Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” [John 2:19]
We call it the Church. This word is from the Greek word Ekklesia. The Hebrew word is Qahal. It refers to the entire worldwide congregation of the Lord Jesus. Relationally, it is a spiritual community composed of all believers working together. It was known in the beginning as “The Community of the Called-Out Ones.” It has never referred to a single denomination though some have appropriated the title.
The Church is not a building. Though we call them “churches” today that was not the case in the beginning. In fact, there were no official church buildings for THREE CENTURIES. The early believers met almost exclusively in private homes. They did not “go to church” in order to “have church.” Real Christians ARE the Church.
The best chance the enemy had at destroying the Church was destroying the Lord. If God’s enemies could manage to kill Him before He did any more damage to their kingdom they would succeed at eliminating the possibility of the Lord’s movement reaching the powerful spiritual level it was blessed with at Pentecost. The devil knew he could never allow that to happen or he would lose it all.
So the Lord had to be destroyed. They tried it several times, even at the beginning of His ministry at Nazareth, but continued to be woefully unsuccessful. No matter how hard they tried they couldn’t get Him.
They claimed He was a liar, a false prophet, and certainly a false messiah. They said He was demon-possessed. They insisted He was crazy, something even His own family considered. They also said He was a drunk and a glutton. Imagine that. After a forty-day fast? Those idiots did everything they possibly could do destroy Him and His reputation. They attempted to destroy His good Name. Many were convinced by their lies.
But those who felt compelled to believe in Him were never convinced by such falsehoods. They knew all of these false pronouncements were lies. They knew the Lord’s enemies must lie about Him and slander Him in an attempt to destroy Him so they could save their own lives and their own reputations. They had previously succeeded in convincing almost everybody that they were right, that they were legitimate, that they were in religious control legally and by divine right. This meant the entire temple complex. It meant every synagogue. The bad guys had taken control of the entire operation.
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” [Luke 16:13-15]
They dressed very well for the part. They did anything they could to look like holy men, to look like men separated out by God for His purposes, and claimed exclusive religious authority over the people. They created a higher caste in which they deemed themselves the only worthwhile members. They relegated everyone else—the 99%—to the lowest of the low and thereby created another class, one of voiceless nobodies with no authority, and denied them a proper spiritual education, allowing them to be taught only the false doctrines and dogmas of their exclusive club. Whoever dissented was made to pay. They even violated the Law of Moses by creating their own unwritten interpretation that eventually gained more prominence than the Law itself.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” [Matthew 23:23-28]
When the time came for the Lord to lay down His life and fulfill His calling as the Sacrifice Lamb to buy back our freedom and rescue us from sin and death, His enemies pounced. They worked very hard for that opportunity. They could hardly believe their good fortune. They had lied about Him repeatedly and did everything they could and it finally paid off. All of their filth and innuendo and slimy lies and slander and libel finally came to fruition.
When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” [Matthew 27:24-25]
After the Lord had already been beaten up to an inch of His life and was hanging on the cross those people still were not through. They had to keep pounding away verbally to get in as many shots as they could before He died.
Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him. [Mark 15:29-32]
We all know the rest of the story. The Lord died. They killed Him. They released as much of their hate and vitriol as they could. For almost three days the Lord’s reputation was completely destroyed. He was just one more false prophet who met His fate. All the great things He had done in His ministry were largely forgotten. Even His own close disciples huddled in fear, knowing they could very well be next. There was no solution for this incredible miscarriage of justice. All was lost.
Then the Lord Jesus did the impossible. HE ACTUALLY RAISED HIMSELF FROM THE DEAD JUST LIKE HE SAID HE WOULD.
They did indeed destroy the Temple. The enemies of the Lord were exulting in their great success. They had eliminated the threat to their wicked and despicable kingdom. And yet, forty years later they were the ones who were destroyed forever.
“For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” [Luke 19:43-44]
And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” [Luke 21:5-6]
Though they killed the Lord and killed a great many of His followers in the first major persecution wave of the early Church, He didn’t stay dead and all of His followers gained eternal life. But Jerusalem was destroyed. The temple was destroyed. Those evil people were all put out of business. And every single one of the Lord’s people thrived. No matter what anyone tried to do to them they kept going. They kept preaching. They kept teaching. They kept loving. They often suffered greatly but then just got right back up again and kept on going. They would never stop unless they were killed. Nothing anyone tried worked. If they died they went to heaven. If they stayed alive they kept doing the work of the Lord. They pulled together. They worked together. They loved each other. THEY EVANGELIZED THE ENTIRE ROMAN EMPIRE AND THEN WENT TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.
The lesson to be learned here is that if you are a real Christian you will certainly have enemies who will hate you and want to take you out. It all depends on the effect you are having upon those enemies. If you are a Christian in love with the world you will be safe, of course, but friendship with the world is enmity with God. Here is an example of the proper attitude of real Christians:
But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. [Acts 5:34-42]
There is a Great Awakening coming to America. Christians are waking up. Many have been bound by religious garbage. But so many of you reading this know exactly what I am talking about. You have been attacked in the past and have been trying to recover ever since. Some of you have suffered greatly and wonder if you will ever regain the fight and spiritual vitality you once possessed. It appears as though the enemy has gained the victory and even that the Lord doesn’t much care. These are all lies. The enemy will get his. Here is my advice:
Even if you have not suffered so much but know you are not operating at top speed and full strength, you must allow the Lord to raise you back up by raising yourself up. I am not referring to some lame self-help stuff. This is a purely spiritual situation. The Lord has called each of his children to go work in the fields and no one else can do your job. You must take the time right now to begin reevaluating everything and determine to return to full strength in this coming new year. I will close with this:
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. [Isaiah 40:28-31]
The Hebrew word for “wait” in this passage is qavah. It means to not just wait passively but to wait patiently, eagerly, hopefully, and expectantly. It is an active word connoting being filled to the brim in faithful anticipation of what the Lord is going to do, namely, that He will provide NEW STRENGTH and ENERGY and POWER and will overcome all of one’s weariness and tiredness, and by implication even lethargy. Then one will RUN without getting tired and WALK without getting weary. This waiting eagerly for the Lord will allow one to receive strength enough to run a spiritual Ironman Triathlon! So we must not just sit around waiting in a static sense but wait dynamically and actively and with great faith. The waiting itself is waiting in strength which we provide in anticipation of the Lord’s providence of GREAT STRENGTH that only He can provide. It could be that the more we put into the waiting, the greater the Lord’s providence will be!
Don’t ever forget that real Christianity demands impossible victories. In the Lord’s case they threw everything they had at Him and even killed Him but it did no good. They still lost. They were the biggest losers this world has ever known and so are those who attack the Lord today and His people. Such attackers are losers, and unless they repent they will prove it eternally by losing their souls. Don’t let them stop you, especially those wolves in places of authority dressed like sheep.
Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to WAIT for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” [Acts 1:4-5] 
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
There was once a big Christian conference in a major city several years ago. It was headlined by a big name Christian evangelist from another country. Many local preachers were invited, as were their church members.
The city convention center was rented out—the place used mainly for NBA basketball games—and was nearly filled. The conference had been publicized for months.
As one who attended my share of rock concerts in my long ago youth in such large venues, it was interesting to see all the different people from all over the city come in. As an usher, it was my job to assist in finding seating for the attendees, but also to direct people to the VIP section.
The organizers of the event made sure that all the VIPs, in this case church pastors and official ministers, were ushered toward the front section, which was marked off and guarded. I was posted in the far back entrance on the main floor. Pastors came in with special credentials and I directed them to another usher far down the aisle, pointing them in the right direction. If I recall, the VIPs wore certain badges to identify themselves.
There was kind of an upbeat atmosphere but muted. In the old days one walked into a concert in such large auditoriums and saw people having a great time and looking forward to the show. The inevitable frisbees were flyin’ around, caught by someone in the crowd and flung again, several staying aloft at once.
But not at our conference. No frisbees. No beach balls, even. There was one thing, though. It was kind of weird, but then again for those who were used to it not so much. Again, I was at the head of one of the two or so main aisles in the back down which every minister had to walk to reach his seats in the front section below the stage. My friend and fellow usher was about halfway down the aisle before me.
The next thing I know a young lady of maybe twenty years of age suddenly felt like dancing. In the aisle. Close to where my partner was. She was doing one of those worship dances with large graceful movements, her eyes turned skyward in kind of a blank look, as if she was hearing music no one else could.
Okay. No problem. That’s why we’re here. Glad someone’s getting in the Spirit. It reminded me of something, though…
I remember many years before in a church I was attending there was a lady who did these kind of spur of the moment worship dances. Except hers were really weird. And they usually occurred at odd times. This was in one of those kinds of churches where such behavior was okay, and maybe even encouraged. The idea was to let people be free to worship the Lord as they felt led. The associated challenge with this approach is that you would get the occasional weird “leading.”
For example, we had a tastefully trimmed out walk-in baptistery at the far front behind the pulpit. It was located there so everyone could see the baptismal candidate emerge on the left from behind a wall and walk down the stairs of the filled tank into the water. The preacher would meet the candidate there, sometimes in waders, and do the baptizing. It was cool. Then the freshly immersed believer would rise majestically out of the water all smiles and happy. It was a celebration! People would applaud and praise God, and then the newly baptized would climb the stairs of the tank on the opposite end and exit.
Well, our particular worship dancer would sometimes find her way to the baptistery entrance in the back, unseen by all, and then suddenly emerge from behind the same wall through a narrow outlet and out onto the platform! She was thin with long limbs and would always be holding her arms outward and upward, eyes almost closed for the most part, and glide around.
During a service.
Sometimes during the preaching.
You hoped you didn’t bring a visitor on such nights.
She was ghostly and pale and wore long loose-fitting light-toned dresses. It was quite the sight. Some people were muffling laughter. Elbows were poking others in the pews good-naturedly to let them know the ghost lady was doing her thing. Most congregants acted like nothing out of the ordinary was going on which made it even funnier. For the most part everything just kept going as usual—listening to the preacher, watching the ghost lady, trying hard to be respectful, and allowing her to worship the Lord in her own unique way. Good times…
Well, back to our conference—our young lady was dancing in the main aisle completely oblivious to oncoming traffic. People going down the aisle would have to stand there and wait for a moment, looking for an opening to get past her. Finally my partner asked very nicely if it would be okay if she did not block the aisle and perhaps dance in her seat.
The next thing I know some older gentlemen sitting in the back row close by came unglued and walked quickly down the aisle, his head and shoulders thrown back, aimed directly at my friend. He began to excoriate my fellow usher who was quite taken aback at the treatment. My partner tried to explain but to no avail. The gentleman came walking back to his seat red in the face and quite steamed. “That young lady wasn’t doing anything wrong and should be allowed to dance!” We looked at one another. Everybody saw the whole thing. He sat down madder than hell.
I decided to go over to him both to stick up for my fellow usher and also attempt to diffuse the situation. I was very cool. I kind of half knelt down to make eye contact and tried to explain that she was blocking the aisle. Then he started yelling at me. “That little girl is a member of my church and I don’t appreciate this!”
It was then I realized that this little man was a preacher. Somehow or another, his credentials were messed up and someone told him he was not allowed to sit in the clergy section down front. This all happened before I took my post. He was mad enough to fight because he felt slighted. I told him I would try to fix it. He said he no longer wanted to sit up there. His behavior was familiar to me at the time since I was the father of young kids.
Again, I tried to reason with him and diffuse the situation. I stayed calm. Then he said something or another and I lost it. He remained sitting and we were face to face and I let him have it with both barrels, speaking as low as I could. His wife sitting next to him was the most embarrassed woman in the whole state, and was probably used to his antics. But the guy would not let up. I returned fire. I stood my ground and manned my post. Then he looked at me and yelled, “I’ve been preaching for thirty years and I don’t need you preaching to me!”
If he had gotten up out of his seat I could not have guaranteed that I would not have knocked him into next week. That little banty rooster preacher was a serious piece of work and was obviously used to having his way.
Maybe the preacher’s antics and our little discussion became a sideshow among the crowds in the upper sections. Maybe the whole thing played out like a ghost lady episode.
As these things go I was later questioned that night about what happened. Nothing ever came of it. The mad little preacher stayed in back the whole evening glued to his seat and later tried to make amends and laugh it off, though he refused to admit any guilt. He even mentioned something about us almost getting in a fight. As it was, the corrective of the Lord was strongly applied as it probably had never been before and if the preacher had chosen for it to be applied further it would have been.
Moral of the story? Not sure. But maybe if we didn’t have a first class section for bonafide clergyites and Pharisees, such people would not get their panties in a wad in the first place whenever they felt slighted. Their attitudes are the polar opposite of what the Lord Jesus taught. Imagine the people back in the angry little preacher’s church who revered this guy as a man of God!
The idea of spiritual VIPs is about as far from the example of the Lord Jesus as possible. He was always being disrespected and treated bad and He accepted it. It was part of the territory. He never demanded His own way or threw fits when slighted. Unlike many modern day preachers who demand honor at all times, the Founder of real Christianity took on the persona of a servant. He would have never been invited to a conference like this anyway, much less have been offered any credentials, but if He got in I’m pretty sure He’d have to sit in the back. With a perfect attitude, though, and most likely invisible.
I later thought that maybe the little hothead preacher who had been a minister for thirty years was given a chance by God to show real Christianity by taking the mistake in stride and sitting in his back seat with a smile. And what if all the preachers given official credentials had tossed them aside and purposely sat in the back or somewhere unnoticed? Would not that have been a great testimony to the Lord Jesus, to have that entire front VIP section empty?
But no. Too much pride. Too much sorry religious pride.
And there’s your main malfunction, all you Rev. Pretenders: You refuse the Lord His place and take it for yourself. This is like trading a million nuclear power plants for a flashlight battery. It’s no wonder you never see a move of God!
For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? [James 2:2-4]
“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” [Luke 20:46-47]
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [Galatians 3:26-28]
Clergy and Laity distinctions have no place in the Lord’s community. Period. We must all get with the Lord’s program. Proper humility is the order of the day. Repentance is called for. Religious pride must be destroyed. We must walk not in the strength of sinful flesh but in the power of the Lord’s Holy Spirit.
If there is one central determining factor in explaining why much of Christianity in America is long since DOA it is because the Lord Jesus has been demoted or kicked out and replaced by impotent imposters.
I’m not sure what the actual purpose of that conference was, except to see how many Christians from different churches we could gather under one roof in geographic unity. Nothing much happened. There was no great outpouring. The foreign evangelist, greatly used of God overseas, had little effect. But, you know, maybe it was a good networking opportunity.
For those interested in the real deal, though, who want the Lord Jesus to be exalted to His rightful place of honor and authority, who long for an outpouring of God’s Spirit and even a national Great Awakening, there is a clue from the ministry of John the Immerser. The forerunner of the Great One quoted Isaiah the prophet while preaching to the many seeking repentance and right standing with God. Isaiah tells us exactly what must happen should we choose to be one big happy family:
A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
“Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley;
“Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” [Isaiah 40:3-5] 
Now there’s a Christian conference worth attending!
© 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
According to the Word of God, the default destination of every human being is hell. Though this is not a pleasant subject or a fun fact, it is true nonetheless.
And unless something is done by the individual to change the default as it relates to his personal future, the default will not change.
The Lord Jesus left no wiggle room in this equation. He stated it flatly and cleanly. Whoever wishes to repudiate His words, transform them into something more comfortable, or liquefy them with the universal solvent is obviously not concerned about truth but has both a different agenda and an ulterior motive.
The truth is clear:
“You must be born again.” [John 3:7]
If one must be born again, it proves the first birth, that from the womb, is merely a step in the process that leads to eternal life. If one chooses to stop his progress and never be born again, that is, never change the default, then one will end up living for this world as if it were the destination that matters. And once one does this, one will eventually make choices that concern only one’s life in this world, and therefore will choose to absolve himself of any pesky moral restraints that might hinder his progress, whether or not some level of human virtue is involved.
Hence, the Torah will not apply. The Law of God will be perceived as restrictive toward one’s goals. The teachings of the Lord Jesus will be seen as unworkable, untrustworthy, non-applicable to our “modern” world, and an albatross around the neck of one’s earthly goals and ambition. Compromise will be the order of the day. Justifying pet sins will become routine.
If life in the here and now is most important and if our social standing and reputation, whether secular or religious, is paramount, then whatever must be done to achieve such and maintain such will be the priority. This is why there is such a wide gulf that can never be bridged between making this world one’s priority as opposed to the next, though some attempt to do both. And sadly, since they are familiar with the Word of God, the worst offenders regarding this are “Christians.”
Again, no new birth, no change in eternal destination:
“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” [John 3:18]
What exactly does it mean to believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God?
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying,
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”
But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. [John 7:37-39]
In this passage John makes a further connection to what believing in the Lord and in His Name entails. He quotes the Lord Jesus as saying that all who believe in Him according to Scripture (not in accordance with man-made doctrines) will receive the infilling of the Spirit of God and become the repository of a living stream flowing forth.
Moreover, the Lord proclaimed these profound words on the last day of the Feast of Sukkot (or Booths). That He stated such on that particular day is both quite revealing and very significant.
Are we not traveling through this earth and through time as within a mere temporary dwelling? In other words, if you were a child of the fifties and possessed one of those old mini pedal cars in the form of a real car, or if you rode around on a “big wheel” as a child thirty years later, you certainly did not think, even as a child, that such toys were the end product. You knew they were mere representations of real vehicles. You hoped to grow up one day and get a real car. Why then would one live for this world, and try to gain as much money, as many possessions, and as much authority over other people as possible instead of living for whatever may be the will of God?
This world is merely a proving ground. It is a test. It is designed to separate the real from the unreal, and to bring forth those who love the Lord and distinguish them from those who do not. It is a celestial halfway house created to cull out the lovers of darkness from the children of light and to reveal and bring forth the sons of God.
Thus, those who live for this world as if it is the only world do not believe in the Lord or the next world. Or they believe the lie that heaven is the default destination for everyone.
Returning to the Lord’s quote, with additional teaching, we see:
“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” [John 3:18-21]
Selfishness is not wrought in God. Greed is not wrought in God. Looking out for number one is not wrought in God. Living for this world is not wrought in God. Refusing to love the Lord with all of one’s heart, mind, and strength is not wrought in God. Refusing to love one’s neighbor as oneself is not wrought in God. Adultery, murder, lying, stealing, coveting—none of these is wrought in God but the majority of human beings practice such things on a daily basis—and never repent—because they have no intention of stopping—because they like it—and because they love the darkness.
And because of their lack of belief in and obedience to the Lord—the only One who has the cure for the disease of sin—there will be judgment for their sin.
But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. [Jude 1:17-21] 
Jude is speaking here of certain “Christians.” Unreal Christians. Faux Bros. Tares. Wild wheat. These people are:
(2) Followers of their own ungodly lusts
(3) Those who cause divisions
(5) And last but not least, devoid of the Spirit
Items 1-4 are due to item 5: Being devoid of the Spirit of God causes one to be all of the above (and more).
But believing in the Lord according to the Word of God means one will receive the Holy Spirit and thus be transformed in heart and mind. Instead of being worldly-minded and living for this world, one will be spiritually-minded and live for the next. One will no longer strive to fulfill the lusts of one’s flesh, but crucify one’s flesh. One will chuck a dead human mind right out the door and incorporate a spiritual mind, and even possess the mind of Christ. Now that’s a big deal!
But it takes a big deal to get there.
It takes real repentance—effectively hurling oneself upon a funeral pyre.
It takes going under water in the Name above all names, in the powerful sin-destroying and devil-delivering Name of Yehoshua HaMashiach.
And it takes being filled with His Holy Spirit.
Many believers worldwide are coming into a greater understanding of these facts.
Nevertheless, this has always been far too much for the average “Christian,” and it is why the average “Christian” more closely resembles a guy in a costume or a woman at a masquerade. For these people, covering up and deceiving one another is far superior to being transparent.
Looking and acting like a “Christian” from without, frosting one’s cake with mere human virtue, and thinking salvation consists of being a nice guy and never fighting evil is attributable to pure Phariseeism (and there were many “nice” Pharisees to go along with the jerks).
In the final analysis, Unreal Christianity has constructed a false front, a Fake World, and as a point of law has rejected the Lord’s definition and method of spiritual birth and has replaced it with any number of counterfeits. Hiding one’s darkness has thus become the norm and is preferable to potentially shining one’s light (or having the Light shine upon one). At the heart of this is simple human pride—that which is much more concerned about outward perception and keeping up appearances.
But the Lord made a way to destroy such pride. He made it possible to throw off the yoke of pretense and fraud.
He traveled through this temporary life as one of us and established the means of re-creation. The Spirit of God became resident within human flesh and resulted in a perfect, sinless Human Being—the only begotten Son of God. The Son of God was then glorified, a process that had to take place to allow His Spirit to be given.
As a result, the Lord’s Holy Spirit can now dwell within “whosoever will,” just as it happened for those at Pentecost and for many millions since, and anyone can be fully born again…
© 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
There is a constant theme in the teachings of our Lord Jesus. He is forever telling us to stay alert, stay awake, and fight against deception. He tells us to stay prayed up, fasted up, filled up, read up, and lit up. Not only must we stay in His written Word, we must always stay close to Him, the Living Word. Living for God is impossible otherwise.
Any real believer can be deceived at any time. Our enemy is no slouch. He is a very powerful deceiver, and Christians who downplay this or do not take the Lord seriously will have no chance. The more one turns his or her Christianity into a kindergarten Sunday school class, the more likely he or she will never grow up.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.
Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’
And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” [Matthew 25:1-13]
There are false doctrines within overall Christianity that make a mockery of such teachings. The idea that one can never be lost once being saved plays right into the devil’s hands. Why in the world is the Lord ever telling us to stay alert? Sleepy time Christianity has institutionalized spiritual laziness and the rejection of sound teaching regarding one’s fight against deception. One of the worst things a believer can do is act as if the enemy has no chance against us or that one’s sin is somehow always being removed as if by magic though there be no real repentance or aggressive attention to spiritual details.
Most Christians trust their guy in the pulpit, and though there are many solid ministers, there are also many solid quacks and spiritual pansies who side with the devil more times than otherwise. Letting some hand-picked man or woman or whoever might come your way be the central arbiter of your spiritual life is not Biblical. Remaining a dunderhead while trusting a Christian guru without staying close to God is very foolish, but this is often the norm in Christian circles. Good shepherds are relatively rare and should be respected, but appeals to authority other than the Lord will not be allowed at the judgment: “But look at all I did, Lord! My pastor/priest/reverend told me to do it that way! All my friends said I was right!”
When believers let their lamp go out it is because they are living today on yesterday’s oil. The Lord alluded to new wine skins being necessary on given occasions of new growth and new spiritual output. Doing things the way we did it yesterday does not necessarily work in the here and now. It never works in the future. God changes course a lot and does new and different things all the time. Without following Him and paying attention one can never keep up. It is always sad to see so many Christians living in the past and refusing to allow themselves the refreshing renewing and change for the better that comes with truly following God.
Do the journeys of the Israelites mean anything at all? God was always doing different things. He wanted no one to come up with a formula or plan or doctrine or belief system that would somehow give all the answers and make Him predictable. As another example, when the Lord Jesus healed the blind He always did it differently.
From these simple truths we should know we can NEVER figure out God, but the reason why is not what you may think. A real living relationship with the Lord demands an ongoing newness and freshness, and such cannot be achieved or lived out by doing the same thing we did last year or last decade. Some Christians are so stuck in the mud they are still living in the wineskin of fifty years ago. As a result, they have little life. Their oil has long since run out. Their lamps serve no purpose. They give off no light. They missed the bridegroom long ago but act as if they are still waiting for Him.
It will be a long wait.
That’s why the answer is the non-answer. Living for God successfully means staying close to Him so one can hear His voice and thereby obey Him and do His will, whatever it may be. Therefore the answer is remaining in a state of real repentance, living by faith, praying always, fasting enough to get the job done, giving, and studying the Word. These are not answers so much as they are the means to the answer. These things help us to keep our lamps and oil flasks filled. We were made to be filled with the Spirit of God. We must always keep our oil supply fresh and our tanks topped off.
And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. [Acts 13:52]
© 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.