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Whose Flag Are You Flying?

Lately piracy in the seas around Somalia has been in the news. Just this past weekend the Captain of the Maersk Alabama was rescued from pirates after being held captive for five days. The US military ships surrounded the lifeboat containing the four pirates and the American ship captain. After a standoff, the Navy Seals shot and killed the pirates and rescued the American when the captain was deemed to be at risk of being shot.

Today the news has included several more reports of hijacking and piracy attempts. A pirate has stated that they are actually searching for American ships with the plans to hijack and kill all the Americans. They are specifically looking for the American Flag flying over a ship. This is in retaliation for the Navy killing the pirates in the rescue.

When a ship out at sea is found to be flying an American Flag that means something. What does it mean? It means that the ship is backed by the US government. All terrorism and attacks against the ship run the very high risk of retaliation by the US government.

My studies in military history have shown there is much in a name. While a small country could be at the mercy of pirates, larger countries are not helpless. Countries such as the US can escort ships and they can retaliate in the case of an attack. Also the US has political sway over other countries, granted not as much as before, but we still do. Small countries are dependent on their political allies. This is much of the reason for the First Gulf War – protecting Kuwait from Iraq. There are Fillipinos who have been held captive by pirates since November and there is little their country can and will do about the situation.

So how does this apply here in our Christian Life?

Whose flag are you under? Are you under the flag of the Lord?

In the Bible, the phrase Yehovah Nicciy means Jehovah my banner. Nec (root word) might be translated as banner, flag or standard while the word Degel is also translated flag, banner or standard.

Exodus 17:15-16
15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi:
16 For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
KJV

Exodus 17:15-16
15 And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord is my banner,
16 saying, “A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
ESV

Psalms 60:4 You have set up a banner for those who fear you, that they may flee to it from the bow. Selah ESV

Song of Solomon 2:4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. ESV

Isaiah 13:2 Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles. KJV

We as those who Christ as ransomed have been sealed with the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 1:13-14
13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
ESV

We are flying the Lord’s Banner or Flag with the Holy Spirit as our guarantor.

When others decide to “mess with us” then they run the risk of facing the full wrath and fury of the Lord. We are backed by the Lord and all His resources.

However, just like today with the shipping situation, those under the Lord’s banner also risk being singled out by Satan for attacks. Satan hates the Lord and by association us. Satan will do all in his power to attack those flying the Lord’s banner.

As a matter of fact, the Lord has warned us that this will happen.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. ESV

Just as the US has warned American ships to be extra vigilant during the recent pirate crises; the Lord has warned us that Satan is sneaking around looking for those who are caught off guard.

But we shouldn’t live in fear because the Lord is on our side.

Psalms 118:4-8
4 Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.
6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
7 The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
ESV

Having the Lord as our protection and shield is better than having all the military might of the whole world behind us.

Psalms 18:2-3
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
ESV


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Principles of Holiness – Principle 2

Holiness Principle #2 – The Christian is called to be separate from worldliness.

    

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

 

14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?

16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

17 “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

18 “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (NIV)

 

First, let there be no misunderstanding by what is meant by the word “separate.” Some might think that this means we must withdraw ourselves from society and live our lives in a monastery or a convent. That is not what is meant by the word “separate.” And others might think that this means we should shun all modern technology and conveniences and go back to a pioneer lifestyle, like the Amish. Although this seems attractive at times, like when everything you have breaks, that is not what is meant by the word “separate” either. The word “separate” here is the Greek word “aphorize”, and it means to “set off by a boundary.” If you look closely at the word, you can see our word “horizon” in it. In other words, we as Christians are called to have a set of godly convictions which sets up a boundary to separate us from the ungodly activities which occupy the attention of the rest of the world. With this is in mind, let’s look at 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 and understand the nature of the separation from this world which the Christian is required to have.

 

We often hear the first part of verse 14 lifted somewhat out of context and applied to the matter of marriage. It is usually quoted from the KJV. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (KJV) We have been told that this means that a Christian should not marry a person who is not a Christian. But that is just one application of the underlying principle found in verses 14-18. Let’s look at this idea in context.

 

The first part of this underlying principle is that there are some things that just do not mix. Just like oil and water do not mix physically, there are also things which do not mix spiritually. This first idea is found in these verses in a series of five questions that Paul poses to the reader. We see these five questions in verses 14-16. Let’s look at these five questions and determine how the Christian should answer them.

 

The first question asks us: What do righteousness and wickedness have in common? If you as a believer desire to have the righteousness of Christ, how much room is there in your life for wickedness?

 

The second question asks us: What fellowship can light have with darkness? It is impossible for light and darkness to commingle. This is true physically. But this is also true spiritually. Listen to the words of Jesus from John 3:19-21 “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (NIV) It is impossible for the believer to love the darkness one day and the light the next day.

 

The third question asks us: What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? The word “belial” is a Hebrew word that means “worthless” and “lawless”. In this context, the reference here is probably to Satan. So ask yourself this question: Do you think Jesus and Satan ever get together to talk about the way things used to be and try to find a common ground that they can both agree on? I don’t think so. There is no harmony between Jesus and Satan. In fact, the word “harmony” here is the Greek word “sumphonesis.” It is where our word “symphony” comes from. Can you imagine Jesus and Satan trying to play the same music together?

 

The fourth question asks us: What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? I’m afraid that the answer to this question in America today is “far too much”. In most circumstances it is impossible to pick out a believer from an unbeliever because we watch the same movies, drink the same beer, have the same cable TV channels in our home, laugh at the same jokes, share the same gossip, listen to the same music, wear the same clothes. I think that I must paraphrase Paul’s question to make it make sense to us today: “What should a believer have in common with an unbeliever?”

The fifth question asks us: What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? When the Antichrist erects an image of himself in the temple in Jerusalem, it will be called the “abomination of desolation”. There is no room in the temple of the living God for even just one idol.

 

The second part of the underlying principle is to define the people of God as the temple of God. This is seen in verse 16. “For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (NIV) Now we just answered the question, “What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?” (NIV) So, if we are the temple of God, how much room is there for idols in our life?

 

Let’s ask ourselves a question here. What exactly does it mean for the Christian to be the temple of God? This question is not addressed specifically here because Paul has already written to the Corinthian church before about this issue. Listen to what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (NIV) Notice three things from these verses.

 

First, the Christian’s body is a temple of the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit dwells in you. We are told in 1 Kings 8:11 that when Solomon dedicated the first temple to God, the glory of God came and filled the temple. “And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.” (NIV)

 

Second, the Christian should consider himself a slave to God because he was purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ.

 

And third, and the most important point as related to our discussion, we serve God spiritually based on what we do with our bodies physically.  If you were to look back at verses 14-18 in 1 Corinthians 6 you would find the context of this passage relates to the sin of going into a prostitute.

 

Things are much more complicated today than they were for the nation of Israel. When the Old Testament writers warned the people about worshipping idols, they generally meant idols – things made out of wood or stone or metal. Today, we think we are far too sophisticated to ever think of worshipping such an idol. So instead, we have set up other idols, and these new idols we have set up in our lives are far more insidious than the idols of stone and wood precisely because they cannot necessarily be seen with the physical eye. They require spiritual vision to perceive the fact that they are idols.

 

Look at the end of verse 16. “As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (NIV) Notice the relationship that God wishes to have with each and every Christian. There are four distinct ways that God wants to relate to you.

 

First, God wishes to live with you. There are two applications here. God wants to be part of your family, live in your house, so to speak. There is an old story about the day Jesus came to live in my house. How there were things on the coffee table that needed to be done away with, rooms that needed to be cleaned out, and rooms that were locked up that needed to be opened. But God also wants to live inside you. Not only to be part of your family, but to be part of you.

 

Second, God wants to walk with you. That doesn’t mean he wants to get an hour of exercise with you every day. That means he wants to accompany you as you live your life every day.

 

Third, God wants to be your God. Let me remind you of the first commandment here, from Exodus 20:3 “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (KJV)

 

And fourth, God wants you to be his people. Now what exactly does it mean to be God’s people? In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was frequently referred to as “God’s people.” But what about for us today? Let me share a couple of verses with you from Titus 2:13-14 “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (KJV) This verse describes us a “peculiar” people. That word does not mean strange, it means “one’s own special.” We are to be a special people belonging only to God.

 

The third part of this underlying principle is that there is action required on our part to prepare ourselves to be the temple of God. This is seen in verses 17-18. “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (NIV) Notice that there is a three-fold command found in verse 17. And also notice how these three commands parallel the experience of the nation of Israel.

 

We are commanded to come out from among the unbelievers. Just as the nation of Israel was called out the nation of Egypt, so are believers called out of the wickedness of the world.

 

We are commanded to separate ourselves from unbelievers. Again, just as the nation of Israel was called to separate themselves from the pagan nations in Canaan, so are believers called to separate ourselves from the wickedness of the world.

 

We are commanded to touch no unclean thing. And once more, just as the nation of Israel was commanded to refrain from being defiled by things which God considered unclean, so are believers called from defiling themselves with the wickedness of the world. This word “unclean” occurs over 200 times in the Bible. Many of these references are found in the book of Leviticus and deal with animals that were not to be eaten, dead carcasses, leprosy, and bodily discharges. That is not quite what Paul has in mind here. I believe that idea Paul has in mind here are the words of the prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 7:19-20 “They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the LORD’s wrath. They will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it, for it has made them stumble into sin. They were proud of their beautiful jewelry and used it to make their detestable idols and vile images. Therefore I will turn these into an unclean thing for them.” (NIV)

 

Now, let me ask you – and me – a question. Do you think God would be pleased to walk with you in the life you lead right now? Would he like to go where you have gone this week? Would he like to see what you have seen? Would he like to hear what you have heard? We say that our conscious doesn’t convict us of the impure activities in our life. But our conscious doesn’t convict us because we haven’t spent the time we need in God’s word establishing in our mind and our heart what is right and wrong.

 

 

By Berean Husband

 

See also:

Principles of Holiness – Principle 1

Principles of Holiness – Principle 2

Principles of Holiness – Principle 3

Principles of Holiness – Principle 4

Principles of Holiness – Principle 5

Principles of Holiness – Principle 6

Principles of Holiness – Principle 7

Principles of Holiness – Principle 8

Principles of Holiness – Principle 9


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"The Shack" – A Warning

The Shack by William P. Young

The Shack is a book I had planned to just ignore, as just one more thing that needed to be trashed (or bulldozed). I had heard several critical comments and had glanced at them but was not really interested in dealing with it. Then in the course of a week, I have been made aware that a previous acquaintance has a blog with bragging about how life changing the book was to him. Then I saw another website of young moms that were thrilled about how great the book was. It was beginning to sound like the hype about A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Then CBD (Christian Books Distributors) were pushing the book on their website as a top seller. So I had to research the book in order to be able to give a good answer if questioned.

The Characters in The Shack are:

Mack is a father grieving the murder of his daughter years before.

Papa reminds me of Aunt Jemima or Mammy, an older African- American woman, who in the end becomes a pony-tailed, grey-haired man.

Jesus is a young man of Middle – Eastern nationality.

The Holy Spirit is Sarayu, a small, Asian woman.

The following quotes are from:

A Reader’s Review of the Shack   is a 17 page review by Tim Challies of  http://www.challies.com/ & http://www.discerningreader.com/

“A question worth asking is this one: does The Shack point Christians to the unfailing standard of Scripture or does it point them to new and fresh revelation?”

“Though the cross is central to the Bible and central to the Christian faith, it appears only sparingly in The Shack. A person who is unfamiliar with the Christian faith will not be able to glean from this book a biblical understanding of what the cross was for and what Jesus’ death accomplished. Nor will he understand how God saves us and what He saves us from.”

“In fact, God does not need to punish sin at all, says Papa. “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it”” (120). “Those who love me come from every stream that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions”” (182). 


“Jesus says to Mack, “I am the best way any human can relate to Papa or Sarayu.” Jesus does not say, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” as he does in John 14:6, but merely states that He is the best way.” “The book presents less than the full gospel message. It teaches that God died for the sins of the whole world and that He now waits for us to respond to this potential gift. It teaches that God does not punish sin, but that sin is sufficient punishment in itself. It opens the possibility that people can come to God in ways other than a saving faith in Jesus Christ.” 

“Quoting Buckminster Fuller, a Unitarian-Universalist who wrote a book entitled I Am a Verb, he has Papa say, “I am a verb. I am that I am. I will be who I will be. I am a verb! I am alive, dynamic, ever active, and moving. I am verb” (204).”

“… in The Shack we find a man who stands in the very presence of God and uses foul language …This is not a man who is in the presence of One who is far superior to Him, but a man who is in the presence of a peer.”

“But this is not all. The discerning reader will note as well that the author muddies the concepts of forgiveness and free will. He introduces teaching that is entirely foreign to the Bible, often stating with certainty what is merely speculative. He oversteps the bounds of Scripture while downplaying the Bible’s importance. He relies too little on Scripture and too much on his own theological imaginings.”

Christian Research Network’sarticle is titled The Shack’s False Godhead

“In The Shack ‘god’ the father is an African American WOMAN called Papa (a goddess!), ‘god’ the son is a plain looking Middle Eastern man with a big nose and ‘god’ the spirit is a small, delicate little Asian girl (another goddess!). The Shack also teaches the heresy of modalism and is chock full of other serious doctrinal errors.”

Quotes from Berit Kjos in Deceived by a counterfeit “Jesus”: The twisted “truths” of The Shack & A Course in Miracles

“That seems to be the aim of The Shack’s female “God.” Here she is speaking to the main character, Mackenzie (Mack for short):

“For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.”[p.93]”

“No one has seen God at any time,” said the true Jesus. (John 1:18) Yet, here we see all three in human form — on earth! “God” explains:

“‘By nature I am completely unlimited… I live in a state of perpetual satisfaction as my normal state of existence:’ she said, quite pleased. ‘Just one of the perks of Me being Me.’ “That made Mack smile. This lady was fully enjoying herself… “We created you to share in that. But then Adam chose to go it on his own, as we knew he would, and everything got messed up. But instead of scrapping the whole Creation we rolled up our sleeves and entered into the middle of the mess—that’s what we have done in Jesus…. When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human. We also chose to embrace all the limitations that this entailed. …flesh and blood.”[p.98-99]”

“In this new story, sin no longer separates unholy people from our holy God. It fits right into postmodern churches that ignore Biblical commands such as “Do not be conformed to the world” and “Abhor evil” (Romans 12:2,9). Chipping away at the reality of sin, guilt and God’s just judgments, this transformational process undermines any real understanding of our need for discernment, repentance or the cross. Even God’s amazing grace becomes meaningless!”

Sermon Audio has a Webcast: The Shack – This Old Heresy

 The actual discussion of The Shack starts around 30 minutes into the audio so you can skip ahead if you want then it ends abruptly at 45 minutes.

Please read this book with much discernment and “be Berean” and compare it to the scriptures.

Acts 17:11 “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the
Thessalonians,for they received the message with great eagerness and examined
the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true
.” NIV

Eve was the one deceived and we as women will often let our emotions rule our beliefs. Just because something appeals to our emotions does not make it worthy. Fiction either reveals the truths of the Bible and lines up totally with the Bible or it takes away from or adds to the Scripture and teaches falsehoods.

“In one of his first encounters with Papa, “Mack noticed the scars in her wrists, like those he now assumed Jesus also had on his” (95). Note that these scars were present on the wrists of the Father and not just the Son.”


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