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Posts Tagged ‘secrecy’

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It had been quite a while since Paul had been to Jerusalem.  Fourteen years, to be exact.  In Galatians 2, he writes telling the Galatians he had gone back.  He told them who he went with, why he went, and what he taught there.  He does so to lay a foundation for what he wants the Galatians to understand.  Here’s what he shares:

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. ~Galatians 2:1-5

Why, after fourteen years, did Paul go back to Jerusalem?  The text says he had a revelation.  This trip was God’s doing, not his own.  He wanted the Galatian leaders to understand that important fact, firstly.  So Paul took Barnabas and…Titus.  Titus was a Gentile believer who had not been circumcised.  Neither he nor the other leaders in Jerusalem saw any issue with Titus not being circumcised after coming to faith and even becoming a minister of the gospel.  Circumcision is not gospel.  Stop teaching that it, among many other things, is necessary for salvation, guys.  

Notice who he taught there.  He taught leaders and the most influential people, privately.  Why?  Why not everyone and why not publicly?

Paul knew the stronghold these age-old Jewish customs and beliefs had.  He knew if he went in swingin’ there was bound to be trouble.  So instead, he teaches the leaders who were already fully functioning in the church.  He trusts them to share the truth of pure Christianity apart from works faithfully, patiently, and gently with the rest of the followers who were still entrapped in some Jewish mix.  He knew it wasn’t going to be a one sermon subject.  He knew it wouldn’t be an overnight change for most like it so miraculously was for him.  If it were, God wouldn’t have sent him, he wouldn’t have had the revelation, and they wouldn’t be having this conversation at all.  But God did, he did, and they were.  So he, in his God-given wisdom, goes to the leaders privately and makes certain that they are all on level ground regarding a pure gospel.  

Paul mentions “false brothers.”  These were men who had somehow found their way into the church and were skilled in the craft of espionage.  Spies.  Watchers.  Informants.  Inauthentic probers.  Their main mission was to feel out every believer and gather information they could and would use against them.  Ultimately, their goal was to imprison the believers through falsehood, setups, intimidation, and half-truths.  They wanted slaves, not sisters and brothers.

Paul wasn’t buying.  He refused to submit to their unorthodox practices even for a moment.  (Galatians 2:4-5)  It was for freedom that Christ set us free.  The gospel is not about secrecy and spying on our counterparts.  The gospel is about loving one another truly and living free in Christ.

Paul adds that, though their gospel missions were different, all the apostles and leaders loved and accepted one another without prejudice.  Rather, they agreed to work together for the good of those in real need. (Galatians 2:7-10)

It is clear that Paul allowed no hybrid mix of the cultural practices and pressures to infiltrate and taint the purity of the truth he was so tirelessly teaching.  For that evil, he could neither stand nor submit.  The gospel is simply too important to toy with.  Notice, he had absolutely no fear in teaching the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth despite the strong cultural and congregational pressure to do otherwise.  

A pure, unadulterated gospel is as unfavorable now as it was then.  Whether spies sneak in to overemphasize works in exchange for faith or de-emphasize holiness in exchange for grace, do not fear.  Long-held, improper, imprisoning beliefs are bound to belabor any true disciple.  When you witness secrecy, spies, or slave drivers, do not fear.  Instead, follow your Father to freedom in Christ.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jotNbcFelX4

 

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From birth, Samson was marked out to be holy to the Lord.  Heralded by none other than an angel of the Lord, he was nothing less than a miracle given to his barren mother – destined to be the hope of Israel (Judges 13:5.)

But Samson had a problem.  He wasn’t holy.  Nothing we are told about his life was characterized by integrity, honesty, or purity.  No.  Samson had his own plans on how to conquer the Philistines.  He didn’t think he needed God’s strict laws.  I mean, they were so oppressive.  And, after all, he had God’s favor.  No need to listen to a God who chose him to be such a special person, right?  Clearly, God already liked Samson a lot so no biggie if he didn’t listen to those silly suggestions from Big Daddy, huh?

Samson did not listen to wisdom, even though he was quite blessed to be given it (Judges 14:3.)  He was secretive, self-absorbed, and impure according to the vow to which God had called him (Judges 14:6-7, 9, 16:1.)  He had great pride and a vicious temper.

Again and again…and again, Samson broke his covenant with God.  The man had no interest in self-control or self-denial.  He indulges in that which he sees as pleasing and right and, not surprisingly, it always turns out wrong for him.

Samson loved what he was born to hate.  His selfishness allowed him to be deceived by the very people God had chosen him to conquer and destroy.

Samson didn’t have to be blind and imprisoned; he chose to be blind and imprisoned.  No, he didn’t gouge his own eyes or lock himself up.  Nevertheless, every single time he chose to trust in himself and disregard the promises he was responsible for making good on, he was storing up wrath and judgement from his holy God.

Still, God was patient; Samson remained strong and continued to win.  Until…

 After this he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 5 And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her,“Seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.” 6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and how you might be bound, that one could subdue you.” ~Judges 16:4-6

A beautiful woman who loved money and did not love God presented herself in an effort to cash in on his lust and disobedience, trading it for personal gain.  The text says Samson loved her.  Samson loved a woman who was void of God and whose only motivation was money; whose only goal was to deceive and destroy him.  Of course, this was nothing new for Samson.  He had done as much his entire life.  Samson did not realize who she was working for.  He didn’t think about the fact that the same men whose dirty, bloody hands were employing her were also plotting his torture and death.  No.  Samson made that woman – the one he should have loathed – his god.

In the end, God has his way with this blind fool anyway.  He was sent to save God’s people and he ended up desperately needing saved himself.  God eventually accomplished both.  How very tragic that a man so blessed with favor could not see past himself far enough to do God’s will when his eyes were still open.

 Our world is full of money-worshiping, God-hating, lust-inciting Delilahs. (Such were some of us.)  Every magazine, movie, commercial, and billboard breeds their beckoning.  Our young men are being groomed and encouraged to either remain or become fools.  Secrecy, self-absorption, impurity, pride, and anger will blind and imprison them for the rest of their lives.   Spiritually strong men must search for and save the strongest Samsons of our day.  Spiritually strong women must seek and save dirtiest Delilahs as well.  We must become a church who knows how to speak grace, truth, and warning into the lives of the sexually impure.  Yes.  This may well be the biggest issue within and without the church in our generation.

Our God is patient.  His wisdom calls now, but it will not call forever.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEgP4pmUlKE

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