The Lifestyle of Faith

Strange, abnormal and confused. These are the labels that will be placed upon you when you’re living a lifestyle of faith. Such living, in fact, is so paradoxical to this world, it will be difficult for you to fit in.

You’ll be told that your beliefs are “too radical” and that you follow biblical principles “too seriously,” as if this walk allows for a laxed way of living. Your oddness will be so obvious that it will appear as if you are the one who’s wrong. And because your way of living stands out, people will try to offer their input and advice since they perceive you are lost and in need of some help.

While in this position, you must be very careful of what you hear—because too much of the wrong input can distort and damage your faith. Most people will be shocked by your lifestyle of faith because this way of living causes you to live by God’s timing; and in our day, such living specifically troubles and offends those who claim to be saved. These individuals will feel as if you are losing and wasting time when you can fix matters with your own hands. Be careful not to govern your life by such wrong advice or else it will ruin and disappoint your hope.

It’s interesting that for most, the concept of waiting on God has become overrated—even anti biblical—and an act not supported by God. I can admit that people tend to take the terminology to the extreme, just like many other terms can be used incorrectly (such as grace and mercy); yet, I don’t see us abandoning these truths.

But to believe that waiting on God is antiquated and not scriptural, is delusional, deceptive and demonic. People must have forgotten that Christ waited on them. Their very salvation was based on timing but somehow, waiting on God is ungodly. The Bible not only commands us to believe in Christ by faith, but it also tells us that the just shall live by faith (Heb. 10:38).

The word “just” in the Greek is dikaios. It describes one whose way of thinking, feeling and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God. It means someone has been approved and has been found acceptable by God. To be found acceptable by God implies He has tested and tried you and you have passed His inspection. This is why the lifestyle of faith is not popular even among professing Christians because many will not meet God’s standard of approval. Many are called, but few are chosen, which signifies those who remain after being abased and tested.

Today, saving faith is discussed loudly, which is indeed important, but why is the lifestyle of faith a whisper? First, because Satan knows that a saving faith not followed by a lifestyle of faith disqualifies a believer from receiving a promise. In fact, Jude 1:5 says, “So I want to remind you, though you already know these things, that Jesus first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful.” Second, because too many believers are convinced that as long as they are saved and don’t practice obvious sin, then their lifestyle and the choices they make for themselves are OK with Christ. Well, that’s a very subjective view that’s really at odds with numerous scriptures. And not only is it at odds with scripture, it’s at odds with the life of Christ. He lived a life of divine paradox. This is why He along with His message were rejected.

Keep in mind that a lifestyle of faith will make you appear weird to the world. How you live will go against the way the world thinks, responds and lives. And when this happens, you draw the attention of Satan because he doesn’t want you to be a stranger in his domain. He wants believers to feel welcomed, to be at home and to love this world. And when believers fall in love with this world, they make themselves an enemy with God (James 4:4).

Choose to follow the narrow path, knowing that it’s the way that leads to Heaven. Choose the ridicule and mockery of the present world, knowing that this world even scorned your Lord and Savior. For a servant is not greater than his master; so you, likewise, look to that joy that’s set before you. Endure your cross, press through the shame, and know that you serve a God who is not unjust to forget your labor of love. He will make sure that your labor for Him will not be in vain. God will never allow your suffering to be greater than His reward.

The Repetition of History

Does history really repeat itself? According to the late American writer, Mark Twain, “History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” But according to Scripture, King Solomon would not agree with that statement. In the book of Ecclesiastes, he writes, “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, ‘Here is something new!’ But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new” (Eccl. 1:9-10 NLT). Do we really believe this? Keep in mind, these are not mere words from a man, these are words that are spoken under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Yes, some may argue and say that’s not true from the viewpoint of technology and medical advancements; but that’s not the biblical meaning of the expression, “there is nothing new under the sun.” What the Scriptures have in mind with this statement is that the cycle of human life on earth is repetitive. Regardless of new inventions, and a new calendar year, human actions, and the response and consequences to those actions have and will remain consistent. The advancement of a culture will not suppress or hide the pattern of humankind’s depraved inclinations; it actually magnifies them.

Several years ago, I watched the anniversary coverage of the Jonestown Massacre, where over nine hundred people lost their lives under the direction of cult leader Jim Jones. One particular scene caught my attention—it was horrific and somewhat cryptic at the same time. A photo showed the many deceased bodies spread out around Jones and his concocted makeshift “throne.” A huge sign hung on top of the throne that read, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

I thought to myself, what a compelling and prophetic warning. I remembered reading that quote before; and it was a statement made by the Spanish philosopher, George Santayana, in 1905. These words speak to the situation that America and the church, in America, are in today. We have become silent to history on so many levels, and it’s frightening. But I’m also reminded of what the late author, Leonard Ravenhill, once said, “The thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.” When we don’t learn from history, we do it to our own peril.

C.S. Lewis, a British apologist, wrote frequently about what he called “the great cataract of nonsense,” which is our tendency to concern ourselves only with the present and divorce ourselves from the past. Lewis’ prophetic statement still rings true in our era, for to truly understand our current times we need a historical perspective. Divorcing ourselves from the past makes us blind in the present. Furthermore, when believers—who are called to be salt and light in the world—are without knowledge of the past or simply ignore it, they are reduced to spiritual infants in the hands of the Ancient Seducer and Fallen Angel. In the Scriptures, we see that every time God’s people forgot their history, apathy, anarchy, apostasy and abandonment soon followed. And whenever the church turns her back on history, she will embrace appealing spokespersons who teach a future devoid of any type of reality.

Having said this, when looking at America, and the destructive division that’s going on today, one cannot help but see a similar path of deterioration that turned Rome into an empire: an autocratic system. Those who are acquainted with Bible prophecy and the role of nations during a period known as the Great Tribulation are aware that the Bible mentions a shift in power back to the Middle East and Eastern countries. In Jesus’ first coming, the power of the nations were shifted from the East to Western countries (i.e. Rome). But before His second coming, it will be the opposite. Why is that significant? Because it implies a diminishing role of America in the world. America, a great superpower in the world for many centuries, is not without sin. Actually, the sin of this nation has filled the cup, and we are seeing the judgment of God among us. Nations cannot be judged in the afterlife; they are judged in time. Since his name has been used frequently in today’s political climate, let’s listen to the prophetic words of Abraham Lincoln. In his 1838 Springfield, Illinois, speech, he spoke these words, “At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

Lincoln stated that if we as a country would ever be destroyed, it must come from within. It’s happening before our eyes. We are so driven by the present we don’t actually see that history is coming to past. The weakening of our image in the eyes of other nations is not only stunning, it’s shameful. Make no mistake about it, this is the judgment of God pulling the thread of a tattered nation. We have been weighed and have been found lacking. We have been measured and God’s plumb line has found us crooked. What does history have to say? I mentioned previously about how this nation was on a similar path with ancient Rome before their democracy decline. Let’s look at some similarities and you be the judge. Rome, in the final days of a representative republic, experienced: partisan gridlock; political anarchy; politicians driven by self-gratification and self-focused agendas; an accelerated inequality in wealth; an abuse on liberty and freedom that led to a suspicion on democracy, and an absence of devotion to personal honor and national service. Does this sound familiar? The people of Rome sat back and allowed their democracy to become unraveled by not standing up, defending and protecting once-trusted political institutions.

In this political charge, vitriol and an unstable climate ascended the final death blow to Rome as a republic: Octavian, better known as Caesar Augustus. He arranged for the Roman senate to give him the title Augustus, which means “chosen” or “exalted.” He was ambitious but a very self-absorbed man that helped tear down a long standing representative government. The timing of his accent to power seemed almost other-worldly. Augustus delivered the knockout blow to a fragile and divided country. How? He undermined the significance of the election results, that subsequently, eliminated the process of elections entirely. Those who were chosen by the people, to represent the people, betrayed the people over fear of not pleasing Augustus. Many of those who were judges, and those who had a seat in the senate, were in his back-pocket; therefore, he faced minimal pushback, resulting in an end of democracy and the start of a dictatorship. And if that was not enough, what was really alarming was that the people were willing to choose the false prosperity and freedom of an autocracy over the challenges of democracy. You see, democracy is not a perfect form of government. There is only one government that’s perfect, and that’s the one where the King of kings and Lord of lords reign. But in order for democracy to remain healthy, virtues and morals are required. And one of the essentials that is necessary is truth. Augustus’ rise to power came at a time when the people of Rome were no longer bent for the truth. Truth-seeking was gone, and personal persuasion and passion were the “new truth.” Loyalty to personal desires outweighed obvious facts. Mark this down: when persuasion takes over a culture, the first casualty will be truth; and an assault on truth is a clear indication that a nation is experiencing the abandonment of God.

What was the condition of God’s people during this time period? It was one of compromise and gross deception. When Augustus was in power, Herod the Great was made king over God’s people. Herod was a great builder of projects but he was brutal and blood thirsty. He killed family members to maintain his power, and when the wise men came looking for the true king (Jesus), they were warned in a dream by God to return in a different direction; Herod was furious and decreed that boys two years old and younger were to be killed (Matt. 2:1-18). Not only was his character repulsive, but what made Herod kingship an insult to God, was that he was an Edomite, or Idumean. Edomites were descendants of Esau, who was the oldest son of Isaac (Gen. 25:19-34). And according to Scripture, kings were supposed to be from the tribe of Judah, which was one of the twelve sons of Jacob, Esau’s brother. Herod sitting on the throne in Israel was a clear sign of the judgment of God upon a people who had forsaken God and His ways.

The Pharisees, who were the spiritual leaders of God’s people, initially refused Herod’s rulership due to his character and his lineage, which was a great violation of God’s Word. But Herod, being the businessman that he was, used his wealth to buy the Pharisees’ favor; therefore, they convinced the people to respect the king because he was God’s choice. Their support helped undergird Herod, which in return, made him acceptable in the eyes of the people. Such deception brought a great spiritual darkness upon the land even so that the people who claimed they were waiting on the Messiah, rejected the very One when He showed up.

Does this sound familiar? Are we seeing history repeat itself? It’s one thing for the world to lose sight of history, but it’s consequential when those who are supposed to be filled with God’s Spirit are delusional. When God’s people begin to embrace lies and become mouthpieces for conspiracies, then the culture around them will turn putrid. God’s prophecy is His history written in advance; and when He judges, He uses history as an instrument of correction.

The wheels of history are turning. To make sure we don’t become a casualty of history, let us rise up to defend and submit to the Word of God. Let us divorce ourselves from the politics of this world. When the church marries politics, the spirit of politics will turn her from a glorious bride into a shameful harlot. Discern and hold accountable those who are pretending to speak on behalf of Christ. Any pastor or Christian leader who slights the lessons from history cannot be God’s present voice. Why? Being blind to the past makes one a target to deceiving spirits that will introduce revelations and insights appearing fresh and relevant, but are actually far from the heart of God. Discern the difference between today’s Jeremiah and Hananiah. Both are speaking a “Thus says the Lord,” but one is on Satan’s payroll (Jer. 28:1-17). God is allowing us to see the false from the genuine. God is allowing us to see the false so that we may disunion ourselves from the celebrity personalities of men. Keep in mind, when a lying spirit is in the land, confirmation does not mean a word is always from God. Ahab had four hundred confirmations and not one of them was from the Lord (1 Kings 22:1-40). Stop chasing confirmations, self-appointed prophetic voices and social media postings that agree with your personal biases. Get in the Word of God and search the character of God and His ways; this will help you to know the difference between the Ancient of Days from the god of this age. Understand that liberty and freedom are not rights but gifts from God! Many are confused, thinking that God is on the side of freedom, but not when He is judging a nation. Find your freedom in Christ; not in a political “savior.”

Preventative Measures

Excerpt from the book: Warnings from the Garden: Uncovering the Wiles of Deception by Tavares Robinson

Satan is persuasive and has the ability to turn a damnable lie into a perceived truth. That is the art of deception—to take what is supposed to damage our souls and make it believable. This is very dangerous because every time we believe a lie, we make it harder on ourselves to believe the truth.

No one is exempt from temptation, but there are preventive measures we can take that will reduce our chances of becoming casualties of Satan. One preventative measure is to know the truth of God’s Word. Yet knowledge alone is not fool-proof. Adam had truth, but it didn’t prevent him from disobeying God.

What could have enabled Adam and Eve to overcome Satan’s temptation? It would have been the application of truth they already knew. Applying God’s Word in the midst of pressure and persuasion enables us to be victorious. Every temptation we face is a measure of how much we love God and our willingness to apply truth we already know. The tragedy is that many fall victim to Satan’s temptation even though they already have everything they need to withstand it.

God’s Holiness Does Not Tolerate Rebellion

Satan knows from personal experience that God’s holiness will not tolerate rebellion. It is not something to take lightly. Throughout the Bible, rebellion was always followed by God’s judgment, and his judgment was always severe.

Rather than rebel we ought to view temptation as an opportunity to grow. If we respond to temptation correctly, our faith will be matured. We will see God’s written word manifested in our lives. But if we respond incorrectly to temptation—that is, with rebellion—four things will happen:
• We will develop a lack of reverence for God.
• Our relationship with God will be damaged, shattered by our sin.
• As we make selfish decisions and rebel against God, we will take others down with us. We become Satan’s conduit to slander and offense.
• We become apostate. This does not necessarily mean we leave our church. In fact, we can be faithful church attenders but still have hearts of defection or revolt—a fatal position.
Hebrews 6:4–6 speaks of this fatal position of the heart: “For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come—and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame” (NLT).

Satan Becomes One with Our Thoughts

If we deliberately reject God, the explanation is that we knew clearly what God said and still chose to do what we wanted. If the Evil One has our heart at this last, fatal stage, then we have shut God’s voice out. And when God no longer speaks, the evil spirit takes away our ability to discern what is right and proper. He becomes one with our thoughts.

There are five steps we can take in order to recognize when Satan is present, who he is speaking through, and what his objective is:
• First, understand that Satan strikes when we are mentally weary and fatigued, unable to discern. He does not want our minds to be strong and sober.
• Second, be aware that the enemy speaks through people who will influence you to see things from a human perspective, not God’s. When Peter told Jesus that he would not die, The Lord was able to see that it was not Peter but Satan who was speaking. Jesus turned to Peter and opposed him: “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s” (Matthew 16:23).
• Third, when God speaks a specific word to us, know that Satan also has a strategy and will encourage us to disobey what God has decreed. This is sometimes seen in well-meaning friends who want to give us [ungodly] advice.
• Fourth, we must examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. Identify things in our heart that Satan can draw strength from.
• Fifth, learn how God wants us to respond. In some instances, God wants us to be silent, and at other times he wants us to be vocal. When Pilate tried to get Jesus to plead his case, Jesus maintained silence, but when Peter confronted him about dying, Jesus spoke up and called Satan out. Learn to discern.

The Enemy Will Lose

Another measure we can take to prevent becoming casualties of Satan is found in James 4:7: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James also lays the foundation for why we should submit: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:5–6).

What makes submission so difficult is that it is a product of the will. When we humble ourselves, we are bringing the totality of who we are under the alignment and authority of God. When we are submitted to God, there are some things we just won’t entertain. In Ephesians 4:27, Paul warns us to “not give the devil a foothold.” We should never create an opening or an opportunity for Satan. Eve carried on her conversation with the Serpent far too long. First Peter 5:9 tells us unequivocally to “stand firm against him [the Devil], and be strong in your faith” (NLT). Once we humble ourselves in this manner, we will not have to run from Satan. On the contrary, we will be able to block him when he comes charging at us.

Since we don’t know how long the temptation will last nor when the Enemy will flee, we must hang in there and remember that it is never what we see but what God says. When Satan tempts, remember—God gave us everything we need to defeat him.

Berean or a Galatian

In this post-truth era, it is not uncommon to hear Christians mock, slight, and even slander other Christians who do not subscribe or support the popular trends of the hour. This can be attributed to people, these days, more than likely accepting a viewpoint based on their emotions and beliefs, rather than accepting one based on objective facts. This sort of character among believers is not only unbiblical, but extremely dangerous. It opens the door for believers to be entertained by doctrines of demons, unbiblical speculations, and lying signs and wonders that weaken the church from within.

Nowhere in scripture are we forbidden to “use our brain.” In today’s celebrity driven Christianity, measuring things to the full standards of scriptures, can get one labeled as judgmental and even a Pharisee. There is a fine line between thinking biblically and being critical. While unjust criticism is prohibited by the Lord (Matt. 7:1–2), trying or testing is commanded (1 John 4:1). How can we examine or test a spirit, if thinking or judging is off limits? Consider two contrasting examples from the Bible. In the first example, we will see that the people had turned off their minds and stopped thinking for themselves. The second example, however, reveals a very different group of people who did not just accept what they heard and saw, and as a result, were commended for it.

In the book of Galatians, the apostle Paul delivers a strong rebuke to individuals who were turning away from the only true gospel. He was shocked to hear this beloved church was moving toward a different gospel—one that would eventually lead the people to eternal damnation (Galatians 1:6–9). In the Greek language, there are two different words for the adjective another or different. There is allos—which means another of the same kind. The other word is heteron, which means another of a different kind. The word that Paul uses in these verses is heteron. In other words, when Paul confronts this different gospel that’s been accepted among believers, he is speaking about a gospel that looks and sounds authentic on the surface, but underneath, there are significant qualitative differences from that which is true. The reason this church had moved away was because they were not thinking biblically. This is confirmed in chapter 3 when Paul states, “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you….”

Note that the word “foolish,” as it is used in this context, does not mean one who lacks smarts or intelligence. It is, rather, a Greek usage of the word which means one who is not using what they know to think something through, or one who is not “using his head.” Paul, by the Holy Spirit, states that the reason the Galatians were being deceived is because they were not using their heads concerning unsound teaching and spiritual imposters. Instead, they were bewitched (being led by their emotions).

Let’s look at our last example. In the Book of Acts, Paul preaches to a group of people called the Bereans (Acts 17:10–12). The Bible says that when they heard Paul preach, they immediately went back and searched the scriptures to see if what they were hearing was true. Notice that neither Paul, nor the Holy Spirit, rebuked or condemned these followers. They, unlike the Galatians, were commended and called “fair minded.”

Has the act of being a Berean become sinful? Is this type of mindset now forbidden?
There are some valuable lessons that we can learn from the Bereans. They are lessons that could protect us from deception today:

1) They elevated scriptures above the apostle Paul’s popularity.
2) They used the Word of God, and not miracles, excitement and crowds, as the sole tool for determining if something is of God.
3) They had a readiness for the Word and did not seek out signs for confirmation.
4) They were ready to reject Paul’s counsel, regardless of his reputation, if what he taught contradicted the Word.
5) They had disciplines that prepared them to go back, reread and examine everything they were taught before accepting it as truth.

Paul didn’t reprimand them for searching or thinking, so why is it different today? Why do we believe that thinking or examining is now hypocritical? The enemy of our soul has a plan. And his plan is to remove the concept of thinking biblically or the idea of measuring what we see taking place around us with the scriptures. He wants us to accept the, sometimes, status quo of the culture as if this is God’s “new thing.” It is our responsibility to test the spirit just as the Bereans did. Those who don’t are as foolish as the Galatians whom Paul rebuked.

It’s time to take inventory of our lives to see if we are Galatians or Bereans. Only one group will see the Lord!

Resting in the Arms of Lies

There is a lying spirit that has permeated this country; from governmental officials down to church officials, everyone has given themselves over to lies in order to pursue personal interests.

We have clearly entered a post-truth age. How would one describe this epoch? It’s an age in which important objective facts are less influential in shaping one’s opinion. It’s an age that is driven by selfish ambition and self-appeasement; therefore, one’s personal feelings are elevated above obvious facts. The post-truth age sets the stage for perception to triumph reality. Speaking lies is not harmful as long as it brings one to his or her expected end. In essence, it’s an age of glorified dishonesty.

In order to diagnose what we see in our culture today, let’s go back to a time period that, on the surface, resembles our days remarkably; it’s the days in the scriptures that describes the culture in Israel right before the Babylonian captivity. It’s a nation that’s in crisis. It’s a people headed toward something that’s cataclysmic; and sadly, very few have recognized it.

In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet Jeremiah allows us to capture and discern the mindset and the belief system of those who should have known better. These people were so diluted in their perspective of God, they ultimately misdiagnosed their current position with God. It’s when God’s people neglect what they know, but convince themselves that they are in right standings with Him. Mark this down: the culture around these people will turn putrid.

What was the culprit behind the downfall of the people in Jeremiah’s day that runs parallel to our times? Lies! Believing lies and spreading lies had become normal. The culture had become so engrained and desensitized by lies that the truth sounded like a lie. The late British novelist, Dresden James once said, “When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” As such were the times. In Jeremiah chapter 7, we see this diagnosis in God’s response to the people: “Do not trust in these lying words..” (v.4); “Behold, you trust in lying words..”

We need to be aware that Heaven is taking notice of those who are telling, supporting, and defending lies. To protect lies is essentially working for Satan. Be willing to stand on the side of truth even if you have to stand alone.

The Agape Deception

Excerpt from the book, “The Utopia of a Strange Love: When the Love of God is Mishandled” by Tavares D. Robinson, Watchman Publishing

The Agape Deception

“God’s love for me is agape, and it is unconditional.” This phrase has been used so repeatedly among believers that to speak anything contrary is like signing one’s own death warrant. Men whom we have admired throughout the ages have written books and preached sermons on the love of God which have shaped and developed our views concerning this subject. What are some of the things that we have learned? From such men, we have learned that there are four levels of love: eros, storge, phileo, and agape. Eros is love that extends from the heart, and it is romantic in type. Storge is the kind of love that is founded on family loyalty and duty. Phileo is brotherly love; it is humanity’s love for one another and the lesser form of love when compared to agape. Lastly, there is agape love. We have been taught that this is the highest form of love—the type that only Christians can exhibit as it is selfless, divine, and unconditional. But is agape really unconditional? Is agape divine love? Is phileo the lesser love?

In this chapter, we will look at agape and phileo, due to the frequency of their use today. As stated, agape has been commonly taught as divine and unconditional love, while phileo is a lesser form of agape—brotherly love. How did the concept of unconditional love originate? Before we move forward, I believe it’s important that we first define unconditional love. The dictionary says, “It is the acceptance of a person without them meeting any conditions. Affection that has no limitation. To cherish someone regardless of their character.” Is this what the Bible teaches? Clearly not. Does God extend His love toward all mankind without partiality? Yes. John 3:16 states that “for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” But to define it as unconditional is misleading and eternally dangerous.

“Unconditional love” has never been a biblical concept. It was first coined by a German psychoanalyst named Erich Fromm in 1934. The idea was further developed in his successful 1956 book, The Art of Loving. Fromm rejected all forms of authoritarian government including God’s. He viewed the God of the Old Testament as a self-seeking authoritarian. He was a vowed atheist who vehemently argued against the teachings of the Christian faith. He believed that man is the measure of all things. He taught that a person must love himself, accept himself, and esteem himself in order to reach his highest potential. He believed that a father’s love was always conditional—while a mother’s was unconditional and couldn’t be forfeited by sins or transgression. His ideas were later refined in the 1960s by a famous humanist psychologist named Carl Rogers.

Rogers’ parents were devout Protestants, and he enrolled in seminary school but later dropped out and abandoned Christianity for New Age mysticism. Rogers, skilled in the Greek language, defined agape as unconditional, but termed it “unconditional positive regard.” It is the basic acceptance and support of a person regardless of what the person says or does. It is to always approve someone by setting aside your personal opinions and biases. It is the ability to isolate behaviors from the person who displays them. Does this sound familiar? How many times have you heard someone say, “God loves the sinner but hates the sin”? Is this biblical? Yes and no. If you are making reference to His love for the sinner in that He gave His Son for the sake of redemption, then yes. But if it’s used to justify and accept wayward behavior without accountability, then no. You cannot separate sinners from their sins. What made them a sinner is their sin. God does not cast the sin into the lake of fire. He will cast the person who died in their sin into the fire.

This view of agape is contrary to apostolic teachings. It is humanistic psychology which is the workings of seducing spirits influencing the wisdom of men. Paul warned the church at Colossae concerning this issue: “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone lead you away with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ” (Col 2: 6-8).

As stated previously, phileo is a type of love that has also been distorted in our time. It is said that phileo is shared mostly by the worldly and unregenerate. The words agape and phileo have become something like urban legends, anecdotes based on hearsay and widely circulated as true. In the church, many things have been said about these terms that are untrue. Whereas phileo has been taught as brotherly love, it has also been taught that only those who are not Christians express it. In that way, it is a lesser form of love than agape. Yet some Bible texts teach otherwise:
For the Father loves [phileo] the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed (John 5: 20).
So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love [phileo] is sick” (John 11: 3).
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved [phileo] him!” (John 11: 36).
No, the Father himself loves [phileo] you because you have loved [phileo] me and have believed that I came from God (John 16: 27).
So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved [phileo], and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” (John 20: 2).
If anyone does not love [phileo] the Lord, let that person be cursed! (1 Cor. 16: 22).
Those whom I love [phileo] I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent (Rev. 3: 19).

These scripture verses and others clearly show us we have been taught a distorted view of phileo. Yet even greater damage has been done to agape. We have been led to believe that agape is God’s divine love. And because it is divine, we have been told it is unconditional and never ceases. First John 4 has been used to convince the masses that this is absolutely the meaning of agape:
Dear friends, let us love [agape] one another, for love [agape] comes from God. Everyone who loves [agape] has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love [agape] does not know God, because God is love [agape] (1 John 4: 7-8).

These verses use agape in reference to God five times. If this reference could be taken alone, we could indeed hold that agape means divine love. But what is missing is correlation. How does 1 John 4:7-8 correlate with other texts referencing agape? It is highly important for us to learn this principle. Imposters and deceivers will steadily increase as we approach the return of our Lord, and Peter left some weighty words on this in his second Epistle to the church:
And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him—speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction. You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen (2 Pet. 3: 14-18 NLT).

Other verses besides 1 John 4: 7-8 show us that agape can mean different things than divine love or unconditional love:
Woe to you Pharisees, because you love [agape] the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces. (Luke 11: 43)
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love [agape] the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Luke 16: 13)
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved [agape] darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. (John 3: 19) . . .
for they loved [agape] human praise more than praise from God. (John 12: 43)
Demas, because he loved [agape] this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. (2 Tim. 4: 10)
They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved [agape] the wages of wickedness. (2 Pet. 2: 15)
Do not love [agape] the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves [agape] the world, love [agape] for the Father is not in them. (1 John 2: 15)

Paul Prophesied These Days Would Come
In the previous verses in which all of them use a form of agape, it is impossible to translate agape as divine love or love from God. Is it divine love that we love money or human praise? Is it the love of God that men desire darkness? Is it really God’s love that we love the world—or seats in the synagogues? In 2 Samuel 13 there is the story about Amnon having love for his sister, Tamar. In the Septuagint, the translation of the Old Testament into Greek, the word used four times to describe Amnon’s love for Tamar is translated agape. Verses 14-15 say, “But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her. Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, ‘Get up and get out.’” If agape means God’s love, or divine love, how could it lead to rape?

If the scripture text does not fit, the teaching or doctrine is not legit! Do men love darkness unconditionally? Did Demas love the world in a divine way? Do people have a God kind of love for money? People love darkness, the world, human praise, and money because these things bring them something back in return. They certainly don’t love them unconditionally.

We can use the same vocabulary, but if our vocabulary has the wrong definition, we will worship another Jesus. Paul warned that “if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough” (2 Cor. 11: 4). J. C. Ryle (1816–1900), the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool, wrote, “There is a quantity of half-truth taught by the modern false teachers: they are incessantly using Scriptural terms and phrases in an unscriptural sense.”

Why does Satan work to convince the church that God’s love is unconditional? It is in order to promote lives of disobedience, to remove the fear of God, and to strip away the belief of God’s wrath. The enemy ultimately desires us to nullify Jesus’ death on the cross. If I am convinced God’s love is unconditional, I can pick and choose what scripture to obey. There is no reason why I should repent and be converted. I can live my life to please myself, and I can live without conviction. Why would God require a Lord-and-slave relationship?

To summarize, phileo means to cherish, to be fond of, to take strong delight in, or to like well. The word is associated with intense endearment, although brotherly love and unregenerate love is a stretch. Paul’s closing remarks to the Christians in Corinth should make us rethink the idea that phileo is a lesser love: “If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed!” (1 Cor. 16: 22). Agape, on the other hand, means to esteem, to honor, to value, or to respect. Agape represents devoted love for someone or something. Agape love is an act of the will, not the emotions, and it should not be defined as “divine love” or the “God kind of love.” According to the scriptures, agape is not always unconditional. God functions in both phileo and agape types of love. It is vital we divorce ourselves from erroneous teachings concerning God’s love.

A Disturbing Diagnosis

We have entered into a very dark and immoral time that has accurately been defined as the post-truth age. What makes this epoch more hideous is that this particular belief system and mind-set has made its way into the house of God, and into the lives of the called-out ones.

How would one describe a post-truth age? It’s an age in which important objective facts are less influential in shaping one’s opinion. It’s an age that is driven by selfish ambition and self-appeasement; therefore, one’s personal feelings are elevated above obvious facts. The post-truth age sets the stage for perception to triumph reality. Speaking lies is not harmful as long as it brings one to his or her expected end. In essence, it’s an age of glorified dishonesty.

This sort of moral conduct and belief system is antithetical, at the core, to the church’s foundation. In 1 Timothy chapter 3, the apostle Paul describes to his spiritual son Timothy the conduct that should be displayed in the church. In doing so, Paul identifies the church as the possession of the living God. In other words, those who are assembled and are called out from the world, exclusively belong to Him. And because they belong to Him, therefore built on the Truth (Christ), they now have a responsibility to be a pillar and ground of the truth (v.15). These people have been granted grace to display the truth and to be a dispenser and defender of the truth, in spite of cultural trendiness. But when God’s people no longer uphold or adhere to these three essentials, make no mistake about it, perilous and dark days will appear.

To gain a better perspective on the times that are currently before us, it’s important that we look behind us, for we know that there is nothing new under the sun (Eccles. 1:9). Biblically speaking, God has frequently used hindsight as a teaching tool to reveal or uncover insight, to better shape or develop His people’s foresight. One such example is the apostle Paul admonishing the believers in the city of Corinth, concerning how God dealt with His people many centuries before.

In his letter, he writes,

Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come (1 Cor. 10:11).

 The apostle is warning his current and future audience of our serious responsibility, and of the severe consequences that we must uphold, or reap, if we don’t learn from Israel’s past mistakes. Once again, it’s God’s method of looking backwards to foster a better perspective for the now. G. K. Chesterton, an English writer, poet, and theologian once said:

The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present. History is a hill or high point of vantage, from which alone men see the town in which they live or the age in which they are living.”

In order to diagnose what we see in our culture today, let’s go back to a time period that, on the surface, resemble our days remarkably; it’s the days in the scriptures that describes the culture in Israel right before the Babylonian captivity. It’s a nation that’s in crisis. It’s a people headed toward something that’s cataclysmic; and sadly, no one recognizes it.

In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet Jeremiah allows us to capture and discern the mindset and the belief system of those who should have known better. These people were so diluted in their perspective of God, they ultimately misdiagnosed their current position with God. When God’s people neglect what they know, but yet, convince themselves that they are in right standings with Him, mark this down: the culture around them will turn putrid.

What was the culprit behind the downfall of the people in Jeremiah’s day that runs parallel to our times? Lies! Believing lies and spreading lies had become normal. The culture had become so engrained and desensitized by lies that the truth sounded like a lie. The late British novelist, Dresden James once said, “When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” As such were the times. In Jeremiah chapter 7, we see this diagnosis in God’s response to the people: “Do not trust in these lying words..” (v.4); “Behold, you trust in lying words..”(v.8).

God’s love for His people was in His admonition not to trust lying words. But based on His evaluation, the people cast aside His warning and embraced lying. Why is a lie believable? Because it appeals to the flesh. It confirms and strengthen something in man’s falling nature. It creates a sense of security and confidence. It allows one to live in an illusion in order to escape the realities of the present. It fortifies ones self-worth and importance. But in spite of the self-gratifying promises of these things, at end of it all, is a lie. Because a lie is so unsure of its rhetoric, it never looks to stand alone. To make it seem credible, it recruits others to repeat mindlessly its language. Does this sound familiar? Keep in mind, the culture itself was spiraling out of control because God’s people had joined themselves to the lie. One would expect the unredeemed and unregenerate to believe such since that’s expected; after all, this was our former testimony, as well. In the letter to the believers at Ephesus, the apostle Paul said:   

And to you did he give life, when you were dead through your wrongdoing and sins, in which you were living in the past, after the ways of this present world, doing the pleasure of the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who is now working in those who go against the purpose of God; Among whom we all at one time were living in the pleasures of our flesh, giving way to the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and the punishment of God was waiting for us even as for the rest,” (vs. 1-3).

Who is the prince of this world? Satan! And who is Satan? He influences the thoughts and minds of those who work against God’s will. He is the father and originator of all lies. How did Jesus describe Satan? No one can rightly determine Christ’s diagnosis of a person or a situation to be invalid since He is the essence of truth; He is the Truth! Jesus, in describing Satan to religious men who challenged His identity, says:

For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

When a society is overcome by lies, danger is approaching. When Adolf Hitler, the despicable dictator, ascended to power, the country of Germany was submerged with lies. The concept he used to help overthrow the country was that “if you tell a lie long enough and with enough persuasion, the people will believe it’s the truth.” It’s been well documented that Hitler was quoted saying, “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it”; “The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of a nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies, but would be ashamed to tell big lies.”

The same controlling force that influenced Hitler, is that same force that was dominating the nation in Jeremiah’s days, and even in our times. When God’s truth is denied, and no longer desired, Satan, the father of lies, will fill that vacuum with a lie. I must mention that you cannot divorce a lie from deception. Once you embrace a lie, you are essentially deceived. The dangerous thing about deception is that it’s deceptive! The last person who thinks you are deceived is you. I once heard a saying that said, “Deception is lethal because at every point you trust the lie, you cannot believe a truth.” This is what the prophet Jeremiah was up against. His calling was to proclaim God’s truth to a people who had trusted lying words. His faithfulness to God set him in direct opposition of the very people who claimed they knew God. In chapter 9, God speaks through the prophet to give the people a result of their spiritual evaluation.

The results are so heartbreaking to Jeremiah that his tears are like a fountain that flows continuously (v.1). Sorrow fills his heart because he knows it’s what the people chose, not necessarily what God wanted to do. In verse 2, disgust overwhelms him because the people chose their sins over God’s mercy (repentance); therefore, he sought a place of refuge to remove himself far from them; far from their sins. In verses 3-8, we are able to hear God’s report directly from Himself. These verses highlight God’s diagnoses of the people, therefore reveals the reason that calamity is brewing. Disintegration of the culture is near because His people had given themselves over to lies and deception.

In verse 3, God uses some pointed and vivid imagery while describing their sin:

And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on earth….”

 Their tongues had become like a bow. It had become a skilled weapon for telling untruths. Their lies were premeditated, aimed with power at their targets. Repeating lies were so normal and acceptable that people lost the courage and strength to embrace truth.

If that was not discouraging enough, God continues with His assessment of the nation: “Everyone will deceive his neighbor, and will not speak the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves to commit iniquity. Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know Me,” says the LORD.

What a devastating analysis! A culture so entrenched in deception that being untrue to one another had become a sport and a way of living. Winning at any cost had replaced fairness and respect. Truth and honesty had become such a victim that people would literally wear themselves out from telling such lies. What a dark time!

This has become the America of now. From the White House, to the State House, and sadly, to the church house, truth has been sacrificed at the altars of political correctness, power, and pomp. What was God’s answer to His diagnosis? “Shall I not punish them for these things?” says the LORD. “Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?”        

For the righteous, we need to take out this time to allow Christ to build and to remove things from our lives that doesn’t meet His standards. God is building us like Noah built the ark. He is building us to float above the tides of lies and deception, refining our expectations to long for that eternal reward that’s reserved for those who trust His coming. Let’s make it our aim to keep ourselves unspotted from this world. We must strive to become blameless children of God in the midst of a distorted and wicked age. We must make it our aim to work while its day; because night is quickly approaching, when no man can work.

Childish Leadership

By Tavares Robinson

It’s amazing how many people pretend to live Spirit-filled lives until their denominational persuasion or political preferences are touched.

In fact, the rivers of gross deception have risen and swept away many who you thought were sober-minded and biblically centered.

We spend more time on social media “politicking” and “positioning,” rather than praying and proclaiming. We operate our social media sites the same way we read our Bibles — proof-texting. This is best described as a method by which an individual isolates a quotation and uses it out of context, without regard to the true meaning of the quotation. Not to mention, proof-texting does not consider how a quote coincides with other quotes on the same subject.

But we scroll through countless sites to find material that supports our presupposed beliefs. And based on our discoveries, we believe that our views must be accurate because others think the same way. Delusion!

In the words of Demosthenes, an ancient Athenian statesman and orator, “Nothing is so easy as to deceive oneself; for what we wish, we readily believe.”

It is discouraging, sickening, and appalling, to see the behavior and mannerisms of so-called believers when their “idols” are touched. If we had this much passion for Christ, and His word, like we do for our favorite preacher or political party, the church’s landscape would look differently.

Make no mistake about it, God is going to give every nation the leadership that they deserve. The leadership you choose, tells a lot about your heart and what God thinks about you. The nation of Israel wanted a king so they could be like the rest of the world, so God gave them a king that looked impressive — head and shoulders above all the people — but he was never God’s choice. God gave the people a physical manifestation of what their hearts looked like internally. Every time they saw King Saul, they saw themselves.

What is God saying to us today? From the White House, down to our local church house, we are childish. We have people in positions of power with titles, but they don’t possess neither the character nor the temperament of that title.

Abraham Lincoln said, “If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

This spirit of pride in leadership is alarming, egregious, and eternally dangerous! True biblical leadership is about serving, not demanding; it’s about being last, not first; it’s about leading, not controlling; it’s about being mistreated, but not retaliating; it’s about humility, not exaltation; it’s about giving your all, but not expecting something in return.

True leadership is not an avenue for validation or fulfilling one’s self worth, it’s about responsibility—eternal responsibility. It’s about standing before the Alpha and the Omega, alone, and giving account for your motives; your stewardship of the things you received and the things you have heard; and in what way did you influence others. It’s about forever foreseeing the day that Christ will ask me to hold my hands up, and to wonder if blood will drip down from them. It’s a terrifying duty, not a worldly glorified acceptance.

Many in leadership are suffering from the Dunning-Kruger Effect and don’t even know it. It’s a psychological principle, but the Bible has one word for it: Pride. People suffering from this effect are really incompetent and unable to recognize their own incompetence; therefore, it leads to an inflated self-assessment of their abilities. But this is not something new; it was part of God’s judgment in times past.

The prophet Isaiah declared, “I will make boys their leaders, and toddlers their rulers. People will oppress each other--man against man, neighbor against neighbor. Young people will insult their elders, and vulgar people will sneer at the honorable. In those days, a man will say to his brother, ‘Since you have a coat, you be our leader! Take charge of this heap of ruins!’ But he will reply, ‘No! I can't help. I don't have any extra food or clothes. Don't put me in charge!’ For Jerusalem will stumble, and Judah will fall, because they speak out against the LORD and refuse to obey him. They provoke him to his face. The very look on their faces gives them away. They display their sin like the people of Sodom and don't even try to hide it. They are doomed! They have brought destruction upon themselves. Tell the godly that all will be well for them. They will enjoy the rich reward they have earned! But the wicked are doomed, for they will get exactly what they deserve. Childish leaders oppress my people, and women rule over them. O my people, your leaders mislead you; they send you down the wrong road” (Isaiah 3:4-12).

God’s judgment on a society can be when He withholds true godly leadership on every level; subsequently, the void is filled with zealous, pompous and incompetent people.

To be deprived of godly leadership is worse than a famine of food and water. Mark this down: Anytime there is incompetence in leadership, there will be a breakdown and a disrespect among the people.

Notice what God said through Isaiah: “People will oppress each other – man against man, neighbor against neighbor. Young people will insult their elders, and vulgar people will sneer at the honorable.”

Do we not see this very sign among us now? There is a level of hate and disrespect in this country that’s brewing toward internal catastrophe. In an age in which sexualimmorality has been giving a platform to proclaim its sinful indulgence, so has racism, fascism, and ill-treatment has been given a mic. The volume of that mic has been so magnified that even Christians and church leaders have begun to parrot the same language. When leadership in the church submit to secular and unredeemed counsel to be the template of how they are leading God’s people, frightening consequences are looming.

Church, wake up and stop allowing the world to lead! Are you being the light? Have you allowed the water of worldliness to dilute your spiritual composition of being salt? Have we become like Samson and played with the world for so long that we, in our pride, just assume Christ is still with us? Have we been become so deceived that we think Christ is a Republican, Democrat, or other?

There is a story in the book of Joshua, chapter 5, right before the possession of Jericho, Joshua has an encounter with the pre-incarnated Christ. Joshua asks the Man is He for them or for their adversaries? And to Joshua’s surprise, the Man does not respond with an answer to Joshua’s question; he simply says, “No!” This is not a proper response to a question but He refuses to answer because Joshua asked the wrong question. It was not about was the Man on Joshua’s side, but whether Joshua was on His side. The question should be, “Are we really on the Lord’s side?” Are we really viewing current events through the lens of the word of God? Or are we simply “cherry-picking” to reinforce our determined view?

You can be “so proud to be American,” that you become disqualified from being a humble Christian. Don’t misunderstand me; I thank God for the freedom from which this nation has granted me, but I’m not so deceived to the notion that you can be a great patriot, and still be an enemy with God.

Patriotism does not equal Christian citizenship. In many churches in America, the messages on Sunday tend to be whatever transpired that week from the news – sinful! I would challenge those who are sitting in the congregation week after week, hearing political driven message, to ask your pastor, “Are you a spokesman for political parties or for Christ?”

Ask him, “Are you viewing circumstances through the lens concerning the Last Days, or are you viewing circumstances through the lens of your political vote?”

Childish leadership has taken over the scope of the land. We are correcting errors with other errors but believe it’s OK because the last thing was so wrong; deceived! Today’s leadership needs to be reminded of the ancient proverb, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

In today’s culture, being vindictive, easily offended, and entitled, has become badges of honor. The statement “either you are for me or against me,” has become the statement of faith for many. Unsettled hostility and anger are being diagnosed as “passion,” and both accepted as admirable virtues.

Let us not forget what king Solomon said, “Don't befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul,” (Proverbs 22:24-25). Why are these things happening? Could it be the judgment of God? Could history be repeating itself once again?

Believers, take Isaiah’s warning seriously concerning how your leaders are leading you down the wrong road. Ask Christ to give you hears to ear because the Holy Spirit has been giving orders to start the eviction process. There are many things that have taken place among church leadership that God has not overlooked. God’s mercy goes beyond humankind’s understanding, but when He says, “that’s enough!” Who is going to restrain Him? Christ will indeed have a pure church who has not defiled her garments.

Check out our podcast titled: "A Platform, but No Answers."