Practical Application of the Word of God
Unlike many of the sermons we now hear in the organizational churches of God, where the words and/or writing of mere mortals like ourselves predominate the messages (instead of the living Word of God), and more often than not, the speaker proceeds to – and implicitly encourages the rest of the congregation to do the same – bow down and worship at the grave of a dead man (instead of humbly bowing down and faithfully worshiping at the throne of our sole living heavenly Father and our sole living High Priest, Redeemer, Lord [be sure to read this verse and ask yourself if this is generally what you hear preached], Savior, Teacher, Shepherd, and King, the only two beings in the universe who are worthy of and to whom we owe our total and complete dedication, commitment, obedience, praise, exaltation, and worship), this post will start with (and be based on and focus on) where we should always start every single thing in our lives: the Word of God.
Let’s read what God inspired Paul to say to the Galatian congregation before his question to them in Galatians 3:1. In Galatians 1:6-10, Paul writes:
“6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,
7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”
The letter to the Galatians was written most likely in the late 50’s A.D. (certainly after the Council in Jerusalem discussed by Luke in Acts 15, where the issue of physical circumcision by Gentiles – which is what the Galatians are be troubled by – was raised, hotly and openly debated [something you will never see among those in leadership positions today unless it’s over power, money, and numbers – which James addresses in the first few verses of the 4th chapter of his letter – and then it’s all-out war], and settled).
This is less than 30 years after the death of Jesus Christ.
Yet Paul states that already the Word of God – the truth (a forthcoming post will discussed the code words and phrases of the churches of God, among which “the truth” is one, and what they really refer to, which may come as a surprise because most of us have been conditioned by timeless repetition to accept them as a legitimate substitute for the things of God, when in fact, they refer to the things of men and organizations and they are not equivalent or, in many cases, without deception and error) is being perverted.
And the Galatians are falling for it, as though a magic spell has been cast upon them, much like the present body of Christ has fallen for much perversion of the word of God (through omission, contortion, spin, deception, and outright lying), drinking the Kool Aid, without realizing it is full of spiritual poison that threatens to destroy their spiritual lives.
The Greek word for bewitched in Galatians 3:1 is baskaino. This is the only place in the Bible where this Greek word is used. One of the definitions is “to fascinate by false representation.”
Bewitching is a word that is associated with magic and sorcery, both of which have Satan and the demons as their source of power.
What state of being do magic and sorcery create in the people who are the targets of it?
Fear. Yet we’re told in the word of God that we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.
For the Galatians, this fear came from Jewish converts who were convincing them that unless they were physically circumcised, they were not of the body of Christ.
Yet God inspires Paul in his letter to the Romans to say that physical circumcision did not make anyone a part of the body of Christ, but that God requires circumcision of the heart (see also Deuteronomy 10:12-21).
Because the state of our hearts, spiritually, is reflected in what we think, we say, we do, and we are and that is what God looks at and is concerned with when everything’s said and done (a good Bible study is to look at what God’s word says about God and human hearts. Jeremiah 17:1-10, I Kings 8:39, I Chronicles 28:9, Psalm 139:1-4, Proverbs 15:11, and I Samuel 16:7 are good places to start).
We can do all the things on the outside that make us look good in our congregation – much of this means wholeheartedly embracing the organizational dogma (the doctrines and commandments of men), even if it conflicts with or is outright disobedient to the word of God, as well as being seen and heard (“serving” – another one of those code words) at every opportunity and hobnobbing with all the “right” people and the “important” people (while ignoring the majority of the rest of the congregation) – and being totally rotten – unconverting – on the inside.
This is what Jesus Christ called out the Pharisees for, and while I sincerely doubt there are too many totally-rotten-on-the-inside people within the churches of God, there are certainly degrees of this condition among the members of the body of Christ.
That is why, first and foremost, we – you and I – must be looking in the mirror of the word of God (the internal document for God’s chosen people throughout time) and ask God to show us ourselves as He sees us and then ask Him to clean us up when we see what He sees.
It ain’t pretty for any of us, but through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ and with immeasurable help of God’s word and His holy spirit, repentance and overcoming become our lifelong process, as we wage war at the very core of who we are to become more like God and Jesus Christ and less like who each of us are naturally.
Let’s go back to the Galatians and the fear-mongering that they had been captivated by from the Jewish congregants. What happened to them spiritually?
They were led away from the word of God and to the words of mere mortals like themselves, and they put puny, limited, and, in this case, absolutely wrong human reasoning, thinking, and words above the infallible truth of Almighty God.
Now I want each of us to carefully consider everything we believe spiritually – this is a comprehensive spiritual inventory – and ask the fundamental question that the Bereans did: is it true according to the word of God?
In other words, is what you and I believe what God actually says in His word? If we’re being totally honest (as we should be, because God already knows anyway), we will find that a good deal of what we believe – because it’s what we’ve been taught and we’ve unquestioningly and unthinkingly (God requires us to critically think, to analyze, to test, to prove – that’s why He gave us these brains) accepted it because we’ve been told that we – you and I, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, armed with the holy spirit and the sword of truth – can’t understand the word of God without another human with “special knowledge” between us and God (pushing Jesus Christ completely out of the picture) interpreting and explaining the word of God to us.
This is a fear tactic, designed solely (and I don’t even think the people saying this are even aware this is what they’re doing and why – that’s what spiritual blind spots do) to keep people in the seats and money in the coffers.
But it makes no sense if you really think about it. If what they say is true, then what happens the other six days of the week?
You have God’s spirit. You pray continually asking for God’s wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and discernment. You pray continually for your mind to be renewed by God. You pray continually for the will of God to be done, personally and collectively.
Then you open the word of God at home and nothing happens because someone with special knowledge isn’t right there beside you to interpret and explain?
Seriously, my friends, do we actually believe that? The majority of our spiritual food is eaten when we are not at services, and we are at the feet of Jesus Christ being taught by Him.
If God’s very power and the work of our Teacher are not enough to open up the word of God to us in the 166 hours in a seven-day week that we are not sitting in services, then we might as well hang it up and quit because we’re doomed.
Satan works to put a wedge between us and God and Jesus Christ by using fear and intimidation.
So when we hear the fear, the intimidation, the anger (listen to tone and some of those preaching are very angry), and the threats (implied or explicit) from the pulpit during our services, do we recognize that is not a product of God’s spirit, but of Satan’s influence (again, I don’t believe the people doing this are even aware of it because they have unknowingly been bewitched by an organizational system that has been ingrained into them because they turned off their brains, put the word of God off to the side, and accepted whatever they heard, unquestioning, as “the truth”)?
Does that shock you? It shouldn’t.
We all – you and I included – are bombarded by Satan’s influence continually. We have to consciously choose to reject that influence with the weapons of our spiritual armor (if you haven’t read Matthew 4 in a while, go back and do a thorough study of it, and notice that Satan uses scripture to try to influence Jesus Christ, our example to follow, to sin, yet Christ uses scripture – the word of God – to reject that influence and choose to obey God the Father) and chose to believe God – His word – and be led by His spirit, not Satan’s spirit.
When is the last time you failed to do this? I can tell you I’ve already failed today and will, no doubt, fail more before the day is done.
Yet, because my foundation is the word of God, it convicts me as soon as I’ve realized I’ve failed to obey God and instead gave into the influence of Satan again, and I go to God right there and then and confess my sin(s) in repentance and ask for forgiveness and a clean slate through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.
Do I catch everything? Absolutely not. David asked God in Psalm 19 to cleanse him of his secret sins. So do I, because I know they are there.
So what I’m saying is that as long as we breathe for a living, we’re all going to have fight the war against the influence of Satan.
Notice that it’s a lifelong conflict and it never takes any time off. If we choose to take a time out, then we put ourselves in the way of imminent defeat because Satan doesn’t take time off.
And we must understand that part of that war will come at us from within – ourselves, our brethren, and our congregations – because that’s the most effective place to attack from because that’s where we least expect it.
We must constantly be on guard against being bewitched. We must know what the word of God says – and means – and we must be committed to living by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (for eternity) no matter what that costs us in this physical life.
We may lose everything (read the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, recognizing that they were dealing with and relaying the words of God to people who showed up every Sabbath and holy day at the temple – where their trust was, much like we have been encouraged to trust in physical organizations – and claimed to worship God; we are those people now and these words and warnings apply to us now, and notice that Jeremiah was banned from the temple because he spoke the truth of God), but whatever we lose physically in this life is temporary, but what awaits according to the promises of God are worth it for eternity.
So, who has bewitched you? And what are you going to do about it?