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Deliverance from the World (2)
We’re dealing with the fifth deliverance provided for us through the cross of Jesus, deliverance from the world. And it seems that the Lord has caused me to spend more time on this than I anticipated. I think one of the important things that we have to do is draw a defining line between the world and the people of God. And so I’m going to continue now with the outline, trying to clarify the difference between the Spirit of God and the spirit of this world.
First of all, I want to say very emphatically that the Spirit of God in God’s people is stronger than the spirit of the world. We do not need to be defeated. We have within us the resources of victory. Let’s turn to 1John 4:4–6. Incidentally, I pointed out that one of the main themes of John is the division between God’s people and the world although it’s dealt with by Paul and probably by all the writers in the New Testament. It is a major theme of the New Testament and one which I believe has not really received much attention in contemporary preaching that I’ve experienced.
I passed through Pentecostalism and I’m deeply grateful to the Pentecostals, I owe my salvation to them and I know what it is to be a Pentecostal, I’ve been under all the rules and regulations. We had our own definitions of what was worldly. In those days it used to be to wear the wrong colored stockings and put on make up and so on. I think that turned a lot of people against the Bible’s teaching about the distinction between the world and the church. It gave a very superficial picture of worldliness which really didn’t deal with the condition of the heart at all.
I think it’s probably important that we do try to draw a scriptural line of demarcation between what is worldly and what is of God. We’re here now in 1John 4 reading from verse 4:
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them [them is the people that are motivated by the spirit of antichrist if you look at the context]: because he who is in you, is greater than he who is in the world.”
He who is in you is the Spirit of God which is greater than the spirit that’s in the world.
“They are of the world: therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.”
We always need to be cautious if we get too good a hearing from the world because the world hears the things that come from the spirit of the world.
You see, I don’t think most American Christians today see this really. We’re so used to being friendly with the world that we can’t conceive that there could be anything wrong with that. James says the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Verse 6:
“We are of God: he who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us.”
Let’s not be worried if not everybody listens to us. The reason they don’t listen to the truth is they are not of God.
“By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
The spirit of truth is the Holy Spirit. The spirit of error is one of the ways of describing the spirit of the world.
Now in the center of Page 5 in your outline I’ve tried to draw a line of demarcation between the two spirits. The first top line of demarcation is taken from 1John 4:5–6. The Spirit of God is the spirit of truth. The spirit of the world is the spirit of error. Error means wandering away from the truth. It departs from the truth.
Then we’ve already looked at 1Corinthians 2 but I think we should look there again in verses 12–14.
“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man [we’ve already been into this, this is the soulish man, the man who operates in the realm of the soul] does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. [They’re discerned only by the Spirit, not by the soul.] But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no man.”
I don’t really like that translation, there’s a better one somewhere. What does the NASV say there for that last part? “But he who is spiritual appraises all things, but he himself is appraised by nobody.”
I remember the first time that I met what I considered to be a really great man of God who is now with the Lord and has been with the Lord many years. Pastor ?Levit Petros? from the Philadelphia church in Stockholm. And he was inscrutable. I mean, I was used to summing people up but he was gracious. I knew he was a man of God but I just couldn’t penetrate. And that was the first time I came face to face with this fact “he that is spiritual is appraised by no man”. There was something in him I couldn’t plumb.
I tell you, we’re in an area of truth here which is like a mine. When you get into it there’s almost no limit to what you can get out of it. I’m trying to get through the mine but I keep getting held up with another little nugget there.
The second difference is the Spirit of God reveals the things of God. He is the only one who can reveal the things of God. But, the spirit of this world, the man who is under the control of the spirit of this world cannot comprehend the things of God; they are foolishness to him.
Then we’ll look in John 16:14 for the third major difference. Jesus is speaking about the spirit of truth. In verse 13 he says:
“However, when he, the Spirit of truth has come, he will guide you into all truth... [then he says in verse 14:] ...He will glorify me: for he will take what is mind and declare it to you.”
Notice again the revelatory ministry of the Spirit of truth. He takes of what belongs to God the Father and God the Son and declares it to us. He is the keeper of the storehouse, he has the key.
But notice that statement at the beginning of verse 14. “He will glorify me.” One thing that we need to bear in mind about the Holy Spirit is his supreme task and delight is to glorify Jesus. And you can pretty well check whether a thing is really from the Holy Spirit or not by checking whether it glorifies Jesus or not. If it attracts attention to a man, an organization, a ministry, some area of truth but doesn’t glorify Jesus, there probably isn’t very much of the Holy Spirit in it.
Some time back, maybe three years ago we had a very beautiful service in our church. We don’t always have beautiful services. Everything was just beautiful from beginning to end. I said to the worship leader afterwards, “You know why we had such a beautiful service? Because Jesus was the theme of it from the beginning to the end.” The Holy Spirit delights to honor Jesus. If you find that the Spirit of God doesn’t seem to be moving in your life the way you’d wish, devote yourself to honoring Jesus and see what he’ll do for you.
But, the opposite is true of the spirit of the world. It focuses on man, not on Christ. It is man centered. And it has a religion which has at last come out with a name: Humanism. Humanism means that which focuses on man.
It’s very interesting, I’ve got to be careful I don’t get too far into this. The antichrist has a name which has a number, you know that. We won’t go into that because if we get into that we won’t get out of it. But, it says his number is the number of a man [or the number of man]. I personally believe that humanism is the religion which will raise up the antichrist. In fact, it’s getting ready to do it.
So again, a basic difference. The Spirit of God focuses on and exalts Jesus. The spirit of this world focuses on man, exalts man, talks about what man can do and what he is going to do. Its religion is humanism.
I’d like to point out to you that humanism hates Christians. Are you aware of that fact? You better be. It’s very theological. I mean, theoretically they ought to tolerate us just like one group amongst many but they don’t. They are our deadly enemies. We have yet to see what they’ll do to us if they can. Behind all the language is a spirit. And it’s a spirit that’s diametrically opposed to the Spirit of God.
The third, and I think this is very important, is the Holy Spirit focuses on the eternal. Let’s turn to 2Corinthians for a moment. I want to recommend 2Corinthians to you. Everybody reads 1Corinthians because it’s all about the gifts of the Spirit and all these things. People pass over 2Corinthians because it’s got a lot to do with suffering and self humiliation. Who wants that! 2Corinthians 3:18:
“But we all with unveiled faith, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
That’s a profound verse. What is the mirror that we look in? The word of God. While we are looking in the mirror the Holy Spirit works upon us to transform us into what we see from glory to glory. If we stop looking in the mirror the Holy Spirit has got nothing to work on. While we are looking the Holy Spirit is working.
Then you go on to the end of the next chapter which is chapter 4, verses 17–18:
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment...”
Pause there for a moment and think of the list of what Paul endured. Stoned once, shipwrecked three times, beaten with rods several times, five times received 39 lashes from the Jews, spent a day and a night in the deep in hunger, in thirst and nakedness, in cold and he says “our light afflictions.” What are you complaining about? Now let’s go on.
“Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory...”
The right enduring of affliction is working something of eternal value. But again, that only goes on while we look in the right direction. If we take our eyes off we lose the benefits. We still have the affliction but we lose the benefits. Look at the next verse.
“While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen...”
How do we look at the things which are not seen? By faith. And in the mirror of God’s word. The mirror of God’s word reveals to us the things which are not seen. And then, Paul says:
“...for the things which are seen are temporary; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
So there’s a difference. The things which we can see, the things of the world of the senses that we contact with our five senses and by our process of reasoning, they are temporary. They’re not going to last. The things we can’t see are eternal and spiritual. This is the exact opposite of the way we naturally think. We naturally think that something like this pulpit, or my body, or this building is permanent, real. Whereas we think spiritual things are somehow a little vague, a little ethereal, a little hard to apprehend. We think about them as only, in a sense, partly real. The truth is the exact opposite. The things which we apprehend with our senses are temporary, they’re not going to last. But the things of the spiritual realm are eternal, they are permanent and they are the things which are truly real. But we apprehend them only by faith, not by our senses.
If you go to 2Corinthians 5:7 Paul says:
“We walk by faith, not by sight.”
We’re not relying on our senses, we’re relying on the revelation of God’s word received by faith.
Now the spirit of this world is the opposite, it focuses on the temporary. It focuses on the material. It focuses on the world of senses. And if we let it influence us we become prisoners of our senses. We can only believe in the things that we see, touch, hear, taste and smell. That’s a prison.
Let me say anywhere in this country that Ruth and I hold a healing service, if we ask how many people want to be prayed for, I would say the minimum is 60%. Most of them are “Spirit filled” Christians. One of the root problems is we’re walking by sight and not by faith. We’re shut up in the realm of the senses. There’s no deliverance, there’s no help. We’re tremendously preoccupied with the material, let’s be honest. Cars, houses, furniture, appliances, money, food. There’s nothing sinful in any of those. The sin is being preoccupied with them.
I think the Lord wants me to turn you for a moment to Luke 17. Sometimes I feel like I’ve taken on a mountain when I begin to speak about materialism. Luke 17, beginning at verse 26. Jesus is speaking about what it’ll be like at the close of this age.
“And as it was in the day of Noah, so it shall be also in the day of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them. [Right in the middle of all those activities.] Likewise it was also in the days of Lot; they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and it destroyed them all. [Notice right in the middle of all those activities. There was no gap, no interval, no transition. Then Jesus says:] Even so will it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”
Now if you look at the things that Jesus speaks about: eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, building, planting, buying and selling; none of those things is sinful. All of them are perfectly legitimate. What’s the problem? Being immersed in them. Being ensnared in them. Not being able to see beyond them. Living as if they were the only things that are real. Who can deliver us from that? Only the Spirit of God.
And then let’s look in John 16 again. I could have saved you the trouble by putting those two passages together. John 16:8, speaking again about the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth:
“When he is come, he will convict the world...”
I think probably few of you have really paid much attention to how much the New Testament says about the world. I suggest it’s a fruitful subject of study. Just get a concordance and read through all the places where the New Testament speaks about the world.
“When he is come, he will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and of judgment.”
Those are the three eternal realities on which all true religion is based. All that is not righteous is sinful. So everything we do is either sin or righteousness and we are going to be judged for what we do. That’s a very unpopular truth today. Contemporary man under the influence of humanism hates the suggestion that he’s going to have to answer to God for the way he lives.
But when the Holy Spirit comes, he makes us aware of these eternal realities which we cannot apprehend with our eyes or senses and he shows us we’re going to have to answer to God. We’re going to have to give an account of ourselves.
The spirit of this world blinds us to these realities, keeps us from apprehending them. The spirit of this world has a philosophy which I’ve referred to in 2Peter 3:4. We’ve got to read verse 3.
“Knowing this first, the scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?”
His parousia. It’s very important to see that if there were no scoffers in the last days the Bible wouldn’t be true. So the fact that there are is one of the confirmations of scripture. It shouldn’t discourage us, it should encourage us.
This is their philosophy. They go on:
“For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
The central statement is all things continue as they were. That’s a philosophy. It’s a view of the world which is directly contrary to the revelation of scripture. It says God is never going to intervene, there’s never going to be any major change.
There was a scientist, if you could call him that, who came forth with a theory which has become the absolute foundation of this philosophy. What’s his name? Darwin. Really, the advent of Darwinism, in a sense, marked the beginning of this period. The essence of Darwin’s theory is there’s no tremendous catastrophe at any time, just everything goes on endlessly for eons on eons on eons. I don’t believe it, frankly. Furthermore, I don’t believe evolution. I believe some things are evolving and a lot of other things are devolving. The human race basically is devolving, it’s not evolving. It’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.
Interestingly enough, when I was a philosopher and had to at least pay some attention to that theory, when I was a total unbeliever I could not accept the theory of evolution. It contained so many self-contradictions. That’s one of the things that opened me to the Bible. I said to myself at least the Bible can’t be any sillier than evolution! I found out it was a lot more sensible.
But that’s a philosophy which is absolutely driven into all the people who attend our public schools today. You can’t go through public school in this country or most western countries without being brainwashed with this concept that all things continue as they were. You just have to say it isn’t Biblical. The Bible depicts various, sudden, dramatic interventions of God which brought judgment instantly, without any visible warning. The warnings were given by the prophets of God through the scriptures.
I personally believe that the present age is on the verge of the greatest judgment of all. You see, as long as Satan can keep you ignorant up to the last moment, he doesn’t worry about what happens after that. You can be disillusioned provided it’s too late. Furthermore, I think that philosophy keeps the church inactive. It’s kind of well, everything goes on the way it was. So does the church! Don’t ask us to make any radical changes, we’re pretty comfortable. Is that right? Woe to the preacher who disturbs the comfort of the church.
I’ve tried to give you some ways in which you can discern what spirit is influencing you. Or your church or whatever it is you’re involved in.
Let’s go very quickly through the five distinguishing marks. The Spirit of God is the spirit of truth. The spirit of the world is the spirit of error. The Spirit of God reveals the things of God. The spirit of the world cannot comprehend the things of God. The Spirit of God focuses on Christ. The spirit of the world focuses on man. It’s religion is humanism. The Spirit of God focuses on the eternal and the spiritual. The spirit of this world focuses on that which we apprehend with our senses as temporary. The Spirit of God convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment. The spirit of this world ignores those, they have no reality. And its philosophy is everything is going on the way it has gone on.
Now let’s consider in closing this study the results of the deliverance from the spirit of the world. You’ll find them in your outline. First of all, commitment to Christ’s kingdom. And personally, I believe anybody who has been captivated by the spirit of this world cannot be committed to Christ’s kingdom. There’s a scripture there which isn’t in your outline but it’s important. John 18:36, if you want to write it down. Pilate had asked Jesus are you a king? And this is the answer that Jesus gives in verse 36:
“My kingdom is not of this world.”
I am a king, I have a kingdom but it’s not of this world. It isn’t the kind of kingdom this world acknowledges, it isn’t going to be produced by this world. It comes from a different source.
And then if we turn to Matthew just very briefly we’ll see the tremendous emphasis that’s placed right at the beginning of the New Testament on the kingdom of God. I did in this same place I think last year preach a series of messages on “The Good News of the Kingdom”. The good news is the gospel. I think it was seven messages. I never believed that I’d get to the place where I’d be preaching 21 messages. Anyhow, I’ll give you just a little resume of that. If you turn to Matthew 3:1–2 you find the introduction to the New Testament and to the ministry of Jesus. Who came to prepare the way? John the Baptist. What did he say?
“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent: [why?] for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
That’s the introductory message. It’s a message of a kingdom that’s coming. We have truncated the gospel. We don’t call it the gospel of the kingdom, we call it the gospel. And if you ask most Evangelicals what the gospel is—Well, through faith in Jesus in his death and resurrection you can be saved, you can be forgiven your sins, you can receive eternal life and you can go to heaven when you die. That’s wonderful but it’s not the message that the early church preached. It’s just a part of their message. Their message was the gospel of a kingdom that was coming. The whole of the New Testament focuses on the fact that Jesus is a king, he has a kingdom and our responsibility is to proclaim the good news of the kingdom.
Now you turn on to Matthew 4, some of these scriptures are not in your outline. I’m not limited to what’s in the outline. My messages are like the airline schedules, they’re subject to change without prior notification! Matthew 4:17, the first words Jesus ever preached.
“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: [why?] for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Jesus paid John the Baptist the greatest compliment he could ever pay. He preached exactly the same message. But he went on further.
Then if you look in verse 23 of Matthew 4, this is the description of the beginning of the ministry of Jesus.
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of [what?] the kingdom. [Not the gospel but the gospel of the kingdom.] And healing all kinds of sickness, and all kinds of disease among the people.”
You see, I believe that God confirms his word with signs following. But if we want God to confirm the word we’ve got to preach the word that he’s going to confirm. If we just preach the gospel he hasn’t got much to confirm but he’ll confirm what we preach. But if we preach the gospel of the kingdom he’ll confirm it with signs, wonders and miracles.
My personal conviction is that where the kingdom of God comes, there is no room for sin and no room for sickness. The kingdom of God excludes both. And you’ll find every place where the gospel of the kingdom was preached all the sick were healed. I believe personally if a church would receive as a whole the good news of the kingdom in its fold there wouldn’t be a sick person left in that church. The message makes the difference.
We’re living in days of restoration. Restoration of the gifts of the Spirit. Restoration of the ministry gifts. But one important aspect of restoration is the message. The message is the good news of the kingdom.
Let’s go on. Some of these references are there. Matthew 6:10. This is what we call the Lord’s prayer. And it says:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name.”
That we all know. What’s the first petition?
“Thy kingdom come.”
You see, before we ask for anything, for daily bread, forgiveness of sins, deliverance from evil, we are required by that prayer to align ourselves with God’s central purpose which is the coming of his kingdom. It’s amazing that millions and millions of Christians have prayed that prayer every week and never realized what they were praying for. They were praying for the coming of the kingdom. God’s kingdom on earth.
Then we pray “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Once we have aligned ourselves to the purpose of God we set our will to that purpose. And our wills become aligned with the coming of God’s kingdom. Then we can come with our requests. But not until we’ve aligned ourselves with God’s purpose and submitted our wills to him.
Then you go on in Matthew 6:33 telling us how we should live. Jesus said:
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness...”
What’s the priority number one in our life? God’s kingdom. Not our convenience, not our personal concerns, but his kingdom. And his righteousness. Without the kingdom there is no righteousness. The only righteous people are the people who are under the kingship of Jesus. All other people are rebels. They can be very religious rebels, tongue speaking rebels, Charismatic rebels, Baptist rebels, Catholic rebels, but they’re rebels. And no rebel is righteous. There is no righteousness outside the kingdom of God.
Then we find how Jesus sent out the first apostles. We read in Matthew 10:5:
“These twelve Jesus sent out, and commanded them saying, Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans: [the proclamation was only made to Israel first] but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. [The message doesn’t change. And to prove the kingdom of heaven is at hand, what do you do?] Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons...”
That’s the message of the kingdom. When we take out the kingdom from the message we take out the supernatural attestation that goes with it.
Paul said in 1Corinthians 4:20:
“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.”
Then you go to Matthew 24:14 which I have quoted to you probably half a dozen times since I’ve been here. How many of you know what that says?
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the world as a witness to all the nations; and then the end shall come.”
Until the church has done the job, the end cannot come.
But Jesus made very careful provision that we were not to change the message. Right up to the end of the age it’s this good news of the kingdom. So that’s what we’re committed to. But as long as we are under the influence of the spirit of this world and immersed in the things of time and material interests and concerns, we cannot be committed to the kingdom of God. They’re inconsistent. That’s why the first message is repent, turn around, let go, stop doing your own thing, stop pleasing yourself, stop living by your own standards. Devote yourself to the purpose of God. That’s the fruit of repentance.
The second result of this deliverance is freedom from Satan’s manipulations and deceptions. You remember, Satan deceives the whole world. All who are under the spirit of the world are under Satan’s deceptions. And I put there: e.g., in the media. We in America are used to thinking that the Russians are brainwashed. They are. But no more than Americans. By what are the Americans brainwashed? By the media. The media basically determines what we think about and what we talk about. If they put something off the list we don’t even know about it. All sorts of exciting and important things are happening in the world that we never even hear about. We hear about a lot of trouble in South Africa. We never heard on the media that 3,000,000 Christians met there to pray.
Let me give you this little picture in Revelation 13. I would say if you pay too much attention to the media it will be hard to retain your faith. You may be able to do it, I couldn’t. I don’t shut myself off from the news of the world but I am very careful how I get it. I find television is a waste of time. You get all sorts of irrelevant and unimportant news and it’s all interlaced with commercials. I’m not interested. I try to find out other ways. Ruth and I basically buy the weekly news magazines, one or two. Most of the news you need is there. It’s filtered, distilled, you don’t have to waste a lot of time listening to a lot of trite in order to get a little information.
Another thing about our world is we’re just sinking beneath a sea of information. I don’t know whether I’m different from others but if I were to deal with all the mail that comes across my desk I’d have no time for anything else, not even food or sleep! Of course, I’m in a little bit of an unusual position but most of you get mail, information, things across your desk. You can’t absorb them, you just sink beneath them. You have to be very selective what you listen to, what you read, what you give your time to. Always bearing in mind the kingdom should have priority.
I don’t believe everybody should live like the way Ruth and I do, I want to say that. We’re rather strange people. I mean, I recognize that fact. I’m enough of a realist. I’m not saying all become like Derek and Ruth but I’m saying just check how much influence the spirit of this world and the media have in your life. Basically it’s not a healthy influence. Most of it is the spirit of this world.
Here’s this picture of the antichrist, etc., which I don’t believe has happened yet, and the false prophet in Revelation 13:12. “He” is the false prophet.
“And he exercises all the authority of the first beast [that’s the antichrist] in his presence, and caused the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast [the antichrist], whose deadly wound was healed.”
You see, there’s a force at work pressuring us to worship a false god. Verse 13:
“He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.”
Let me warn you that not all supernatural is from God. There are two sources of the supernatural. One is God, the other is Satan. And you need to be able to discern between them. Verse 14:
“He deceives those who dwell on the earth by the signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast; telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword, and lived. And he was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.”
In other words, to generalize, there is an evil, deceiving, spiritual power which is preparing us to worship the incarnation of Satan and to make an image of him. Now you may think that’s not going to happen literally. Well, let’s not go into that. But what I want to suggest to you—and this was suggested to me by somebody, I didn’t think of it myself. Really, in a sense, the media today in America is like a preview of the false prophet. They’re manipulating us and enticing us and persuading us to accept their standards and they’re getting us ready to worship something that’s false. To me it’s very clear.
You see, if you talk about witchcraft—you remember we talked about that—manipulate, intimidate and dominate? The essence of much that’s in the media is manipulation. That’s the essence of much advertising. You don’t really need a new car but they get you feeling that you do need a new car. I mean, if you study advertising, and I’m not a student of that, but if you study it, much of the essence of it is witchcraft, manipulation. And we’re so used to being manipulated that really we don’t know when we’re being manipulated and when we’re not. And unless we have another source, another standard, we’re going to be deceived.
I believe the other standard is the word of God. I have to say I believe in the personal return of Jesus Christ. I believe it’s our responsibility to prepare the way for him. Now I believe that as a doctrine, I believe that the Bible teaches it. If you like, it’s theology. I always believe that it’s theology but if I don’t spend time in the Bible and in prayer it isn’t real to me. I can still get a sense of the doctrine but it doesn’t motivate my living. What’s the good of having a doctrine that doesn’t affect the way you live?
We are under the most tremendous pressure from many different sources to drive us into what is really idolatry. If we’re not watchful we’ll be deceived. I can be deceived, I’m personally aware of that. I walk, I would say, in the fear of the Lord. I trust him to keep me from deceptions.
The Bible says “as the mouth tastes food, the ear tastes words.” You need to cultivate an ear that tests the words you hear. Jesus said two things about hearing. He said, “take heed what you hear,” and “take heed how you hear.” Don’t open your ear to everything. Be selective. If you take something in your mouth that tastes bitter or putrid, you spit it out. Cultivate the same with your ears. Do not receive everything you hear. There are forces at work systematically designed to deceive us. And if you go the way of the majority, in my opinion you’ll end in deception. That may be a narrow view but then after all, it is a narrow way.
The third result, and they’re all very closely connected, is the refusal to bow before the world’s idols. What are the world’s idols? I’ve listed some of them here. Success, popularity, wealth, power, pleasure, comfort, and there’s another one I should have put in, convenience. I find that basically the contemporary church worships two idols. Comfort and convenience. When any teaching comes from the word of God they’ll do it provided it doesn’t interfere with their comfort and their convenience. And the modern American system has brought comfort and convenience to a level never previously achieved by any civilization. But they’re idols. Jesus did not say follow me as long as it suits you. Or as long as it doesn’t interfere with your comfort or your convenience.
I have personally observed in my own life that when God wants to use me it usually crosses my comfort and my convenience. In fact, generally speaking, the blessing of God comes on my ministry after I have refused to bow before those two idols.
I like the picture in Daniel, let’s turn there for a moment. Daniel 3:16–18. You know the story of Nebuchadnezzar. It’s an interesting thing because he got a dream from God which was interpreted that he was the head of gold. And that went to his head so the next thing he did was to build an image of gold for himself. Probably the largest piece of solid gold that’s ever been seen. Then he said to everybody, “Now you’re all going to fall down before this image of mine.” He was an absolute ruler. And he had a way to persuade people. I’ll read verse 15.
“Now if you’re ready at the time you hear the sound of the horns, flute, harp, lyre, psaltery and symphony, and all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made good...”
To me that’s in a way typical of Satanic persuasion. It’s a tremendous number of different instruments all impacting your senses at one time. Generally speaking, when God wants to motivate his people he uses a trumpet. One single instrument that blows a clear blast. When your senses are impacted by all these different pressures and impressions, I question whether it’s God that’s behind it. Nebuchadnezzar had a very large orchestra. He said, “When the orchestra plays I want you to fall down before this idol that I’ve made.” Well, you know the story.
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.”
That’s a marvelous statement, isn’t it? We aren’t going to argue with you about it. We’ve got our minds made up.
“If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to known to you, O king that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
Our God can deliver us but we’re not serving him because he can deliver us. Even if he doesn’t deliver us we’re not going to bow down.
And it’s wonderful to hear about the stories of people who have been delivered, but I want to tell you there are a lot of people on the earth today in prison, labor camps and other places who haven’t been delivered. Don’t imagine that everybody gets delivered. The question is, If you’re not delivered will you still refuse to bow down?
I’ve read some of the stories of the believers in Russia, people that have been imprisoned 15, 20 years in ill health, separated from their wives and their families. They’re not delivered. Why? That’s God’s responsibility. But they say “we still won’t bow. We will not bow.” That’s the effect of deliverance from the spirit of this world. We will not bow. You can set up all your images, all your idols, all your systems. You can blast our senses with every kind of persuasion but we are not going to bow. We’re serving the true God, we’re the servants of his kingdom and his kingdom is coming.
A very interesting thing about the early church. Even when they were under pressure and persecution they never apologized. They never had the attitude “well, something has gone wrong.” They said “whatever happens to us, the kingdom is coming.” I don’t have time to turn, we’re almost done, but in Acts 17 Paul arrived in Corinth and there was a riot as usual. And people started to bring accusations and the iron image of the gospel said, “These men that have turned the world upside down have come here to us.” Would they say that of us, brothers and sisters? Or do we live on easy terms with the world? We don’t turn it upside down.
Actually they didn’t turn the world upside down, they put it the right way up. But they had been so used to living upside down they thought they were upside down when they were the right way up! They had been living with man on top and God underneath. That’s the world.
Listen, this is the thing I wanted to say. The final statement they made was “These all say that there is another king, and his name is Jesus.” That’s the gospel of the kingdom. There is another king. Do you believe that? Do you believe there’s another king? Are you committed to his kingdom? Or are you going to bow before the idol? That’s a decision that confronts us.
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