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DANCING WITH THE DEVIL

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      Engaging the enemy to advance one’s present cause will demand eventual future payment, and the latter will be much greater than the former.

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         Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they planned together to kill Him. [John 11:47-53]

         They knew they could never get the job done on their own. They were not powerful enough. They knew they must actually engage their avowed enemy in order to kill their greatest enemy. It was at the preceding meeting when a conspiracy of much greater comport was brought forth. They had conspired before on several occasions. They had gotten together in their secret, grungy little hideaways and poured over the possibilities of how they might do Him in but it always came to no avail. They failed on every previous occasion.

         But when they at last decided on the most diabolical trick of all, to engage the Roman Empire in their sad little conspiracy, they were on the road to success. In common parlance this is called “selling one’s soul to the devil.” We know this is done. There is certainly a devil and he will certainly work to advance the cause of those who want the same things he wants, and it doesn’t matter if they like him or worship him or not. He knows the very act of their willing engagement is enough to please and satisfy him, and gives him that much more of an opportunity to advance his own cause.

         The way this generally works is one decides to invoke a higher power to gain personal power and wealth, and the ability to satisfy one’s lusts to the nth degree. The devil is only too willing to comply. If one believes this process is not possible and is only a fanciful myth, one might want to know that even the Holy Scriptures state that the devil is the overall ruling power of this present world and that his power and authority is superseded only by the Lord Himself:

         Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. [2Corinthians 4:1-4]

         One may wonder how the devil has such power that he can make people oblivious to the Gospel which would otherwise set them free. How does he blind them? It is actually very simple: They must be unbelieving. If one chooses not to believe he subjects himself to spiritual blindness. If one has no love for the truth the truth will consequently be hidden to him. The Lord protects His Truth and His Gospel and does not throw His pearls before swine. Because they do not believe, they cut themselves off from any advancement or blessing from the Lord.

         This leaves them with only two choices. They can attempt to make it in this world only through their own power and strength which includes help from other unbelievers. Most, however, have no such access to higher human power or wealth and know that those who have it will probably never allow them in their exclusive clubs. Their lives, then, are destined to be humble.

         The second choice is to invoke the only other higher power available. Many unbelievers want no part of this, though. They are wise enough in their own eyes that such a route will cost them later and their personal desires are such that they would rather do without or with very little and thus maintain their own pride and limited freedom. Historically, these people usually comprise the lower classes. They are not tied into those with wealth, the higher classes, and refuse, possibly from fear, any close association with the devil. Their understanding is limited but at least they are not sell-outs.

         Regarding those who refuse to be denied, however, they simply do not care about any future payment. They have enough confidence in themselves that they feel they will find a way out of that when the time comes or simply continue to negotiate and make future deals. When the political/religious leaders of the Jews in the first century decided to make a deal with the Romans to get the Lord, it was not as if they were not already well aware of invoking high demonic powers. This had already been part of their modus operandi.

         The Lord Jesus had already revealed their hearts and motives on this and rebuked them for it. He told them and the entire nation what they were. They were exposed.

         They had no legal authority to kill Him but the Romans did. It was thus to the Romans they went but only in a very deceptive, conspiratorial way. They rigged things behind the scenes in such a way that they essentially grabbed Pontius Pilate by the, well, by the heart, we will say. He had no idea what was going on until the trap was sprung. When it was he suddenly saw his entire career and reputation going up in flames if he did not comply with their wishes. To say this was diabolical on their part is somewhat of an understatement, if that is possible, in that I think they must have greatly impressed the devil with their conniving.

         They were thinking only about the present. If they did think at all about the future they never expected what would eventually happen. They effectively not only sealed their own fate, they sealed the fate of their nation. That the Lord died for the nation is true, but only for the believing remnant. When full payment was eventually called for, the unbelievers were forced to pay in full. They lost it all. And in a strange karmic-déjà vu twist of Biblical proportions, it was those very Romans who brought forth both justice and judgment. The conspirators destroyed themselves with their own scheming brilliance.

         And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!” [Matthew 18:2-7] [1]

         © 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] 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.

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WAKE FROM SLUMBER: EMBRACE THE REAL KINGDOM

         Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” [John 18:36]  

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       The reality of the kingdom of the Lord is much more far-reaching than most Christians acknowledge. Many believers have made varying compromises toward this simple but extremely profound fact, that the Lord’s kingdom is thoroughly and unapologetically spiritual.

          It is something that cannot be replicated in the material world but that has never stopped Christians from trying. There have always been ongoing, incessant movements throughout the Church Age to demystify the nature of the Lord’s kingdom and thoroughly revamp it into materialistic modes and representations. There has always been the strange thought in many Christian circles that material representations and symbols are indispensable to a proper understanding of the kingdom, in that without such the reality of real spirituality is both unknowable and unapproachable.

        What this actually represents is complete ignorance of the Lord’s kingdom and an attempt to reformulate it into outward representations created to capture the mind and thus, the heart. But it doesn’t work. It only functions on a mundane level that many Christians are apparently satisfied with and only serves to cover up and cloud over the possibility of knowing the actual kingdom.

IMAGE IS EVERYTHING? NOT

         There is a reason the Lord God said from the very beginning to never make any kind of graven image or material representation of what is thought to be of the spiritual world or the things that comprise it. Invariably, if one is wont to create such, one will invariably create something sinister regardless of how benign it may appear outwardly. In the most obtuse sense, someone feels he must construct a small image to which he will direct his “spiritual” energy and thought, in that he may feel a strong need for such though completely ignorant of why or why it must be such. These efforts grow in time to full-fledged statuary of perfect human forms, something the ancient Greeks perfected centuries before the Lord’s time.

       We still have a great many examples of this ancient “art” and many more representations, of course, that have been created since. It gets seriously goofy when one lays eyes on the ridiculous stone figures of such people as George Washington and other founding fathers of America. This entire thing could not be more of a joke. I think Washington himself would be greatly embarrassed and would probably lead the charge in getting rid of them. One of the even more goofy efforts in this vein is the trend that began a few decades ago in constructing statues of baseball players outside major league baseball parks. Baseball players? Seriously? I like baseball but whoever signs off on this stuff needs to have their head examined.

         The Lord has always warned against any of this stuff because people can be so easily deceived and begin seeing these things as reality. But they are mere idols. Other than the Lord Jesus, every human being who ever lived is flawed and sinful regardless of what they or others may think. No human being is worthy of a statue nor is the human being in general worthy of such, nor is such a proper representation anyway. Everything about unregenerate humanity is actually antithetical to spirituality, the antithesis of honor, and screams out the need for humility.

THE DEFAULT MUST BE RADICALLY ADJUSTED

         Human beings are all going to hell without the Lord’s salvation. Regardless of all the good we know about everyone, there is also all the bad which must be acknowledged. Something must be done about it. Human beings can get so caught up in their own good looks or accomplishments, or the many material items they may have been able to acquire, and believe that all of that is somehow indicative of spiritual worth and self worth. It is not.

         Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” [Luke 12:15]

         The default eternal destination of every human being is hell. If something is not done to correct that then that is where one will end up. If one does nothing to change and attempt to get right with God one has no chance. But one must not only begin the process, one must see it through, no matter what it takes or how long it takes. Eternity is riding on it. The Lord stood before Pilate at His ongoing trial and stated this very clearly. Here was God Himself making it very clear that His kingdom was not of this earth. Pilate was an intelligent man but completely failed to grasp this truth.

         Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”

         Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

      Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him.” [John 18:33-38]

         Here was God. YHWH. The Great I AM. Standing before a mere human potentate. His rabid enemies right outside wanting to kill Him. This pretty much tells you all you need to know about the real nature of this world and of humanity. Why such a great divide? How did this happen?

         It is obvious that the real Gospel calls for radical change and transformation, something the majority of Christians have never engaged in and often shun. Many of these have substituted material representations and large material structures costing great amounts of money to build and maintain. Many have substituted counterfeit doctrines and teachings resulting in spiritual ignorance. What would the Lord say?

         Keep in mind that the Lord never wanted to be replaced by human leaders but allowed it only because people insisted. We also know He doesn’t dwell in houses made with human hands.

         Why then the temple? Again, the entire paradigm changed forever after the Babylonian Captivity. A second temple was built but it never had anything in the Holy of Holies. The Ark of the Covenant was gone and has been missing ever since then. The third temple built by Herod, that which authorities insist was actually still the second temple, was also empty where it mattered. Was this a sign?

DOING WHAT COMES NATURALLY

         And then the Lord came and they killed Him. They wanted the material. They wanted the money. They wanted the prestige. They wanted the honor. But the Lord said all of that was a complete joke and what one really needs is to get one’s spiritual eyes fixed. He stood before His inquisitors with nothing. This Man who made the universe, who created the planet, who set off Creation. This Man stood before them with nothing that they could see. And yet He was rich beyond measure. He would go through the process. He would allow them to kill Him. But He also warned them of what was coming and the judgment they would face. They paid no attention, just as most people pay no attention to what is required of them to gain eternal life.

         It would be good if all Christians would get spiritual. It would be good if we would all pay attention to actual spiritual reality. If we did the things the Lord actually told us to do it would make more sense. The things the apostle Paul taught regarding spiritual gifts would make more sense. All Christians would flock to spiritual truth and do all that was required.

         More Christians would wake from their slumber.

       While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.” [Matthew 27:19] [1]   

         © 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] 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.

What is Truth?

         No single person in the history of the world has ever been more misunderstood, disrespected, and dishonored than the Lord Jesus.

         And though He has left us with a preponderance of pure and perfect teachings, most people, especially Christians, do not know His teachings, do not want to know, and are much more interested in transforming His teachings to suit themselves.

         The Lord Jesus has been made out to be anything other than what and who He really is, and false interpretations abound, leaving His actual persona as something very few know.

         There are obvious reasons for this, but such reasons are not so obvious to those who believe incorrectly. In fact, those who create and buy into a false creation of the Lord’s persona conclude that they pretty much know all there is to know, that there is really nothing more to know, and go about their Christian lives in a state of willful ignorant bliss.

         Many Christians do this because they trust whatever their chosen authority figure or figures have told them, they allow their minds to be taken over by those who indoctrinate them, and they never accept any truth that is not approved by their church, denomination, pastor, theological seminary, or Christian guru.

         Thus, they have no passion for truth, no love for truth, and do no searching for truth. As a result, truth may be in their immediate vicinity, but their blindness causes rudeness. This does truth a great disservice.

         As Pontius Pilate gazed into the eyes of the Lord attempting to comprehend the nature of the Man before him, he asks, “What is truth?” [John 18:38]

         Based on the fact that Pilate was a relatively young man, was a shallow non-thinker though quite intelligent, acted as though he had the world figured out, would do anything to protect his turf and keep his job, and was bloodthirsty and seemingly heartless to the core, something about the Lord caused him to pause. Something way down deep in his heart caused a slight stir.

         Pilate asked the big question after the following conversation:

         “Are You the King of the Jews?”

         Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”

         Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”

         Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

         Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” [John 18:33-37]

         After this exchange Pilate showed his true colors. He states that he finds no guilt whatsoever in the Lord, knowing He was brought up on false charges. Yet he is willing to turn the Lord over to a rabid band of murderers and does. Then he decides to have the Lord beaten and ripped up through the barbaric practice of scourging.

         So let’s review: Pontius Pilate essentially accepted the fact that the Lord was innocent and came to testify to the truth, yet by his authority he had the Truth tortured and killed. Pilate showed by his actions that he had no love for truth and could not hear the voice of Truth.

         Because the Lord was not a self promoter, He didn’t go around trying to force people to see who He was. Instead He took the opposite tack. He kept as low a profile as possible and wanted people to see Him for who He was with their own eyes, absent any coercion or religious indoctrination. Meeting Him and getting to know Him would be like meeting and getting to know anyone else.

         And rather than volunteering information about Himself that would likely fall on deaf ears, He waited for people to ask questions, as did His disciples Thomas and Philip in the following passage:

         Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”

         Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

         “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

         Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

         Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’” [John 14:5-9]

         Many theologians, in their bright and shining wisdom, generally fail to understand these simple statements and proceed to tell us what the statements actually mean, what the Lord is actually saying, and what He is not saying.

         So without questioning such religious eggheads most people simply accept their explanations, which are designed to make things less mysterious, more formulaic, and much more satisfying to simple reason and to people with relatively low knowledge quotients with lazy attitudes toward searching things out, but who also must be brought into a religious fold.

         For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. [1 Timothy 1:6-7]

         Regarding Philip’s question, rather than introducing several volumes of theological circlespeak, the Lord responds to him very clearly by telling him exactly who He is, the same way He told Pilate exactly who He is, based on the respective questions each put forth:

1.  He is a King and He has a kingdom.

2.  He is one who testifies to the truth.

3.  He is the Truth.

4.  He is the Way.

5.  He is the Life.

6.  He is the Father.

         There are many such New Covenant Scriptures that make it difficult to classify God in the context of Western thought after centuries of extra-biblical dogma, though the majority of Christians believe that the classic three-in-one doctrine covers all the bases. Yet, if one is after truth and not simply a subpar explanation of truth, one will keep searching until he finds it. Those who don’t care so much will accept alternative doctrines that strive to satisfy the mind (but never the heart), meaning they only care to know of God on a head level, but never seek to know or love Him personally with their heart.

         This tactic might be fine if you’re throwing horseshoes or hand grenades. But building a rocket to the moon entails a tad more fine tuning. Those not willing to put in the hard work never get there and remain earthbound.

         Therefore, those who are satisfied the way Pilate was satisfied will never know the Lord though they claim otherwise, and those like Philip will ask the hard questions and keep on asking until they get the big idea. They will not merely believe the words or teachings of others. They must find out for themselves.

         If not, they prove by their actions that they are not of the truth, because they cannot hear the Lord’s voice. Instead, they have stopped somewhere along the way (if they ever started), and began listening to the voices of others. This is exactly why the Lord said:

         “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” [Matthew 15:14]

         The Lord stated many times in the Gospels, “Follow Me.” He made it very clear that if one is to be His disciple one must follow Him. That means one better not follow someone other than Him. In the early going we will need the help of others to get started, illustrated by Paul’s statement, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” [1 Corinthians 11:1]

         Paul led by example, and by his example he showed others how to follow the Lord. This verse is corrupted in the KJV by a bad translation to read, “Be ye followers of me.” Paul never said in this verse to follow him. Some have said that Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”

         This is nonsense. Many pastors et al subscribe to this false idea and it has greatly contributed to their congregants following them as spiritual gurus instead of following the Lord. Many follow the dictates of their denomination for the same reason. Though they think they are doing the right thing, they are without excuse. The Lord will never accept the checking of one’s brain at the door.

         Submitting to a shepherd is good, but at some point a real Christian will and must outgrow the need for a shepherd and begin to exclusively follow the Good Shepherd. This is exactly what Paul and the other apostles did, and what all the Lord’s disciples did, though some ceased from their course and invited rebuke:

         For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. [Hebrew 5:12-14]

         To close, all followers of the Lord must be willing to put any doctrine up for examination not to be decided on by a majority, but whether or not it agrees completely with the Word of God. The triad doctrine stemming from ancient pagan religions does not and never has agreed with the Word, for example. The Word of God riddles it through and through as with a truth-testing machine gun, though such a weapon is rarely used by most. Instead, many Christians would rather attack truth, and in so doing attack the very Lord they claim as Master:

         For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. [2 Timothy 4:3-4] [1]

         © 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] 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.