pray”… He is referring to personal prayer.

I believe that Christ assumes that the BELIEVER does pray, and the idea conveyed is that the BELIEVER prays often.

What do I mean by PRAYING OFTEN?

The Apostle Paul tells us this about praying:  “Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thess. 5:17-16).

I don’t believe that Paul is commanding us to bow our heads, eyes-closed posture all day long.  He’s talking about an ATTITUDE of God-consciousness and God-surrender we should carry with us all the time.  That’s more than “often.”

Jesus says in His teaching that some love to PRAY, and they are the very ones who stumble in the PITFALL of praying amiss with the wrong motives.

Christ pictures TWO MEN PRAYING.

  • One man prays for other people to hear.
  • The other man prays to the Father.

The first man is a HYPOCRITE and the second man is a true son of the Father.

CLOSET PRAYERS –

Matthew 6:6 (NIV)

I have to tell you, I like The King James Version when it refers to the place Jesus says to go and pray, in your closet.  Just because it’s smaller, more private that “your room”, or “your [most] private room”.

PRAYER is God’s appointed medium through which He acts for mankind.

Sharing and talking together are the ways all people communicate, fellowship, and commune together.  This is true for most people and in my opinion, women more than men because they are just more sociable.  Don’t ask me why that is, it’s just so.

PRAYER requires our presence, sharing and talking; and God looks forward to His sons and daughters’ fellowship. their communion.

It seems as though few people take PRAYER seriously.  Prayer in many cases has become a “rabbit’s foot”–‘wishin’ and ‘hopin’ type of communication.  Therefore, if we want the BLESSINGS of God to shower upon our lives and ministries; if we want the work of God going forth in POWER and bearing fruit–we must PRAY and we must INTERCEDE in PRAYER.

Matthew 6:9 (NIV)

“This, then, is how you should pray:  “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”

Luke 18:1 (NIV)

Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them they should always pray and not give up.

PRAYER, even loving to pray, isn’t a sign that a person knows God.  The fact that a person really knows God means that he does pray.

All YAMS are sweet potatoes, but not ALL sweet potatoes are YAMS.

No matter what a person may think in their mind, if they really know God, really believe in God, they will talk to God.

There is nothing that could keep one from PRAYING,

Remember Daniel, even though he knew that if he prayed he would be thrown to the lions, he prayed.

A child of God knows God’s personality, knows Him as His Father who loves and cares for him ever so deeply.  Therefore, just as any child who truly loves his father, the BELIEVER talks, converses and shares with his/her Father not because they have to, but because they want to!  That’s what you do when you LOVE someone.

This says something to a person who prays primarily in public and prays little if any in private.  One must search the GENUINENESS OF THEIR HEART AND PROFESSION.

Jesus says that a man (or woman) who PRAYS TO BE SEEN AND HEARD by others loves to PRAY, but is a hypocrite.  Their LOVE is really for the public recognition.  Afterall, that’s what people expect from them.

The PLACES where he loves to PRAY….out in public, in the synagogue (church), in the streets (restaurants, and other public areas).

Some love to PRAY PUBLICALLY.

Their LOVE representing the group around them and vocalizing their praises and needs to God.  Some have become very charismatic and at ease with public prayer, yet they lack that essential LOVE for private prayer.  Christ calls them “hypocrites”. 

Some PRAY only in public.  They pray for their family (at meals and family prayers, usually with children); in church (when called upon); and in public (when eating in restaurants).  How destitute is the PRAYER LIFE of so many!

PRAYER is to be offered to God both in church and in public.

But PUBLIC PRAYER is to be public, not private.

Too often a person has their personal devotions when called upon to pray publically.  They have neglected their private prayers and their inner needs haven’t been met.  So when he begins to PRAY publically, he/she slips into praying for their own private prayer instead of representing the group.

Man’s ESTEEM is temporary.

The person who prays on the street corner or in the synagogue receives his reward of public recognition.  This man’s ESTEEM, this public recognition, fails at several points.

Everything passes even so quickly.  A man soon forgets and moves on to other things.

Man’s ESTEEM becomes commonplace.

Even the excellent, oratorical skilled that elicit man’s praise becomes routine and commonplace when performed day by day, Sunday after Sunday.  Soon no one acknowledges the public display.  Such abilities are merely expected and accepted, and man’s praise and recognition disappear.

Man’s ESTEEM is powerless.

It cannot answer PRAYER; it can only recognize man’s ability to put words together, to see man’s expression, fervency, and emotion.

Man’s ESTEEM can do absolutely nothing about the spiritual needs of the heart.

Let me Post Matthew 6:6 again.

 

The right motive for PRAYER is praying to be heard by God and God alone.

Our personal PRAYER LIFE is not for general consumption.  It is between me and God.

The willingness to take time to PRAY:  “When you pray”

There has to be the WILL to pray.  Every BELIEVER must take (make) time each and every day to get alone and pray.

A “CLOSET” or “PRIVATE ROOM” is a necessity!

This set-aside, private place is where a personal relationship id developed with God: a Father-son/daughter relationship is absolutely essential.

What then, when we do pray, is our motive?  Do we pray in public to be seen, heard by others?  Or do we pray in private to be in communion with our heavenly Father?

Again Jesus is talking about MOTIVE and ATTITUDE regarding PRAYER.

Are our prayers intended to be communion with God, a heart-to-HEART conversation?  It should be!

In that “closet”, at that time in your heart, you and the Father commune Father-to-child.

Know this!

That His ear is attentive and His eye sees, and in your quiet time His presence is precious!!

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SOURCES FOR THIS BLOG-POST

PHOTOS:  Google Image search.

Bible Translations:  NIV and Amplified Bibles, except where noted.

The Bread From Heaven Ministries:  “Prayer blockers – Praying amiss”

gotQuestions?org. :  “What does the Bible say about hypocrisy?”

Hypocrite@ Dictionay.com

 

 

JESUS Loving the Unlovable

REVELATION 3:19:

JESUS is talking to a church and saying,

“Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them].  So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude]”  ~ Amplified Bible.

I seldom hear about the CHASTISEMENT OF THE LORD from today’s pulpits.  In fact, I don’t remember ever hearing about God’s discipline for people in the church.  But it is an issue that all Christians should learn about, and sooner or later, most of us will probably discover what it is to be chastened of the Lord.

The Purpose for Chastening is…?  

“The Lord has chastened me sorely, but He has not given me over to death”  (Psalm 118:18).

The PURPOSE is not to destroy but to LEAD to repentance.

“…You have chastised me, and I was chastised, like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke; bring me back, that I may be restored, for You are the Lord my God.  Surely after I was turned [from You], I repented; and after I was instructed, I penitently smote my thigh.  I was ashamed, yes, even confounded, because I bore the disgrace of my youth [as a nation]”  (Jeremiah 31:18-19).

And to RESTORE God’s blessing.

“Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct,  O Lord, and teach out of Your law (Word)”  (Psalm 94:12).

I must admit, I’ve never been fond of the idea of spanking–on the receiving end, or the giving end.  Probably because as a kid I received quite a few spankings.  And by the way, hiding under my parents bed to escape punishment never worked [It doesn’t work for God either.].

Mom would have an ever-present tree switch nearby, and would shout to me in my hiding,  “If you don’t come out right now, the punishment will be much worse!”

Looking back now, I recognize that the discipline of my parents was necessary in keeping me out of trouble–and in many cases to spare me from greater pain and suffering.  Of course back in those days, because of my immaturity, that reasoning wouldn’t make sense to a youngster.

Furthermore, I realize now what my parents went through during those years.  I too experienced the same in the raising our three children– the ordeals of correcting–not because my parents dislike us, but because they love us.  I don’t think my children understood that reasoning either while growing up, but its application was the same never-the-less.

That realization reminded me of God’s word in The Letter to the Hebrews– 12:9-11:

[9]    Moreover, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we yielded [to them] and respected [them for training us]. Shall we not much more cheerfully submit to the Father of spirits and so [truly] live?

[10] For [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for only a short period of time and chastised us as seemed proper and good to them; but He disciplines us for our certain good, that we may become sharers in His own holiness.

[11] For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness–in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God]. 

God’s Word Exposes the Church’s Hypocrisy…

 “I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold or hot. Would that your were cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing, and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked”  (Revelation 3:15-17).

Though JESUS has just exposed church hypocrisy, and has implied that many are pretending to know Him, yet don’t, His reasons are not because He hates them for falling in such a state but because He deeply loves them; He wants to come into their lives.

He reminds the church that He is impartial, always consistent while confronting and discipline.  That is the way GOD treats everyone He loves when they get off course, and believe me…I have certainly gotten ‘off course’ during my 42 years of Christian Life.

Proverbs 3:11, 12:

My son, do not despise or shrink from the chastising of the Lord  [His correction by punishment or by subjection to suffering or trial]; neither be weary of or impatient about or loathe or abhor His reproof.

For whom the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.

[Other Scripture to meditate on:  Hebrews 12:5-11; Job 5:17; Psalm 39:11; Proverbs 15:10]

JESUS’ Harsh Assessment…Revelation 3:19.

His harsh assessment of this particular church wasn’t for the purpose of driving them away from Him, but rather serve to put them on notice–YOU MUST BE ZEALOUS–they must be “HOT” (verse 16) and “REPENT” [changing your mind and attitude].

God Wants What Is Best For Us–

He wants us to have SPIRITUAL LIFE, not death.  All this language, the language of LOVE;

–  it’s the treatment of LOVE

– it’s LOVE rebuking, chastising, and exhorting.

JESUS wants to see you restored.

For this very reason, He will discipline us who persist in sin; will even deal out correction if we show signs of APATHY or SPIRITUAL INDIFFERENCE.

“Spiritual Indifference”:

Indifference robs a church of its MAXIMUM WORSHIP POTENTIAL-

It shows itself through…

…NEGLECTED ATTENDANCE…PREPARATION…PARTICIPATION…

Enthusiasm to Worship King of kings, Lord of lords, the Almighty living God will be missing (Psalm 122:1).  Violation of God’s Word will rob the brethren and yourself of EDIFICATION in the body of Christ (Hebrews 5:11-12).

Our interest must increase for our worship to be a blessing– “I don’t get anything out of worship.” — Are you putting anything in?!

AGAIN, Revelation 3:19, [The New Living Bible]:

“I continually discipline and punish everyone I love, so I must punish you unless you turn from your indifference and become enthusiastic about the things of God.”

“I Hear You Knocking…”

Picture of Door by Sarah Langova
Picture of Door by Sarah Langova

Since I’m a product of the 50’s, and  remembering listening to the music of the day on my old Silvertone Radio, the Fats Domino song rang out in my ear.  Although the rest of the lyrics certainly don’t fit the topic, the title certainly does.

“I hear you knocking but you can’t come in”

Revelation 3:20:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and be [will eat] with Me.

JESUS IS THE DOOR! – John 10:7.

Restoration is Made…

What a telling image Jesus gives.  JESUS pictures Himself standing outside the DOOR of the repentive heart.

So often this famous verse is used to invite UNBELIEVERS to accept Jesus into their lives.  And of course, that is the message.  BUT the fact that He needs to ask to be let into the hearts of supposed Christians found in the church of Laodicea is a horrible assessment of their condition.

They, like the unbelievers around them, need to repent and welcome Him to come in and take control of their lives–to RESTORE the relationship they once demonstrated

Proverbs 15:10 says,  “The HEART knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.”

Psalm 39:11:  “When with rebukes You correct and chasten man for sin, You waste his beauty like a moth and what is dear to him consumes away; surely every man is a mere breath.”

Indifference Robs A Church!

Robs it of what?  Of its MAXIMUM WORSHIP  POTENTIAL.

It shows itself through neglected attendance, preparation and participation.  My ENTHUSIASM to worship will be missing (Psalm 122:1):

“I WAS glad when they said to me,  Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

Violation of God’s Word will always ROB the brethren and yourself of EDIFICATION: The meaning “edification” in the sense of “being built up, strengthened in one’s faith” [Expository Dictionary of Bible Words].

Our interest must increase for our WORSHIP to be a blessing;

“I don’t get anything out of worship.” — Are you putting anything in?!   [ [i] Referenced].

While Christ is Knocking at Our Door…(3:20)

He is directing some of us to knock at Him; “knock and it shall be opened.”

He will certainly hear our voice and open the door to us.  He will not be DEAF to our voice, nor bar the door, nor keep us standing in the hallway, nor send us empty away.

Christ’s Church When He Comes…

The body (the church) will be found in different circumstances then, as well as now, and with many kinds of knocking; yet in all, it’s the same earnest desire on His part to be let in.  He will not force the door; but still wants to be let in.

Don’t find yourselves repeating the lyrics to a song that was popular in the 50’s: “I hear you knocking, but You can’t come in!” How much you will lose out on!

In His Absence…

—  NO outward prosperity,

—  NO riches,

—  NOR numbers can compensate…

IF HE IS KEPT OUT–all is sadness, and leanness, and poverty.

IF He is admitted, ALL IS WELL…

—  HAPPY is the church where Christ is daily feasting…

—  HAPPY the soul in which He has come to live…and who, is in daily communion by Faith and ENJOY the TASTES the Bridegroom’s LOVE!.

“I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me.”

 

 

 

 Reference:  [i]  www.bibleanswer.com/indiffrn.htm

Bible Translation Used: Amplified except where noted.

 

 

“MASQUERADE” – Removing the Masks of Religion!

SCRIPTURE TEXT:

[3] “[The acts of the hypocrite’s worship are as abominable to God as if they were offered to idols.]  He who kills an ox [then] will be as guilty as if he slew and sacrificed a man; he who sacrifices a lamb or a kid, as if he broke a dog’s neck and sacrificed him; he offers a cereal offering, as if he offered swine’s blood; he who burns incense [to God], as if he blessed an idol.  [Such people] have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations;  [4] So I also will choose their delusions and mockings, and I will bring their fears upon them–because when I called, no one answered; when I spoke, they did not listen or obey.  But they did what was evil in My sight and chose that in which I did not delight”  (Isaiah 66:3-4 AMP).

Well, after a month and a half, and my last three posted blogs, I find myself in the last chapter of Isaiah.  You might be asking yourself, as I found myself asking,  ‘Why these particular verses of the last chapter?  The Religious Ways of Man?’

WITHOUT A HUMBLE SPIRIT:

ADVENT

FIRST of all, the focus is NOT on HUMILITY, or even definitions of WORSHIP, but more about “the WHY’s” of our worship; why we do the things we do.

Often over the years, I have wondered why Christian denominations practice their rituals of worship without any Biblical understanding.  Christmas Advent Candles, Lent, Ash Wednesday, Church fasting, and Communion…on the first Sunday of every month, are just some examples.

Now I’m not saying that these religious events are out-of-order in the Church, but has religion and religious acts, for the sake of ‘just doing it because of tradition become hateful and distasteful to God?  There becomes a ‘honor with lips, but the heart holds up’ (Mark 7:6) that shows up in our private and corporate ways of worship.  Now that I got that off my chest…that’s where I want to begin.

Hypocrisy is Rebuked – Isaiah 66, verse 3.

The language seems specifically chosen for the purpose of offending religion in that day, even in our day.  Strange comparisons in verse 3 indicate people’s religious sacrifices and offerings were but an external ritual.

WHAT IS HYPOCRISY IN WORSHIP ?

Lets start out with Stephen D. Renn’s Expository Dictionary of Bible Words based on the Hebrew and Greek Texts:  The Old Testament word for Hypocrisy, Hypocrite in the Hebrew Language is haneph [Strong, 2611]. 

The noun occurs thirteen times and refers to people who are “profane,” “godless,” or “hypocritical” (cf.  Job 8:13; 17:8; 36:13; Prov. 11:9; Isaiah 9:17; 33:14). 

In Isaiah 66, the term is used by the Amplified translators use of Brackets [  ]; contain justified clarifying words or comments not actually expressed in the immediate original text, as well as definitions of Hebrew and Greek names.  This idea was intended to achieve the greatest possible clarity and understanding in their reading of the text.  The Amplified Bible is what I choose to read and study for this Blog.  I am NOT necessarily endorsing the translation as the only accurate translation, just my personal choice.

The New Testament word is hypokrisis [Strong 5272, 5273].  In the Greek text, the term refers to the practice of dissimulation or hypocrisy, with the Pharisees being the target of Christ’s public condemnation during His earthly ministry; hypokrisis occurs seven times and is translated “hypocrisy” in all but one text, James 5:12, where it is translated as “condemnation.”  It is also found in Matt. 23:28; Mark 12:15; Luke 12:1; Gal. 2:13; 1 Tim. 4:2; 1 Pet. 2:1.

In Mark 7:6-7, JESUS is speaking to the “religious leaders” of His day:

“[6] Excellently and truly did Isaiah prophesy of you, the pretenders and hypocrites, as it stands written:

These people [constantly] honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far distant from me.

[7]  In vain (fruitlessly and without profit) do they worship Me, ordering and teaching [to be obeyed] as doctrines commandments and precepts of men.”

The Strange Comparisons of Isaiah 66:3–

The words Isaiah uses, indicates the peoples religious sacrifices and offerings of that day were but an external ritual; a tradition of religion.  Their proud sacrifices were but external compliance to man.  In their hearts…they still served themselves.

Since there was no change in heart [“heart condition”], their tithes and offerings had become an abomination to God, as murder was and perverted as offering unclean animals (Lev. 11:7).  In reality, they were going do it their way (Isaiah 53:6; 65:12), rather than the Lord’s way.  Frank Sinatra would have been proud!

What God Desires–The Lord’s Way.

God tells us, in Hosea 6:6, what He desires:

“For I desire and delight in dutiful steadfast love and goodness, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of and acquaintance with God more than burnt offerings.”

Anything, and I mean “anything” we give to God, not accompanied by a heart of mercy and obedience isn’t acceptable.  Our society that we live in and work in, urges us to be assertive; follow our urges and fulfill our desires.

Don’t let your freedom and right to choose lead you away from God’s pathway of eternal life.  God looks for a heartfelt obedience      (2 Chronicles 16:9; 1 Samuel 16:7).

Why God Despises Their Worship–

“So I will choose their delusions and mockings, their calamities and afflictions, and I will bring their fears upon them–because when I (God) called, no one answered; when I spoke, they did not listen or obey.  But they did evil in My sight and chose that in which I did not delight”  (Isaiah 66:4).

Their refusal, in responding to God’s call to come and listen to Him, brought about harsh judgement in the last four lines of verse 4.  It is almost identical to Isaiah 65:12 based on people’s choices.

People in Israel (the congregation), professed to know the Lord in their doings.  But actually, their doings, their play-acting— were evil because they did not choose God’s way.  And since they have chosen their way, God will choose their punishments; they will become victims of nameless fears which haunt their subconscious minds.

“SPIRITUAL HEART DISEASE” CAN BE PREVENTED!

Taking the Holy Spirit’s Lead–

“Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at His word:  Your brethren who hate you, who cast you out for My name’s sake, have said, Let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy!  But it is they who shall be put to shame.  [6] [Hark!]  An uproar from the city!  A voice from the temple!  The voice of the Lord, rendering recompense to His enemies!  (Isaiah 66:5-6 AMP).

The Holy Spirit will lead you in worship.

He will put aside the masks of power, position, pride from your heart in order to humble yourself under God’s mighty hand.  Resist manipulation in the temptation to use your power, position of authority and pride to manipulate people to your advantage.

The apostle Peter wrote, 

“Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you”  (1 Peter 5:6 AMP).

Ask the Lord to help you put aside your dependence on your power, position or pride; enabling you in the best of ways.

UNVEILING THE FIVE MASKS  OF “RELIGIOSITY”:

Masquerade

1.  The Mask of “Legalism”–

The Holy Spirit sends discouragements to those who try to hide behind the “Mask of Legalism”.  Paul wrote to the church at Colossae:

“If then you have died with Christ to material things and have escaped from the world’s crude and elemental notions and teachings of externalism, why do you live as if you still belong to the world?”  (Colossians 2:20).

“If then you have been raised with Christ, aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  [2] And set your minds and keep them set on what is above, not on the things that are on the earth”  (Colossians 3:1, 2 AMP). 

2.  The Masks of “Super Spirituality”–

YES, the Holy Spirit takes us to task with this “chameleon” camouflage we put on at times.  JESUS said to the super-religious of His day,  “You are the ones who declare yourselves just and upright before men, but God knows your hearts.  For what is exalted and highly thought of among men is detestable and abhorrent (an abomination) in the sight of God”  (Luke 16:15).

* Ask the Lord to teach you how to be more responsive to His correction when you lean towards Pharisaic spirituality.

3.  The Hiding Behind “Frantic Activity” Mask–

Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia addresses the congregation on this very issue, saying to them,  “know that man is not justified by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.  [17] If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin?  Absolutely not!”  (Galatians 2:16-17 NIV).

* Ask Holy Spirit to find your satisfaction by obeying the will of God, instead of trying to impress people with your church related activities.

4.  The Popularity Mask–

JESUS said,  “Woe to (alas for) you when everyone speaks fairly and handsomely of you and praises you, for even so their forefathers did to the false prophets”  (Luke 6:26 AMP).

* Ask the Lord to help you from hiding behind the “Mask of Popularity”, choosing instead… the of pleasing God, regardless of whether or not it pleases people.

5.  The Holy Spirit Counsels Church Leaders In Hiding Behind the Mask of “Super-Rationalism”–

Paul wrote to the Assembly of Corinth:

“And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit and power [a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them],  So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men (human philosophy), but in the power of God”  (1 Corinthians 2:4-5 AMP).

* Ask the Lord to help you rely more on the Holy Spirit’s empowering rather than human wisdom.

Josh McDowell and Don Stewart write:

“Christianity does not stand or fall on the way Christians have acted

throughout history or are we acting today.  Christianity stands or falls

on the person of Jesus and Jesus was not a hypocrite. 

He lived consistently with what He taught, and at the end of His life

He challenged those who had lived with Him night and day,

for over three years, to point out any hypocrisy in Him.

His disciples were silent, because there was none.

Since Christianity depends on Jesus, it is incorrect to try

to invalidate the Christian faith by pointing to horrible things done

in the name of Christianity.”

(Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Answers to Tough Questions

Skeptics Ask About the Christian Faith ~ Here’s Life Publishers 1980) pg. 128.

THE CHURCH IS A WORK IN PROGRESS– (and so are its members):

Like a cathedral, it may take decades or centuries to complete.  The process is long and difficult at times but someday…it will be complete, standing as a testimony to the power of Christ that will transform lives for the better.

Until the Church and all the followers of JESUS are glorified there will be, unfortunately, hypocrites in the Church.  That doesn’t negate Christianity or the claims of Christ.

A Fitting CLIMAX to the Book of Isaiah–(Isaiah 66:6):

” [HARK!]  An uproar from the city!  A voice from the temple!  The voice of the Lord, rendering recompense to His enemies.”

The disgrace of the proud and the JOY of the faithful is announced from the Church.  The thought that God Almighty will lift up the humble and judge the wicked is a fitting climax to the Book.

The hope of God’s people, not in the externals of religion (the “masquerade”), but in repentance and faith (the removal of the “MASKS”) and the power of God to enable us to live truly righteous lives.

Faith and power comes from the listening to and obeying God’s Word (Romans 10:17-18).  Even in the climax-ending to The Phantom of The Opera, the Phantom’s mask is gone; removed to reveal all his external flaws, his ugliness.  But Faith removes the mask and unlike the Phantom, reveals the beauty of Christ Jesus in who we want to be.

The Phantom’s Mask
The Mask Removed

Note: Photos from The Phantom Of The Opera was provided by ALL MOVIE PHOTO.com/