“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16-25
When you think of the word, “desensitized”, what do you think of? My thoughts turn to the culprits in today’s modern media such as television, Hollywood movies, popular music (secular and CCM), social internetworks, the socialist news media, gaming such as Wii and Xbox, etc. All these lend to the erosion of the believers’ spiritual sensitivities, which leads to the enticing works of the flesh. We as Christians should be increasingly well-equipped to point out the violence, hatred, emulations, variances, and all of the manifestations found in vv. 19-21 from our text above. Go ahead and review each one and ask yourself if you can find even one that is not romanticized in media today? As such is the case, if we as Christians are not careful and we allow this influence into our lives, it will have a destructive effect in our homes and our churches. So, why do we let these things in? For instance, nearly every Christian family I know has cable TV in their home. When our family had television at one time, even with the “rabbit ears”, we had a rule that if we heard the Lord’s name was taken in vain, we would immediately change the channel. We only had three channels, so we found that the TV was turned off pretty quickly. Eventually, digital replaced analog and we no longer received any channels. Problem solved. Anyway, I do understand the seductiveness but, if we know the final result will compromise the peace and holiness that we receive by marching forward in the Spirit and resting in Him alone, and we protect ourselves and those whom we love by vehemently casting lusts out with extreme prejudice, then, where is the allure? How is it possible that we would partake with the world, much less, love it to the degree that we would attack a well-meaning brother that may warn against it to protect the world for ourselves? The importance of rejecting the world is either accepted or compromised by the responsible heads, each of us individually before Jesus our God, in our homes and from our pulpits. Why then would we allow these dangers in? Obviously, we as Christians have become desensitized to the world.
Exhortation to the Church
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Eph. 5:11-16
“NO FELLOWSHIP” with the unfruitful works of darkness. No means “no”. Not only saying no, but also reproving them after saying, “no”. Expose the sinful works, but be longsuffering with the bearer and always being wary not to be sucked into compromise. Shine a light on the darkness and it will flee away with or without the sinner! The unfruitful works perpetrated by them is so unacceptable, in fact, that it is too shameful even to speak of. So, how do we even walk with it? Yet, we hear people in our churches speaking lovingly of these things which cause our destruction, sporting their icons in allegiance to it. Yes, I am speaking of the world’s many traps, heresies and philosophies that are all unfruitful.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” I John 2:15-16
Many traditionally stalwart churches, such as the Independent Baptist Churches are trading biblical separation in return for friendship with the world. The Emerging Church’s heretical philosophies are returning good Bible-believing Christians to the liturgical beliefs of the Catholic Church fathers via sensual Contemporary Christian Music and the lie of psychology. Calvinism’s intellectualism is creeping into the church’s backdoor via so-called Bible Schools. The occult/witchcraft tendencies of Disney and Harry Potter, et al. are weakening the believer and their families. The worldly acceptance of sodomites as the norm perpetuated in children’s television shows such as SpongeBob, Sesame Street, et al. Why do we not heed the warnings? Because, there are next to no warnings. No wonder those that stand on the wall suffer divisions with those believers that hold desperately onto the world.
“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” Titus 3:3
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” James 4:1
I have heard the accusation that some people have taken their convictions about the world too far, or, are taking the Bible standard too seriously. I do not believe that is possible. I believe that the Bible is our final authority and as such, it is the highest rung we should step up to. If we step higher than God’s standard, then we have gone too far and will fall. If you have stepped above the standard of God’s Word, then you are adding to the Word, and your stand has become extra-biblical. If we follow The Word, we can never go too far. The Bible says we ought to be peculiar, or different, carrying the light and not darkness. How will those that walk in darkness ever see the difference between us if we will not take a stand against worldly compromise?
We, as a flock, need to get back to fearing the Lord and not man; casting out all compromise by asking God for wisdom. Will you pray and sincerely, in tears, asking God to expose any worldly darkness in your life? Are you ready to step away from the world’s envelope that we have pushed so far? Let us look back at our text and ask God what He means by the word, “circumspectly”? Break it up into two parts, “circum”, in Latin, meaning, all encompassing, and “spect”, in Latin, meaning, to watch with clear vision. So, are we fools or are we wise? Will you watch, looking all around you to know the dangers that we face today? Just remember, the opposite of redeeming your time is wasting your time! Will you ask God what he wants? Just a warning, however: do not ask God unless you are serious because He WILL show you and change will be required of you. You are bought with a price and therefore, you are no longer your own to do with as you please. Remember, and be encouraged, when you choose right, His yoke is easy and His burden is light!
Exhortation to Pastors
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” II Tim. 4:1-5
As Paul exhorted Timothy, “make full proof of thy ministry.” It seems that fewer and fewer of God’s Bishops cower before the Almighty God for the account that is required of them. In exhortation, everything that you let pass into the hearts of your people, families, and children, you will answer for. Every decision that makes or breaks the bond of fellowship and every non-decision that finds the congregation to fend for themselves, you will be held to account for. There never was a sheep that took over the flock from the shepherd. The flock is scattered if the Shepherd is not up to the task. It is up to our Pastors to know the scripture and not to allow worldly philosophies to circumvent it as the church’s final authority in all matters of faith and practice. It is up to the Pastor to recognize the world with all its sticky tricks and treats and to meet it at the door to lock it out. How will the church know to run from danger when the Pastors do not know what they are up against in the world? Pastor, would you admit if I suggested to you that you too are desensitized to the world?
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” Hosea 4:6
Pastors are ordained to set up the torch and raise it high for the light to be seen. While he is up there he ought to raise the bar up higher than anyone in the flock so not to ever be accused of crumpling before the enemy. Can a Pastor really be above reproach if he is living like the world? I am not talking about a Pastor going out, messing with someone else’s wife, or going out drinking, or smoking and gambling like a wayward sailor. I am asking: are you as a Pastor desensitized to the world and wiles of the Devil? Are you equipped to exhort your flock against worldliness? I am talking about worldliness that would be a danger to your flock today and tomorrow, not yesterday or ten years ago. Do you have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and call the church out on it? But, let’s really get down to it – at home, how are you spending your spare time? Would you say it was redeemed or wasted? How much combined time do you and your wife spend watching the telly and surfing internet for no good reason? Is your wife scripturally submissive to the degree that you are above reproach before your congregation? Are you ever afraid that your children will let out a secret that would cause your congregation to be concerned? Is the music you listen to at home well-pleasing to the Lord, or would you not let it into the church? I submit to you, that the music you listen to in your home today will be the music of your church tomorrow. Please do not get me wrong, brethren, I am just a hand writing on the wall over here; these questions are between you and the head of the Church, Jesus Christ. I have a CD that includes a great sermon from an old time preacher by name of Lester Roloff; you may have heard of him. The sermon is entitled, “This Sermon Will Cost Me Many Friends.” May I recommend that you look it up online and listen to it? However, I will warn you, as I warned our dear brothers earlier in this post: don’t listen to it unless you are ready to pray and ask God to make a difference, because if you ask, He will, and you may have to give some dear things up and throw some things away. See, from time immemorial to time in eternity, our Dear Heavenly Father has never changed His mind about anything. His stand is the same yesterday, now, and forever. Praise the Lord if you would seek Him in this, dear brother. God will bless you abundantly and heal your church. You see, you cannot do it yourself. All the programs in the world will not help you to lead His Church. It is your humility, not to man, but before God that will truly place your ministry at His feet. He is the True Shepherd that cares for the flock, and will leave them to seek out the one lost sheep. Be sure to take what strength God has given you and do his will.
“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” 1 Tim. 5:20
“This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;” Titus 1:13
“These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” Titus 2:15
Finally, my dear friends, I turn your attention back to the original text in Galatians 5. The Bible clearly teaches that, but for the lust of the flesh, it is impossible for us to fall for the worldly things. If we do not fulfil the lust of the flesh, we would not listen to wrong music, we would not allow movies and images into our homes that are inappropriate for our eyes, we would not love money more than our Jehovah Jireh. We would not have fighting’s and fears within and without the church, we would not have sorrow and pain of sins and, in the end we would not be lead to spiritual death of ourselves, of our loved ones, and of our dear church members. Instead, we would have a peace that passeth all understanding and a joy unspeakable and full of glory! We would have the joy of His salvation! We would be thankful, with such a deep heartfelt gratitude for the one who died for us that we would actually know a taste of what it will be like in heaven right here in our homes and in our churches. Dear friends, are you truly happy? Do you have real joy? Are you thankful? Get it straight with God and lay it all at His feet. He will help us start again, if that is His will. But, it will take humility and honesty before our loving Heavenly Father.
Do not run and hide, because just like in the Garden of Eden, God already knows everything, but He still wants to hear it from you. He is waiting. Won’t you call on Him today? ~R.
(c) 2012 Remi Fernhout