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CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


Friendly Fire

Friendly Fire

Casualties of War — Friendly Fire

Iam grieved in my spirit of late at the breaking news about all of the terrorist activity reported in the news.  Not the television network news, nor even the cable news, but reports from the front lines in the battle for souls.  My ears are still ringing from reports of church splits, pastoral staff resignations, mischief and misbehavior at Christian universities.  What fuels the flame of this seemingly continuous conflagration that destroys lives, churches and makes impotent the work of the Gospel?  It is the sin of anger!  Yes, you heard it here first.  Anger is a sin.


Bob Flynn, President/CEO

I did not come to this conclusion by way of thoughtful consideration of my intellectual prowess.  It came instead by incremental illumination by the Holy Spirit as He worked upon my heart during a ten-year long sojourn in the second chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians.  It could not have happened any other way!  It was and is a continuance of the work that God began and will finish on the day when Christ returns (Phil 1:6, paraphrase mine).  For how can mere flesh and blood stand in the midst of Him of whom angels sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”  For He who brings everything into conformity with His will had already spoken through the Apostle Paul and said, “Be humble, thinking others as better than yourself…In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing….” (Phil 2:3b, 14)  Instead, our lives should epitomize the “attitude that was in Christ Jesus.”  The only innocent man who lived did not cling to His innocence but rather sacrificed himself on the altar without complaint.  He could have been angry at those who falsely accused and condemned Him.  He could have clung to His excellence and rightly held us in contempt.  Instead He went as a lamb to the slaughter.  How then shall we live?  Shall we continue giving aid and comfort to the Enemy?  Shall we continue inflicting casualties upon each other because our lives are not “blameless,” “clean” and “innocent” “as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people.”? (Phil 2:15)  How then can we be angry with another without thinking too highly of ourselves?

I know that there are those who would argue with me, but C.S. Lewis pretty much covers the basis for this conclusion in his book, Mere Christianity.

“The law of gravity tells you what stones do if you drop them; but the law of Human Nature tells you what human beings ought to do and do not.  In other words, when you are dealing with humans, something else comes in above and beyond the actual facts.  You have the facts (how men do behave) and you also have something else (how they ought to behave).  In the rest of the universe there need not be anything but the facts.  Electrons and molecules behave in a certain way, and certain results follow, and that may be the whole story.  But men behave in a certain way and that is not the whole story, for all the time you know that they ought to behave differently.”

Blow Up Your TV

Blow Up Your TV

Back in ancient times (BC — Before Computers) in a land far away in the midst of a horrible war, I was looking through the resident collection of albums (the round plastic platters with a hole in the middle) when I spied one by some guy named John Denver (released before he was famous).  There was a song on the album whose first line lyric caught my ear, “Blow up your TV, try to find Jesus on your own.”  I don’t remember much about the song itself but the lyric has remained with me all of these years.

Having reached the age where my children have become adults, I now look back on the earlier years and see that life had some spots that were a blur of activity.  Being involved, because of my children, in little league, Boy Scouts, soccer, Sunday School, youth group and also being a full-time sailor didn’t leave much time for anything else.  Life seemed pretty full.  There are indeed so many activities in our lives!   Yet how many are profitable?  How many are profitable for the kingdom?  How much time do I devote to those things that are important to my health and well being as a believer?  Sometimes I think that the world does a better job of conforming me into its mold than I do allowing the Holy Spirit to transform me by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2 paraphrase mine).  I think in my case that the blur of activity was motivated more by my flesh (not wanting my children to miss out) than by the Spirit (wanting to draw me into a closer walk with Him).  This doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done both.  It means that my attitude wasn’t right.


Bob Flynn, President/CEO

As I was meditating upon Hebrews, chapter twelve, I was struck by the idea of “throwing off everything that hinders.” (NIV)  As I looked up from my easy chair I found myself looking full on at one thing in particular that took up a great deal of my time, the huge one-eyed monster we call Television.  My heart was shaken at its foundations.  The Holy Spirit was showing me in a very clear way that I would rather spend time watching the political talk shows than with Him.  Busted!  So I got up out of my chair walked across the room and pulled the plug!  I would like to say that the angels of heaven broke out in song (However, what really broke out was beads of sweat upon my brow.  Several times that evening, as I was trying to read, I found my hand reaching for the ol’ remote control.  I thought to myself, how many other things are in my life that have become a hindrance to fellowship with the Father.  Am I really trying to work out my faith with “fear and trembling” or am I just busy?  C.S. Lewis, in “Mere Christianity,” mentions that
one of the “cardinal virtues” is temperance.  The first word that the dictionary (my copy was of course printed in the last century) uses to define this is moderation, “bringing within bounds, avoidance of excesses.”

If you find yourselves breathing hard at the end of the day, might I suggest in all humility (because I promise you that I am NOT the fount of all knowledge and wisdom) that you take stock of your activities and see if there isn’t some time that could be better used in your relationship with the Savior.  “Blow up your TV (hyperbole mine) and try to find Jesus on your own!”

“As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses round us.  So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us.  Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.  He did not give up because of the cross!  On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right-hand side of God’s throne.  Hebrews 12:1-2 TEV

Romans 2:29 - The Genuine Christian

Romans 2:29

"But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God." (NASB)

"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." (KJV)

"No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God.  And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God's Spirit.  And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people." (NLT)

"but someone is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit and not by the written code.  This person's praise is not from people but from God." (NET)

"To be a real Jew you must obey the Law.  True circumcision is something that happens deep in your heart, not something done to your body.  And besides, you should want praise from God and not from humans." (CEV)

"Rather, the real Jew is the person who is a Jew on the inside, that is, whose heart has been circumcised, and this is the work of God's Spirit, not of the written Law.  Such a person receives praise from God, not from human beings." (GNB)

"How strikingly this also brings out what so breaks everywhere through the doctrine of this epistle that everything is according to its reality before God, God being revealed through Christ and the cross.  All must take its true character and result according to what He was. Note moreover that the terms suppose gospel knowledge — 'seek for glory, honor, and incorruptibility.'  These are known by Christianity." Dr. John Darby

What then can we say in parallel, dear Christian, about our hearts from this amazing passage.  To be a genuine Christian is our baptism to be external only by ritual cleansing in the water?  Or is our baptism to be an internal act of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts?  Is our life lived in a manner that give the outward perception or do we walk by the Spirit giving honor and glory to Him who died for us to bring us life eternal?  Do we live in secret sin and delude ourselves into thinking we are walking in the light?  Or are we living in in the light of His Glory being washed clean by the blood of the Son?  If we think that we are not deceived, then deception has had its way with us!  We have already fallen prey to the ultimate deceiver.  Look around, believer, do you see the signs of the Glory of the Lord being displayed everywhere that this is a Christian nation?  Is your church overflowing with the songs of thousands of souls set free by the blood of the Crucified One?  Has the ministry of the Holy Spirit in your life touched everyone you meet?  Does the world look like you or do you look like the world?  Are you really engaged in ministry?  Or are you just engaged in activity?  What's the difference?  Fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit that transforms lives making them brand new.  Lives living in the victory that is in Christ Jesus that sets them free from the law of sin and death! 

"He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.  He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit." (Titus 3:5 NLT)

"With respect to the conduct of Christians towards the world, grace has banished violence, and the spirit of rebellion and resistance which agitates the heart of those who believe hot, and which has its source in the self-will that strives to maintain its own rights relatively to others.

The Christian has his portion, his inheritance, elsewhere; he is tranquil and submissive here and ready to do good.  Even when others are violent and unjust towards him, he bears it in remembrance that once it was no otherwise with himself: a difficult lesson, for violence and injustice stir up the heart; but the thought that it is sin, and that we also were formerly its slaves, produces patience and piety.  Grace alone has made the difference, and according to that grace are we to act towards others."  Dr. John Darby

Asking the Right Question

Asking the Right Question

“So Jesus used this Illustration: ‘If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it?  And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders.  When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found.  In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!’” (Luke 15:3-7 NLT)
“All of us have strayed away like sheep.  We have left God’s paths to follow our own” (Isaiah 53:6 NLT).

Bob Flynn, President/CEO

Ayoung man called me from northern Iraq in much anguish over the perceived loss of his salvation.  He had been engaged in a firefight and had inflicted casualties and had for the first time taken a human life.  War in the best of circumstances (if there is such a thing) is at best ghastly.  This warrior had experienced something that would change him forever.  He had killed someone created in the image of God and was suffering from the experience.  The reason God gave King David for denying him the privilege of building the temple was that he had blood on his hands.  This is the unseen red badge of courage that the warrior carries with him always (wounded deeply with no visible wound).  I suspect that if the truth be known, there are not many of us who contemplate the possibilities of combat before we enter the military.  I certainly did not.  I suspect that the most horrific experience for a believer would be to kill his brother in Christ in combat.  Those who have the ears to hear the Holy Spirit grieve will confirm that the soul would know if this event would occur.

For this young man the angst was real and the weight upon his heart was great! He thought he had lost his salvation because of his combat experience.  I suppose that in order to lose something one must first possess it. In the case of salvation one must recognize that we, the believers, are not the possessor but the possession!  If the question is, What is my salvation?, then I am looking for something that I had never possessed to lose.  If the question is, Who is my salvation?, then I will soon discover the correct answer.  In the former I am lost.  In the latter I am found.  Our salvation is in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ! He is not lost.  He is seated at the right hand of the Father.  The question then should be, Is He sufficient to keep me?

“As he loved the unsaved enough to give His Son to die for them, even when they were ‘yet without strength’ and ‘enemies’; ‘Much more then, being now justified by his blood’ and ‘reconciled,’ they shall be ‘saved from wrath through him,’ and ‘saved by his life.’ Such is the unchangeable love of God” (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Grace).

This young man had not sinned in the taking of life in combat. However, he was surely wounded by his experience.  Just as we are “without strength” when Christ died for us (Romans 5:6 KJV), we are often found “without strength” and bleeding from the wounds of life.  The New Living Translation says, “When we were utterly helpless.”  What has changed?  Are we not “utterly helpless” in Romans 6 when we are a slave to sin?  Are we not “ utterly helpless” in Romans 7 when we are under the law?  We can see the victory only when in Romans 8 we see a new law in effect, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”

Whenever parables are taught, I have noticed a consistent phenomena; We reach the wrong conclusion because we are asking the wrong question.  The aforementioned parable of the lost sheep is no exception.  When the parable of the good Samaritan is taught, the question always asked is, who is my neighbor?  The question taught by the parable is, whose neighbor am I.  When the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican is taught, the thought that invades the conscience is, “I am glad I am not like that Pharisee.  The lesson taught is, we are the Pharisee.  With the parable of the lost sheep it is easy to focus on our waywardness, “All of us like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6 NASB) and miss the “unchangeable love of God.”

“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves” (Romans 15:1 NASB).

This young warrior just needed a hug and a reminder that God’s love is unfailing! Jesus said, “ I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.  “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29 NASB).  Eternal life given that is eternally secure in Christ Jesus! We are in good hands!

Romans 2:28 - The False Badge of Faith

Romans 2:28

"For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh." (NASB)

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

"For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision." (NLT)

"For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something that is outward in the flesh," (NET)

A most important lesson here! There are NO Grandchildren in the Faith!!! We are not believers because we are the descendents of Christian parents, or because we were baptized or participated in some other religious ceremony! Like Israel, who took pride in being the keepers of the oracles of God, we too presume upon God's Grace when we think that owning a Bible or attending church brings salvation.

"For he is not a Jew ... - He who is merely descended from Abraham, and is circumcised, and externally conforms to the Law only, does not possess the true character, and manifest the true spirit, contemplated by the separation of the Jewish people. Their separation required much more." Dr. Albert Barnes

We cling to our badges and other outward signs because the inward man is still defiant toward the will of God. This guarantees us one or many trips around Mount Sinai until we repent and turn away from our sin and ask for the forgiveness that flows from the throne room of Grace to the foot of Golgotha where the crimson flood makes us white a snow. There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved!

"There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12 NLT)

"In a word, they are invited to return by repentance, and enjoy all the promises made to Israel. The Messiah Himself should return from heaven to establish their blessing. The whole nation is here addressed as natural heirs of the promises made to Abraham. But, while they were speaking, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to lay hands on them, being grieved that they preached the resurrection, which their unbelief and dogmatic system did not receive. They put them in prison, for it was evening. The hope of Israel was set aside; the grace of God had spoken in vain, great and patient as it was. Many, however, believed their word: five thousand persons already confessed the Lord Jesus." Dr. John Darby

Was it not the high priests, the rich and influential in the society, and the Roman authority that together crucified the Son of God? How many times in American history do we find the same influences being applied to bring about a great evil? What religious badge was worn when one man owned another? Or when in time of war we incarcerated our fellow citizens based upon our own fears and the President did ask us to pray with him to Almighty God? Let us consider this with the events of our day! How are we doing church?  What badge are we wearing today?

Romans 2:27 - Transgressors Condemned by the Lost

Romans 2:27 - Transgressors Condemned by the Lost

Dr. Jonathan Edwards said: "But now, when the ill consequences of these false affections appear, and it is become very apparent that some of those emotions which made a glaring show and were by many greatly admired, were in reality nothing; the devil sees it to be for his interest to go another way to work, and to endeavor to his utmost to propagate and establish a persuasion that all affections and sensible emotions of the mind, in things of religion, are nothing at all to be regarded, but rather to be avoided and carefully guarded against, as things of a pernicious tendency.  This he knows is the way to bring all religion to a mere lifeless formality, and effectually shut out the power of godliness, and every thing which is spiritual, and to have all true Christianity turned out of doors.  For although to true religion there indeed must be something else besides affection, yet true religion consists so much in the affections that there can be no true religion without them.  He who has no religious affections is in a state of spiritual death, and is wholly destitute of the powerful, quickening, saving influences of the Spirit of God upon his heart.  As there is no true religion where there is nothing else but affection, so there is not true religion where there is no religious affection.  As , on the one hand, there must be light in the understanding as well as an affected fervent heart; where there is heat without light, there can be nothing divine or heavenly in that heart; so on the other hand, where there is a kind of light without heat, a head stored with notions and speculations, with a cold and unaffected heart, there can be nothing divine in that light; that knowledge is no true spiritual knowledge of divine things.  If the great things of religion are rightly understood, they will affect the heart.  The reason why men are not affected by such infinitely great, important, glorious, and wonderful things, as they often hear and read of in the Word of God, is undoubtedly because they are blind; if they were not so, it would be impossible, and utterly inconsistent with human nature, that their hearts should be otherwise than strongly impressed, and greatly moved by such things."

"And he who is physically5449 uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?" (NASB)

"And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature5449, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?" (KJV)

"In fact, uncircumcised Gentiles who keep God's law will condemn you Jews who are circumcised and possess God's law but don't obey it." (NLT)

"And will not the physically5449 uncircumcised man who keeps the law judge you who, despite the written code and circumcision, transgress the law?" (NET)

An amazing indictment to say the least!  Rightly condemned by those to whom we are to be a witness!  Here is one time that I think the translators fail to convey the term consistently in light of other renderings within the New Testament.  The Greek word here translated "by nature" is "phusis."  Now it is accurate to think of this as "physical" in its relationship to "circumcision."  However, it may not articulate the full flavor of the notion when one examines its usage elsewhere.  In Romans 1:26 it is rendered by itself "natural" and when preceded by "para" as "unnatural."  In Romans 2:14 the Gentiles "do by nature" or "do instinctively" again conveying something more that just physical unless of course instinct is now an identifiable body part.  Or in Romans 11:24 is the olive tree wild by "physical" instead of wild by "nature?"  Perhaps the "children of wrath" in Ephesians 2:3 were thus by "physical" rather than "nature."

Why the big deal?  Because it would make no sense for someone to judge you apart from a standard!  That standard not being "physical" circumcision but rather the "instinct" or "nature" within that come from the creator!  For it has already been said that God's laws are written upon our hearts!

There is a craftsman that I know who can demonstrate this in about 10 seconds selecting studs from the lumber pile at the local home supply store.  As he picks up each board, he looks along the length to see if it is "true" (alethes - translated 23 times "true").  He is not looking to see if it is "honorable," "right," "pure," or "lovely." He is seeking that which is NOT crooked!  It is said that the untrained human eye can perceive measurements to less than a quarter of an inch.  We live in a world where our minds eye along with our ocular perception knows "instinctively" or "by nature" those things which are NOT plumb or NOT square!  So when we are rightfully judged as "transgressors" the condemnation is complete!  We are condemned by Almighty God with the verdict being conveyed by those who are still lost!

How can we return to the blood of bulls and goats and ignore so great a salvation?  We turn away from the simple truth that is in Christ Jesus and become religious!  With good reason did Saint Augustine say, "Love God and do as you please."  If we truly love God, we will instinctively do what pleases Him!  Why?  Because we have a NEW NATURE!  If we become religious and live by the jot and tittle of the law, then we shall be judged according to our failures which are endless.

Philippians 4:8 says: "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (NLT)

G5449
φυ?σις
phusis
Thayer Definition:
1) nature
1a) the nature of things, the force, laws, order of nature
1a) as opposed to what is monstrous, abnormal, perverse
1b) as opposed what has been produced by the art of man: the natural branches, i.e. branches by the operation of nature
1b) birth, physical origin
1c) a mode of feeling and acting which by long habit has become nature
1d) the sum of innate properties and powers by which one person differs from others, distinctive native peculiarities, natural characteristics: the natural strength, ferocity, and intractability of beasts

Romans 2:26 - Moral Turpidtude

Romans 2:26 - Moral Turpitude

"So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? (NASB)

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

"And if the Gentiles obey God's law, won't God declare them to be His own people?" (NLT)

"Therefore if the uncircumcised man obeys the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?" (NET)

Mathew Henry Concise Commentary:
"No forms, ordinances, or notions can profit, without regenerating grace, which will always lead to seeking an interest in the righteousness of God by faith. For he is no more a Christian now, than he was really a Jew of old, who is only one outwardly: neither is that baptism, which is outward in the flesh: but he is the real Christian, who is inwardly a true believer, with an obedient faith. And the true baptism is that of the heart, by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Ghost; bringing a spiritual frame of mind, and a willing following of truth in its holy ways. Let us pray that we may be made real Christians, not outwardly, but inwardly; in the heart and spirit, not in the letter; baptized, not with water only, but with the Holy Ghost; and let our praise be, not of men, but of God."

"If the Gentile be found to act according to the spirit and design of the law, his acting thus uprightly, according to the light which God has afforded him, will be reckoned to him as if he were circumcised and walked agreeably to the law." Dr. Adam Clarke

"It could not be supposed that a pagan would understand the requirements of the ceremonial law; but reference is had here to the moral law. The apostle does not expressly affirm that this was ever done; but he supposes the case, to show the true nature and value of the rites of the Jews." Dr. Albert Barnes

"These words are spoken hypothetically; if any such persons could be found among the Gentiles who keep the whole law of God; and can only be absolutely understood of such, who from a principle of grace act in obedience to the law; as in the hands of Christ, and who look to Christ as the fulfilling end of it, for righteousness; in whom they keep the righteousness of the law perfectly." Dr. John Gill

"'I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD, who serve Him and love His name, who worship Him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to My covenant.'" (Isaiah 56:6 NLT)

"And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven." (Mathew 8:11 NLT)

"Then Peter replied, "I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation He accepts those who fear Him and do what is right." (Acts 1:34-35 NLT)

"For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God's commandments." 1 Corinthians 7:19 NLT)

"For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort," (Philippians 3:3 NLT)

"When you came to Christ, you were 'circumcised,' but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature." (Colossians 2:11 NLT)

An Army of One-Or-An Army of the One

An Army of One-Or-An Army of the One

We sometimes confuse our own culture with spiritual things.  In America there exists within us an innate desire to succeed as an individual.  Why else would we have team sports in order to learn teamwork?  When we join the military we learn a new concept called unit cohesion.  It is a long recognized phenomenon that is essential for successful war fighting.  Unit cohesion goes well beyond the idea of mere teamwork into an arena where men and women place their lives and trust into the hands of those with whom they serve.  General Krulac, Commandant of the Marine Corps (former), described it in this way: “We must do everything we can to enhance the transformation of young men and women into the marines that our corps needs to win battles.  I firmly believe that unit cohesion is an integral part of the transformation process.  Marines must possess and feel the absolute trust, subordination of self, the intuitive understanding of the collective actions of the unit, and the importance of teamwork.”

“I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me” (John 17:20-23 NASB).

Bob Flynn, President/CEO

Unity is that gift from God that comes as an answered prayer of the Son so that the world (“Satanic System,” Lewis Sperry Chafer) may know the Father sent the Son.  I have heard unity described in terms of what it is NOT, but sometimes we miss the point because we ask the wrong question.  When unity is described as NOT being uniformity, the question should be, “Did Jesus think like His Father?”  When described as NOT unanimity, the question should be, “Did Jesus and the Father completely agree?”  Those who would make the NOT arguments are those who have NOT experienced this wondrous blessing!  There is only ONE reason for NOT experiencing the Unity of the Holy Spirit — you do not belong to Jesus!  We ARE one just as Jesus and the Father are one for the purpose of the Gospel!  It requires more than teamwork, more than unit cohesion, it requires death to self that the Church may grow with Jesus Christ as the head.  If you think you can make it on your own, I suggest you put jam in both your pockets, ‘cause you’re already toast!

“But they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For we are joined together in his body by his strong sinews, and we grow only as we get our nourishment and strength from God” (Colossians 2:19 NLT).
“Instead we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church . Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:15-16 NLT).
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up only one body. So it is with the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12 NLT).
“Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others” (Romans 12:3b-5 NLT).

Romans 2:25 - The Emblem

Romans 2:25

"For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision." (NASB)

"For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision." (KJV)

"The Jewish ceremony of circumcision has value only if you obey God's law. But if you don't obey God's law, you are no better off than an uncircumcised Gentile." (NLT)

"For circumcision has its value if you practice the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision." (NET)

Mathew Henry Concise Commentary:  "No forms, ordinances, or notions can profit, without regenerating grace, which will always lead to seeking an interest in the righteousness of God by faith.  For he is no more a Christian now, than he was really a Jew of old, who is only one outwardly: neither is that baptism, which is outward in the flesh: but he is the real Christian, who is inwardly a true believer, with an obedient faith.  And the true baptism is that of the heart, by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Ghost; bringing a spiritual frame of mind, and a willing following of truth in its holy ways.  Let us pray that we may be made real Christians, not outwardly, but inwardly; in the heart and spirit, not in the letter; baptized, not with water only, but with the Holy Ghost; and let our praise be, not of men, but of God."

The rite of circumcision was the emblem by which the Jews relationship with Abrahamic covenant was recognized.  However, to wear the emblem does not necessarily make you an heir to the promise!  As Christians, what emblems might we be relying upon in the same way?  Are we depending upon a ritual instead of the relationship?  Apathy and arrogance are shipwrecks in the faith that are at opposite sides of the sea of life!  The only safe harbor is in Christ Himself!

What a great opportunity to draw near to Christ!  Remember Christ's words of encouragement to His disciples midst their understandable confusion:

"'Don't let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, and trust also in Me.  There is more than enough room in My Father's home.  If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am.  And you know the way to where I am going.'  'No, we don't know, Lord,' Thomas said. 'We have no idea where You are going, so how can we know the way?'  Jesus told him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.'" (John 14:1-6 NLT)

There is no way to THE WAY for Jesus Christ is THE WAY!  He is the WAY "of holiness" of which Isaiah spoke.  He is the "Ancient Way" of which Jeremiah spoke.  The onramp is at the foot of the Calvary Cross.  The sign beckoning, "Sinner Come Home."  There are no metering devices to hinder our entry.  The only toll required is "belief!"

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.  As the Scriptures tell us, 'Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.'  Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect.  They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on Him.  For 'Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.'"
(Romans 10:9-13 NLT)

Romans 2:24 - Blasphemed

Romans 2:24

"For "THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU," just as it is written." (NASB)

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

"No wonder the Scriptures say, 'The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you.'" (NLT)

"For just as it is written, 'the name of God is being blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'" (NET)

A quote from Isaiah 52:5

"What is this?" asks the LORD. "Why are My people enslaved again?  Those who rule them shout in exultation. My name is blasphemed all day long." (Isaiah 52:5 NLT)

"The apostle directs his discourse to the Jews, and shows of what sins they were guilty, notwithstanding their profession and vain pretensions. A believing, humble, thankful glorying in God, is the root and sum of all religion. But proud, vain-glorious boasting in God, and in the outward profession of his name, is the root and sum of all hypocrisy. Spiritual pride is the most dangerous of all kinds of pride. A great evil of the sins professors is, the dishonor done to God and religion, by their not living according to their profession. Many despise their more ignorant neighbors who rest in a dead form of godliness; yet themselves trust in a form of knowledge, equally void of life and power, while some glory in the gospel, whose unholy lives dishonor God, and cause his name to be blasphemed."  Mathew Henry

Blaspheme (Noah Webster)
BLASPHE'ME, v.t. [Gr. The first syllable is the same as in blame, blasme, denoting injury; L. loedo, loesus; The last syllable is the Gr.,to speak.]

1. To speak of the Supreme Being in terms of impious irreverence; to revile or speak reproachfully of God, or the Holy Spirit. 1 Ki 21. Mark 3.

2. To speak evil of; to utter abuse or calumny against; to speak reproachfully of.

BLASPHE'ME, v.i. To utter blasphemy.

He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven. Mark 3.

1. To arrogate the prerogatives of God.

This man blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins but God? Math.9. Mark 2.

Though this verse is directed at Israel we can learn much of what we see today here in America. Dr. Albert Barnes writes:

"That is, your conduct is such as to lead the pagan world to blaspheme and reproach both your religion and its Author. By your hypocrisy and crimes the pagan world is led to despise a religion which is observed to have no effect in purifying and restraining its professors; and of course the reproach will terminate on the Author of your religion - that is, the true God. A life of purity would tend to honor religion and its Author; a life of impurity does the reverse. There is no doubt that this was actually the effect of the deportment of the Jews. They were scattered everywhere; everywhere they were corrupt and wicked; and everywhere they and their religion were despised."

Dr Adam Clarke says: "In Debarim rabba, sect. 2, fol. 251, it is said: - “The rulers destroy the influence of their own words among the people; and this is done when a rabbin, sitting and teaching in the academy, says, Do not take usury, and himself takes it; do not commit rapine, and himself commits it; do not steal, and himself steals.” That they were exceedingly lax in their morals, the following fact proves: - “Rabbi Ilai said, If a man see that his evil propensities are likely to prevail against him, let him go to some place where he is not known, and let him put on black clothes, and cover his head with a black veil; and then let him do whatsoever he pleases, lest the name of God should be publicly profaned.” Moed katon, fol. 17. 1. In Sohar Levit. fol. 31, col. 122, it is said: - “On three accounts the Jews are obliged to remain in captivity -
1.  Because they openly reproach the Shechinah -
2.  Because they profane themselves before the Shechinah -
3.  Because they turn away their faces from the Shechinah.”

I would suggest that the same is true with regard to much of what is called modern Christianity.  The virtues of our founding fathers was evident by the time honored assessment of their works!  The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution show wisdom from on high! (See article on God and Country at the CMF Forum)  I sometimes think we are engaged in the wrong battles.  Which one of us ever gained a single inch of ground by arguing with those who know not the Lord.  How much more is gained by lives controlled by the love of Christ that dare not shake a reed but instead extend Grace at every turn.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and your neighbor as yourself. Against these things there is no law.


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