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Kenneth Hagin’s Forgotten Warning (J. Lee Grady)

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Kenneth Hagin is a phenomenal Bible teacher.  His ministry was Scriptural, faith-filled and balanced.  Although he knew that Jesus was not poor and that we are redeemed from poverty, Kenneth Hagin did not agree with some practices making the rounds today.  This article by J. Lee Grady explains exactly what:

Before he died in 2003, the revered father of the Word-Faith movement corrected his spiritual sons for going to extremes with their message of prosperity. Charismatic Bible teacher Kenneth Hagin Sr. is considered the father of the so-called prosperity gospel. The folksy, self-trained “Dad Hagin” started a grass-roots movement in Oklahoma that produced a Bible college and a crop of famous preachers including Kenneth Copeland, Jerry Savelle, Charles Capps, Jesse DuPlantis, Creflo Dollar and dozens of others—all of whom teach that Christians who give generously should expect financial rewards on this side of heaven. Hagin taught that God was not glorified by poverty and that preachers do not have to be poor. But before he died in 2003 and left his Rhema Bible Training Center in the hands of his son, Kenneth Hagin Jr., he summoned many of his colleagues to Tulsa to rebuke them for distorting his message. He was not happy that some of his followers were manipulating the Bible to support what he viewed as greed and selfish indulgence. Those who were close to Hagin Sr. say he was passionate about correcting these abuses before he died. In fact, he wrote a brutally honest book to address his concerns. The Midas Touch was published in 2000, a year after the infamous Tulsa meeting. Many Word-Faith ministers ignored the book. But in light of the recent controversy over prosperity doctrines, it might be a good idea to dust it off and read it again. Here are a few of the points Hagin made in The Midas Touch: 1. Financial prosperity is not a sign of God’s blessing. Hagin wrote: “If wealth alone were a sign of spirituality, then drug traffickers and crime bosses would be spiritual giants. Material wealth can be connected to the blessings of God or it can be totally disconnected from the blessings of God.” 2. People should never give in order to get. Hagin was critical of those who “try to make the offering plate some kind of heavenly vending machine.” He denounced those who link giving to getting, especially those who give cars to get new cars or who give suits to get new suits. He wrote: “There is no spiritual formula to sow a Ford and reap a Mercedes.” 3. It is not biblical to “name your seed” in an offering. Hagin was horrified by this practice, which was popularized in faith conferences during the 1980s. Faith preachers sometimes tell donors that when they give in an offering they should claim a specific benefit to get a blessing in return. Hagin rejected this idea and said that focusing on what you are going to receive “corrupts the very attitude of our giving nature.” 4. The “hundredfold return” is not a biblical concept. Hagin did the math and figured out that if this bizarre notion were true, “we would have Christians walking around with not billions or trillions of dollars, but quadrillions of dollars!” He rejected the popular teaching that a believer should claim a specific monetary payback rate. 5. Preachers who claim to have a “debt-breaking” anointing should not be trusted. Hagin was perplexed by ministers who promise “supernatural debt cancellation” to those who give in certain offerings. He wrote in The Midas Touch: “There is not one bit of Scripture I know about that validates such a practice. I’m afraid it is simply a scheme to raise money for the preacher, and ultimately it can turn out to be dangerous and destructive for all involved.” (Many evangelists who appear on Christian television today use this bogus claim. Usually they insist that the miraculous debt cancellation will occur only if a person “gives right now,” as if the anointing for this miracle suddenly evaporates after the prime time viewing hour. This manipulative claim is more akin to witchcraft than Christian belief.) Hagin condemned other hairbrained gimmicks designed to trick audiences into emptying their wallets. He was especially incensed when a preacher told his radio listeners that he would take their prayer requests to Jesus’ empty tomb in Jerusalem and pray over them there—if donors included a special love gift. “What that radio preacher really wanted was more people to send in offerings,” Hagin wrote. Thanks to the recent resurgence in bizarre donation schemes promoted by American charismatics, the prosperity gospel is back under the nation’s microscope. It’s time to revisit Hagin’s concerns and find a biblical balance. Hagin told his followers: “Overemphasizing or adding to what the Bible actually teaches invariably does more harm than good.” If the man who pioneered the modern concept of biblical prosperity blew the whistle on his own movement, wouldn’t it make sense for us to listen to his admonition?

The Midas Touch is available from Tree of Life Bookshop.

Run Through Romans (1.18-1.32)

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I have included the text of Romans 1.18-32 below.  The Bible text is in red, and my comments are interspersed with the text.  At the end of the Bible text, I will talk about the problem with unrighteousness.

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

This verse tells us the problem of humanity: the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.  The phrase “wrath of God” is only used 4 times in the Bible (Romans 1.18,  John 3.36, Ephesians 5.6, Col. 3.6) and it does not mean that God is having a temper tantrum.  It means that God is going to punish all unrighteousness.  This has happened once before in the world-wide flood of Noah (Genesis 6) and will happen again when the world is destroyed by fire.
As we shall shortly see in the remainder of this chapter, everyone in the world is unrighteous on the basis of their actions.  Therefore everyone must be punished by God.  God is a good, just God and must punish all unrighteousness.

19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

This verse explains why God is going to punish everyone that is unrighteous.  They should know the laws of God – God has shown everyone what is known of God.  Or put more simply: God has created everyone with the ability to know right from wrong.  We call this the conscience.  No one  who acts in an unrighteous way can ever say that they did not know how to act right.  Every time they act unrighteous, they know they have done wrong.  The voice that tells them right or wrong might be silenced by continual wrong-doing, but no-one can ever claim it was not there or that they did not know they have done wrong.

20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

The second reason that no-one can be excused for acting unrighteously is the creation of the world.  The creation of the world proves that God is all powerful and that He is Lord.  People might claim they think this world began in an explosion of nothing and that life came from non-living material, but itis scientifically impossible and is simply a denial of what the Bible says can be clearly seen.  If you see a building, you have proof there is a builder.  If you see a creation, you have proof there is a creator.

21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

So although every single human born has both a conscience and creation to prove to them there is a God and that they should live a righteous life, every human has done 4 things wrong:

1. They failed to glorify God

2. They were not thankful to God

3. They became vain in their imaginations

4. Their foolish hearts were darkened

Every person should know there is a God and that they should live right.  Every person has violated their own conscience and done things they know to be wrong.

Firstly, everyone has failed to glorify God.  To glorify God means to acknowledge that God is great, to think highly of God.  We have not done that – we have blamed God for our problems, we have thought that He is like us that He does not mind our sin, that He is not holy.  Every depiction of God in the media reduces Him from His true greatness.  We all have doubted that God would come through for us, we all have doubted His Word, doubted His love, doubted His holiness and His greatness.

Secondly, everyone has failed to be grateful.  In particular this is a Western problem.  We are panicking that we cannot buy the same amount of food we used to be able to in the credit crunch, but we forget how blessed we are to live where we live.  All of us have spent time moaning about the negative and ignoring the positive.

Thirdly, we have all become vain in our imaginations.  We have imagined ourselves committing sins of violence and sins of sexual immorality in our minds, we have imagined and worried about things that God promised to protect us from.  Our imaginations run wild, and we fill them up with junk from the TV just to make it worse.

Fourthly, we have all had darkened hearts.  God has tried to speak to us but we could not hear Him.  We failed to notice Him ministering to us again and agani.

Every human being has done these things in every single nation.  Every human is unrighteous in God’s eyes and therefore must be punished.  This is the problem of humanity – God’s goodness means He must punish unrighteousnes (the wrath of God) and every human is unrighteous.

22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

As an aside on v. 22, I noticed recently that Richard Dawkin’s new atheist club is called the Brights.  Immediately I thought of Romans 1.22.  However, we are all guilty of this.  We all think we know best, and that God’s ways are archaic, out-of-touch, unrealistic, or whatever.  Whenever we reject God’s ways, we are foolish.

23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

Verses 23-32 show how unrighteousness caused by thanklessness and not glorifying God degenerates.  We have all been guilty of vv. 18-22, but not all nations have spiralled into what happens next.  However, all nations without a strong Christian witness – or if they ignore that Christian witness – will spiral into this downward fall into unrighteousness.
After ungratefulness, comes an honouring of the creation.  This takes many forms from the totem poles of tribal animism to the mother Earth  philosophy infecting many facets of our society.   Creation is given respect and God is ignored.

24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

Following ignoring God over the creation comes sexual immorality.  People have sex before and outside of marriage.

25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Next the idolatry becomes more pronounced and people openly worship things that have been created.

26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Next the sexual immorality becomes more pronounced leading to a society which openly accepts homosexuality.  If this happens to a society it is deeply in this spiral of unrighteousness.

28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

At this stage, what happens is that the people in that society will develop reprobate minds.  The Greek word used for reprobate is adokimos which is used for counterfeit coins.  It means to have no value at all – to not be fit for purpose.  This is what is happening in large sections of Western society – people cannot use their minds at all.  They cannot think, they cannot show initiative, they cannot create.   All of society dumbs down.  People then fail to notice any sin, any wickedness and simply let everything pass.  Crime rates sht up, poverty and injustice increases and the society becomes a hard place to live in.

29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

I could go through each of these words and show you what they mean exactly and you would realize that we are here people.  However, most of them are self explanatory.  When a society or a nation exhibits all these qualities it is simply showing the fruit of the fact that everyone fails to glorify God and fails to thank Him.  It has just spiraled out of control.

Ultimately without the gospel, this will happen to every nation on the planet.  Even with the gospel being present in a nation it still happens if people make unrighteous choices.

32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Then, not only will people do all these unrighteous acts they will take pleasure in those that do them. The word take pleasure could also be translated applaud. Think about this: the Bible describes an unrighteous society at its apex as one where people worship the creation, treat homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle, disobey parents, invent evil things, hate God, hate people, and then finally clap and applaud people who do wicked things.

Our society has TV chat shows where you can clap and applaud people who divorce, comedy shows where you can clap and applaud people who hate and slander the government of our countries, romantic shows where you can clap and applaud people committing fornication and reality shows where you can clap and applaud people in all manner of wickedness.

Our society is unrighteous.  Our planet is unrighteous.  But before we judge the world and the nations and are smugly condeming of them, remember: I have failed to thank God and so have you.  I have failed to glorify God and so have you.  I have had vain imaginations and so have you.  I have had a dark heart and so have you.  On our next post we will show that we cannot judge anyone in a smug self-righteous way as we look at Romans 2.

We have to find out how a person like you and like me can be righteous.  Otherwise we are condemned to hell on earth and hell after earth.   Stay with us as we run through Romans, the journey will be worth it.

Blessings,
Ben

Run Through Romans (1:1-17)

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The text of Romans 1 can be found here. Please read it in its entirety before reading through my run through. If you want to read in a paraphrase so you can get a feel for the whole chapter, use this link.

Romans 1 has a very simple theme: the nations are not righteous. For a definition of the term righteousness, read our post What is Righteousness?

Romans 1.1-6 are Paul introducing himself to the church in Rome. It is beautiful to read. Paul uses fifteen words to describe himself, and then uses 82 words to describe the Lord. Even when introducing himself Paul cannot stop talking about the wonder of the Lord. Paul was completely God-focused. Verse 3-4 are important verses because they declare that Jesus is fully human and fully God. Most heresies originate because of misunderstanding that Jesus is fully God and fully human. Most people fail to move in the power of the Holy Spirit and see the miracles they should because they fail to understand Jesus ministered as a human under the anointing.

Romans 1.7-12 Paul announces who he is addressing: the Romans. He tells them that he wants to meet them to impart a gift to them, and he praises them for their faith. That must be fairly wonderful to have the apostle Paul praise your church for its faith!

In verse 13 -15, Paul has now got his introductions out of the way and tells the Romans he wants to preach the gospel to them. Now think about that for a minute – Paul is not writing a letter to a bunch of heathen or a group of people from another religion. He is writing the letter to people whose faith is spoken of around the known world (v. 8). Paul is writing to Christians, but he says to them: I want to preach the gospel to you.

If you ask the average Christian what the gospel is they would tell you that it is the new birth. It is the message that if you repent and put your faith in Jesus Christ then you will be born again and you will go to heaven when you die. Now I am not against that message – it is the most important message you can preach to a sinner. If I was standing in front of a crowd of sinners, my message would be the new birth. But preaching the new birth to a group of Christians is foolish – I believe the phrase is teaching Granny to suck eggs.

But if Paul’s desire was to stand in front of a group of people who were Christians – and not just any Christians, people who were world famous for their faith in Christ – and preach the gospel then I would have to conclude one of two things:

1. Paul was foolish. He enjoyed wasting his time.

2. What Paul meant by the phrase “the gospel” was not what we mean when we say “the gospel”.

Guess which one I choose. So the question is what does Paul mean by the gospel. Thankfully, Paul tells us what he means and defines it. In verses 16-17, Paul sums up the whole message of the book of Romans, and the gospel of Jesus Christ:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Here are the same verses from the New Living Translation:

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

The gospel has two elements and it is vital we know and preach both elements. The first element is that the gospel is the power of God for salvation of everyone who believes. Now this includes the new birth, but is so much more than the new birth.

The Greek word salvation is soteria. If you look it up in Strong’s it says this:

1) deliverance, preservation, safety, salvation

a) deliverance from the molestation of enemies

b) in an ethical sense, that which concludes to the souls safety or salvation

1) of Messianic salvation

2) salvation as the present possession of all true Christians

3) future salvation, the sum of benefits and blessings which the Christians, redeemed from all earthly ills, will enjoy after the visible return of Christ from heaven in the consummated and eternal kingdom of God.

Salvation includes: deliverance, preservation and safety.  The word is used in the gospels repeatedly to refer to physical healings.  Strong’s tells us that it is the sum of benefits and blessings which Christians will enjoy after the return of Christ.  I disagree with that: I believe we can enjoy the benefits of salvation now.  He heals now, He protects us now, He preserves us now.  He provides our every need now.  Paul tells us the power is available to those who believe, not those who die!

Christians know about the new birth (some don’t – they have had the experience but could not explain it or share what happened to another, and they need to be taught the new birth), but many Christians are not aware of the power of the gospel.  The good news is that Jesus Christ has not just covered up our sins and let us enter heaven one day some time when we die, but that Jesus Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law (Gal. 3.13) and that the blessing of Abraham is now on us.  We are redeemed from sin, from sickness and from poverty.  The gospel includes the new birth, but it also includes healing, prosperity, deliverance, protection and soundness.

We often think that God heals the sick because of some sort of divine fiat.  He looks down from heaven at all the sick people, holds a giant heavenly lottery and someone wins the healing.  We would never use those words, but we use phrases like “You never know what God is going to do”.  It is the same sentiment, just wrapped up in religious language.

Now we find out from Paul that healing is in the gospel.  It is the power of God for all who believe.  No wonder Paul wanted to get in front of the church in Rome, he wanted to tell them that Jesus bore their sicknesses, that Jesus redeemed them from the curse of poverty, that Jesus will never leave them, that the blessing of Abraham is theirs, that they can hear the voice of the Lord speak to them, that they are priests and kings before the Lord Jehovah.

Paul wanted to see the miracles of healing, of provision, of emotional deliverance that would happen when the Roman church realizes the power of the gospel.

I could spent several posts dealing with the nature of the gospel – one of the key things about the gospel is that it is good news.  It is news.  If you watch the news on the TV or read it in a paper you will realize that it is always events that have happened in the past.  The news does not predict the future.  The weather forecast predicts the future and can be – and often is – completely wrong.  The gospel is not the good forecast, it is the good news.  You need to know that your salvation, your healing, your prosperity have aleady been accomplished.  And the power is available to you as soon as you believe it.  It is an event that has past – the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Your healing is not a forecast of what might happen it is a revelation of what has happened – by His stripes, you WERE healed (1 Peter 2.24).  If you were healed, then you are healed – so don’t doubt and do without, believe and receive!

If this was all the gospel was that would be enough: the power of God for your soundness, deliverance, prosperity, healing and preservation and for the soundness and salvation of all who believe.

But it is more!  Paul tells us that in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed.  And this is the theme of the book of Romans: the righteousness of God is revealed.

Now if you look at the armour of God as outlined in Ephesians 6, you will find that we have a helmet of salvation.  Helmets cover your head.  Knowing about salvation affects your mind – it affects how you think.  But many, many Christians know they are born again, know they are healed by the stripes of Jesus, know that God supplies their every need.  But even with this knowledge, they still feel defeated, feel guilty, feel ashamed.  But the Bible also tells us we have a breastplate of righteousness.  Breastplates cover the heart.  If we truly understand the message of righteousness, our heart will be protected and our feelings will be protected.  Knowing the message of righteousness makes it easy to live by faith.  That is why the message is so important.

I have penned a great deal so far.  I wanted to run through Romans, but maybe I will be walking through at a slower speed than I first imagined.  In the next post I will cover Romans 1.18-32 and explain the key message of Romans 1: the nations are unrighteous and they have no excuse for their unrighteousness.  As we run or walk through Romans, we will find how righteousness is obtained, and the benefits it offers us.  If you follow us through, your heart will be protected from every attack and you will walk in a new level of peace, joy, health, wealth and soundness.
Every blessing,

Ben

Run Through Romans (Intro)

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I want to work my way through some books of the Bible, just giving a brief overview of each chapter and any highlights. The church is suffering from a lack of knowledge from the Bible. We know a Scripture here and a Scripture there, but we need to be able to know the context of a Scripture and the context of a book so we can study to show ourselves approved of God.

I am going to start with the book of Romans for two reasons. One, it has been divided into chapters exceptionally well. You may or may not know that the Bible was only divided into chapters in the 12th century and the verses were only added in the 16th century. Sometimes the chapter divides are arbitrary and do not match the topics of the chapters. Sometimes they cut up a train of thought.

But in Romans for the most part, the chapter breaks match the content of the book well.

Secondly, Romans deals with what is in my opinion the most important question for mankind to know the answer to: how can a human be righteous? So many religions – and so many churches – give an answer to this question which is unbiblical, unpractical and will leave you in hell on earth and in hell when you die. Studying Romans will give us the Bible answer to the question.

So before we examine Romans 1, I want to just give you a little information about when, how and why the book was penned.

Paul, the apostle of Christ Jesus, wrote Romans about 57AD. Most scholars consider Paul was in Corinth when he wrote Romans (cf. Romans 15.25-26 where Paul says he is keen to visit Jerusalem and Acts 19.21 and 20.1-3 where Paul is going to visit Jerusalem. If these two visits are the same then Paul wrote Romans from Corinth).

Romans is a letter that Paul wrote to a church that he did not visit. Paul intended to visit and use the church as a base for taking missionary journeys west into Spain and beyond. To those ends Paul wanted the church to know the answer to the foundational question: how can a person be righteous. The church in Rome had Jewish and Gentile Christians and there was often conflict between them about how someone can be righteous. Some people were suggesting that there were different ways of being righteous for the Jew and the Gentile, and Paul is determined to show that there is only way to achieve righteousness.

The letter was taken to Rome by Phoebe. Just as an aside – Paul was more than happy to send possibly the most important letter every written in all of history via a woman. He was not the misogynist some people claim he was!

The book of Romans has changed the world. Without this book, the entire Protestant Reformation would never have happened. It is unlikely that the charismatic move would ever have happened. Luther said “it is the chief part of the New Testament”, and I agree with him. I hope as we run through this book giving you an overview of each chapter that it inspires you to study it for yourself and to learn how the just shall live by faith.

I shall put the overview of the 1st chapter live either this evening or tomorrow evening.

Every blessing,
Ben

Anger Management (Andrew Wommack)

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Have you ever been mad at God? Certainly, everyone has had anger rise up against a person. And there are a lot of people who are angry with themselves. Anger is a problem all of us have to deal with. Many people come from backgrounds where strife was just normal. Our culture is so full of envy and strife that it’s become part of life. We don’t realize how deadly it is. But realize it or not, strife will kill you. Listen to what James had to say about envy and strife: “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” (James 3:16) Think about what this verse is saying for a moment. Envy and strife bring EVERY evil work. That is quite a revelation! You could be giving tithes and offerings and trusting God in the area of your finances, but if you’re living in strife, you are opening the door to poverty. You could be trying to take care of your body and meditating on healing scriptures, yet envy and strife will negate all of that and bring sickness and disease. No one who is trusting God for victory in any area of their life can ignore dealing with anger and expect to succeed. It’s that important. This doesn’t mean we are supposed to be emotionless or totally passive people. There is a proper use of anger. If we don’t understand this and try to completely do away with anger, we will not succeed, and we will become passive in a way that allows Satan to run over us. There is a godly purpose for anger. GODLY ANGER Think of this: Every person on the planet has a temper. Why do you think that is? Do you think the devil created anger? No way! Satan never created anything. He doesn’t have the power to create. All he does is pervert the godly things God created. It’s God who gave us the capacity to get angry. Anger has a godly function. But with most of us, it’s been perverted. We don’t need to get delivered of a temper; we need to learn how to manage that anger and direct it the way God intended — not toward people, but toward the devil and evil. There is a well-known passage of Scripture that talks about a positive use of anger. Yet this passage is most often interpreted in a way that loses the true intent of what Paul was saying. Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil”. This is usually interpreted as, “God knows you are only human, and you will sometimes get angry. That just happens. But it doesn’t become sin unless you let it persist. So make sure you confess and forsake your anger every night before you go to bed.” There is no doubt that getting over anger quickly has great benefit. Confessing and forsaking anger before you go to bed every night is a good thing to do. But that is not what this verse is teaching. It’s nearly the opposite. Paul is saying there is a godly anger that is not sin. God gives us a command to get angry with a righteous anger. Then he says, “Let not the sun go down on your wrath”. What happens when the sun goes down? Typically we stop working. The day winds down, and we rest and go to sleep. Paul is saying, “Don’t let this godly anger ever stop working. Keep it awake. Stir it up and keep it active!” Then verse 27 continues, “Neither give place to the devil”. If we don’t keep a godly anger active within us, we are giving place to the devil. What a revelation! There is a righteous use of anger. Not understanding this has rendered many Christians so passive, they don’t get mad at the evil in this world. Therefore, Satan is having a free shot at everything we hold dear and holy. Our society is under attack, and our righteous anger that God has given us as a weapon is kept in its sheath and not used. This needs to change. Look at what the Word of God has to say about a right use of anger: “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil”. (Psalm 97:10) “The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate”. (Prov. 8:13) “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom”. (Psalm 111:10) “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge”. (Prov. 1:7) “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good”. (Rom. 12:9) These are just a few of the scriptures that speak of a righteous use of hate and anger. Look again at Proverbs 8:13: “Pride and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward [literally, perverse] mouth, do I hate”. Do we really hate those things? We should, but Christians as a whole do not hate evil. We don’t like evil, but few would argue that we literally hate these things. Some Christians don’t believe that we are supposed to hate anything, but that’s not what God’s Word says. Jesus was sinless, but He had hate and anger. In John 2:14-17, which took place at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and then in Mark 11:15-17, which took place the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple. He didn’t approach them meekly and say, “Guys, I’m sorry. I don’t want to hurt any of you, but I have to do this to obey my Father.” NO! He made a whip and beat the people and animals and turned over their tables. He was mad. Where were the temple guards? I’m sure they were there, but Jesus was in a holy rage that paralyzed them from action. It’s certain that Jesus never sinned, but it’s also certain that He got very angry to the point of action. Therefore, there is a righteous anger. We need to discover the righteous use of anger and channel all of our aggression in the proper way. So, there is a right place for anger. But what about the wrong use of anger? All of us have to deal with getting mad at people. How do we overcome our unforgiveness and anger toward people? UNGODLY ANGER Have you ever prayed that the Lord would remove someone from your life who makes you angry? Have you ever prayed that your circumstances would change so that you would be delivered from those things that make you mad? If you have, you are not alone. But it’s not what others do to you that makes you angry. You will never be able to remove all aggravating things and people from your path. That’s unrealistic. Satan has more than enough people under his control to keep an endless parade of annoying people coming across your path. You can’t always change circumstances, and you don’t have the authority to change others. But you can change what’s on the inside of you that makes you angry. That’s right. Our anger comes from the inside, not the outside. I know most people don’t like that. At first, it’s comforting to think that it’s what someone else did that made you angry, but that’s not true. If what other people do makes you angry, then you will always be angry because there will always be someone that treats you wrong. That makes you a victim and not a victor. Accepting responsibility for your ungodly anger puts you in the driver’s seat. You only have total authority over yourself. You are the only one that you can really change. If you are trying to remove all the people and things that make you mad from your path, you will never win. But if you deal with the things inside you that cause your anger, you will never lose, regardless of what others do. That’s the example that Jesus gave us. He was able to look at the very ones who crucified and mocked Him and say, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”. (Luke 23:34) Jesus not only suffered more than any of us ever have, He suffered more unjustly than we have. As God, He could have come off the cross at any time and wiped all of His accusers out. Yet He humbled Himself and even forgave His enemies. Some people think, “Well that was Jesus. I’m certainly not Jesus.” But Jesus wasn’t the only one who forgave those who wronged him. Stephen acted just like Jesus in Acts 7:60. As he was being stoned to death, he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep”. Paul commanded us to do the same thing in Ephesians 4:32: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you”. Not only are we supposed to resist anger, but we are commanded to forgive those who trespass against us. We can’t control others, but we can control what’s inside of us that makes us angry. The key is found in Proverbs 13:10: “Only by pride cometh contention”. It’s not what others do to us that makes us angry; it’s the pride inside of us that causes us to get mad. I know that’s not what most people believe, but that’s what God’s Word says. This verse doesn’t say that pride is one of the major reasons for anger — it’s the only reason. What a statement! I ministered this in Pueblo, Colorado, many years ago, and a man came up to me after the meeting and said, “I’ve got a lot of problems, but pride isn’t one of them. If anything, I have such low self-esteem that I hate myself. Yet I have a lot of anger. I just don’t understand how my pride is the source of my anger.” What this man was missing was a proper definition of pride. Many people think of pride only as arrogance. But that’s only one manifestation of pride. Timidity and shyness are extreme manifestations of pride. Pride, at it’s core, is simply self-centeredness or selfishness. Timid and shy people are extremely self-centered people. I know this to be true because I was an introvert. I couldn’t look at people in the face and talk to them. I was so consumed with me that I was always thinking, “What are they going to think of me? Am I going to make a mistake and look foolish?” That self-centeredness made me shy. If you have a testimony about what the Lord has done for you that could help someone, yet you would be timid about getting on radio or television and sharing it because everyone would be looking at you, then you have some pride issues that haven’t been settled. You may not be called to broadcast on radio or television the way I am, but we are all called to, “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Pet. 3:15) So, pride is not only thinking we are better than others; pride can be thinking we are worse than others or just being self-conscious. It doesn’t matter if self is always exalting itself or if it’s debasing itself. It’s all self-centeredness, which is pride. Like it or not, understand it or not, pride is the source of all of our anger. As we deal with our own self-love, anger toward others will be defused. The only reason we are so easily offended is because we love ourselves so much. As we die to ourselves, we will be able to love others the way that Jesus did.

Righteousness – Your Questions

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I believe that the most important teaching in the church today is Righteousness.

I want to spend some time looking at several Scriptures, especially in the book of Romans.

Tomorrow I will write an introductory post explaining what righteousness means. But before I do, I want anyone who has any questions on righteousness to have the choice to ask them.

All you need to do is put your questions into this thread as a comment. If you want your question to be anonymous, please say so when you post the comment. I will then not vet it and make it public.

Blessings,
Ben

The Sower Sows the Word (VII)

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Today, we are wrapping up our study on the things that stop us from producing the results promised in the Word happening in our lives. We have looked at the danger of not fighting for the Word, for only listening to the Word on an emotional level, of allowing money and wealth to dictate to us and of the desire for people to like and honour us stopping us being the Christians that we are destined to be.

Now we shall look at the final challenge: the lust for other things.

Mark 4.19 says:

And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

If you have the lust of other things enter into your heart, it will choke the Word of God and the Word of God will not be fruitful in your life. You will most likely blame God and His Word, but it is not God’s fault – it is because of what you have allowed into your heart.

Don’t kick yourself though, make a change. Let’s look at what the lust of other things actually is:

The word used for lust here is the Greek word epithymia. It means a strong desire. It does not always refer to something bad – Jesus uses the word to refer to his desire to share the passover meal with his disciples for example (Luke 22.15) – but generally it is used to refer to a strong desire that your body has.

A good example would be:

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof]. – Romans 13.14

If you allow the desires of your flesh to control what you do, what you think and how you behave you will never see the manifestation of the Word of God in your life.

Romans 6.12 says: Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Now this is where many Christians get themselves into trouble and tie themselves into knots. They read a Scripture like Romans 6.12 that tells them not to obey the desires of their body. It might be a sin-desire like using a pornographic website or spreading gossip. It might be a sickness-desire like lying in bed all day and not fighting off the cold. Either way it is a desire of your flesh. Now if you simply try and fight off that desire you will fail.

Sometimes you will succeed but sometimes you will fail. Your Christian life will be a roller-coaster of success and failure. You will lead a generally unfruitful Christian life. I know many Christians that live like this, and I know I have had seasons where I have lived like this too. Struggled to walk in purity, in health, in prosperity, in love – sometimes succeeding and sometimes not, my emotions flowing all over the place. An up and down Christian.

But that is not God’s will – He has redeemed us from this, praise the Lord. To find out how to live free from the strong desires of your body, let’s re-read Romans 6.12, but in context:

6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

7For he that is dead is freed from sin.

8Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

9Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

10For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

11Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

13Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

14For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

15What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

16Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

17But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

18Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. (Romans 6.6-18)

Romans is one of the most powerful books in the Bible because it deals with the most important topic in the New Testament: righteousness. I sincerely believe that righteousness is the most misunderstood topic in the Bible and that if Christians truly understood it, there would be a revival across the world that has never been seen before in any generation.

It was a revelation of what righteousness really is that started the Protestant Reformation. It was a revelation of what righteousness really is that started the charismatic move. These are the two most influential revivals that have ever happened in history.

Righteousness is the state of right standing with God. A synonym for righteousness is just. To make someone righteous is to justify them. It means you can stand in the presence of God and not be afraid, not feel inferior, not be condemned. It means you are right with God. A righteous person is as bold as a lion. A righteous person has their prayers answered. They have joy, they have peace. Understanding what righteousness is and how to receive it is the key to life.

Romans 1 tells us that the nations are not righteous. Romans 2 tells us that the nation of Israel and people who obey the law are not righteous. Romans 3 tells us no-one is righteous because of their actions., but that you can only receive righteousness by faith. Romans 4 shows how the remarkable individual Abraham did not even have righteousness by his actions, but was made righteous (justified) by faith. Romans 5 tells us the benefits of being righteous by faith.

Romans 6 then deals with a wonderful question: if I am righteous and have the benefits of righteousness because of faith in the complete work of redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ, then why should I even bother living right?

(If you read Romans 6.1-2 you will find that Paul was accused of teaching you can live however you like if you are a Christian. The technical name for such a belief is libertarianism. It means a Christian can act as selfish as they like and there is no problem.

Now that is clearly not true – but if in your preaching of the Word no-one has managed to accuse you of this, you do need to ask yourself are you preaching righteousness by grace through faith as powerfully as Paul was?)

In Romans 6, Paul gives 2 reasons why we should live a holy and loving life, and not just do what our body feels like. He also gives us 2 ways in which we can live holy.

The two reasons why we should live holy are:

1. Because it is our nature. You are holy, so living holy should be natural to you. Like a bird flying or a tree producing fruit, it shouldn’t be difficult. Verse 7 of Romans 6 says that we are dead to sin. If you are dead to something, it should not tempt you. The more time we spend meditating on Bible verses that tell us our true nature, the easier it is to resist sin.

Once you realize that you are righteous, then it becomes natural to act righteous. Lots of people are trying to act righteous to convince themselves they are righteous – this is the wrong way round! Have a read of 2 Cor. 5.21 and see what you are because of the work of Jesus Christ.

2. We should live holy because living in sin brings death into your life. This concept is addressed in v.17 and in Romans 6.23 which says that the wages of sin is death. If you sin, then you will become trapped by that sin and that sin will bring death into your life. If you lie, you will be tempted to lie more, and the lies will bring sickness, stress, broken relationships and poverty into your life. It will not stop God loving you but it will not allow you to enjoy His love.

Sin won’t keep you from heaven, but it will keep others from heaven. They will fail to see the life of God inside you and will not be attracted to the wonderful news of redemption. Sin makes you miserable – holiness is for your own good.

Why is it so important that we are holy because of these reasons and not to make God love us? Does the motive matter – or just the fact that we are striving to be holy. The answer is that if you are just trying to live right to please God and to become righteous then you will always fail. You will always feel God is against you and you will be defeated.

If you realize you are right, then you can live right. You can enjoy fellowship with the Holy Spirit, you can have confidence when you pray, you can go and lay hands on the sick and know it is not because of you that they are healed but because of Jesus.

The lust for other things can be lorded over if you realize that God has already lifted you above that.

Romans 7 goes on to tell of the futility of still trying to live by the law of God. Romans 8 tells of the wonders of living by the Spirit, aware of your righteousness. If you realize that you are righteous and realize that sin always leads to death, you will find that there is a power inside you – the power of the reborn, righteous spirit, the power of the new creation that you became on the day you became a Christian – and that this power is more powerful than the lust for other things.

If you deal with the lust for other things, then the Word of God will start to spring up in your life. Healing, peace, prosperity, wholeness will no longer be in seed form, planted deep in your life with no evidence they are there, but they will spring up in your life and transform not just your life, but the whole world.

Blessings,
Ben

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