APPROVED UNTO GOD – PART 2
“Rightly dividing the word of truth”
By Jeannette Haley
“It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceedeth out of the
mouth of God” – Matthew 4:4
Our Lord made it clear that every word spoken by God is what man is to live by, so in order to do that we need to settle it in our minds and hearts if we are going to believe the “whole counsel of God” from Genesis to Revelation or not. For some people this is like swallowing an Idaho potato whole. As one woman we once knew said, “God wrote a big, big book!” Yes, He did because He knew mankind would be totally lost without it! All 66 books of the Bible are for our benefit, and if compared to all the mountains of written propaganda and lies the devil puts out, the Bible isn’t all that daunting after all.
If we say that we believe it then we need to know what we say we believe, don’t you think? That means we must study it, hide it in our hearts, and live by it. Secondly, because the eternal state of our souls is at stake, we owe it to ourselves to at least know with assurance that we can trust the Bible version we use. (You may be interested in a sample comparison of the KJV and modern versions that have changed the original intent, added to or omitted God’s words, which you can see here:
Some people argue that the Old Testament is no longer relevant (even though Jesus and the disciples quoted it) and that it doesn’t pertain to Christians, so there goes 39 books of the Bible out the window—books that give us the answers concerning who God is, the beginning and creation of time, matter and space, and the life of all things; why man was created; the reason for suffering and death; explanations as to the origin of nations and languages; the promises of the Messiah and our Savior, the Hope of all mankind; the establishment of Israel, and the Law upon which civilization is to be based, along with major miracles, prophecies, psalms of worship, history, science, health laws, and examples by which we can learn and gain wisdom, and so much more too numerous to mention. The Old Testament is the foundation of the New Testament, yet today it is all but disregarded as an immaterial, outdated history book foisted on “progressive thinking ‘Christians’” by organized religion.
Others sharpen their intellectual scissors and radical razorblades and cut out all the books of the Bible except the Scriptures from Acts Chapter 9 or Chapter 13 through the Pauline epistles, and that means the rest of the Bible, including the Words of Jesus, is relegated to the compost pile. There are still others who clip and snip any verse that makes mention of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Holy Spirit or the Holy Spirit in general, so there goes the power, the work of the Comforter, Teacher, and our Helper. On the other side of the teeter-totter are those who eliminate, ignore or ascribe a different meaning to Scriptures that refer to Satan and warn the Church of his wiles his devils and hell. Their attitude is “We don’t need to worry about Satan, so we’ll just pretend he and his demons don’t exist.”
Others cling to certain prophetic verses, take them out of context, and rearrange them to say what they want them to say concerning the latter days, and still others only consider those verses that talk about God’s love. Then there are those who are adamant that all Scriptures must be taken in a literal sense when it is clear that certain Scriptures should be understood and applied in “another sense;” that is, allegorically so as to discern the principle, intent, lesson, parable, revelation, or wisdom behind it. On the other hand, there are those who “spiritualize” or alter Scriptures in order to try and “fit” them into their metaphysical, New Age occult mental framework, which results in perverted definitions with a totally different (demonic) spirit.
Of course there are the “positive only pick-and-choose” people who love to claim all of God’s promises while ignoring and tossing aside as irrelevant all of the accompanying conditions that go with them. These are the same folks that are all wired for sound and blather on day and night telling their itchy-eared audiences that once you decide to be a Christian (whatever that means) then you will never have a problem, or a sickness, or a disease, or any lumps in your gravy. HOG WASH!
And if all that wasn’t bad enough, we must continually be alert to any slothful tendencies we may have that results in us substituting genuine study for the many “short cuts” to a “successful spiritual life” that are being offered today by agents of satanic deception. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” 1 Timothy 4:1. So when somebody comes along and tells you that all you have to do in order to “arrive” is to open up and swallow his or her “condensed version” to instant spiritual “success,” rebuke and run!
Any Scripture can be taken out of context, twisted, distorted, overemphasized or “wrongly divided” to make it say what a person wants it to say. The disastrous results of making the Bible say what it does not say are evidenced in the numerous cults that are leading untaught, ill-informed people astray; the countless erroneous teachings floating about that undiscipled, and undiscerning Christians are so greatly attracted to, along with the rise of rampant immorality, worldliness, New Age beliefs, witchcraft, paganism, pride and rebellion all of which is the result of unbelief and utter disregard for the truth. The terrifying thing about all of this is the fact that professing Christians simply do not seem to care if God’s Word is being watered down; that error (or next to nothing) is being taught in churches these days; that people are coming under a wrong spirit; that the youth have no clue whatsoever about history, or who the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is, nor do they have fear of God because they have no idea of what His Word declares, and no knowledge of the fact that they are lost sinners who must “repent or perish.” “Star Wars” is more of a reality to more than one generation than the truths contained in the Word of God.
God help us to wake up and realize that we are living in the day of great apostasy! “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” 2 Thessalonians 2:3. In a quote by H. A. Ironside he concludes, “And so we see the Lord standing outside the door of the professing church, and saying so tenderly, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” Ah beloved friends, it is getting late in the dispensation; the night-shades are fast falling; and the Lord who, in the beginning, was in the midst of His church, stands outside that lukewarm system which calls itself by His name, and He knocks in vain for entrance. Yet, individuals here and there open to Him, and find His presence is more to them than all else that the earth or the professing church can afford.”
Fact: God is no respecter of persons. He is not impressed with a person’s oratory skills, clever clichés, gender, race, outward appearance, family ties, intellectual ability, college degrees, income, social standing, political platform, popularity, or “particular personal performance” while preaching. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ, Jesus” Galatians 3:28. What the LORD God desires is that people, whoever they are, come to salvation through Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, and that they trust and obey Jesus who commanded, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
If we are to keep His commandments, we need to know what they are: we need to know what pleases the Lord, and what doesn’t please the Lord. It pleases the Lord when we approach His Word to believe it, and to search for Him, learn of Him and His ways, and His will for our lives, and then live it. But, one thing is for sure, and that is this: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” Deuteronomy 4:2. “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it” Deuteronomy 12:32. “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” Proverbs 30:5, 6. “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” Revelation 22:18, 19.
Keeping all that in mind let’s move on to some of the oft-repeated “Christian” clichés that are so popular today, how they are used, and take a closer look at the Word of God to see if the Word is being “rightly divided.” Here’s the first one: “You are not to touch God’s anointed.” This “out-of-context-admonition” is based on 1 Chronicles 16:22 and Psalm 105:15 which state, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” These verses, taken completely out of context, have become one of the most popular “Christian bashing clubs” used against discerning Christians in order to silence them from standing for truth, and exposing false prophets, heretics and wolves in sheep’s clothing. These club-wielding, self-appointed judges swing their club against any who would dare to question or disagree with false teaching from so-called “anointed” “pastors,” “prophets,” “teachers” or others who are in church leadership. Their goal is to quickly shut up and close down any Christian who dares to expose and warn others of wrong spirits, erroneous teaching, and wolves in sheep’s’ clothing along with those who replace the commandments of God with the traditions of men, doctrines of demons, sin, unbiblical practices, hypocrisy or demonic, ungodly activity in the leadership.
In full context this verse is referring to the children of Israel who “went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people; He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes” 1 Chronicles 16:20-21. Blogger and Bible study author Michelle Lesley wrote, “The context of Psalm 105:1 and Chronicles 16 makes it obvious that this is not what this verse means, even in the Old Testament, as anyone who takes the trouble to read the whole chapter can clearly see. This verse is about God protecting the Israelites from oppression by foreign kings when they were wandering in the wilderness. ‘Touch not My anointed oneS’ and ‘do my prophets no harm’ is a warning to pagan nations to leave God’s people – all of them, the common people as well as the prophets – alone during the Exodus.”
From the Web Site “Jesus Alive” we read this: “Reading these verses makes it pretty apparent that ‘touch not my anointed’ was not spoken by God as a promise for individuals to ‘claim’ today. This is why it is SO important to read ALL verses in context.
“Having said this, I would also add that ‘touch’ in ‘touch not my anointed’ is shown over and over in the Bible to apply to ‘physically touching.’ A look at Strong’s tells us that the word ‘touch’ is the Hebrew word ‘naga’ which means ‘to touch, i.e. lay the hand upon’ (for any purpose). The first use is in (Gen 3:3) ‘But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch (naga) it, lest ye die.’ (See Gen 32:25,32, Ex 19:12, Lev 5:2-3 for a few other examples)
“We can also see David applying this when he refused to ‘touch’ (or kill) King Saul in (1 Sam 24:4-13) because he was ‘God’s anointed.’ In (1 Sam 24:9-10) David repeats something similar to this later in (1 Sam 26:9-11,23-24), when he has a second chance to kill Saul, and repeats it a third time in (2 Sam 1:13-16) when someone later claims to kill Saul.”
In the Old Testament, one of the occasions for applying oil was in ceremonies to consecrate, or set apart someone (or something: Genesis 31:13, Exodus 29:36) for a particular purpose. For example, all Old Testament priests were anointed with oil, David was anointed with oil when God set him apart as king and Elisha the prophet was anointed with oil.
And, guess what? ALL true Christians are “anointed!” 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 says, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” [Emphasis added.] In 1 John 2:27 we read, “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you ye shall abide in him.” [Emphasis added.] The Forerunner Commentary says: “Clearly, he is not saying that these people had no need for someone to teach them the difference between truth and error. They did need it! That is why John wrote his epistle! What they did not need was for anyone to teach them the church’s basic doctrines, nor did they need human logic or philosophy to help them understand God’s nature.”
Therefore, when you discern error, heresy, wrong spirits, or “unfruitful works of darkness” by the Holy Spirit, do not let anyone silence you with his or her “Touch-Not-Mine-Anointed” verbal weapon!
Another popular teaching among certain groups and movements within Christendom is the “you must have a covering” teaching which began in the early 1970’s as the shepherding movement. Even though that evolved into a heretical, cultish disaster, the basic idea is still with us today in the form of church authority and oversight of the sheep. Unspoken rules and expectations serve as invisible hedges and walls to keep people “in their place” and God-help-you if you should exercise your freedom in Christ by thinking for yourself and acting independently. Remember, control is witchcraft! In addition, if you find yourself in a church that tries to intimidate, shame, control or manipulate your life, your thoughts, your activities, your time, your church attendance and involvement, your money (who or what you support), or your life in Christ in any manner whatsoever, you are in a cult.
As for women being required to wear a “covering” the Apostle Paul stated, in his argument against the Jewish teachers of his day who taught certain restrictive rules for women from the Babylonian Talmud and Mishna, which were not from the Torah, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God” 1 Corinthians 11:16.
The Bible refers to the “covering” over the people in Isaiah 25:7 which states, “And he will destroy in that mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.” What a day that will be when the Lord God Himself shall utterly remove the evil covering that has kept the nations of the world in darkness and spiritual ignorance! In Isaiah 30:1 God warns against any covering other than His Holy Spirit. “WOE to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin.” Therefore, for those of us who are in Christ, the Holy Spirit is our only covering! Psalm 140:7 declares “O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.” In addition, our heads are covered with “the helmet of salvation” Ephesians 6:17a. When Moses beseeched the Lord to show him His glory, God put him in a cleft of the rock (representing our life hid in Christ) and covered him with His hand. As for “me and my house” we choose to be “covered” by the hand of God Himself! (See Exodus 33:21-22.) Jesus is our Head (source, protector, guide, leader and advocate). Jesus is, and should be, our only “covering” so that nothing and no one comes between us and our Lord.
Another example of wrongly “dividing the Word of God” is concerning idolatry and Christian art. Those who accuse artists, such as myself, of committing “idolatry” base their unreasonable conclusion on Exodus 20:4, 5. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” As many of you know, I was privileged to paint the murals for the Chapel of the Resurrection at Cedar Park Church in Bothell, WA, of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments and the life of Christ, but I have also painted a number of other Christian-related paintings and illustrations for books and book covers for both myself, and other Christian authors as well. I have received much encouragement along the way; many people have been blessed and inspired. The Holy Spirit has definitely granted me the ability and vision to be able to paint biblical scenes. However, there are always those who lack understanding of what the commandment means concerning idolatry, and who think paintings of Christ are in direct violation of Exodus 20:4.
God, from whom all talents and abilities flow, did not condemn painters, sculptors, weavers, designers, photographers, and others whose talented expressions highlight the beauty of God’s creation, and who, by illustration, often bring Bible stories to life, especially for impressionable children. What God is commanding is that man is not to make anything with his hands for the purpose of worship. Let’s read it again: “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.” No person should ever worship the work of his or her own hands no matter what it is! If you come to our home and ever see me bowing down and worshipping one of my paintings, please feel free to slap me!
When it comes to creative expression, be it inspired music, art or literature, there can be no doubt that our Maker endowed mankind with creative abilities to reflect the image of God. In other words, God is The Creator, so mankind made in His image would likewise be creative. Creativity is an expression of the heart and soul, be it for good or evil, and I am a staunch advocate for promoting creativity in all three areas among children for their emotional, mental and even physical health. Obviously, the enemy of both God and man works tirelessly to influence music, art and literature by means of distortion and perversion of anything that reflects the life, light, beauty, holiness, power and love of God. Satan is the “father of lies” and the deceiver who deludes those who choose to dwell in darkness to believe that good is evil and evil is good. Therefore, Christians need to be careful to discern the spirit behind music, art and literature because these three areas possess great influential power for either good or evil.
Religious art, as well as music and literature through the centuries that has been deemed as “Christian” needs to be carefully scrutinized in order to discern what the intent (spirit) is behind it, and if the message it is portraying is biblical. If it leads away from the simplicity of Christ towards any religious system or church in which practices and traditions of men are the supreme authority, and if it is superstitiously revered and approached with fear or adoration then that work of art (or music or literature) is spurious and needs to be rejected as not being an authentic biblical representation. One area of idolatrous works of art is the gaudy iconic portrayals of religious entities created for the purpose of either aiding in “worship” or to be worshipped themselves. In short, icons in any form are idolatrous and demonic. We know of one instance that took place in AZ where an older woman was praying to her iconic cards and a demon manifested. She ran naked out of her house, screaming at the top of her lungs, grabbed a bush in her front yard with supernatural strength, and refused to let go. The EMT’s were called, and it took several strong men to forcefully release her grip on the bush and get her back inside her house where they managed to get a blanket around her, and then wrestle her into an ambulance.
If all artistic depictions of things in heaven or earth are idolatrous and wrong, then why did the Lord instruct Moses, “MOREOVER thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them” Exodus 26:1? Why did God give explicit instructions to Moses on how the Cherubim placed above the Ark of the Covenant were to be wrought? (See Exodus 25:17-22.) In King Solomon’s temple there were engraved cherubims on the walls (2 Chronicles 3:7) and in the “most holy house he made two cherubims of image work, and overlaid them with gold. (For a complete description of the cherubims read 2 Chronicles 3:10-13). In verse 14 we read a description of the cherubims that were made in the vail. If any sculpture of anything in heaven or earth is forbidden, then what about the “molten sea” and the “similitude of oxen, which did compass it round about: ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about. Two rows of oxen were cast, when it was cast,” and there were “flowers of lilies made” and what about the pomegranates made on the wreaths to cover the two pommels of the chapiters which were upon the pillars (See 2 Chronicles 4)?
Early Christians left an impressive amount of art in the Catacombs, including what appear to be pictures of Jesus. You can view some of these at: http://clfrancisco.com/painted-gospels/
Did they “worship” their depictions of Christ and his miracles, or of events of their time? Of course not! “A picture is worth a thousand words,” as they say, and leave us a witness and confirmation to those things which the Bible and history proclaims. How dare we accuse these faithful followers and martyrs of the Lord of breaking the second commandment! Furthermore, if it is the sin of idolatry to make any sculpture, carving, drawing, or painting of any created thing then we must toss out every illustrated teaching book for children, illustrated scenes from history must go, and we must destroy every illustrated scientific textbook that has pictures of anything from astronomy, animal husbandry, agriculture, archeology, botany, geology, all the way to zoology. Error carried by fools to extremes becomes ridiculous and absurd; and, it surely must be the devil’s choice form of entertainment.
Have the hysterical critics of the Christian arts ever stopped to consider that if people living in Israel 2,000 years ago had had cameras and all the technological gadgets that people have today that Jesus would be one of the most photographed people that ever lived? Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see all kinds of photographs taken of Jesus when as the King of kings and the Lord of lords He sets up His earthly kingdom to rule and reign for a thousand years. After all, He is coming back not only as the Son of God, but also as the Son of man in His glorified body, with the nail prints in His hands and feet, not as an invisible “Force” of some sort. Jesus is fully man, and fully God. This we may never fully be able to comprehend in our minds, but we must believe it in our hearts!
Francis A. Schaeffer said, “I am afraid that as evangelicals, we think that a work of art only has value if we reduce it to a tract.” And, “A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. An art work can be a doxology in itself.” A. W. Tozer wrote, “Moses’ law said, ‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth’ (Exodus 20:4). People thought that meant that you should never make any works of art. But the fact is there were works of art in the temple commanded by God. So God was not against works of art; He was against substituting them for God or thinking they were like God.”
I don’t know about you, but as for me, I truly miss those wonderful, beautiful, colorful reproductions of paintings on church flyers and bulletins of our Savior and Lord with the children; of Jesus as our Healer performing miracles; the Good Shepherd with His sheep; the Master teaching the people; Jesus walking on the sea; His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. I miss beautiful stained glass windows and works of art that reflect the love and beauty of our Creator God and heavenly Father. Have we as a church, in our rush to please the world and not be “offensive” or “separate” or “too religious” become instead a shameful, displeasing offense to our Lord instead? Let us be “approved unto God” by “rightly dividing the word of truth,” by using common sense when it is called for, and intelligently and prayerfully comparing Scripture with Scripture; and, hopefully we can keep our wits about us while praying for wisdom, seeking the Lord in “Spirit and in Truth,” while humbly agreeing with the Holy Spirit as His light shines on the darkness of our confusion, wrong conclusions, and exalted, nonsensical, faulty convictions.