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The Cross Nullifies Witchcraft, Part 1
I’m really grateful for the person who always demands a title because he makes me to state what I’m going to be talking about. The title this morning was “Witchcraft Unveiled.” Then when I was accosted this evening on my way here I quickly came up with the title, “The Cross Nullifies Witchcraft.” So that’s what I’m going to talk about tonight and tomorrow night.
Let me remind you that I pointed out that on the cross Jesus administered to Satan a total, eternal, irrevocable defeat. Nothing can ever change that. So, Satan cannot ever recover from that defeat but Jesus has left it to the church to administer his victory. So Satan’s tactic is to keep the church from doing that by obscuring what happened on the cross. And the evil force that obscures the work of the cross is called in the Bible witchcraft. The church today, in my opinion, is largely in the condition stated by Paul in Galatians 3:1:
“O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified?”
What has witchcraft done? Obscured Jesus crucified. Once the church loses the sight of what was accomplished on the cross, the church no longer can administer Jesus’ victory over Satan.
Then I described what witchcraft does. It’s an illegitimate power that supports and illegitimate authority. It’s a supplanter, a usurper. So, God’s ordained authority is set aside by man’s rebellion and another authority is set in its place which is maintained by the supernatural power of witchcraft.
I outlined briefly to you certain results in the church, certain ways in which what God ordained to prevail has been set aside in favor of something that does not do the job. If I could use this language—and some of you won’t understand it—but if I go on long enough, you’ll get used to these words. The spiritual has been supplanted by the soulish. The soulish is where witchcraft flourishes. So I’m going to just read this list again because I believe it is very important to see.
As a result of the work of witchcraft in the church and in the lives of individual Christians, the spiritual has been supplanted by the carnal. To use an Old Testament picture, Isaac has been supplanted by Ishmael. Only as I was preparing for these meetings did I realize that that’s the exact truth about Islam, it’s exactly what Islam’s done. If you’re not familiar with its teaching, it teaches that Abraham offered Ishmael and not Isaac, and that the descendants of Ishmael are the chosen inheritance. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with Islam, the Mohammedan religion, but according to my observation, at the moment it is the most powerful, evil force opposing Christianity in the earth. The aim of Islam is clearly stated. It’s to take over the world for Islam. They mean it, they’re working at it. And they regard Britain as an easy prey. According to statistics in the last two or three years, 15,000 Britons have converted to Islam. It’s now the largest active, single religious movement in this country. Dear British people, it’s time you woke up. Church of Jesus Christ, what have you been doing?
Going on with witchcraft. Witchcraft has supplanted revelation by theology. Revelation is spiritual, theology is soulish, it’s intellectual.
Witchcraft has supplanted discipling by education. Education just teaches people’s minds, discipling trains people’s characters. To educate minds without training characters is to produce disaster. See? Paul said in Romans 8, “The carnal mind is enmity against God.” So if you just get people into religious atmosphere and educate their carnal minds, what you are educating is enemies of God. And the finished produce will be educated enemies of God—which is what the majority of seminaries are producing worldwide today. You could name some names in Britain that are on the news continually who are pretty good representatives of the educated enemies of God.
Witchcraft replaces discernment with psychology.
It replaces supernatural direction, the leading of the Holy Spirit, by planned program.
It replaces supernatural power by eloquence.
It replaces the walk of faith by reasoning.
And, it replaces love by legalism.
That’s not a complete list but it just gives you an example of what the products of witchcraft are when it’s admitted to the church.
One of the marvelous things about the Bible for me is that it wasn’t written mostly as a theological treatise. Paul didn’t write his letters to write theology, he wrote them in strange places: people’s homes, jail. He wrote to certain situations and certain churches or individuals lives. But the Holy Spirit so inspired him that the final result is perfect. I’ve seen this over the last few years in Galatians. Galatians unfolds the problem which is witchcraft. But Galatians also gives us God’s answer to witchcraft. And that’s what I’m going to deal with tonight and tomorrow night, the provision that God has made to protect us from witchcraft.
You see, as a man with a ministry, I tremble for my own spiritual condition. I have seen so many men with powerful, successful ministries corrupted by their power and their success. And I have sincerely sought God, “God, is there a protection? How can we keep from these disasters?” I mean, I’ve been associated with the Pentecostal movement, as I’ve said, for well over 40 years. I can remember all the days of the voice of healing evangelists. Out of 50 internationally known evangelists, I doubt whether 10 have survived with their character and their ministry intact. A certain politician once said this, “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And that is really true. Is there any way that we can avoid being corrupted by the power that God commits to us?
One of the problems of the Pentecostal movement—and I’m not a critic of the Pentecostal movement, I owe everything to them. I owe my salvation and everything. They were the first people that ever told me you could be saved and born again. But one of the problems of the Pentecostal movement is basically, most of us are focused on power. You’ll hear Pentecostal people, “We’ve got the power of God.” If you want power, you get baptized in the Holy Spirit. Power without some safeguards is disastrous.
So, I’m going to try to speak to you tonight and tomorrow night about the safeguards. And the safeguards all come through applying the work of the cross in our own lives. You see, there’s two aspects to the work of the cross. There’s what Jesus did for us, He provided everything we’ll ever need, He defeated our enemy. That’s for us. Lots of people who get excited about that have never begun to understand what the cross is intended to do in us. But if the cross doesn’t have its work in us, we will not really be able to benefit from what the cross has done for us because our subtle, deceptive enemy will get the better of us and corrupt us.
So, I’m going to speak about five operations of the cross in the life of the believer. What I’m going to say, in a sense, is not popular preaching. I’m not going to tell you how to get rich quick. I’m not going to tell you how to solve all your problems or get all your prayers answered in the next 6 months. I’ve preached prosperity before there was a prosperity movement because the Bible teaches it. Concerning the man who meditates in the law of God day and night and doesn’t walk in the way of the ungodly, it says whatsoever he does prospers. But, the problem is that people have taken the contemporary American concept of prosperity and tried to put it into the Bible. The word prosperity, properly translated, means “success.” For a believer, the greatest success is to accomplish the will of God. That was Jesus’ motivation. He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and finish His work.” Where did He finish the work? On the cross. Was that prosperity? Not by American standards. People say, “I believe in victory.” Let me tell you, Jesus was never more victorious than when he was on the cross.
Could you believe—and this is just a thought—that God will take the church home the same way He took His Son home—by way of the cross. If you know what’s going on in Communist China today, that’s a very probable thesis. I suppose the church in Communist China, with all its weaknesses and its lack of equipment, is probably the most wonderful thing that’s happened in church history since the book of Acts. It’s estimated there are between 50 and 100 million new believers in Communist China in the last two decades—in the face of intense opposition and persecution. The supernatural there is just accepted as normal Christianity.
I read an account in Brother Andrew’s publication, Open Doors—some of you may have seen it—of a Chinese wife who came to the Lord and he daughter came to the Lord and the husband and father were terribly angry. He forbid them to go to church or to have anything to do with the gospel. One night the mother and the daughter went out to the church meeting, the father discovered they weren’t there, asked his son where they were, the son said they’d gone to the meeting and the man went absolutely mad with rage. He seized an axe and when his wife opened the door to come in, he began to strike her and the daughter with the axe. He literally chopped them in pieces with his axe. The people in the village heard what was going on and gathered and as they were looking at the dead bodies writhing in their death throes on the ground, the bodies were slowly lifted up into the night air and disappeared. That’s what we call translation power. Of course, I wouldn’t want to ask how many of you would be willing to go that way. But we may not get any options.
Let’s turn to Galatians and look at five statements of Paul. I think for some of you these statements will be somewhat surprising. We’ll read chapter 1, verses 3–4.
“Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, [Where did he give himself? On the cross.] that he might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”
I believe that’s primary. I believe until we understand that through the cross it is God’s purpose that we be delivered from this present evil age, we are not really in line for what God intends to do for us and through us. There are four other deliverances through the cross which follow in Galatians and we’ll look at them. But I think in a certain sense, the other four are the outworking in various areas of this primary deliverance which is from this present evil age. I wonder how many of you have ever actually realized that it’s God’s purpose to deliver you from this present evil age.
There are two words used in the New Testament, Greek words, and they’re not always accurately translated, so we need to pause for a moment. One word is kosmosfrom which we get such words today as cosmonaut, cosmology, and all sorts of words like that. And that is properly translated “world.” But it doesn’t mean the globe in the New Testament, it means the present world order. And the distinctive feature of the present world order is that it is not submitted to the righteous government of God. It is an order that is in rebellion against God.
The church is a group of people called out from the world. That’s what the word church means, a called out company. I think it would be worthwhile looking for a moment in John 15. Keep your fingers in Galatians, we’ll probably get back there sometime before midnight. John 15:19. I choose this verse because the word “the world” occurs five times in this one verse. This is what Jesus said to His disciples:
“If you are of the world, the world would love its own: yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
Okay? You understand, there’s a total line of separation between the world and the church. The world is in rebellion against God, the church called out by a sovereign choice of Jesus to become the people of God, is submitted to God. And the more the church is submitted to God, the more the world will hate it. Okay? Jesus said to His brothers, “The world can’t hate you because you belong to it. But me it hates because I testify of it that its deeds are evil.” If the world doesn’t hate the church in Britain today, do you know the reason why? Because the world is half inside the church. Why should the world hate its own? There’s a teaching that the church is going to take over the world. I don’t believe that, let me tell you that. At the present moment it’s the other way around. The world has taken over the church. I believe if the world were evicted from the church and the church were separated from the world, we would discover how much the world really hates the church. So, that’s the church. It’s a kind of sociological, geographical entity. The Greek word is kosmos.
The other word that’s used in Greek is the word ionwhich gives us the English word “eon,” and is an age. It’s a measurement of time. God’s time plan consists of ages that follow one another, and the strongest phrase in the Bible “forever and ever” is “to the ages of ages.” That is ages, each of which is made up of ages. You understand? The human mind can’t even begin to comprehend what’s involved.
What we are talking about in Galatians is the word age. I think if I remember rightly, the Old King James Version may well say “the world,” I’m not sure. But Galatians 1:4 says:
“Christ gave himself for us that he might deliver us from this present evil age.”
Now I want to point out to you certain simple, objective facts revealed in the Bible about this present age. First of all, the most important thing you can know is it’s coming to an end. It’s not going to last forever. If you feel the way I do, you’ll say thank God because I don’t want the present age to continue, I think it’s a mess. I think it’s getting steadily worse.
Let’s look in Matthew 13. This is the great chapter of the parable of the kingdom. Matthew 13:39, interpreting the parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus says:
“The enemy who sowed the tares is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are the angels.”
So He says the harvest is the end of the age. When the harvest comes, the age is going to end.
And in verse 40 He says:
“Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be at the end of this age. The Son of man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend and those who practice lawlessness; and will cast them into the furnace of fire: there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the son in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
The righteous and the wicked are going to coexist right up to the end of the age. And actually, it’s not our business to separate them. It’s too difficult. The workers said, “Shall we go and pull up the tares?” And you remember what the landowner said? “No, because you might pull up some of the wheat with them.” But Jesus says, “At the end of the age, I’ll send out my angels. They’ll pull out the tares and the wheat will be left.” But what I want to emphasize is the age is coming to an end.
And in the same chapter, verse 49, another parable, the parable of the drag net.
“So it will be at the end of the age: the angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire...”
There are many other such passages but it’s extremely important for us to all to realize this age is coming to an end. So, if we live as if it was going on forever, we’re living in a delusion.
The next fact about this age states the reason why it’s an evil age. You turn to 2Corinthians 4:4, we have to read verse 3 to get the sentence. 2Corinthians 4:3–4:
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded.”
Who’s the god who blinds the minds of unbelievers? Satan. And do you know what he is? He’s the god of this age. No wonder he doesn’t want the age to end, you understand? Because when this age ends he will no longer be a god. But the church’s responsibility is to bring the age to an end, terminate the rule of Satan as a god.
It’s interesting because he’s called “the god of this age,” and three times in John’s gospel Jesus calls him “the ruler of this world.” So, he’s the ruler of the world system but he’s the god of the present age. And since he is totally evil, that explains the evil of the age of which he is a god.
You could say God could dethrone him. But, he’s not going to. He’s going to bring the age to and end, and with the end of the age will cease Satan’s position as a god. You see that? That’s why he does everything in his power to delay the end of the age. He knows it’s coming but he’s trying to delay it. And he has two main tactics. One against Israel, the other against the church. Because, certain things have to happen in the church and in Israel before the age will end. And the devil is a student of prophecy, he knows that.
So, if you’re involved in the church, you’re involved in a battle. And if you’re involved with Israel, you’re involved in a battle. And Ruth and I are involved in both battles simultaneously. I have to tell you frankly, we live on the front lines. We just don’t have any knowledge of what it’s like to be anywhere else. When we get out of one battle we move into the next. It’s not our choice, it’s simply our appointment.
Now, in Hebrews 6, the writer of Hebrews says that those of us who have had the experiences that we have had, have tasted the powers of a new age. He’s speaking about people who go back from what they have had but just let’s read the words. Hebrews 6:4–5:
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come...”
There’s five experiences there and I believe most of us here have had all those five experiences. We’ve been enlightened, we’ve tasted the heavenly gift—eternal life—we’ve become partakers of the Holy Spirit, we’ve tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come. I understand that’s what comes with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. When you are baptized in the Holy Spirit, you’re immersed in the supernatural presence that is supernatural in this age and will be natural in the next age. So, we have been given a little taste of what the power of the next age will be like. I believe God has given us a taste to spoil our taste for this age. I think the Christian should not be too enamored with the tastes of this age when they’ve tasted the powers of the age to come.
Then in Matthew 13:22, we’ll go back to that chapter, interpreting the parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus says:
“Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches choked the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”
Where it says “world” in this translation, the correct translation is “age.” You’ll find the NIV translates it “age.” So, the cares or the worries of this age choke the word of God and make us unfruitful. Again you understand we cannot afford to be part of this age. Because, if we’re part of this age we’ll be dominated by its cares and its problems. They will make us spiritually unfruitful. We’ve got to live lives that belong to a different age.
I look at some of your faces and I reckon you have never heard this before. But I think I’m showing you it’s right through the pages of the New Testament.
Turn to Romans 12:2.
“And do not be conformed to this world [that’s the NKJ but the correct translation is “age.” Do not be conformed to this age] but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
So we cannot afford to be conformed to the present age. And the way we are changed is not by a lot of religious rules, because that doesn’t change people inside. The way we are to be changed is in our minds. Because, when we begin to think differently we’ll live differently. See, that’s the difference between religion and grace. Religion consists of outside rules: what should you wear, how long your skirt must be, how much lipstick you may wear and all sorts of things. I’ve been through all that and—well, you have to understand, I had a wife and nine daughters so I went through it by proxy! I have to say, my first wife never since she became a Christian, which was many years ago, never wore any kind of make-up. That makes really no difference to me. My present wife wears make-up. So what?
You know, in the Assemblies of God, way back, it was a sin to wear make-up. So they never put make-up on. But after the rule was made, people came out with eye-shade and there was no rules about eye-shade so they would wear eye-shade without make-up which made them look like ghosts! What I’m saying is rules like that don’t change people’s heart. You’ve got to change the way they think. Then they’ll change. So Paul says don’t think the way this age thinks. Be changed in your mind, let the Holy Spirit give you a different way of thinking and evaluating things, different priorities, different ambitions, different goals. Then you’ll live differently.
Then he says when you have your mind renewed, you’ll be able to find out what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. You see, lots of Christians don’t find the will of God because they’re never renewed in their minds. The unrenewed mind cannot discover the will of God. The carnal mind is enmity against God. God doesn’t reveal His secrets to his enemies. But if your mind is changed, then God will begin to show you His secrets. He’ll begin to show you His secret plan for your life. I’m afraid millions of Christians will get to heaven but they’ll have missed God’s plan here on earth because they were not renewed in their minds. So, we are not to be conformed to this present age.
And then in 2Timothy 4:10, I think we have one of the great tragedies of the New Testament. One of Paul’s most trusted, long-term fellow workers abandoned him in jail. Who was he? His name was Demas. This is what Paul says:
“Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present age...”
It doesn’t say that Demas went into sin, that he became immoral or drunk. He just was enamored of this present age. And there came a point where the love of this age made it impossible for him to go any further with Paul. I think that has been true in the experience of many people called into the service of God. The love of this age has kept them from fulfilling their call. A servant of God cannot love this present age. You have to make your mind up.
Now, what’s the result of being delivered from this present evil age? I want to offer you some suggestions. First of all, we get citizenship in heaven. Philippians 3:17 and following.
“Brethren, join in following my example...”
Can you say that? When I went into the British Army in l940, there was a sergeant there whose business it was to train us. And he stood a long way off and we stood in three uneven, ragged lines in front of him. He shouted at us. The first thing he said was, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” And there were good reasons for him saying that! But you and I can not afford to say that. We have to be able to say, “Do as I do. Follow my example.” Otherwise we better not say anything, it’s better to keep our mouth shut.
“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk as you have us for a pattern. For many walk [and I don’t think he’s talking about unbelievers here. I think he’s talking about professing Christians. Many walk] of whom I have told you often and now tell you, even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.”
Notice they’re not the enemies of Christ. As long as they can get what they want from him, they’ll be friends. What is it they’re the enemies of? The cross, that’s right. What’s the result? Look in the next verse.
“Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame; who set their minds on earthly things.”
That’s the result of refusing to embrace the cross. You can say all sorts of nice things about Jesus Christ and call Him your Savior but if you don’t embrace His cross, this will be your destination. I’m afraid there are many, many Christians today whose god is their belly, to say the truth. Who are more interested in what they put in their stomach than what they can do for God. I don’t think that’s characteristically a British problem, it’s certainly an American problem. But I don’t think there’s any racial group that’s exempt from that problem.
Paul says for those who don’t go this way:
“For our citizenship is in heaven.”
Now I have British citizenship, I have American citizenship. I’m privileged. But the most important citizenship I have is in heaven. That’s what really matters. That’s the result of embracing the cross, being separated from this present evil age. Your citizenship is in heaven. If you have citizenship in any nation, you’re entitled to the passport of that nation. So we’re entitled to heaven’s passport. And when you come to the nation where your a citizen, you’re admitted on very different terms than people who don’t have that passport. Have you ever stood in the line and watched? Ruth is only an American citizen so when I come to Britain with my wife, I come in with my American passport. We stand “Other Passports,” whereas all the people with UK passports just walk through. But when we get to the United States, then it’s the other people that have to wait and we just walk through. See? So it’s important that you have the right passport. You can only have the right passport if you have the right citizenship. So, you need citizenship in heaven to have heaven’s passport, the right of free entry into the country of which you’re a citizen.
Not only do we have citizenship in heaven, but we are looking for Christ’s return. I think that’s the second mark of being delivered from this present evil age. Paul continues in this third chapter of Philippians:
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let me ask you, Are you eagerly waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ? Good, that’s true, that’s wonderful. You see, He’s only coming back for the people that are eagerly waiting for Him. Did you know that? Turn to Hebrews 9 for a moment. Hebrews 9:27–28:
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; to those who eagerly wait for him he will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
To whom will He appear? To those who eagerly wait for Him. If we have not been delivered from this present evil age, we will not be eagerly awaiting for Jesus. So, the practical results of being delivered from this present evil age through faith in Jesus are that we have citizenship in heaven and we are eagerly awaiting the return of the Lord from heaven.
Now let’s go on to the second deliverance in Galatians. As I have said, I suggest that the remaining four deliverances that we’re going to look at are all different aspects of the first deliverance from this present evil age. In other words, in order to be delivered from this present evil age fully, you need to make sure that you have all four subsequent deliverances. I think I’ve communicated that. I see understanding registering on your faces.
So we’ll go on now to Galatians 2:19.
“For I through the Law died to the Law, that I might live to Christ.”
When did I die to the Law? When Christ died, that’s right. Our old man was crucified with Him. So through the cross and the death of Jesus there which has become my death through my faith, I have died to the Law. That’s a wonderful thought if you can grasp it. You see, the last thing the Law can do to you is put you to death. Okay? That’s its final penalty. When it’s put you to death, it has nothing more that it can do to you. So when you have been executed, you’re no longer subject to the Law. The only way out from the Law is death. In the mercy of God, the death took place when Jesus died on the cross. Okay? So, I through the Law am dead to the Law. The Law has nothing to say to me, I have no more relationship to the Law. I’ve been separated from the Law by the death of Jesus.
Now, I’ve dealt with this theme frequently in the last few years. I’m used to the look of polite astonishment that comes on people’s faces because they cannot conceive that it’s God’s purpose that we should be delivered from the Law, but that’s the truth. It is His purpose. It’s clearly stated many, many times. Let’s look for a little in Romans 6:14. If you’re with me long enough, you’ll know where to find some of these scriptures. Romans 6:14. This is really a breathtaking statement. If you’ve read your Bible and never been surprised by this, you’ve never really understood it.
“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law but under grace.”
Okay? I’ve pointed out previously in this series there are two mutually exclusive alternatives. You can’t have them both, you have to make a choice. If you’re under law, you’re not under grace. If you’re under grace, you’re not under law. So you have to make your mind up. Am I under law or am I under grace? And you can’t have one foot in two different worlds.
The further amazing implication of this is that if you are under the law, sin will have dominion over you. Would you mind looking at those words just for a moment. I don’t want you to look at my face because that doesn’t say it. It’s the most astonishing statement. Just be assured I’m reading the verse right, I haven’t left out a “not” or a “no.” Okay?
“Sin shall not have dominion over you, for [or because] you are not under the Law.”
What is the obvious implication? If you are under the Law, sin will have dominion over you. The only way of escape from the dominion of sin is escape from the Law—which was provided by the death of Jesus on the cross. “I through the Law am dead to the Law.”
I could go on the rest of the night in Romans because I’ve just taught 12 hours solid on Romans in my last meeting—the most challenging undertaking I’ve ever had in all my preaching ministry. I’m not short of ammunition when it comes to Romans. I can’t afford to get side-tracked. Let’s just look at a couple of other passages in Romans. Romans 7:5–6:
“For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sins which were aroused by the Law, were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.”
What aroused the passions of sin? The Law. And what was the result? Fruit for death. Now, the next verse says:
“But now we have been delivered from the Law...”
What have we been delivered from? The Law. It’s not talking about being delivered from sin at this point but being delivered from the Law. If you really believe the Bible, would you do something for me? Would you just say that with me? “But now we have been delivered from the Law.” That was a good start but let’s say it as if we really mean it. “But now we have been delivered from the Law.”
Now let me go on reading that verse.
“But now we have been delivered from the Law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”
If you look at the preceding verses of Romans 7—and it’s one of Paul’s complicated passages of which he has produced a number—you find that he uses an analogy. I’d rather just say it than read the verses and explain them. He takes the analogy of a woman married to a man and he says, “According to the Law, if that woman marries another man while her husband remains alive, she is an adulteress. But once her husband is dead, she’s free to marry another man.” Now, there’s a lot there in connection with divorce which I don’t want to go into. But I would like to suggest if you have questions about the rights of a divorcee, the answers that I give are found in our book, God is a Matchmaker. All right, there’s a whole chapter on divorce. I cannot go into it tonight but people use this verse to say a woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. They don’t go the whole way because if the husband has committed adultery, the Law left no option, he had to be put to death. It was mandatory, there was no other penalty. So once under the Law a man committed adultery, his wife was automatically free to marry another. It is totally illogical to apply the law in one part and not in the other, see? I think millions of innocent Christians have been held in bondage by this misapplication of this scripture. That’s not what I’m dealing with but when I get here I get indignant. I really do because I think in many places divorcees are treated like second class citizens. As far as America is concerned, about 50 percent of people today are divorcees. Some of them through their own wickedness but many who’ve done nothing wrong whatever.
Let me use my little figure. I should just stop. You see, the rules about divorce in the church were made by clergy who never married! So they were making rules they were never going to have to keep themselves. And the thing is, divorce is bad so if any people get divorced, we punish them both. What logic! So robbery is bad. So if one person robs another, we put them both in jail. Is that right? But that’s what the church has done, it’s put both people in a jail that’s much worse than a physical jail—for life. Well, that’s not what I’m preaching about but it will just give you a little more to think about.
Let’s come back to Paul’s analogy. What is he trying to say? He’s talking primarily to Jewish people. You need to bear in mind—as a matter of fact, the only nation that was ever put under the Law was Israel. God has never put Gentiles under the Law of Moses. Furthermore, in actual fact, the only place where the Law could be fully observed was the land of Israel. You can’t observe it outside the land of Israel because there are all sorts of geographical features to the Law. See, people don’t realize this.
But anyhow, Paul says, “All right. We’ve been under the Law.” And he says this, “By the law we were married to our carnal nature.” And the carnal nature produced out of that union what it always produces, the works of the flesh. And there’s not one good thing amongst them. Okay? But he says, “The good news is that on the cross our carnal nature died in Jesus.” So now we’re free to marry another without being adulteresses. See the application? To whom shall we be married? To the resurrected Christ. When we are married to Him, what do we bring forth? The fruit of the Spirit. That’s out of that union.
There’s two possible unions. You can be united with your fleshly nature and bring forth the works of the flesh. That’s the marriage under the Law. But delivered from the Law we are free to be married or united by the Holy Spirit to Jesus in what is called a marriage relationship, and bring forth out of that relationship the fruit of the Spirit. You see, in neither case is it a question of trying or doing our best. Christianity is not a religion of doing our best. It’s not a religion of effort. The key word is union. You bring forth that which is appropriate to what you’re united to. When you’re united to your fleshly nature, I don’t care how hard you try, no matter how many rules you make you’re going to bring forth the works of the flesh. And there isn’t one good one amongst them. When you are truly united by the Holy Spirit to Jesus the resurrected Lord, you don’t have to make a lot of effort, you will bring forth the fruit of the Spirit. I tell people it’s not effort, it’s union. It’s not a new set of rules, it’s a relationship. That’s stated so plainly in the New Testament. Isn’t it amazing that the majority of professing Christians have never known it.
Just to take another very simple picture. John 15, the parable of the vine. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you’re the branches. Every branch in Me that bears fruit...” Et cetera, et cetera. That’s a beautiful parable of the Godhead because He said, “My Father is the vinedresser. I’m the vine,” and where’s the Holy Spirit? He’s the sap, that’s right. And how do the branches produce fruit? By trying hard? By abiding in the vine. And when they abide in the vine, they can’t help it. It is not effort, it is union.
So, we have been delivered from the Law because it brought forth all sorts of fleshly activity within us. And Paul says a little further on in Romans, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” No matter how hard you try, you can’t do it. Why try?
Let’s look in Romans 10:4.
“For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one who believes.”
To how many? Everyone. It’s a very carefully stated verse. I marvel at the accuracy of Paul because again, he was just writing a letter. It says Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness. As a means of achieving righteousness with God, the death of Christ set the Law aside. It’s not the end of the Law as a part of God’s word—that endures forever. It’s not the end of the Law as a part of the history and culture of Israel. And you really can’t understand the Jewish people unless you understand something about the Law. It’s not the end of the Law as a subject for meditation. It’s a subject for endless meditation. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in his Law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in season. His leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” The key to that is right meditation. The subject for meditation is the Law.
Let me tell you, when you have met Jesus and you know the Holy Spirit, there is no limit to the richness of the meditation that’s available through the Law. It’s an endless series of lessons.
The key to prosperity—I mean, I’m making no extra charge for this, so why shouldn’t I say it? The key to success in God’s terms is meditation. What you think on is going to determine the way you act. You cannot think right and live wrong. And you cannot think wrong and live right. So, when God was telling Joshua to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land, he said, “This book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein. For then thou shalt make thy way prosperous and then thou shalt have good success.” What are the keys? Confession, meditation, action. Think the Law, speak the Law, act the Law. Okay? That’s the key to success in the spiritual life. That’s one reason why Ruth and I devote so much importance to right confession. Because, your tongue is the rudder. It determines where you’re going to go in life. You cannot maintain the right confession and go to the wrong destination. Something is going to have to change. Either you’ll give up the right confession or you’ll give up the wrong course. But one or the other is going to change.
I think that’s enough about the Law. I’ve got a lot more scriptures here but I think I’ve got you convinced—most of you. Which is a miracle if it’s happened!
What are the results of being delivered from the Law? And this will be the last in this series tonight. Tomorrow night, for those of you who can come, if God wills and we live I’ll deal with the remaining three deliverances. But let’s look now at the result of deliverance from the law.
First of all, freedom from condemnation. Romans 8:1:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. [Verse 3:] For what the Law could not do, God did sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.”
If you analyze Romans, I tell people it’s like when we used to drink percolated coffee. We don’t do that very much now. But there are two kinds: percolated and instant. If you want to get Romans 8, you can’t get instant Romans 8, it has to be percolated. You have to go through the preceding 7 chapters, that’s the percolator. And it’s only at the end of that you get “therefore” when you’ve been through those chapters. The preceding chapters deal with the total sinfulness of all humanity with the failure of religion to change man’s sinful nature. With the examples of Abraham and David, with a comparison between Adam and Christ, chapter 6 is God’s remedy for the old man which I have told you is execution. God’s solution for the old man is execution. He doesn’t patch him up, he doesn’t reform him, he doesn’t send him to church; he executes him. The good news is the execution took place when Jesus died on the cross.
Now, I always used to think, “Why come to the Law after all that?” But the whole of Romans 7 deals with our relationship with the Law. But I have learned by my own experience and by dealing with other people, and from scripture, the ultimate hurdle you have to get over, the last stage of the percolator is finding out how you relate to the Law. And most Christians have never gone there. And without that, you cannot live in Romans 8 because the essential condition is “no condemnation.” The moment you come under condemnation, you are out of the Spirit controlled life of Romans 8. The devil’s number one objective is to bring you under condemnation. The purpose of God’s word, especially in Romans, is to deliver you from condemnation.
If you go on to the end of the 8th chapter, you’ll find again that glorious statement, “Who is he that will bring a charge against God’s elect? It’s God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Jesus Christ who died, who rather, has risen again from the dead.” The essential thrust of that chapter is “no condemnation.” But until we have understood our relationship to the Lord, we will always be subject to condemnation. Let me say there will always be a lot of religious people around just ready to bring you under condemnation.
Secondly, deliverance from the Law brings freedom to love. I think legalism and love essentially are opposites. If you’re in a legalistic system, it is very hard to love. We have to be delivered from legalism to love. We could look in a number of scriptures. Let’s look in Romans 13 for a moment, Romans 13:8–10:
“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the Law.”
Notice that, has fulfilled the Law, not is going to fulfill the Law.
“For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment are all summed up in this saying: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law.”
That’s very simple. The problem is for theologians it’s too simple.
Turn for a moment to Galatians 5:6.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”
In the last resort, the only thing that matters is faith working through love. If we ever get off that, we’re side-tracked. We can get side-tracked into all sorts of clever theological theories, interpretations of prophecy and all sorts of things. But if we ever get away from faith working through love, we’ve gone off center, we’ve missed the real purpose of the gospel message.
And then in Galatians 5:14:
“For all the Law is fulfilled in one word [How many of you can guess the word?], even in this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
That is not possible when we’re bound by the Law because we’re bound to our carnal nature, and the carnal nature produces anything but good fruit.
The third result of being delivered from the Law is freedom to be led by the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at Romans 8:14–15.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery again to fear, [What would that have been? Going back under the Law. You didn’t go back under that spirit.] but you received the spirit of adoption by whom we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”
Not the spirit of slavery but the spirit of sonship. God does not want to produce slaves, he wants to produce sons. What is the mark of sons of God? It’s stated there very clearly. “As many as are regularly led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God.”
You see, most of you from the background that you come from, have heard sermons on how to be born again. You’ve probably heard sermons on how to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. That’s tremendous. The new birth makes you a child of God. The baptism in the Holy Spirit equips you to serve God with supernatural power. But the only way you can become a mature son of God is by being led by the Holy Spirit. And I’ve been in large congregations of Pentecostal and Charismatic people, and I’ve asked, “How many of you have ever heard a sermon on How to Be Led by the Holy Spirit?” And very often not more than 25% will ever raise their hands. I think this is the great deficiency in the current movement that we’re in. We major on one-time experiences and we don’t realize the importance of the ongoing life in the Spirit. The words in this verse are in the continuing present. “As many as are being regularly led by the Spirit of God, they [and only they] are sons of God.”
You have to put that together with Galatians 5:18 to see the full effect of what I’m trying to share with you. Galatians 5:18 says:
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.”
Okay? So if you want to be led by the Spirit, you cannot be under the Law. And if you’re not led by the Spirit, you cannot become a mature son of God. See? So deliverance from the Law means release to become a mature son of God—and the word “son” includes both sexes. I’m sure you understand that. To become a mature son or daughter of God, shall we say, through being led by the Holy Spirit. Okay?
Now, I think you’ve been wonderfully attentive at the end of a rather long series of meetings. I think I would be foolish to try to take you any further tonight. But I just like to end with this what is to me a very vivid picture of the alternatives. I realize this is a tremendous problem for religious people. It’s like if I let go of the rules, what am I going to hold on to? You know? This is dangerous. What the Bible says is dangerous to try to live by the rules. Okay? That’s not the way we thing but it’s true to experience.
I’m saying there is a place for rules, definitely. I believe in keeping the speed limit, though I sometimes have a struggle with it! I really believe it’s right. I believe in being an obedient citizen of the nation in which you are. I believe in keeping the nation’s laws. I believe in a family there has to be simple, practical rules. I believe a church needs a few simple rules to guide the conduct of the affairs of the church. But, you are not made righteous by keeping the rules of your church. If you have been made righteous by faith and the rules are right, you’ll keep them. See the difference? But your righteousness does not come from keeping those rules. And if that’s the only righteousness you have, which is true of millions of Christians, you’ve never experienced the righteousness that God intends you to have.
This is the little illustration. I just used it very briefly the other day but I can amplify it a little. I hope that somehow this will make it clear to you. It’s like there are two different ways of making a journey from a certain starting point to a certain destination. One is a map, the other is a personal guide. Okay? The map is perfect, it tells you everything you need to know. The map is the Law. And Paul says of the Law of Moses, it was perfect, it was holy, it was good. Never does the Bible say there’s anything wrong with the Law. The problem is not in the Law, it’s in us.
The other alternative is a personal guide. Who is the personal guide? The Holy Spirit. “As many as are regularly led by the Holy Spirit are sons of God.”
One of the causes of man’s fall and one of its effects is an innate desire to be independent of God which is born into every child of Adam. See, it was there in the initial temptation. Satan said, “If you eat of that tree, you’ll be like God.” What’s wrong with being like God? That’s not evil. What was the evil? The evil was trying to be like God independent of God. And the root of all sin is not the desire to do evil, it’s the desire to be independent of God. And that’s the ultimate thing that God has to deal with in every one of us before we can become the kind of people that He wants us to be. And it takes a lot of dealings of God in the lives of most of us to bring us to the place where we’re willing to be simply and humbly dependent upon God.
So we have this young man, he’s a university graduate, he’s strong, he’s healthy and he’s presented with a choice. Does he want the map or does he want the guide? He says, “I’ve got two degrees, healthy, I’ve got sense. I’ll take the map.” All right. He starts out, the sun is shining, birds are singing, the road is very easy to follow. He says, “This is a piece of cake!” About 48 hours later things have changed. He’s in the middle of a dense forest in the middle of the night, on the edge of a precipice. It’s raining hard and he doesn’t know whether he’s facing north, south, east or west. And at that moment a gentle voice says, “Can I help you?”
“Oh, Holy Spirit, I need you!”
“Well, give me your hand and I’ll get you out.”
So, off they set out together and after a little while they’re on the plain, straight road again and the sun is shining. So the young man says to the Holy Spirit, “I’ve got a wonderful map here. Perhaps you’d like to look at the map.” So the Holy Spirit says, “I don’t need the map. I know the way. Besides, I’m the one that made the map!”
So after awhile the young man says to himself, “Well, I was silly. I didn’t need to panic like that. I could have made it on my own.” And he turns around and there’s no Holy Spirit there. You don’t have to give the Holy Spirit two hints, He takes the first one. So he goes on and about four days later he’s in the middle of a bog and every step he takes he’s sinking deeper. He says, “I can’t ask the Holy Spirit...” But this gentle voice says, “Perhaps you need me now?”
“Oh, Holy Spirit.”
“Give me your hand.”
And out he comes. And they’re on the road again.
Now, the question I want to ask is, How many times does that have to happen? Most of us have gone back to the map several times before we really saw we couldn’t do it without the guide. That’s what righteousness is. It’s not following a set of rules, it’s being led by the Holy Spirit.
Now please understand, when I say you’re not made righteous by not keeping the Law, that doesn’t mean you can break all the laws. Because, the alternative is not doing your own thing. The alternative is being led by the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit of God will never lead you to do anything evil. The question is, Can you trust Him? And what’s inside most of us is, “Well, I know myself. I think I better go back to these rules because that’s where I’m at home.” The trouble is we always mess it up with the rules. We’ve got to take the risk of being led by the Holy Spirit.
I want to tell you this, the Holy Spirit is a person. He’s not a set of rules, He’s not a theological concept, He’s not half a sentence at the end of the Apostle’s Creed; He’s a person. And you’ve got to learn to relate to Him as a person. You’ve got to be sensitive to Him.
I believe the most successful ministers today are those who know how to relate to the Holy Spirit and do it. Charles Finney, one of the world’s most successful evangelists, said, “The exact measure of a minister’s success is the measure of the Holy Spirit in his ministry.”
I want to give this a practical application tonight. Years ago the Lord said to me, “I didn’t call you to deliver religious lectures.” He said, “Whenever you teach anything practical, I want you to give my people an opportunity to apply it.” So very briefly, as this meeting closes, I’m going to give you an opportunity to make a decision. Let me first of all give you one more picture. When Jesus was publicly revealed to Israel through the ministry of John the Baptist, as He approached John, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, John said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” And then a few minutes later, apparently John saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descending on Jesus. And he said, “This is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit. This is the Son of God.”
Now, in that vivid incident we have two familiar creatures. The lamb and the dove. The dove represents the Holy Spirit. What I want to point out to you is the Holy Spirit only looks for one kind of nature to settle on. He’s not going to settle on a lion or a bear or a dog. He’s only going to settle on the lamb nature. That’s what He’s looking for. And the only one He never wanted to move from was Jesus because He had the perfect nature of the lamb. And if you want the blessing and presence of the Holy Spirit continually on your life, you need to cultivate the nature of the lamb in you. Don’t be too ambitious about power and miracles and success, because that usually leads to disaster. What’s important is the lamb nature.
We could say a lot about the lamb nature but let me just suggest to you three things. In the scripture it typifies purity, meekness and the life laid down in sacrifice for others. What is the Holy Spirit looking for, what is He willing to settle on? What is He willing to have fellowship with? The lamb nature. And if you really want fellowship with the Holy Spirit, if you want him as your regular daily companion and guide, He’ll be very happy. But, to keep him close to you you’ve got to cultivate the nature of the lamb.
I want to give you just an opportunity to consider what I’ve tried to put before you this evening and I believe some of you need to make a decision. I believe some of you need to say, “I really haven’t cultivated the right relationship with the Holy Spirit. I’ve really been very independent in many ways. I’ve tried to do my own thing and go my own say, set my own standards, please myself. I’ve been pretty selfish at times. I haven’t cared too much about others, I’ve just pressed through and if I’ve trod on a few people’s toes it didn’t worry me much. I’ve been more like a lion than a lamb.” And the Holy Spirit has been very patient but He’s waiting for you to make a decision. If you really want fellowship with Him, you’re going to have to ask God to change that selfish self seeking, aggressive, self centered nature in you. Okay? That’s your decision. But I believe there are those here tonight who need to make that decision. I believe some of you are at a crossroads. You’re going to go either to success in God’s sense or you’re going to run off into some spiritual backwater and spend the rest of your life there. Maybe you’ll get to heaven at the end but you’ll look back on a life that was essentially wasted.
I’m going to ask you to do something very simple. I’m going to ask you to think over what I’ve been saying for a moment or two. And shut yourself in with God. Don’t bother about people round about you. Then if you want to indicate to God your intention to make this change and to relate in a new way to the Holy Spirit and to try to do the things that attract the Holy Spirit, and avoid the things that grieve the Holy Spirit, and you’re going to say to the Holy Spirit, “Holy Spirit, I haven’t treated you right. You’ve been so patient with me and I’ve really been arrogant, I’ve been self assertive.”
Let me just say we had a visitation in our local church which is GNC, Good News Church—not Good News Crusade—about a year and a half ago, nearly two years ago. We had a 21 day period of prayer and fasting as a church and during that period we met in the church every morning from 5 to 7 a.m. It started with a total failure and ended with an amazing move of God. I can’t go into the details but we spent most of that time on our faces on the floor before God. I think I could say God showed almost every one of us that we’ve been guilty of the sin of arrogance toward God. Not so much toward man. And I tried later to sum it up this way, by saying we’ve been treating Jesus as our butler and the Holy Spirit as a rubber stamp. We saw that we had to completely change our whole attitude towards God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I’m one of those that spent so much time on the floor. But I can look back and say I’m not perfect, far from it, but I thank God for what he showed me in that time, for the change that he brought. I think my wife Ruth would say the same. And there were others in our church who were vitally and radically transformed at that time. Not the whole church because God deals essentially with individuals.
So, I’m not theorizing. I’m suggesting something to you which I have proved works. So, if you tonight would like to tell God, “God, I have to say I’m sorry. I’ve really been very independent. I’ve not acknowledged you in many things, I’ve not submitted to you, I’ve not been sensitive to you. I want to change. I want your help to change.” If you want to make that decision here tonight, forget about other people and stand to your feet right where you are. “Brother Don, would you come up?” Now be careful when you make this decision because things are going to happen. Life is not going to go on exactly the same. I’ve asked Don to come up here because I do believe that it’s appropriate that he stands with me as we pray.
I think I’m just I’m just going to ask you to say a few brief words, very simple, and then pray whatever prayer you want to pray. Will you say these words? “Holy Spirit, Spirit of God, I’m sorry that I haven’t honored you. That I haven’t been sensitive to you. That often I’ve ignored you and slighted you. Holy Spirit, I’m sorry. I ask your forgiveness and I pray that you’ll come into my life and abide with me and lead me in the ways of God. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Now just settle it between God and you privately in your own way.