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Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Study in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans – “On the Road of Righteousness” Chapter Three

Chapter Three: The Deeds of the Law vs. the Righteousness of God.

PART ONE – Doomed By Deeds

~~ By James Fire

In this third chapter of Romans, Paul completes his thoughts on the Jewish person whose trust is in the keeping of the Law (humanly speaking, an impossibility), and the conclusion of the matter regarding the whole of humanity and our abject poverty of spiritual virtue.
He then proceeds from this examination of human beings and our sinful condition and nature to the blessed hope of our justification (from vs. 21 to the end of the chapter).

From there he goes on in chapters Four and Five, establishing the basis for our justification, and then, in chapters Six, Seven and Eight he brings up the next phase of our salvation, that being sanctification.

The aspect of salvation which every Christian initially experiences (that is, one born of God’s Spirit) is justification: the saint is saved from the penalty of sin – death and hell.

Then the believer of Jesus Christ goes onto the second aspect of salvation which is sanctification: the saint is saved from the power of sin – living victoriously in Christ Jesus and overcoming the sinful nature.

Mid-way through the 8th chapter, Paul touches on the third and final aspect of salvation, glorification: the saint will be saved from the presence of sin – one day being delivered from the corruptible and corrupt body of sin and receiving from the LORD an incorruptible body that has no such sin nature ruining it as these that we presently have are.

~~ We have been saved from the penalty of sin: justification.
We are being saved from the power of sin: sanctification.
We will be saved from the presence of sin: glorification.

We see a parallel in the Old Testament to these three aspects of salvation for the disciple of Jesus Christ:

The Abrahamic Covenant – this was an unconditional covenant that only required the faith of Abraham and for which God was solely responsible to perform. By faith Abraham was justified.

The Mosaic Covenant – this was a conditional covenant in which the participants were likewise to express faith in God, and follow the Law and when they disobeyed were to offer up sacrifices to atone (that covered over, but could not take away sins); the Law and the sacrifices were those means by which Israel, particularly the Levitical priests, were sanctified.

The Everlasting Covenant – this also was unconditional which required only faith in the Messiah Who would inaugurate the covenant upon His arrival and saving Israel and bringing her to a position of great glory and honor.

For now, let’s proceed in Chapter Three of Romans:

Romans 3:1-2
What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?

Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God

Again, circumcision was an emblem, a sign, a means of identifying believing Israel that would be the recipient of “the oracles of God”. The Greek word used is the same in all references for “oracles” which is logion, meaning: a word, narrative, statement; denotes a divine response or utterance. The contents of the Mosaic Law (Acts 7:38); all the written utterances of God through the OT writers (Rom. 3:2, our present text); the subject of Christian doctrine (Heb. 5:12) and the utterances of God though the Christian teachers (1 Peter 4:11).

One who is given the Word of God has every advantage for being given so rare (and only) a find of truth, one finds insurmountable benefit and blessing – if such is handled correctly and properly used. Where the Jew went astray was in attempting to justify themselves by the keeping of the Law, whereas the proper use of such was to reveal our sins and need of repentance and grace and mercy from God.

Paul goes on to explain that the very thing that the Jewish people leaned upon for their salvation only worked to prove their guilt (as he will demonstrate later).

Romans 3:3-4
For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged

Here is a mixed multitude such as those that left Egypt in the Exodus, but I’m not making a distinction between Egyptians and Hebrews here; rather the distinction here lies between believing Jews and non-believing Jews. In the days of Moses, he delivered the Hebrews from Egypt, but he couldn’t deliver Egypt out of the hearts of some of the Hebrews!

As Paul stated previously, “He is a Jew who is one inwardly” and as John the Baptist said, regarding those that trusted in their familial lineage to Abraham, rather than faith in God as Abraham had, for their righteousness:

Luke 3:8
Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham

Even as the LORD Jesus Christ Himself commented when a scribe asked Him what the greatest commandment was:

Mark 12:29, 32-34
And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:

And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question

Yet those who hold to religious externals, rather than a vibrant relationship with the LORD, with a living faith, not dead works – these will not make “the faith of God without effect” but will rather incur the judgment of God as He declares to them: “I never knew you” (Luke 13:27).

Rom 3:5-8
But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)

God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?

For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?

And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just

The terribly flawed reasoning of some, according to Paul is that if God’s grace is magnified when it is extended to those unrighteous ones who commit lies and evil, why shouldn’t we excel at such things so that God would be all the more magnified in His offerings of grace? And if such grace is extended, why then should God judge and thereby take vengeance upon such lies and evil?

We tend to think of unbelief as a weakness, and can even in our leniency excuse such things for people “who just don’t know any better” and yet the Scriptures paint an entirely different picture, and even in our text we see that unbelief leads to unrighteousness, lies and evil. Another passage is found in Hebrews:

Hebrews 3:10-13
Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.

So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin

Admittedly the people of Israel in Moses day had a great revelation of God’s authority and power and oracles; believers in the days of Paul likewise had incredible revelation in the newly inspired Word that was even then recorded, being scribed on parchment and vellum (animal skins); yet each of us have received some form of revelation by means of the creation, conscience and, or canon and we are responsible to respond to such accordingly in believing God and not neglecting Him by unbelief (refer back to Romans 3:3; also Matt. 13:58; Mark 16:14; Rom. 11:20; Heb. 4:11).

Romans 3:9-12
What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one

As people “under sin” that is, under the jurisdiction of sin, and slaves in the kingdom of darkness, we have fallen into a most deplorable condition, so that we are incapable of even seeking God as Adam and Eve did when the LORD came to them in the cool of the evening. We do not understand God, we do not seek Him just as Adam and Eve did not - once they fell into sin, acquired a sin nature and hid from God once He came.

Sin is a blinding, binding, ruinous, destructive force that turned a cherub into a devil; that turned the noble Adam into a wretched sinner; that takes any and all of man’s seemingly higher and nobler ideals and aspirations and twists and corrupts them until they fall into utter ruin.

No degree of revelation given to the Jew or the Gentile will avail anything in regards to remedying our sinful nature; such revelation from God will only emphasize the decrepit nature of sin that dwells in us, and make us all the more culpable of our wrong doing.

In the vast swells and waves in the oceans of humanity, every single drop is tainted with the miasmatic power of sin – all but one: the LORD Jesus Christ, the Son of Man Who is also the LORD of glory.

He alone is righteous. He, the Son of Man is alone in His understanding of God (the Father). He alone seeks God His Father. He alone is the Doer of good. While we as sinners are useless (“unprofitable” or "a bruised reed" Matt. 12:20) to a Holy God, the LORD Jesus is One Who was constantly used of God His Father to bring glory and honor to His Name (See John 7:7; Gal. 5: 19 – 21; James 3:16).

Paul then elaborates further, just in case we haven’t quite grasped the idea of our woeful condition:

Romans 3:13-14
Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness

Rather than our voices and words being sources of goodness, and life and encouragement they are full of deceit and death, poison and cursing. We understand that our words reflect the heart that issues them (Luke 6: 45), the veritable “fruit of the lips” is borne from the seed of the sinful nature that’s been sown in our hearts.

James 3:5-6
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell

And contrast this with good, profitable speech:

Colossians 4:6
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

James 3:2
For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body

Proverbs 15:23, 26
A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words

Peter rightly stated concerning our LORD:

John 6:68
Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

Paul continues with his diagnosis of the human condition:

Romans 3:15-19
Their feet are swift to shed blood:

Destruction and misery are in their ways:

And the way of peace have they not known:

There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God

This is why humanity has become more and more brazen in their commitment of sin: because they have no fear of God; they use His Name as a curse word. There is no reverence for the LORD – one is hard pressed even to find such reverence in the church these days! God is a buddy, a Santa Claus, a Get – Out – of – Hell – Free card, a boring ‘Old Man’ that we go and visit every Sunday; or at best a "master" or "teacher" but never LORD, SAVIOR, CREATOR and JUDGE:

Who trembles at the Word of God today? Whose heart thunders and lips stammer when addressing the Holy Throne of God Almighty? Who lays prostrate before God, weak and shaking, seeking only His will in a life surrendered to Him and Him alone?

Yet there will be reverence, there will be quivering and dismay on the Day of Judgment, when those that ridiculed God and His Word, whose favorite past time was to mock and jeer at the Scriptures, and the guilt of such blood shedding, and of wanton destruction, perpetrators of misery upon their fellow men who were weaker than they and vulnerable, will be apparent with no room whatsoever for a defense.

Every mouth will indeed be stopped and every unredeemed soul will find themselves aware of their guilt before God!

And now we come to a definitive statement by Paul, something he has been working towards and leading us to now for nearly three whole chapters; a summary conclusion for the entire fallen human race from its least member to its greatest:

Romans 3:20
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin

Later on Paul elaborates on the relationship between sin and the Law of God:

Romans 7:7-8
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead

We understand that by the Law, whether written in the Book or in our conscience, any transgression of it is a sin of various sorts: a transgression, a trespass, some form of iniquity, etc. The Law in the Garden of Eden was singular and simple: You shall not eat the fruit thereof (forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge); Gen. 2: 17.
For such innocent beings as Adam and Eve, newly created and given life by the Spirit of God, a state of sin was entirely unknown to them. They had no such knowledge of evil, and so knowledge of good was something indistinguishable from their every day experience.

Yet like taking a fish out of water, or a flower from its soil bed, removing these from their environment would eventually bring death; sin likewise separated Adam from his Life-source (Isaiah 59:2), and his spiritual life died, followed eventually some hundreds of years later by the death of his aged body.

The Law for us likewise is that holy standard in all of its holiness and righteousness, purity and sanctity by which our spiritual legitimacy is measured; by this measure we discover that “no one is justified by the law” and we have no such legitimacy before God.

If the story ended here, we would be the most miserable, forlorn beings in the universe, abjectly abhorrent and desperate in our despair. However, the story does not end here! As the gathering darkness of doom surmounted through these chapters, until all is black darkness and bereft of any signs of hope, but rather condemnation – a single beam of Holy Light pierces through, and shines on a lonely cross erected two thousand years ago on the hill known as Calvary (or Golgotha)!

PART TWO – Justified in JESUS

In this section, from 3: 21 all the way through to 5: 21 Paul teaches on “justification by faith” and in these few verses below, defines it for us:

Romans 3:21-24
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

The same kind of revelation of the glorious intervention by God for a sinful, rebellious race (“the children of disobedience”) can be seen in Ephesians:

Ephesians 2:4-5
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

“The Law and the Prophets” is the New Testament way of referring to the canon of Scripture we know today (basically) as the Old Testament, and as Paul says, the righteousness of God is revealed by these but apart from (or “without”) the Law. The Law is holy and just and good, but I am a sinner and so that which is holy, just and good cannot help but point the finger of condemnation over my entire life.

God’s righteousness must then come to us by a different venue, and that is, not by keeping the Law (or any law or moral code of conduct for that matter), but by simply placing our faith in Jesus Christ and believing on Him. Since all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, we have no recourse whatsoever other than this one Way (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

This faith in Christ Jesus, whose sacrifice for our sins is the ultimate and all-inclusive expression of God’s grace to fallen humanity. It’s been said before: “Justice is getting EXACTLY what you deserve; mercy is NOT getting what you deserve, and grace is getting what you DON’T deserve”!

We deserve eternal punishment – death and hell, for our sins – that would be justice! Yet God loves us and wants us delivered from that terrible, eternal fate.
By His Gospel, He delivers to us the promise of salvation and in mercy offers us deliverance from death and hell – and that is mercy!

Yet He also grants this marvelous gift to us: eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD (Rom. 6:23), and we can partake of this heavenly relationship where we are privileged beyond imagining by calling God our Father (“Abba” in the Hebrew, meaning “Daddy”) – and that is grace!

Three words in this passage of Scripture bear examination, and I refer now to Strong’s Concordance: “righteousness”, “justified” and “redemption”.

Righteousness appears 303 times in the Bible, and here in Romans, 39 times. It’s basically the same word but with slight variation as it appears here in Romans:

Dikaiosune – is the character of quality of being right or just. It denotes an attribute of God. It is found in the sayings of the Lord Jesus; of whatever is right or just in itself that conforms to the revealed will of God (Matt. 5:6, 10, 20; Jhn. 16: 8, 10; and whatever has been appointed by God to be acknowledged and obeyed by man (Matt. 3:15; 21:32).”
Also among other religious functions such as almsgiving, prayer, fasting, that is considered right, etc.

Dikaiosune is also used of that gracious gift of God to men whereby all who believe on the LORD Jesus Christ are brought into right relationship with God. This righteousness is unattainable by obedience to any law or by any merit of man’s own or any other condition than that of faith in Christ. The one who trusts in Christ becomes “the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21), i.e. becomes in Christ all that God requires a man to be, all that he could never be in himself.”

Justified – This word is used throughout the entirety of the New Testament and is closely related to the previous word above for “righteousness”.

”Justified” is dikaioo in the Greek and means: “to render (show or regard as) just or innocent – be freed, justify, justifier, to be righteous. In its verb form (which is the case here in Romans Chapter three) it means ‘to be deemed as right’; in a passive voice of Greek syntax, it’s ‘to be justified’ [which means the object being justified does nothing active to obtain it, but merely receives it as it’s given by another].”

“By Christ’s propitiation (an exclusively satisfactory sacrifice), His blood (Rom. 3:25) brings justification, being the legal and formal acquittal from guilt by God as Judge, the pronouncement of the sinner as righteous, who believes on the LORD Jesus Christ.

In verse 24, ‘being justified’ is in the present continuous tense, indicating the constant process of ‘justification’ in the succession of those who believe and are ‘justified’. In Romans 5:1 this word is in the aorist tense indicating the definite time at which each person, upon the exercise of faith, was justified.
”Justification is gratuitously by faith, subsequently and evidentially by works.”

And finally, we have the word “redemption” –

The Greek word for redemption here is the primary one used in all of the New Testament. It’s the word apolutrosis, and means: “ransom in full, salvation, deliverance, redemption. Lutrosis is a more passive form of this word; using the prefix places a stronger emphasis on the One performing the deliverance, that being God, and God alone Who redeems.
To be purchased from the slave market of sin, totally set free, never to be sold again! It is used of forgiveness and justification, redemption as a result of propitiation and expiation; deliverance from the guilt of sins; expresses the liberation both from the guilt of sin and doom of sin, and the introduction into a life of liberty “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).

It is used in deliverance from the presence and power of sin, and the reclamation of the body at the coming of the LORD. See also Rom. 8: 23; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Heb. 9:15.

Romans 3:25-26
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus

As mentioned previously, propitiation is a satisfactory sacrifice, and in the case of the propitiation of the blood of Jesus Christ, it is the exclusive sacrifice which alone satisfies a Holy God, for the LAMB that was sacrificed is Himself holy!

No other sacrifice was ever accepted to put away sin because no other sacrifice met the criteria of God’s own holiness. By the shedding of blood there is the remission of sins (Heb. 9:22; Lev. 17:11), but whereas in the Old Testament the sacrifices were only propitiatory in type, that is by representation, the true sacrifice that was to come (Isaiah 53), the Messiah of Israel, the LAMB of GOD Who would bring the acceptable propitiation or “better sacrifices than these”.

For a comprehensive understanding of the propitiation of Christ Jesus read Hebrews Chapter 9

Note in Hebrews particularly how that Christ is presented as the High Priest of the New Testament as opposed to the high priest of the Old Testament: both the Priest and the Sacrifice of the New are superior to those of the Old (vs. 8 – 15).
For more on this, see the following: Dr. Scofield’s notes on propitiation.

God demonstrates His justice in judging the sins of the world as prescribed, even demanded by His Holiness. God also demonstrates His forbearance by the provision of this Supreme sacrifice, exacting the full judgment on His own Son rather than humanity, and by so doing, justifies those who believe in Jesus Christ.

Being so justified before God, and accounted sinless by Christ’s ministerial victory in the resurrection from the dead, we are now suitable as a habitation of the Holy Spirit.

It was in my own life, prior to coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ that I struggled and strove to obtain some justification and acceptance with God, but to no avail. I was desperate to understand how any one could possibly be considered justified before a Holy God. We will get into this in the following chapter and the very portion of scripture that led me to salvation!

Ephesians 2:13, 22
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit

See also: Matt. 26: 28; 1 Cor. 6:11; 1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:20-21.

Note also that this propitiation is invalid in the individual’s life unless that individual expresses faith in receiving this salvation (All are given a “measure of faith” by God; Romans 12: 3.

It’s up to each individual to employ it; if they don’t use it, they eventually lose it). “. . . not all men have faith” (2 Thess. 3:2) and therefore not all men will be saved (the doctrine of Universalism is not biblical), even though it’s God’s express will that such would be (2 Peter 3:9). For more on Universalism and all of its implications see the TTUF article on CHRIST’s COURT: Soon in Session

Romans 3:27-28
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law

Compare vs. 28 with vs. 20 and note the contrary positions:

Romans 3:20
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin

The conclusion, according to Paul is this: that the Law serves its purpose in exposing sin in the heart of the sinner, and having done so, it can do nothing more at all. The Spirit of God convicts of sin, but can effect no changes whatsoever in the heart of the unrepentant.

Our justification can only be appropriated, not by the law of works, but by the law of faith in the Word of God (1 Tim. 1: 5 – 11, 19) and the resulting work of the Holy Spirit in drawing us to Christ Jesus for salvation, which once received, allows the Holy Spirit the efficacy of His ministry within the heart of the regenerated believer.

Romans 3:29-31
Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:

Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law

Both the circumcised and the uncircumcised now have “equal footing” in the obtaining of salvation by faith, just as Peter so eloquently and cleverly expressed:

Acts 15:10-11
Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they

The whole question at the Jerusalem Council as referred to in Acts chapter 15 was whether or not Gentiles required circumcision for salvation, and the unequivocal answer that they concluded was, No! Peter then goes on to say and affirms that the Jews can be saved by the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ even as the Gentiles are – by faith alone, apart from the works of the Law!

Dr. Scofield states: “The sinner establishes the law in its right use and honour by confessing his guilt, and acknowledging that by it he is justly condemned. Christ, on the sinner's behalf, establishes the law by enduring its penalty, death. Cf. Matt. 5: 17-18.”

We are also, being the recipients of the Holy Spirit, for the first time, able to walk (live) in the Spirit who is Holy, and by our new nature walk in the righteousness that the Law demands, but without having to keep the ordinances of the Law. This is the “law of Christ” as explained in Gal. 6:2 in accord with the “new commandment” that we received from our LORD:

John 13:34
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another

As well as Paul’s admonition:

Romans 13:8
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law

And again, our LORD’s own admonition that fulfilling the Law of God could be summarized in loving God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12: 28 – 34). Such ability in loving God and others with explicit wholeheartedness is something only possible by the Spirit of God.

Likewise for disciples to love one another “as [JESUS] loves [us]” is entirely the work of the Spirit of God who dwells within us as our “Comforter”.

Such was the promise that the LORD gave to Israel (and now in this age, to the church as well):

Ezekiel 36:26-27
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them

And the doers, not the hearers of the Law/the Word of the LORD are justified before God (Romans 2:13; James 1: 21-23; Matt. 7:24). The difference being that the Jew would attempt to “do” as the means of justification, whereas the one who places faith in Christ Jesus for salvation is able to “do” as a result of justification.

We are saved by faith, and this salvation produces fruit, and that fruit is the outward manifestation of that spiritual reality that’s taken place in our lives, via the spiritual rebirth in Jesus Christ.
Thank the LORD that by the salvation that He has brought to us, we are sealed by that Holy Spirit of promise, indwelt by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit of grace and able to walk with the LORD!

Your ‘homework assignment’ is to read 1 John Ch. 2

This concludes this study. Next time, Romans chapter Four which furthers the doctrine of justification by faith in this Epistle: Illustrations of Justification by faith in the lives of Abraham and David.
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Monday, September 19, 2011

A Study in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans – “On the Road of Righteousness” Chapter Two: Guilty as Charged.

~~ By James Fire

In chapter three of this Pauline epistle we read in vs. 10:
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” and this is the conclusion he is working towards in his examination of humanity and all of its various aspects: from the pagan idolaters (1:21-32), to the Gentile moralizers (2:1-16), to the Hebrew ‘Judaizers’ (2: 17- 24) – all of us are equally blameworthy of sin and have a sinful nature; there is no one, based upon their own merit or code of moral conduct (or lack thereof) that can stand righteous before the LORD God.

It states elsewhere in Scripture:

James 2:10
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

This sounds not only harsh, but unfair doesn’t it? Why would we be considered “guilty of all”, if we have kept ALL the Law . . . but fail only in one instance?~~ What I believe James is pointing out is that by committing a single, solitary sin during the course of a (theoretically) Law-abiding life, this reveals that we possess a sinful nature, which is a nature capable of sinning in any capacity.
The potential of committing each and every sin resides within the being of any sinful person – all that is necessary is time and availability for such a depraved nature to prove itself overtly “guilty of all”.

There is a distinction between a sinful act (some deed committed in actuality) and a sinful nature (a real state of being that is both contrary and opposed to God’s own nature of holiness). It’s been said, “We don’t become a thief when we steal, we steal because we are a thief”. The nature determines the behavior and all of that behavior’s actions.

One cannot expect a sinner not to sin any more than expect a dog not to bark, a cat not to purr, fish not to swim and birds not to fly, etc. For a sinner to act contrary to sinfulness would be against their nature; this is why the human race requires a NEW nature to be instilled, but how to accomplish this – there’s the rub!

Paul goes on for nearly three chapters proving that we all have a sinful nature and as such are guilty as sinners before a Holy, Just and Righteous God and Judge – our Creator! So, let’s pick it up in chapter Two:

Rom 2:1
Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

And here we have one of the quintessential problems of the human condition: the contradictive position of knowing what is right and wrong, espousing allegiance for what is in fact right, but yet in practical action doing that which is wrong. We call this condition hypocrisy.
While it’s been long used in allegation against the ranks of Christendom by skeptics, humanists, atheists and the like, and not without significant justification I might add, truth be told, it’s something that plagues us all to one degree or another.

As one man said to Charles Spurgeon while visiting his church: “I don’t want to join the church, too many hypocrites!” to which Spurgeon replied: “Well, go ahead and join! What’s one more hypocrite going to matter?”

Man in his most ardent struggles to reach the pinnacle of philosophically moralistic conduct is still plagued with this base nature. Like some wild beast that can barely be held in check, and then not for long, with the chains of intellectual and moral prohibitions, this sinful nature with subtlety and cunning will overcome any such pretentious aspirations by human beings to overcome by their own will or determination.

This dichotomy is the very stuff of novels and stories that depict the grand struggle of “man vs. himself”. One such story is Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The struggle of man between his good nature and evil is at best, fantasy or worst delusional, because there is in reality no inherit good in mankind, either the individual or the species (only a conscience that dictates what is good or bad). This is the pill that due to pride, is hard to swallow and this is why I believe Paul so intensely tackled this issue, particularly because the philosophy of that day (much like ours today) was obsessed with finding the summum bonum or the ultimate or highest good . . . but with the misapplication of trying to find it within the heart of humanity (This is one of the primary philosophical attitudes and perspectives of what’s known today as the Emergent Church Movement).

The other fatal flaw in this quest is that in pronouncing judgment and condemnation of others, the judges are themselves culpable of crimes of the same kind.

Rom 2:2-3
But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

Those that claim the moral high ground in condemning those ‘caught in the act’ are themselves caught by the very truth that condemns them as well; the truth as inherit in and is personified by God Himself.

Supposed high ground or not, there’s not a solitary human being who was ever born and lived that will not have their lives examined by the Holy Eyes of the Judge of the whole Earth (Gen. 18:25); with the scrutiny of relentless Righteousness, this Judge Whose courtroom resides in heaven will examine every action and deed, every thought, motive and intention of every sinner and know the certainty and blameworthiness of the sinner’s heart.

Hebrews 9:27
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Psa 96:10, 13
Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.
Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.

See also: 2 Peter 2:9; 3:7; 1 Jhn. 4:7; Jude :14, 15.

I have a large variety of tracts that we dispense in our outings on the streets of Tucson, and which I also leave on bus seats, or at bus stops, stores, and offer to people, etc, and among my favorite is the one entitled: “Jesus is not your homeboy, He is your Judge”.

He indeed will judge the living and the dead, and this is one of the most fervently argued and denied truths of God’s Word among non-believers, but nevertheless no amount of arguing or denying will alter this truth: God is our Judge, and our personal day of Judgment is coming: for sinner and saint (though the sort of judgment faced will be different for these two distinct groups):

Rev 20:11-15

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Christ’s Court: SOON in SESSION – Part One of Three.

The stark reality is that God cannot refrain from judging in righteousness and truth as these are integral to His nature (and rightly so as Creator of all), but were He to conduct Himself accordingly, He would condemn the whole of humanity which He loves.

So, from before the foundation of the world, God enacted a protocol that would be realized once God the Son, the Word Incarnate came to this rebel planet at His First Advent: we who saw His goodness and His love were pierced through with conviction of sin and a true repentance of heart and life. Those who refuse to see, will continue and proceed unimpeded towards destructive judgment and perdition (John 3: 14-15, 18).

Rom 2:4-5
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

Do a search on your favorite Bible search engine or pick up an exhaustive concordance and look up the word “wrath”, and those who use such sites, type in “wrath . . . God” or “day of wrath” and look at the results. Most often, this is in reference towards unrepentant humanity and the resultant judgment that they will face, having rejected God’s offer of salvation via the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In vs. 5 of our text here above the word “treasurest” is thesaurizo and it means “to amass or reserve; lay up, in store, heap treasures together, keep in store.”

It’s the most sobering, frightening thought that those outside of the grace of God, and that by their own volition, having a continual flow of wickedness that they ponder upon and commit, ‘store up’ on the record of those books that will be opened on the Day of Judgment “. . . and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” Rev. 20: 12.

The despair, the anguish, the trepidation of those who will fall under that severe and strict sentencing by the Holy Judge is something I cannot even begin to fathom. Those standing before God on that Day will have “. . . every mouth [may be] stopped, and all the world [may] become guilty before God.” Rom. 3: 19.

See also Heb. 3: 12-13, 15; Eccl. 8:11; Jer. 7: 12-16; Rev. 9: 20-21.

Rom 2:6-9
Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

Obedience to the Truth: that is the criteria that will be the basis for God’s Judgment.

Firstly, for those who are obedient, in “patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life” (eternal life is knowing God, and His Word/Truth Incarnate – Jesus Christ; see John 17: 3, 17), and the judgment we will receive from God’s throne will not decide our eternal fate or bring judgment of sin upon us (rather this will be a judgment for rewards, or lack thereof for all those in the church. See 1 Cor. 3: 11-15); as we have placed our faith and trust in our Sin-bearer, Jesus Christ who became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21), bore the judgment of our sin (Rom. 8:3), and conquered both sin and death by His resurrection (Rom. 14: 9; 1 Cor. 15: 20-21) and from Whom the church will not know “wrath” or “tribulation”.

Secondly, for those who are contentious and obey not the truth, these will know the wrath of God and tribulation in His judgment against their rejection of the Gospel (2 Thess. 1:7-9; Rev. 6:16); to the Jew first and to the Gentile also, each according to the degree and depth of revelation that they have received.

This is why we at TTUF firmly and devoutly believe that the church, that is the body of Christ that has been baptized (spiritually; Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27) into Christ via the new birth (John 3:3-5; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15) will not enter into or endure the length of this quintessential time of wrath and tribulation as represented by Daniel’s 70th week (a period of seven years [literally a “week of years”] and final of 70 weeks total, 69 of which are passed already); for this period is reserved for the truth rejecters and the Gospel deniers who refuse salvation via Jesus Christ.

This is primarily a judgment against Israel (Thus the term used in Jer. 30:7, “the time of Jacob’s Trouble”) because to her was given the holy oracles of God, the Scriptures (Rom. 3:2) of which the predominant theme is on the Messiah and His coming (the First and Second Advents) which heavily documents the prophetic arrival time – she should have known her Messiah, but didn’t and rejected Y’shua ha Meschiach Nagid and for the most part, still does today (though the number of Jews coming to faith in Messiah is increasing!).

The same goes for the Gentile nations of the world because there are relatively few that will be saved and again because these born again believers have willingly received Him Who is LORD of all, the LORD Jesus Christ – and the majority of Gentiles have not (See Luke 13: 23- 30, esp. 23-24).

All of the Gentiles will likewise be judged by God according to the degree and depth of revelation given to them. Whether it be the pigmy who never heard of Jesus Christ or the Gospel or the liberal scholar who possesses dozens of Bibles in his library, both will be judged: the pigmy according to the revelation of a Creator who has designed the whole world that is seen and through such understands that there is a God that reigns over all His creation (Rom. 1:20-23); the liberal scholar according to the truth in his possession, but nonetheless “holds the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18).

Wrath will be measured out to both in accordance with their rejection of the truth in light of revelation received (Luke 12:47-48).

Rom 2:10-11
But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

For there is no respect of persons with God.

Note that just as judgment will be measured out to both Jew and Gentile, so likewise “glory, honor and peace” to both groups regardless of their heritage, if they receive the truth; being that God has no “respect for persons” or ‘plays favorites’ He is willing as the Son of David (A Messianic title; Matt. 1:1; 21:9) to save Israel, God’s nation; and He is likewise as the Son of Man (A title that identifies Christ with all humanity; Luke 5:24; 19:10) willing to save Gentiles as well “as a people called out for His Name” (see Acts 15:14).

Rom 2:12-13
For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified

What I believe Paul is stating here is that those who have never been exposed to the truth of God’s Law will be judged on a basis that excludes such that was delivered to Israel, (and Paul explicitly declares “…in the law shall [they] be judged by the law”) but that rather, they will be judged based on – as already mentioned, the creation and also – the conscience of the individual as seen here in the following verses:

Rom 2:14-15
For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

The doing of the Law as here expressed can not be flawless or perfect, but any “doing” could at best be accomplished only superficially, and with profound imperfection.
A good example of this is found where the LORD Jesus has some interaction with a certain “rich, young ruler” (Mark 10:17- 27) who declares that he followed all of the Law since he was a child. Yet the LORD pointed to the “one point” which made him “guilty of all” as we read from the epistle of James, and that was his riches which he would not give up – “thou shalt not have other gods before Me” (Ex. 20:3). The rich young man wanted to serve both God and ‘Mammon’ (the god of wealth and pleasure, connotatively speaking of money) which the LORD declared was impossible (Matt. 6:24).

The purpose of the Law is twofold: to reveal the holiness of God (Lev. 11:44-45), and the sinfulness of humanity (Rom. 3:20).
The Law written in our hearts provides a conscience by which we will know right from wrong as well as guilt and shame for impure and unrighteous thoughts, acts, conduct and practice. Our conscience, if sin is pursued relentlessly can become seared or hardened (that is, a “hard heart” (See Eph. 4:19; where the spiritual condition of the sinner is one step removed from being reprobate), and if repentance is not at all realized, such a person becomes reprobate or incapable of repentance even if the Spirit of God woos them (1 Tim. 4:2; Rom. 1:28; 2 Tim. 3:8; Titus 1:16).

Adokimos is the Greek word for “reprobate” and means “to be rejected after testing, worthless, unapproved”. In contrast to this, the word Ginosko means “to know” and where it refers to relational matters of one who is known, and the other who knows, it can also mean “approved” as in Gal. 4:9. Those who are know and are known (ginosko) by the LORD are approved, those who don’t know, and are not known of the LORD are not approved (adokimos).

Luke 13:27
But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
See also Matt. 7: 21 – 23.

Rom 2:16
In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

As stated previously there are those that assert that Paul presented a different Gospel other than the one that the LORD Jesus gave, and they use this as a proof text to defend their position, which is dubious at best.

Paul said elsewhere that he was given a dispensation by the LORD Jesus Christ Himself to declare the Gospel (thus the use of the phrase “my gospel” or as could be rightly interpreted “my dispensation of…” 1 Cor. 9:17).
Furthermore he states that there really is only one Gospel; that all others are not genuine (Gal. 1:6-7) and are in fact, in Paul’s own words “[perversions of] the gospel of Jesus Christ”; which Gospel was declared in the Old Testament canon or “the scriptures” as in 1 Cor. 15: 1-4.

Judgment will be officiated by none other than Jesus Christ Himself, as the Father has given to Him this office (John 5:26 – 30) and there is nothing secret that shall not be known (Mark 4:22; Heb. 4: 12-13).

Hebrews 4:13
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

See also: Numbers 32:23; Job 10:14; 14:16; 20:27; Prov. 26:26; Eccl. 12:14; Jer. 2:22; 16:17; Ezek. 11:5; Hosea 7:2; Amos 5:12; 1 Cor. 4:5.

Note that not only will the LORD bring to light all of these “hidden works of darkness” in the hearts, lives and governments of human beings on the Earth when He arrives on Judgment Day, but He is even now manifesting some of the evil works of darkness, some of which are even being practiced . . . in the church??

Another Hole in the Wall by Roger Oakland of Understand the Times

Now we are in transition here in Romans chapter 2; Paul just finished reviewing how the moral Gentile person is perceived according to the truth; now the apostle turns his attention squarely upon the Jew:

Rom 2:17-20
Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,

And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;

And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,

An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.

The power of God in salvation has never been in the acquisition of religious or mystical knowledge; otherwise any one could be saved within the context of any religion or mystical society with such acquisition. One of the two key verses in this epistle is found in chapter One which we already mentioned (Romans 1:16); the power of God in the work of salvation has been, is and ALWAYS WILL BE by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a very definitive and simple-to-understand Gospel (which some would seek to obfuscate with confusion and questions, i.e. Brian McLaren; See the recent article on The RED PILL ConsortiumIs Brian Lyin'?

Just as this sort of Jew who “rests in the law” and “knows His will” and who “has a form of knowledge” is knowledgeable in religion and has a rudimentary understanding of the Scriptures and in part the truth, there are also those in the present-day apostate church who . . .

2 Tim 3:5
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Without the Spirit of God, Who is imparted not by the Law, not by works of the flesh, or the will of man (Jhn. 1: 12-13; 3: 5-6), but solely by the grace of God through our LORD Jesus Christ, there can be no spiritual understanding, much less spiritual life. This is where Paul is leading us to, but as yet he is still proving that any other means other than Jesus Christ are vain.

Judaism under the Mosaic Law is just as powerless as that brand known as Talmudic ‘Law’; we cannot be justified by the Law and sacrifices (Heb. 10: 1-4), and we cannot be justified by the Law and dead works (Heb. 9:11-17).

All these can do is reform a person from a blatant sinner to a blanketed sinner, whose person and mannerisms appear changed externally, but inwardly are still unregenerate. What is needed for the sinner is not reformation, or conformation but transformationspiritual regeneration, the NEW nature earlier referred to (2 Peter 1: 2-4) by the very Spirit of God via the rebirth of the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 36:26; John 3:3-5, 10).

This offer was made to national Israel in the day in which her Messiah came, but they officially rejected Jesus as their Messiah, and so He has turned to the Gentiles (and individual Jewish people) and made this same offer (but by no means abrogating this new covenant with Israel as some have asserted; but merely has postponed it until His Second Coming, as we shall see later in Romans).

Rom 2:21-24
Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?

Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?

For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.

Whether Gentile moralizers or Jewish teachers, both are susceptible to ‘talking the talk but not walking the walk’ as it were; giving lip service to the ideals of truth and morality, but finding themselves abjectly deficient in living out such principles in every day life (and even we who are born again have this same sort of struggle but within an entirely different context as we shall see in Romans Chapter 7).

In matters of the apparent lack of an outward manifestation of sin, but yet still having the inner reality of sin in our hearts, the LORD Jesus Christ has much to say in the Sermon on the Mount:

Matt 5:21-22, 27-28
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart

Perhaps Paul even had this in mind in his scathing questions of the Jew who “rested in the Law” outwardly, but broke it incessantly in their hearts; however such unlawful thoughts if entertained for too long would bring forth the fruit of sinful action, and such would be necessary in order for Gentiles to have witnessed this and in response the name of God was blasphemed among them.

When you think about “taking the name of the LORD in vain”, do you think it refers to cursing? I used to; then I heard a teaching that talked about the name of the LORD which is Holy, and for anyone to take the name of the LORD was to devote yourself to God and present yourself as a believer in Jesus Christ, but such would be vain if it wasn’t genuine.

If it was just for show to impress others, such self-righteous religionists and legalistic church-goers are the ones “taking His Name in vain” and this give a black eye to the church for all of their hypocrisy and professed ‘holiness’. The genuine church of saints in the LORD Jesus Christ ought to conduct themselves in humility, contrition and faithful obedience (thus honoring His Name), knowing full well our own tendencies and weaknesses towards sin:

1 Peter 5:5
. . . Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

Psalms 34:18
The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Isa 66:2
For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word

We’ve all read the parable of the Pharisee and the publican (Luke 18: 9 – 14), and it’s revealing in how the Scriptures address this: for the Pharisee “stood and prayed thus with himself” – he had an audience of just one: himself!

He was an example of one who “trusted in [himself] that [he was] righteous, and despised others” like the publican, who wouldn’t even so much as “lift his eyes to heaven, but beat upon his breast and said, God be merciful to me a sinner”. Yet our LORD commended the publican (a person that just about every Jew despised) rather than the religious Pharisee (that most of the people held in great honor and respect, but whom God despised).

Any attempt to keep the Law by means of self-righteous ambition will lead a soul into deception, thinking that they are “holier than thou” – very much after this sort:

Isaiah 65:2-5
I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;

A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick;

Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;

Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.

Have you ever noticed that the LORD Jesus had nothing but tender compassion for ‘the man on the street’ and sinners; but for the religious leaders He offered His strongest and most scathing rebukes (See Matthew Ch. 23).

It’s been said that Jesus Christ is the most anti-religious Person around, and as I myself have remarked about religion – that it’s an artificial (man-made) righteousness that’s really nothing more than a cheap, plastic, knock off copy of the genuine article: salvation by faith of grace in Jesus Christ! Religion in all of its various forms will lead all who adhere to them to damnation!

Where redemption in Christ is available for any who come to Him, religion is powerless to provide any legitimate alternative! Religion says, “You must do!” but Christ our Righteousness declared from the cross, “It is done!”

Now let’s wrap up the chapter:

Rom 2:25-26
For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?

Circumcision was a sign given to Abraham, emblematic of the faith that he exercised towards God’s Word declared to him. Circumcision was later codified in the Law (400 years later) as a symbol for the Jew, a believer in YHWH.
Yet it was merely an outward sign and could do nothing to effect righteousness in the soul, not unless it was coupled with a flawless obedience to the Law, and the entire human race, save one (Jesus) failed miserably at this impossible feat.

Yet for those who would keep the “righteousness” of the Law, without the outward manifestation of circumcision, these would be far more acceptable to God – if only He could find any truly righteous!

Rom 2:27-28
And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?

For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

Basically Paul is demonstrating that no outward religious act or rite can bring approval by God; only genuine faith and obedience can, regardless if that faith and obedience comes from a Jew or a Gentile (Heb. 11:6; Matt. 12:41 – 42; Luke 4: 23 - 27). Yet of the Jews, righteousness can’t come by the Law or by formalism (rituals, ceremonies and abiding by certain religious rules and regulations; essentially religious laws unto themselves) but by genuine faith from the heart (“inwardly”) towards God:

Rom 2:29
But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

And so we see that whether a pagan/religious Gentile or a moral Gentile or a religious Jew – all are unacceptable and unapproved by God according to their own merits or worth, we are all "guilty as charged". Paul will get into this in even greater detail, clinching it for us definitively in Chapter 3, coming up next time on TTUF, in this Study on Paul’s EPISTLE to the ROMANS: On the Road of Righteousness!
Read more!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Old Testament Examples of SPIRITUAL WARFARE: Conduct in the Campaign & Implementing the Victory of Christ in our Lives –

Eyes to See, Ears to Hear, Hearts to Understand and Obey – Part Two of Two

~~ By James J. Fire


In part one of this article, we saw how the prophet of God was victorious over the overwhelming numbers of pagan prophets introduced to Israel by Jezebel; on Mount Carmel the fire of God came down in answer to the prayer of Elijah, consuming the sacrifices, the dust, the water that drenched everything, and even the rocks that comprised the altar! The people of Israel bowed down declaring that YHWH was indeed God, and at Elijah’s bidding, the false prophets were seized and brought down to the river where the prophet of the LORD then slew them, down to the very last one. He then bid King Ahab to depart for the “sound of the abundance of rain” was heard by the prophet. Soon thereafter “the heavens were black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain” (1 Kings 18:45).

Ahab reported what had happened to his wife, the Queen Jezebel and she in her indignation and malice declared concerning Elijah:

1 Kings 19:2
. . . So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.

And in response, the powerful prophet of God . . . “ran for his life” (1 Kings 19: 3)! You might ask, how could Elijah who faced off eight hundred and fifty pagan prophets, get scared by the ranting of one single woman, though she was a Queen?~~Pretty much the same way how we can at one moment be walking in the Spirit and then the next, be walking in the flesh. Such a dichotomy can be seen in the apostle Peter, who at one moment shines and answers with absolute conviction when the LORD Jesus asked “Who do you say that I am?” – with “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God” and not moments later gets rebuked by the LORD when he allows himself to be a mouthpiece for Satan.

Elijah finds himself alone, despondent and feeling as though he’s the only one left who loves and serves the LORD, Who sends an angel to the prophet to provide nourishment and counsel to sleep and find rest.

The Spirit of the LORD then comes to him and asks what he’s doing there in a cave all alone. Elijah answers:

1 Kings 19:10
. . . I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

The children of Israel had witnessed the great power of God on Mt. Carmel, and yet for all that, they still had not repented of having forsaken their covenant with God, thrown down His altars, and had the prophets of the LORD slain or at least did nothing about it!

Then the LORD sent a great, rending wind that tore up the mountain where Elijah resided, even breaking rocks! The LORD afterwards sent an earthquake and then a fire. Then the LORD spoke in a still small voice.

Miracles though wondrous they may be, cannot change a callused heart of wickedness; it cannot convict of sin, nor can it bring counsel. The Word of the LORD however can and does! Again the Word of the LORD came to Elijah asking a second time what it was he was doing there in the cave, and the prophet gave the same answer.

He didn’t admit that at the word of Jezebel he became afraid and ran away; whereas before he was valiant and fearless before the entire entourage of Jezebel’s prophets, but now he hid away in a cave! God gives him some assignments to anoint kings and seek out one Elisha to anoint him “to be prophet in thy room” (vs. 16). One must wonder if Elijah in his failure to rid Israel of all the pagans, including Jezebel, was being replaced for that very reason. And as Elijah sets about to leave the cave, as an almost ‘P.S. note’ God says, “Oh, by the way Elijah, I happen to have seven thousand that haven’t worshipped Baal!

Ahab and Jezebel continued in their corrupt ways, victimizing the very people that they should have been protecting and ensuring their prosperity and freedoms. One particular man, Naboth, refused to trade his vineyard for another piece of choice land which Ahab offered in its stead; the king even offered the worth of it in gold, but Naboth refused. Later Jezebel frames him for crimes he hadn’t committed, has him executed, and grants his vineyard to the king, her husband.

The Word of the LORD then came to Elijah who pronounced judgment upon the king and queen of Israel:

1 Kings 21:21-26
Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,

And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked [me] to anger, and made Israel to sin.

And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.

Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.

But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.

And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.

Upon hearing of this doom, Ahab humbled himself before the LORD with sackcloth and fasting, and God pronounced mercy on this vile man, declaring that these evils would not fall upon him, but will come to pass in the days of his son. Here is a demonstration of the incredible mercy of the LORD, that even a vile, repugnant man like Ahab could find such at the hand of the Holy One of Israel!!


Later in 2 Kings 2:1-14 we read about the translation of Elijah into heaven by chariots of fire and a whirlwind; his successor Elisha witnessed the prophet ascending, but the mantle which he wore came down, and the remaining prophet took it up and came to the river Jordan and said:

2 Kings 2:14
. . . Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.

. . . just as Elijah had done previously. In fact, Elisha had asked for a double portion of the Spirit of God that Elijah had, and Elijah told him that if he witnessed his being taken up into heaven, his prayer would be granted, and so it was. When Elisha asked the question, I don’t for a moment believe he was asking in despair or doubt, but in faith, calling upon the Name of the LORD with expectation – for he had smitten the waters with his mantel. The water was parted by the hand of God, according to the prophet’s request.

So now we pick up on the second half of this article as found in 2 Kings 6: 8 – 7: 20.

2 Kings 6:8-12
Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp.

And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are come down.

And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of, and saved himself there, not once nor twice.

Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us is for the king of Israel?

And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.

While we in the church may not experience the sort of spiritual gifting that Elisha had, in his God-given abilities, we are nonetheless guided by the Holy Spirit, Who grants us gifts for the church, insight and discernment into the things of this world, in both its visible and invisible aspects.

When it comes to the workings of our enemy, the LORD is assuredly keeping us safe and apprised on what is happening, because His Word speaks eloquently and sufficiently of the days and times in which we live, such times as were prophesied thousands of years ago. Indeed, like Paul we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Cor. 2:11) and his methods (Eph. 6:11). And we are to be ever vigilant and watchful, like sentries on duty, against the attacks from the enemy which may be blatant (1 Peter 5:8) or subtle (2 Cor. 11:3).


There is no battle plan of Satan’s that the LORD hasn’t known of from before the time of the beginning; we might be (temporarily) blind to such assaults, but the LORD has known of them even before Satan planned them and in anticipation of their commencement, our GOD has made ample provision in the Scriptures to arm us with the Truth which like Light, dispels darkness and deception!

While Satan is composing, conducting and orchestrating all of his forces in these last days and constructing his new world order, we who are the church have diligently studied the scriptures both practical and prophetic, understand what the finished construct will look like, complete with a global government, a false world religion and a unified economy that will effectively ‘lock out’ any and all who will be considered politically and ecumenically incorrect, specifically biblical Christians and saints of the Living God.

Our worldview here at TTUF prophetically speaking is a pre-millennial one, so we hold to the perspective that the church will not go through the time of Jacob’s Trouble, otherwise known as Daniel’s 70th week (the final “shabuwah” or a week of [7] years). Nevertheless we may still be here when the one world government is in place, but before the Beast assumes control over it (See Dan 7: 7-8). As time proceeds it will be vital that we as Christians not be taken by surprise, just as the King of Israel was not surprised at the war schemes of his Syrian enemies, but only because God had granted His prophet warnings to deliver to him; we must be aware of what is transpiring, prepare for the eventualities that they will involve in every way, but especially spiritually, and to warn others that may not be aware (perhaps unwillingly) of what’s transpiring before us in these last days!

2 Kings 6:13
And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan.

The King of Syria was a shrewd tactician; he understood that as long as the King of Israel had a prophet in his keeping, there would be no way to gain a tactical advantage over his armies, and launch a pre-emptive surprise attack. So he commanded that Elisha be ‘fetched’ that is, seized or arrested. The Syrian King wanted to steal the King’s prophet. Just so, Satan desires to steal away the advantages of the church – the Word of God and sound teachings based solely upon this precious and exclusive Truth Source (Amos 8:11); as well as this, stealing away our First Love by distracting us, getting us busy in enterprises and exercises that will lead us away from the feet of our LORD, where Mary was apt to stay during the earthly days of the LORD Jesus’ ministry (Rev. 2:4-5).

And as well as this, to get us walking in the flesh, not in the Spirit – by such distractions as getting politically, economically and socially involved in some vain attempt to ‘recapture the world (or at least our nation) for Christ’ – a carnal objective that the NAR and Dominionists have in mind – which is wholly unbiblical, never commanded by our LORD Jesus, and sets our affections on this world (Col. 3: 2), not on the Kingdom which the Messiah King Himself will usher in (Dan. 2: 34 – 45)! We are indeed to be salt and light in this world (Matt. 5:13-14), but with the objective of conviction of sin in the lives of the lost and pointing them to the kingdom of God which He Himself (not the church) will inaugurate!


2 Kings 6:14-15
Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.

And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

This young man was no doubt unnerved to see the Syrian army parked outside of their front door, effectively surrounding the entire city along with the two of them; in a panic he rushes in to tell the prophet the bad news!
When bad news finds us, where do we run to first? I don’t always keep my priorities straight, and run to God FIRST; but if we are all learning our spiritual lessons, this practice will become our priority. Now . . . listen carefully to Elisha’s words in response to this question:

2 Kings 6:16
And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

Perhaps the words of comfort from the prophet sounded hollow in the ears of the young servant; maybe he thought them as nothing more than platitudes – because he could actually SEE the Syrian army, a forest of bristling spears and swords that glinted and gleamed in the sun light, but where was the help that this prophet spoke of? All there were was the prophet and himself!

Notice however what the prophet does NOT say: “they that are with us are more than them.” The young servant might have understood in some abstract way that God was on their side, and His host of angels, but where WERE they? Yet what the prophet actually said was “…THEY that are with them…” The “them” of course was the Syrian army . . . but who were the “they”?

I think the young servant was not at all consoled by the prophet’s words; he just couldn’t hear them! And he couldn’t see what the prophet was referring to either! Elisha could probably still see fear in his eyes, because he then goes on in prayer:


2 Kings 6:17
... LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

God then opened the young man’s ‘eyes’ so that he could see the same thing that Elisha no doubt could see; the host of heaven standing between the Syrian army and the two of them! God alone can grant spiritual vision for us to see His glory and power by; He alone can grant spiritual hearing so that we may understand spiritual truth. God alone makes the necessary provisions by which we can rightly discern the diverse domains of God’s Divine kingdom and the diabolical kingdom of the devil.

In these days, we may well be like the young servant: seeing the forces of this world marshaling themselves together in all the various realms that we can view on the nightly news – all those things we read about in newsletters and the Internet that are an integral part of this new world order whose primary target will be those biblical Christians defiantly non-compliant to their directives. Such things may cause us to become unnerved and in a panic run around from one place to another, seeking counsel and comfort, having no peace at all but a constant stream of anxiety and unrest.

In such times, may God provide us with our own Elisha, a mature saint who will pray for us, and beseech the LORD to open our eyes to the Holy Sovereignty and Almighty power of the LIVING GOD – or may we come to our spiritual senses enough to pray on our own behalf, asking God to give us insight and understanding regarding the days in which we live and the assurance of knowing that He as the LORD of Heaven, rides upon the storms of this world as the Supreme Authority (See FROM the MIND of FIREA Different Sermon on Another Mount)

So the young man knew that they were safe and secure by those that were “with them”, but who were those that were “with” the Syrian forces? The scripture doesn’t say, but I think it’s a foregone conclusion that the “they” in reference to those with the Syrian forces were in fact the fallen angels of Satan’s dark domain!

God didn’t allow those evil forces to be revealed to the young man because it wasn’t necessary: they were just as irrelevant as was Satan himself prior to the time when God lifted His hedge of protection round about Job! Satan admitted that as long as God maintained that hedge, he couldn’t get at Job. And for all his power and wiles, Satan cannot get at the child of God who is sealed by the Spirit of God and walking in His power – yet how vulnerable is that child of God who is walking in the flesh and not the Spirit but who knows better, who leaves off the armor of God and understands nothing of spiritual warfare when they ought to be so engaged in battle and mature enough to teach others!

This is not to say that its unimportant to know about Satan’s kingdom, that we can ignore it without caution, because this is contrary to the ample admonitions of scripture to not be “ignorant of Satan’s devices” and to “be vigilant for our adversary the devil walks about as a roaring lion”, etc. No, we are to be aware of this spiritual warfare and the enemy at large; we are to take action at the leading of our Great General and Captain of the LORD’s Hosts, the LORD Jesus Christ; but we are forbidden to experience either anxiety or ambivalence! Our spiritual livelihoods and well being are at stake, to say nothing of the eternal destiny of lost souls if we ignore this calling of God in spiritual warfare!


2 Kings 6:18
And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

Now in absolute boldness, Elisha takes initiative, advances and goes to meet with this vast Syrian horde and note that the servant goes with him! God hears the prayer of His righteous prophet and smites these soldiers with blindness. Take note that just as God gave Elisha and his servant sight to see with, He denies the enemy such vision so that they are blinded by God and helpless!

Sin is a terribly destructive and blinding force, the greatest in fact that there is; its appropriate to remember that it took no one less than GOD made flesh to destroy the power of sin for those that believe!

Satan in his own blindness, having been subjected to the power of sin for well over many millennia, cannot see his own defeat, cannot hear the sound of eternal judgment approaching, cannot know (yet at least) that God’s victory is inevitable, such is the blindness and pride that he suffers. The LORD God will further blind His enemy where the lives of His children are concerned, where ever and how ever it pleases Him to do so, so that we, the ekklesia may pass on and further into God’s perfect will in our lives as we fulfill the Great Commission He has ordained for us. May we do so in our short time remaining!

2 Kings 6:19-20
And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria.

And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, LORD, open the eyes of these men that they may see. And the LORD opened their eyes, and they saw; and, behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.

I don’t know about you, but I find an incredible amount of rip-roaring humor in that single word “led” there in vs. 19! Picture this!


The magnificent military of Syria, the pride of their King, riding towards Elisha with complete confidence, capable captains and courage aplenty with lethal weapons and fierce horses; they believe that procuring a single, solitary man, prophet or not, would be an easy prey. Yet upon confronting this lone man, they are suddenly smitten with blindness and become as helpless as babes! The man of God tenderly, carefully leads them all the way to Samaria; occasionally he looks over his shoulder to make sure he hasn’t lost any, and perhaps each soldier clasps the soldier directly in front of them in a train of clambering, shuffling and stumbling men!

When the Prophet beseeches the LORD to open their eyes again, they find themselves not in some remote, tiny village where they found Elisha, but in the very capital of Israel! Surrounded by the overwhelming numbers of Israel’s own army!

2 Kings 6:21-22
And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father, shall I smite them? shall I smite them?

And he answered, Thou shalt not smite them: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow? set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.

The King of Israel repeating himself seems to be somewhat eager, or even anxious to wipe out these enemies of his, so close to home, but the prophet speaks rationally to him, reminding the King that he wouldn’t slay prisoners of war; and that’s exactly what these are! Without a single arrow shot by a Hebrew archer, without a single blow of sword from a warrior of Judah, the enemy of Israel was captured and defeated by the power of the LORD – for indeed, the battle is not ours, but it belongs to the LORD Who alone grants our victory in spiritual warfare (2 Chron. 20:17)!

When the LORD delivers our enemies into our hands, its always by His power and for His glory; we must remember that any spiritual victory in this warfare is not just an opportunity, but a calling to worship in thanksgiving and honor to our King!


The benevolence of the prophet reminds us that our real battle is not against flesh and blood – that is, humanity; no, our warfare is against spiritual principalities and powers. For the former, we saints are ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20), beseeching them in the stead of Christ Jesus to be reconciled to God; for the latter we are warriors of God (Eph. 6:12; 2 Cor. 10:3-5), Who Himself declared war upon in the early chapter of Genesis 3:15. Elisha conducts himself just as our LORD and the apostle Paul have admonished us:

Matthew 5:44
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Rom 12:14
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

2 Kings 6:23
And he prepared great provision for them: and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel.

Out of the abundance of Israel’s God given provisions, Elisha gave these would-be executioners of the Hebrew nation more than enough food to make it back to their own King. An accurate portrayal of “doing unto others as we would have them do unto us”!


2 Kings 6:24-25
And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria.

And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass's head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove's dung for five pieces of silver.

How tragic that Ahab the King of Israel disobeyed God when He ordered that King Benhadad be slain along with his armed forces; had he done so, Benhadad would not then been in a position to afflict Israel in the manner we see here. Because of Ahab’s disobedience to the LORD, dire consequences fell upon the present King of Israel as well as the nation (1 Kings 20:42).

Whereas Benhadad failed in gaining any tactical advantage by subtlety, he then employed more overt but equally hostile means of destroying the King and people of Israel that had shown leniency upon him previously. As a type of Satan, here Benhadad represents the sort of relentless, persistent, malicious foe that we face; one that will brook no severance by those who’ve been translated from his kingdom of darkness and into the marvelous light of God’s own kingdom, one with whom we can never settle by treaty or compromise that would engender peace for both sides. Where covert cunning cannot win the day for Satan, a belligerent battle plan begins; by either means, the war with the enemy will continue until he is finally judged and condemned to his eternal place of torment and unrest.

As the church of Jesus Christ, we cannot afford to be less diligent in our warfare, but a defensive war is not a winning plan! Only in offensive maneuvers that gains ground will be effective, and by means of the Gospel, prayer, and spiritual warfare is this accomplished through the Spirit of grace!


Satan today has besieged the church, surrounding and penetrating us with false doctrines, with a curse of uncertainty as to the inerrant, infallible Word of God; with false (so called ‘new’) spirituality and prayer (read that, mind-altering mantra meditation!) – he is essentially starving the church out!

Rare is the find of the bread and water, the milk and the meat of God’s Word being provided for the sheep in any abundance; rather the saints are expected to subsist on cotton candy Christianity, ‘fun and positive’ messages that have little or nothing to do with Holy Scripture. Is it any wonder that spiritually speaking, the bride of Christ is anorexic and unable due to her depleted condition to wage any kind of effective warfare against this roaring lion called Satan?

In a time of famine, food comes at a dear price. The cost of God’s Word is beyond price, as its value resides in the fact that this is the ONLY source, bar none (!!) of spiritual truth! Yet Israel has rejected God’s Word and His prophets, and as a result, we see Israel so plagued: by God’s grace, may we learn this valuable lesson!

From Matthew Henry we have the following:

“Learn to value plenty, and to be thankful for it; see how contemptible money is, when in time of famine it is so freely parted with for any thing that is eatable! The language of Jehoram to the woman may be the language of despair.

“See the word of God fulfilled; among the threatenings of God's judgments upon Israel for their sins, this was one, that they should eat the flesh of their own children, ( Deut. 28:53-57 ).

“The truth and the awful justice of God were displayed in this horrible transaction. Alas! What miseries sin has brought upon the world! But the foolishness of man perverts his way, and then his heart frets against the Lord. The king swears the death of Elisha.

“Wicked men will blame any one as the cause of their troubles, rather than themselves, and will not leave their sins.

“If rending the clothes, without a broken and contrite heart, would avail, if wearing sackcloth, without being renewed in the spirit of their mind, would serve, they would not stand out against the Lord. May the whole word of God increase in us reverent fear and holy hope – that we may be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

The King of Israel was confronted by a woman who begged for intervention during the peak of this famine; apparently she agreed with her neighbor that they would take turns slaying and eating their children! She produced her own child which they ate, but then refused to produce her own – and this was the cause of her complaint; and the King’s reaction to all of this?

2 Kings 6:30-31
And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh.

Then he said, God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day.

He blames this righteous prophet for the very dilemma for which Israel herself and her leadership was to be blamed for! How very like the unrighteous to shift the blame onto anyone else, just so long as we don’t have to confess our sins as our own! Adam did likewise, as did King Saul – as do we all when we are unwilling to admit our failings and our sins! Perhaps this is one reason why God declared King David to be “a man after My own heart” because unlike too many other people of position and authority, when confronted on his sin, he humbled himself, confessed and repented (2 Sam. 12:1 – 13).


The King dispatches soldiers to execute Elisha, but the LORD grants His prophet discernment and a word of knowledge so that he is forewarned of the danger and intercepts his would-be murderers (vs. 32 – 33).

Elisha then declares that within a twenty four hour period after such a severe famine:

2 Kings 7:1
Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.

God made His pronouncement over Israel, granting by His grace, such a provision as would seem unimaginable. There is much in Scripture that seems unimaginable, particularly to the skeptic and the humanist; yet for those of us who devoutly believe Genesis 1:1, everything else that follows is entirely possible with Almighty God (Matt. 19: 26). When once God makes His pronouncement of victory in this campaign we Christians are engaged in, we do well to believe it fully, and not like this profane leader of Israel that responded with doubt at the words of Elisha:

2 Kings 7:2
Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? . . .

To which Elisha responded:

2 Kings 7:2
. . . Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.

At that time, four lepers who knew their time of death was nearing decided to go pay the Syrian camp of soldiers a little visit. Their reasoning was that, “We are going to die any way, we might as well go and see if perhaps the Syrians will pity us and give us some food.” Yet if they didn’t, it would mean a quick end of life rather than the slow agonizing death of leprosy!

God then caused the sound of chariots and horses to be heard by the Syrians, who in a delusional state of paranoia thought that Israel had hired the Hittites and the Egyptians as mercenaries to come deal with them! They fled, leaving their tents and encampment vacant for these four doomed men, who to their utter astonishment discovered heaps of food upon every table! And gold and silver treasure besides!

One or two of them came to their senses after such a heady discovery and said:

2 Kings 7:9
Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king's household.

Interesting how these four lepers had greater understanding and conviction than today’s common variety Christian who wields greater depths and heights of “good tidings” in the Gospel, and yet doesn’t understand that “we do not well” in not sharing this incredibly good news with a spiritually starved world, bereft of spiritual life and blessing in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God and LORD of all! We may not have the opportunity to declare this good news to Kings, but we can avail ourselves to neighbors, friends, family, etc. and by God’s grace see them ushered into the Kingdom of God and made to be kings (and priests)!

The lepers, four in number (as are the number of the Gospel writers – interesting!) bring this news to the porters, who then deliver the word to the King, and he suspects a trap laid out by the Syrians – an ambush to catch a desperate army in peril of starvation in the midst of feeding, only to be slain by their swords! How very like the wicked who are suspicious and skeptical, and unbelieving of the good news of God and timid when it comes to great exploits or walking by faith which they disparage!

Prov 28:1
The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.


The King’s servants beseech him to send out a reconnaissance mission and seek out the truth of the matter, which he allows. As this party nears the Syrian encampment they see clothes and vessels of precious gold and silver strewn about the ground in a trail leading away from the camp. They report back to the King and tell him that it’s all true! The Syrians had fled their camp and left behind their provisions as well as a wealth of precious metals!

A virtual stampede of desperate people began racing towards their salvation of stores when the same skeptical leader of the King tried to ‘manage the situation’ and ended up trampled to death. His words perhaps echoed in the minds of those that heard him in that day of deliberate doubt:

2 Kings 7:19
. . . Now, behold, if the LORD should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.

Doubters may doubt, believing lies rather than the truth of God’s Word, but the truth is sure and steadfast, and will prevail no matter how our enemy assails and attacks it. The truth is under fire today just as it was in the days of Elijah and Elisha, but warriors of the LORD can and will place their implicit trust in the Word of the LORD, and as the greatest and most valiant of weapons that we can wield, engage in a successful warfare!

Psalms 100:5
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Psalms 117:2
For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.

Psalms 18:2
The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

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