Monday, April 12, 2021

The Spirit OR the Word?

Joseph Herrin (10-24-2000)

God has purposed that all things should be established by two or more witnesses and the two most pronounced witnesses He has given to the church are the Spirit and the Word. Unfortunately, much of the church has polarized around one or the other of these witnesses and they end up being set against one another.

A large segment of the body of Christ focuses almost exclusively on the Word and they apply principles of hermeneutics and exegesis to discern the application of the Word. This group is fond of developing principles and precepts for living, and an answer to nearly any conceivable life decision can be found to have a plethora of corresponding scriptures that have bearing upon it.

Another segment of the body focuses on being Spirit led and they have a great focus on words of knowledge, prophecy, words of wisdom, and in general discerning the voice of the Spirit of God for all situations they encounter.

What is unfortunate, even tragic, is that often the body of Christ often fails to discern that God gave these two witnesses to stand in agreement with one another, not to be set in opposition. There are large segments of the body of Christ that focus on the Word of God who teach that God doesn’t even speak to man personally today, asserting that all things have been recorded in scripture and scripture alone is to be the guide for life.

On the other hand, many who focus on the voice of the Spirit become off balance because they do not know the Word of God and they are easily deceived by other voices due to their failure to gain a second witness to what they believe they are hearing. At some point, all saints stumble by being out of balance in one area or another and I have certainly done so in both extremes, but God would have us to come into balance and to have the witness of the Spirit and the Word in our lives.

It is certain that both of these witnesses are vital for the believer and to discard either one is to embrace great error and to ensure that one will go astray at some point. The scriptures reveal the importance of both of these witnesses.

John 16:7, 8, 13, 14
7 "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
8 "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment...
13 "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
14 "He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you.

Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are [mature] sons of God.

II Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.

II Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

I Corinthians 10:11
Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

In these scriptures we see the vital importance of both the Spirit and the Word. Many more scriptures could be used, but these few clearly show the need for the witness of the Spirit and the Word.  Both are necessary for the believer to walk as God would have them in wisdom and understanding in this world.

These two witnesses are in no way contrary to one another. The Spirit and the Word ALWAYS agree. If this were not so then God would have a divided kingdom and it could not stand. What then is the source of disagreements between so many believers who point to the same scriptures and come to different conclusions? We are told that there is no private interpretation of scripture.

II Peter 1:20-21
20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation,
21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

This is a key to understanding the problem of scriptural differences. The scriptures were given by inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit. THE SCRIPTURES THEREFORE CAN ONLY BE INTERPRETED UNDER THE GUIDANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Disagreements come for one reason.  The Holy Spirit has not led one or both parties to their interpretation and application of scripture. What then did these saints rely upon to interpret scripture? Most often it is their own intellect.

II Corinthians 3:5-6
5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,
6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

If our adequacy, our ability, our working, finds its source in ourselves then it will bring forth death. However, if these things find their source in the Spirit of God then life will be the result. This truth is readily seen as one looks at scripture.

How many of the righteous saints of God have been condemned and even put to death due to a wrong application of scripture, an application that arose not from the Spirit, but from the evil heart of man? Even the Son of God was condemned by religious men who used the holy scriptures to condemn Him. Jesus/Yahshua was crucified as a blasphemer and a violator of the Sabbath laws, and the scriptures were used to bring these charges against Him. Were these scriptures rightly applied by the leading of the Holy Spirit? We know they were not. The scriptures in the hands of these men therefore became a minister of death rather than life.

Any time the scriptures are interpreted apart from the leading of the Spirit of God the end result will be death. The mind of man cannot conceive how to properly apply scriptures. It seems to our minds that God often applies scriptures differently to different individuals and in different cases. The Jewish leaders could not understand how God could proclaim that a man under the Law of Moses was to be put to death for violating the Sabbath prohibition to work, yet this same God could bear witness that it was His will for His Son to heal on the Sabbath.

Jesus/Yahshua even spoke to the Jewish leaders, reminding them of occasions recorded in the scriptures when other men violated the letter of the Law, yet in God’s sight they were not accounted as transgressors.

Matthew 12:1-8
1 At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath through the grainfields, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat.
2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, "Behold, your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath."
3 But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did, when he became hungry, he and his companions;
4 how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those with him, but for the priests alone?
5 "Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath, and are innocent?
6 "But I say to you, that something greater than the temple is here.
7 "But if you had known what this means, 'I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent.
8 "For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

How often today are similar interpretations and applications of scripture made that result in condemnation of the righteous and justification of the wicked? I am convinced that more wrong interpretations are made than right, for men regularly rely upon their own intellect and reasoning to interpret and apply the word of God. But God has testified that His righteous ones will not make judgments according to their rational senses and carnal mind.

Isaiah 11:2-4
2 And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
3 And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear;
4 But with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth...

This scripture is clearly a prophecy of Jesus/Yahshua Christ, but it applies equally to God’s intent for all of His sons and daughters for we are being conformed to the image of His Son and if His Son does not judge by sight, hearing, or human intellect, but by the Spirit, then this is God’s will for us as well.

There is an incredible thing spoken of here in this passage from Isaiah and the church clearly has not gotten the message. God’s Son, and those being conformed to His image, will not judge by what their eyes see, nor make a decision by what their ears hear. Can you say that you are fulfilling this scripture? Can any saint of God?

This is a marvelous thing. The saint almost has to cut off his own head to come into agreement with this passage. Isn’t the mode of judging and making decisions among the body of Christ to examine the evidence at hand and to form a “reasoned” response based upon an understanding of scripture? However, this is exactly what God said we are not to do. It was this same pattern of operation that led the religious leaders of Jesus’/Yahshua’s day to condemn Him and sentence Him to death as a violator of the Law of God. It has been this same mode of operation that has led to pronouncements of condemnation of many righteous saints of God down through the ages resulting in death for many of them.

Consider the impact of the following scripture.

John 16:2
They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.

Jesus/Yahshua here is speaking to His disciples and He is also speaking prophetically of those who will believe in Him through their testimony. He is saying that there are those who will put His followers to death and in doing so they will think they are doing a service to God. Who could be making such a grievous error in judgment? There is only one conclusion. Since they think they are doing God a service, it must be people who claim to be followers of God and who seek to serve Him. Indeed, I am convinced that Jesus/Yahshua was speaking of many of those who would later consider themselves Christians and who would be found among the saints of God.

How could these “Christians” put righteous believers to death and think they were doing God a service? They would do so by using the word of God to form a code of right and wrong with which they would make judgments based upon what they see and hear. In effect, they would violate that which was spoken of in Isaiah 11. Their judgments would not be righteous judgments because they did not originate with God, but rather they had their origin in the mind and intellect of man.

Now, you may say, “Not too many church members are killing other church members today in their service to God.” This may be literally true, but many righteous Christian brothers and sisters are having their character assassinated, their reputations destroyed, their fellowship rejected, their intentions maligned, and their motives impugned by fellow church members that think they are doing God a service. You yourself may be one of those who have made these judgments based upon what you have seen or heard as you processed it through your mind based upon your understanding of the word of God. If you have not done this, then you are a rare saint indeed.

In the church system of today, this is the basic method of judgment and decision making that is taught. Many know of no other way to function. Many do not believe that God speaks to people today, and among those who do believe He speaks, only a remnant seek the mind of God when their eyes and ears have already given them the information they feel they need to form an opinion.

This is a most difficult habit to break free of. Most of us who have been in the church system have been taught principles and precepts in a one size fits all fashion. We have been taught that what is wrong for one is wrong for all, and what is right for one is right for all. When we observe a situation, or merely hear about it, we feel that we do not need to seek the mind of God or try to discern the voice of the Spirit, for we already have made our judgment.

The saint who operates in such a fashion is essentially independent of God. He has adopted a standard of judgment and decision making based upon the creeds and doctrines of his church or denomination, or upon his own interpretation of the word of God, and he feels no compulsion to seek God when he sees or hears of a matter that to him is cut and dried. In this way many saints have done injury to one another and they have felt that they were doing God a service as they rendered their judgment.

I cannot stress the importance of this fact enough. The scriptures if not interpreted and applied according to the leading of God’s Spirit will bring forth death. However, we think that so many scriptures are so apparently plain and precise in their instruction and meaning that they could not possibly be misinterpreted or misapplied even by man’s reasoning if the one making the interpretation is walking in integrity. Is this true? Consider the following examples.

One of the most contested issues in scripture is the subject of divorce. God says that He clearly hates divorce. However, there were times when God spoke to His people and told them to divorce their wives (Ezra 10) and He also said that He would divorce Israel (Jeremiah 3:8). Did God then do that which He hated? 
Now answer this riddle: If God told the men of Israel to divorce their foreign wives so that they would not lead them astray into idolatry, then would He not apply the same standard to Christians today who are married to non-Christians? “For what fellowship has light with darkness, and what communion has Christ with Belial” (II Corinthians 6:15). Yet Paul says that if an unbelieving spouse is content to remain with the believer, that they should be allowed to do so. He also says that if they desire to leave, then let them leave. He makes it clear, however, that this is his instruction, not the Lord’s (I Corinthians 7:12).

How much do we need the mind of Christ and the witness of the Spirit to properly interpret these things? Often God will give instructions to the saints that seem to contradict what is clearly revealed in scripture. Peter resisted greatly when the Lord instructed him in a vision to arise, kill, and eat animals that were not kosher. 

Consider the case of God’s testing of Abraham’s heart. How many people today would tell Abraham that God would never instruct him to go and kill his son, sacrificing him on an altar? We know God’s commandment “Thou shalt not kill”, and though the Law had not yet been given, Abraham knew the character of God. We also know that God considers child sacrifice to be an abomination. He condemned this practice among the heathen population who bordered Israel. How then could we ever agree with what Abraham clearly heard God instruct him to do unless we too had heard the same thing by the Spirit of God?

In the same way I believe God is bringing many of the children of Abraham to similar trials and tests today that seem to fly against what we know the scriptures to say. Unless the Spirit is clearly discerned then we will condemn such ones for their actions even as we would try to dissuade Abraham from that which he went to do. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Let us not judge by the seeing of the eye, nor the hearing of the ear, but by the Spirit.

I cannot stress how much this goes against all that is natural and which we consider normal. When everything we see and hear tells us that something is wrong, yet the witness of the Spirit testifies otherwise, who will we listen to?

This may sound like I am saying that the Spirit and the Word are testifying different things, but this is not so. The scriptures reveal that God can and will ask men to do things that are contrary to what they understand to be proper behavior in keeping with the character of God and the testimony of scripture. The scriptures reveal that we must be led of God’s Spirit and that a dead and lifeless adherence to the letter of the word of God is not what He desires of us. God will choose what scripture is appropriate to our situation and what the application will be. It will not be the same for all men. God did not ask all men to go and sacrifice their children. This He required of Abraham. What might He require of you? Don’t expect it to line up with the experience of your neighbor, or your brothers and sisters at church. You are unique before God and He has a unique plan for your life.

I know that it will disturb some that I said that God will ask men to do things that are contrary to what they understand to be proper behavior in keeping with the character of God and the testimony of scripture, but let me give you a few examples. We know it is proper to clothe ourselves decently and to not expose ourselves in an unseemly manner. Ham was cursed because he did not try to cover the nakedness of his father Noah. Yet God instructed Isaiah to go about naked and barefoot for three years (Isaiah 20:2, 3). David similarly was not clothed in what many considered to be a proper manner when he danced before the Lord when the ark was being brought into Jerusalem. His wife Michal did what many saints would do today if they saw the spectacle of David dancing, she condemned him.

We know that God said that harlotry was evil and a harlot was even to be stoned and that men were to be very careful about whom they wed, yet God instructed Hosea to go marry a prostitute and to keep taking her back when she proved unfaithful to him.

Did God instruct all men to go about naked? Did He instruct all men to marry prostitutes? Did He instruct all men to kill their children? No, but He did clearly tell some to do these things. Many other things could be mentioned as well. Is it not possible then that God could ask you to do something that violates all that you understand to be right and proper? If God told you to go about naked, could you receive the instruction as being from Him? If He asked you to marry a prostitute, would you rebuke the word as being from the devil?

I say this because God has asked me to do things that go against reason and against many people’s interpretation and application of the word of God. Many have condemned me, but have they judged according to the hearing of the ear and the seeing of the eye, or have they judged according to the Spirit of God?

I will give you an example. I have a son who was born with a hereditary bone disease and he had broken 12 bones by the age of seven. We had government benefits that paid for all of his medical expenses and provided a monthly stipend as well. But God said He wanted to heal our son and that I was to cancel all government benefits that he was receiving. To the natural mind this is absurd. You don’t cancel the benefits of a child with a disability. You don’t take away his provision that is generously and freely given to him. This seems to be cruel and irresponsible. But when I did as God instructed then He healed my son and my son has had no more need of any government benefits.

To the eye and ear it seemed even more irresponsible when God told me to cancel health insurance on my whole family and right before I was to do so I was diagnosed as being severely diabetic. What cruelty to subject my family to such a situation where the one they looked to as a provider and protector would cancel their health benefits and risk ruined health that would have repercussions on the whole family. Yet when I followed the voice of the Spirit and refused to make my judgment and decision based upon what I saw and heard, then God moved and brought healing and He has sustained my family in health and we have had no need of health insurance for we have a God whose name is Yahweh Rapha, the God that heals.

What then when God told me to quit my job and He forbid me to seek another. Many using the scriptures condemned me as being “worse than an infidel” (I Timothy 5:8). But God provided for us and we have not lacked for food, shelter, or any necessary thing and God has set us free from many fears and bondages and He has proven His faithfulness to us over and over, providing a legacy of trust and care that we can anticipate God to meet our needs even when we do not know what source He will use or where the next provision will come from. We have learned immensely rich lessons about walking by faith and not by sight and this legacy has been given to my children and it will have a sure impact upon them as they walk out their lives before God.

But in these things many believers have used scriptures to condemn my walk and to impugn my character. They have taken the scriptures and applied them according to all reason and common sense and in the process they have failed to discern the voice of the Spirit. In like manner many saints of God have been stoned and crucified as the scriptures were hurled in condemnation of their righteous obedience to the Father.

I do not say this to shame anybody. I too have fallen into this perilous trap of thinking I knew the scriptures and its interpretation in a one size fits all mentality. I have falsely judged brothers because I relied upon reason instead of discerning the voice of the Spirit of God. I am convinced that God let me endure much of the hostility I have encountered to break this pattern off of my life and to cause me to ever seek the mind of the Lord no matter how cut and dried things appeared on the surface.

This is such a difficult matter to find conformity to Christ in. His judgments were always righteous because He was always beholding the Father and He always knew the Father’s mind. He did not judge by the seeing of the eye, nor make a decision by the hearing of the ear. Consider the following two examples and how it was absolutely necessary to know the mind of God in order to form a righteous judgment.

John 9:1-3
1 And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.
2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?"
3 Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.

Matthew 9:2
Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."

In the first case mentioned, the disciples assumed that the man before them was blind due to sin in his life or his parent’s lives. This was the teaching of the day, that such disabilities were always the result of sin. The pharisees later confirmed this belief when they said, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?" (John 9:34). Likewise, many saints and churches and denominations hold to teachings that are wrong and that ultimately result in unrighteous judgments.

In the second case Jesus/Yahshua did equate the person’s disability with sin. How is the saint of God to judge righteously in such cases unless they, like Jesus/Yahshua, know intimately the mind of the Father and all of their judgments find their origin with Him? It is impossible to create a foolproof formula, or to devise a theological structure that will allow man’s mind to discern rightly in such situations. Only if we have heard from the Spirit of God can we know anything for sure.

Perhaps you are one of those saints who have suffered grievously at the hands of others who have formed unrighteous judgments against you. Perhaps the ones who did so even thought they were standing in agreement with God in doing so. Please consider that God may have allowed you and I to endure the slings and arrows of others in order that we might come to see the utter importance of judging by the Spirit of God and not by sight and hearing. The church needs to learn this lesson today. It has to start with a few and it may be that the best way for us to learn this lesson was for us to be recipients of false judgments weighed against us. If so, then thank God that He has been merciful in allowing you to have your eyes opened. His instruction is often painful, but afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

I must confess that although I know the manner in which God would have me to make judgments and decisions, it is still difficult. The mind of man is quick to form opinions and I find within myself a war between the flesh and the spirit. I have found that it is often wise to reserve judgment and to delay making a decision until things become clear, for what seems certain in one moment often proves to have not originated with the mind of God. How desperately we need to have our senses attuned to the voice of God. In all the clamor around us it is often a struggle to hear the still, small voice of God.

I wonder, would I try to convince Abraham that he had not heard God correctly? I hope not. But I know that if I used my reason to show him from scriptures if his behavior was appropriate or not that I would surely conclude that he was in error. But never has an act of obedience pleased God more than Abraham’s when he went to sacrifice his son to God.

In conclusion I would reiterate that the scriptures are Spirit breathed and therefore they can only be interpreted and applied as we are led by the Spirit. Anything less will certainly receive the applause of men, but it will result in death. These two witnesses must be joined together, the Spirit and the Word. Many have chosen to stand on the word while rejecting the witness of the Spirit and this has resulted in division and in the condemnation of the righteous and the justification of the wicked. But God’s righteous servant will not judge in this way.

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Joseph Herrin
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Friday, April 9, 2021

The Significance of the Beard

Joseph Herrin (7-19-2000)

Some may wonder why I would take the time to write about the beard. After all, isn’t wearing a beard, or not wearing one, just a matter of personal choice concerning grooming and appearance? This is the mindset of the Western world that many Christians find themselves in. But the scriptures actually have much to say about the beard and Paul told Timothy that “ALL scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching... and instruction in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16).

We live in a day when the revelation of the Spirit, the voice of the prophets, the signs in the heavens, and other witnesses are testifying that a full stature man child is about to come forth. The manifesting of the mature sons of God is about to be revealed. The scriptures also reveal to us that Christ will return during a period of time described as the “restoration of ALL things” (Acts 3:20, 21).

That which has been out of order will be put back in order. That which has been lost and neglected will be found once more and adhered to. The matter of the significance of the beard of man is one of these things that is being restored, and it is not coincidental that the beard is representative of a man of maturity and full stature and its symbolism is coming back into light at this hour.

Although it is rarely preached upon, God gave Moses specific instructions regarding the beard of man and how it was to be worn. As with many of the instructions given to Israel, great symbolism was bound up in this matter. Even as the observances of the feasts pointed to spiritual truths and future fulfillment of the will of God, so does the matter of the beard.

Consider the Hebrew meaning for the word beard and its significance begins to be shown. The Hebrew word for beard is zaqan (zaw-kawn'). This is Strongs’ word 2206 and we are told in Strongs’ dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words that the word for beard comes from the related word zaqen (zaw-kane'), which is a primitive root meaning to be old. The correlation to this second word for age is so clear that Strongs dictionary defines the Hebrew word for beard as “the beard (as indicating age).”

To the Hebrew mind the beard was clearly a symbol of maturity and age. This was not a cultural viewpoint, rather it was an understanding of God’s design in placing a beard on mature males. A boy cannot grow a beard. A boy is one who is not mature. When a young male passes through the time in his life defined as puberty some distinct outward signs accompany this advancement to maturity. One of the signs is that the voice takes on a deeper timber, it becomes more commanding. Another obvious sign is the growth of body hair and, for a male who is modestly arrayed, the only part of this growth that is seen is that which is on the face.

It is interesting to note that the Webster’s 1933 Dictionary, (the one I often refer to, preferring the older and more conventional definitions), defines puberty in this way: “the age of maturity; manhood, adult; the time a plant comes into flower.” Did you note that puberty also refers to the time that a plant comes into flower? Is not the beard of a man a sign of the flowering of his manhood? Even as the flower is the beauty and adornment of many plants, so is the beard the beauty and adornment of a man as he crosses the line of puberty and comes into the age of maturity.

God gave the beard to man for beauty and glory. Older men whose beards had turned grey were to be accorded special honor because the grey beard was a sign of even greater maturity. We find this understanding in the following verse.

Leviticus 19:32
Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.

The phrase “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head” and the phrase “and honour the face of the old man” are actually parallel expressions denoting the same truth. The hoary, or grey head directly corresponds to the phrase “the face of the old man.” The hoary head certainly could include the grey hair found on top of the head, but it most specifically refers to the grey hair of the face which is the beard.

An amazing truth is found as one begins to link certain words found here to other scriptures. The word ‘face’ in the above verse is the Hebrew word ‘paniym’ (paw-neem'). It literally means face, but is often interpreted as ‘presence.’ One such place this word is interpreted ‘presence’ is in the scriptures that talk about the Tabernacle of God. In the middle court of the Tabernacle was found the bread of the presence that was placed on the table of shewbread. The word ‘presence’ here is the same word ‘paniym’ which literally means face. The bread that was placed on the Table of shewbread was actually the “bread of faces.”

The articles in the Tabernacle were symbolic. To reach the middle court, or the Holy Place the believer has to pass through the Outer Court which symbolizes spirit salvation. He has to go through the washings and repentance symbolized by the altar sacrifices and such a one has submitted himself to the continual searching and cleansing of God. These are then able to enter into the Spirit filled life typified by the section of the Tabernacle called the Holy Place. Those in this place were to feed on the bread that came down from heaven, which is Christ. We eat Christ’s body as we meditate on Him and fellowship and commune with Him. As we behold His ‘face’ we are transformed into His image.

II Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

The longer one looks at the face of Christ the more one becomes transformed into His likeness. This does not come suddenly, but over time. John spoke the following in his first epistle.

I John 2:12, 13
12    I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake.
13    I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.

John makes a distinction between children, young men, and fathers. The distinction is very revealing. Spiritual children are focused on overcoming sin and they have come to see God as their Father. This is good, but it is just the first stage of maturity. Young men are focused on overcoming the evil one and they are becoming strong, as John further reveals. They are enjoying flexing their spiritual muscles. This is a definite advancement from the child stage. Spiritual fathers, however, are known by their knowledge of “Him who is from the beginning.”

John writes to both children and fathers “because you know Him”, but what they know of Him is quite different. Children know Him only as Father and they are still focused on forgiveness of sins. Fathers are advanced in knowledge of God until they are described as “knowing Him who is from the beginning.” This highest level of maturity is marked by a deep knowledge of God.

The longer one feeds on the bread of faces found in the Holy Place, the more one becomes transformed into the image he is beholding. His own face begins to reflect the image and glory of God. This is symbolically witnessed to by the sign of the beard that God has placed upon the face of man. Not only does the beard express the glory of maturity, but it serves to cover the flesh of a man’s face.

The fathers that John writes to are being transformed into God’s image from having spent much time beholding Him. This deeper conformity to God is evidenced in a greater glory resting upon these mature ones as is stated in I Corinthians 3:18. We are “being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” Those who have long gazed upon the face of God have attained to the greatest glory, and in the natural God has set the beard, and particularly the grey beard, as a symbol of this truth.

This is a marvelous truth. All the way back in the book of Leviticus God said “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man.” Honor was to be accorded to those who were of great age in the natural realm as a sign of the parallel principle that honor is to be accorded those who have greatly matured in the spiritual realm. Both principles must be adhered to. An old man in the natural is to be honored, whether he has attained to a deep knowledge of God, or not. This is a sign indicating that we understand the spiritual principle that we are to honor those who have matured in the Lord.

God has declared this matter in the manifestation of the beard. A child does not have a beard. He has little maturity and little glory and honor are accorded him. A young man has achieved a certain level of maturity and even as he has put away childish things he has flowered and his beard has grown and God has set a mark of maturity upon him. As a man perseveres in his pursuit of God and continues to look steadfastly at the face of God, he begins to enter an even greater realm of glory and he acquires a grey beard which is his crown of glory.

Why then do so many men, especially Christian men, shave off the beard? A great portion of the reason has to do with the fact that the body of Christ has lain in immaturity for so long. When the body should have long ago progressed to eating meat, they have remained drinking only the milk of the word. When they should have advanced to the place of being teachers themselves, they have need for someone to teach them again. The body has failed to come to maturity, and as a judgment against them God has allowed them to fall under the deception and delusion of Satan. They have cut off their beards which symbolize their advancement past childhood and in an outward way they are agreeing with God that they truly lack maturity. God prophesied through Isaiah that this would happen.

Isaiah 66:4
I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

This is an awesome thing indeed. God said, “I also will choose their delusions...” A delusion has come upon the mind of man. Man has failed to press on to maturity as God has designed and as a judgment God has given them over to delusion. One of these delusions which God has chosen is that man should despise his beard which was given to him as a sign of maturity and a symbol of glory. Even as the body of Christ has failed to mature and to become worthy of glory, a delusion has come over them where they willingly shave and cast off that which God designed to proclaim maturity. Is this not a most fitting judgment and delusion for those who have not answered God, nor listened to Him when He spoke?

To those who would say that the beard is just an external matter and it holds no real value, I would ask “Why do you want to throw away that which God has ordained to cover the face of man?” Do you have a good reason for doing so? We teach that the spiritual realm takes precedence over the physical or natural realm, but it is in the natural realm that what is in our spirits is manifest. Is this not why God created man in the first place, that He might have a way to manifest His person to all of creation?

Christ Jesus had a beard and we know that He only did what He saw the Father doing. Jesus did not wear a beard because it was a social standard of the time. The only standard Jesus conformed Himself to was the standard of His Father. He did not see the Father cutting off the beard, so he did not cut off the beard. Jesus not only had a beard, He had a substantial beard. We are told of Him “I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard...” (Isaiah 50:6). One cannot easily pluck out the beard of one who has cut his beard short. It is only a full beard that can be grasped and pulled in this manner. Furthermore, Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law and the Law has these commands concerning the beard:

Leviticus 19:27
'You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard.

Leviticus 21:1, 5
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them... 'They shall not make any baldness on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards

Nelson’s Bible Dictionary has this to say about the beard.

In biblical times most adult males of Israel wore full beards. An oiled and well-kept beard was a mark of pride (Ps. 133:2). The Law of Moses required Israelite men not to "disfigure the edges" of their beards (Lev. 19:27), a common practice of Israel's pagan neighbors.
To shave or pull out part of the beard was a sign of grief (Jer. 48:37-38), and to cut off someone's beard was to insult him (2 Sam. 10:4-5). Isaiah 7:20 pictures God's judgment on Israel as a shaving of the nation's beard, an intentional disgrace.
(from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
(Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

Note: The reference to the beard being a mark of pride is not used in a negative sense, but a positive one. The scripture referred to is Psalm 133:2. This verse and the one preceding it state the following:

Psalm 133:1-2
1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes.

This is clearly a beautiful and honorable thing. In fact the beard is intended as a sign of beauty and glory. God intends man to be crowned with beauty and glory.

Psalm 8:4-5
4 What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?
5 Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, and dost crown him with glory and majesty (hadar)!

The word for majesty in the Hebrew is the word ‘hadar’. Strongs’ Dictionary gives us this description: “magnificence, i.e. ornament or splendor: -beauty, comeliness, excellency, glorious, glory, goodly, honour, majesty.” In Deuteronomy God reveals that it is His desire and intent to lift men up, not to abase them. He has created them for glory, not for dishonor.

Deuteronomy 26:17-19
17 "You have today declared the LORD to be your God, and that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and listen to His voice.
18 "And the LORD has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments;
19 and that He shall set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor; and that you shall be a consecrated people to the LORD your God, as He has spoken."

However, as Nelson’s Bible Dictionary states, God will abase those who fail to walk in faithfulness before Him. In Isaiah God symbolically spoke of shaving off Israel’s beard as a sign of their disgrace. 

Isaiah 7:20
In that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond the River-- the king of Assyria-- to shave your head and the hair of your legs, and to take off your beards also.

To have the beard shaved off was a sign of great disgrace. This is shown clearly in the story of King David’s ambassadors who were disgraced by the Ammonites by having their robes cut in two and having half of their beards cut off. David was so enraged that he declared war on the Ammonites and destroyed them. So deep was the shame of David’s ambassadors that David told them to not return to Jerusalem until their beards were grown back, but to stay in Jericho.

II Samuel 10:5
When they told it to David, he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly humiliated. And the king said, "Stay at Jericho until your beards grow, and then return."

Is it not a great delusion that has led men today to so carelessly cast off that which God designed to be for their glory and beauty, that which was to distinguish men from boys and from women? Rightly did Paul prophesy to Timothy the following:

II Timothy 3:1-5
1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.
2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,
4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God;
5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these.

We live in the generation Paul spoke of and it is fitting that a generation that has so despised God and pursued their own pleasure should be shorn of the glory that God ordained to be revealed in the beard of a man. Men having failed to seek after God have remolded themselves after the fashion they desired and they have uncovered their faces.

However, God does have a remnant that are coming to maturity in this day and hour. These will be used of God to go forth before the return of Christ and prepare the way before Him. These will walk in a similar calling as did John the Baptist, setting things in order that have been out of order, and calling men and women to repentance. These will be used of the Lord to begin to restore all things that have been lost and neglected, of which this teaching is but one small part.

As the man child spoken of in Revelation 12 is revealed and as the sons of God spoken of in Romans 8:19 come forth manifesting a maturity that the church has not known, the signs of maturity that God has set in the natural order of things will be restored. The beard is intended to be a beautiful thing and for the great majority of men, it is only with stubborn persistence that they keep it from manifesting. Even so, the maturity that God has ordained to be the portion of His church has been stubbornly resisted, and many have turned to other things. This is precisely why Paul described this time as “perilous days.” Men have heaped to themselves teachers to titillate and entertain, and it is with difficulty that they are made to endure sound doctrine.

I am confident that maturity will come to the body of Christ for the scriptures foretell it, but for many it will only be as they demonstrate great patience in the midst of severe trials. Those who willingly give themselves to God as a freewill offering will always find their way easier than those who resist God and are forced with a bit and bridle to go where they have not desired.

God will bring forth the unity that David spoke of in the Psalms and it will be even as he described it, as the dew upon Mount Hermon, or as the oil upon the head of Aaron, running down the beard and onto the robes. Unity will be restored and once again believers will greet one another with a holy kiss. This was the manner of greeting in days of old and it has not changed.

In the book of II Samuel we are shown a description of the manner of the greeting of brothers who were united in oneness and friendship. Although Joab was being treacherous and patterning the same deceit that was later found in Judas when he betrayed our Lord with a kiss, we see the pattern for the holy greeting.

II Sam 20:9
And Joab said to Amasa, "Is it well with you, my brother?" And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him.

In the instruction to “greet one another with a holy kiss” it was intended for men to greet men and women to greet women. For men and women to greet in this way would be improper and would open the door for temptation and lead to adultery. In this manner of greeting the man would reach out with his right hand and grasp the beard of a brother. Throughout the ages the right hand has represented fellowship and even in many churches today the saints speak of extending the right hand of fellowship.

As one reached out and grasped the beard of a brother he was touching that which was the glory and beauty of the brother. This was a sign of affection and an acknowledgment of the other brother’s maturity in Christ. The brothers would then kiss one another on the cheek. We are told by Christ that all men will know we are brothers by our love. Indeed, how beautiful it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.

However, many saints are having much difficulty holding onto one another today. Even as the beard is missing, so is the maturity that it represents. Brothers that lack maturity manifest it by their divisions and strife. Where there is immaturity there is division and strife and a lack of unity, and consequently the sincere greeting of the holy kiss is missing. This is found in Paul’s words to the Corinthian believers.

I Corinthians 3:1-4
1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ.
2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,
3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?
4 For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not mere men?

In this passage we see both the inability of the saints to partake of the solid meat of the teachings and doctrines of Christ, and we see the jealousy and strife among them. Both of these are signs of immaturity. Even as a very small child cannot yet eat meat, neither could these believers. Even as small children bicker and quarrel, so did these saints. Paul declares that they are fleshly, and this description of being fleshly typifies a man’s face that has not yet grown a beard, or the face of a man who has cut his beard off. Both symbolize immaturity.

For brothers to greet one another with a holy kiss after the manner previously described, they must move on to maturity. They must symbolically allow their beards to grow so that other brothers have something to grasp and hold onto while embracing. The smooth face of childhood that the church has presented to the world and to one another has kept the unity from coming forth which God has desired.

Yes, the beard is but an outward symbol of greater truths, but they are important truths. It would avail a man little to grow a beard, even a grey beard that is full and glorious, and to not have grown to maturity in Christ. God has called us to a harmony of the natural and the spiritual. It is unfitting to see adults acting in a childish manner. The apostle Paul declared that when he became a man that he put away childish things. Our outward appearance is to reflect our inward condition.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Rat Race of the Religious System

Joseph Herrin (07-26-2010)

"Christianity started out in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise." -Sam Pascoe

What I would share with you in this post is extremely important. You will have to be patient for a moment, slow your racing mind down, and focus intently upon the words I am writing. Some concepts are so foreign to the religiously trained mind that they are at first difficult to grasp. If you have spent any significant length of time in the Christian religious system, in denominational, or non-denominational churches, then your mind has been influenced subtly, yet powerfully, in ways you may not have contemplated.

Have you ever considered that the entire system of what passes for Christianity today is a perverse corruption of Yahweh’s plan for His people? I am not speaking merely of the many doctrines of demons that have entered into the church, such as that which is called “prosperity doctrine.” No, I am referring to the overall system of getting people saved so they can join a church, get involved in its programs, and devote their lives to a corporate entity that is proclaimed to be the body of Christ.

Recently, a brother in Christ forwarded to me the speech given by an 18 year old girl in upstate New York. Erica Goldson was the valedictorian of Coxsackie-Athens High School, and was given the opportunity to address all those gathered at her 2010 class graduation ceremony. What she shared is remarkable in its insight for one so young.

Erica chose to talk about the education system in America. Following is the major portion of her speech. As you read it, please consider how these words spoken of the American education system relate to the Christian Religious System, for they are very similar in purpose and practice.

Here I Stand
Erica Goldson

(Valedictorian Speech 2010 - Delivered Wednesday, July 7, 2010 to the students, parents and faculty gathered at Coxsackie-Athens High School.)

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, "If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, "Ten years..."  The student then said, "But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast - How long then?" Replied the Master, "Well, twenty years." "But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?" asked the student. "Thirty years," replied the Master. "But, I do not understand," said the disappointed student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?"  Replied the Master, "When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path."

This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn't you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer - not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition - a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I'm scared.

John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, “We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don't do that.” Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt.

H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States. (Gatto)

To illustrate this idea, doesn't it perturb you to learn about the idea of “critical thinking.” Is there really such a thing as “uncritical thinking?” To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?

This was happening to me, and if it wasn't for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.

And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism, or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren't we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation. There is more, and more still.

The saddest part is that the majority of students don't have the opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can't run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition. This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be - but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation...

I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a “see you later” when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let's go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we're smart enough to do so!

I (Joseph Herrin) attended the public education system for 12 years, graduating from High School, and later going on to earn a college degree. It was what I was conditioned to do. The thought never occurred to me while I was in attendance that the system itself could be an evil thing. I never questioned whether it was preparing me to be a godly person, or considered if the goals of my education were those God would choose. The American education system was training me to be a good corporate citizen. I was a member of the greatest consumer nation on earth, and I was being groomed for a life devoted to consumption.

While in school, the merits of excelling in the system were made known to me. With better grades came the promise of higher pay, and more money being available to spend on my pursuit of “The American Dream.” Little did I realize that I was being indoctrinated in the art of consumption. I was fed dreams of materialism, and my pursuit of materialism served the ends of the global corporations. My money would end up in their pockets. My life’s labor would further their empire.

II Peter 2:3
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you...

American society promotes covetousness. Advertisements are inescapable. If you watch television, or even go to the movies, you will have to abide a barrage of commercials that are aimed at creating a desire for some company’s product. If you drive down the road you will be met with billboards intended to produce a desire for some service or product. You cannot read a magazine, or listen to the radio, without the constant drone of corporate consumerism invading your mind through sounds and images.

How many Americans ever question whether the endless drive to attain material possessions, and to enjoy one pleasure after another, is actually righteous? How many have considered what type of life God would lead them to if there were not the constant and pervasive influence of society telling them what they should be pursuing? The American education and cultural system has made slaves of an entire population. The citizens of the nation live to acquire material possessions, and then spend the balance of their lives trying to hold onto what they have gained. Is this the will of God?

Luke 12:15
And He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions."

This article is not about the American system of materialism, however. It is about the Christian Religious System. The same blindness that affects the citizens of America, also holds sway in the church.

Isaiah 42:19
“Who is blind but My servant, or so deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who is so blind as he that is at peace with Me, or so blind as the servant of Yahweh?”

I want to entreat you to consider the goals and practices of the Christian Religious System, particularly in Western nations. Going to church is what people are conditioned to do. Participating in the stereotypical programs of the various denominations is considered both right and proper. A focus on church attendance, supporting the church financially, and living a church-centric life is accepted without any critical thinking.

How many Christians have stopped to question whether the goals and practices of the church are in synch with the desires of God? Christians are conditioned to not ask such questions. They are herded along with everyone else, directed through endlessly repeated sermons that proclaim the virtues of attendance, program participation, and tithing. Being a good corporate citizen of the church is equated with spirituality.

What is Yahweh’s desire for His sons and daughters? As I have been sharing everywhere I go, He desires sons (male and female). He wants sons in His image. He is seeking sons who are conformed to the image of Christ so they can rule and reign with Him in the ages to come.

Are the churches producing sons in the image of Christ? Absolutely not! Rather, they are aborting every son that begins to show marks of maturity.

To be conformed to Christ’s image, one must be led of the Spirit, not conformed to the pattern of this fallen world system.

Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Christ did not lead a life centered on the synagogue. He did not live to fulfill the programs and plans of the synagogue’s leaders. Christ never equated participation in the life of the local synagogue with spiritual life. He lived to do the will of His Father. The Father’s will was not made known to Him by men, but by the Spirit who was given to indwell Him. Those who have been born of the Spirit of Christ have received the same Spirit to serve as their guide.

I Corinthians 2:10-13
For the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit...

The Christian Religious System is antithetical to the purposes of God. The system has indoctrinated Christians to believe that they must come to the church building weekly to hear the word of God spoken to them by an appointed minister. The minister will perhaps give them a 15-30 minute message, often including admonitions on attendance, participation in programs, and tithing. Before and after the message of the minister there will be announcements that serve as commercials for all the events, programs and services of the corporation called the church.

The saint is trained to be a good corporate citizen, and his continuance as a good corporate citizen is assumed to last as long as life is in him. Do the programs of the church lead to conformity to Christ? The instrument Yahweh uses to conform sons to the image of Christ is the cross. There is an afflicted path to be walked. There are difficult experiences to be endured. There are trials to be passed through, all the while the saint is to be crucifying the flesh that the Spirit of Christ within him might arise.

The church does not offer this path to conformity to Christ. They are more likely to offer baseball, softball, golf, and excursions to the mall than they are to lead the saints to take up their crosses to follow Christ. The church stands in the way of the believer, for it will not permit any to be led of the Spirit. Being led of the Spirit will interfere with being led by the church leadership. One cannot fulfill the goals of the corporation while being led of the Spirit. If you are led by the Spirit you will not be the model corporate Christian citizen that those building earthly kingdoms desire to populate their congregations. The church leaders are all too willing to usurp the role of the Spirit, telling the saints what the will of God is for their lives. The end is always self-serving, fostering a dependence upon the church leaders, and resulting in a continuance of the church as a corporate entity.

Eighty years ago, a wise Christian minister named T. Austin Sparks wrote the following words:

We realize with intense sorrow of heart that all is not well with that which ostensibly represents the Lord here, and that there is a state of things widely prevailing which does not truly accord with the revealed desire of God.

"We live in a time of more than usual dearth spiritually - the state of things may well remind us of Ezekiel's valley of dry bones - we have not merely to cope with evils which have characterized bygone ages, but also with the matured corruption of a time wherein the varied evils of the Gentile world have become connected with, and covered by the cloak of Christian profession; and when we turn to the state of those whose knowledge of truth and high profession might naturally encourage the expectation of more healthy and vigorous Christian action, we find, alas! in many - yes, in the majority of cases - that the knowledge is but cold and uninfluential theory, and the profession but superficial."

Christianity has become so largely a matter of doctrine and creed. The test of Christian life is very much a matter of subscribing thereto. Christian experience has become largely limited to a matter of being saved, without the great Eternal and universal relative factors and issues. Christian service is resolved far too much into a matter of enthusiasm in a great enterprise apart from an adequate apprehension of what the Lord is really after and the indispensable energy and equipment of the Holy Ghost. The Christian "church" is very largely reduced to earthly institutions, societies, denominations, buildings, activities and orders, and the spiritual revelation and apprehension of "the One Body" and "One Spirit" is for by far the most part lacking. Christian teaching has very largely become - at best - a matter of giving addresses and preaching sermons with a presentation of "the letter of the Word," a giving forth of truth as truth, but lacking in "revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Eph. 1:17); that true inwardness of meaning which reaches the heart and meets the deepest spiritual need of the hungry.

The result of all this is that the impact of that which stands for God upon the world, and particularly upon "the world rulers of this darkness" is almost nil, or a minus quantity...

As we get nearer the close of this age the contact with and impact of the forces of Satan is going to be such that only those who know the full testimony of Jesus and stand experimentally in it will be able to go through without being paralyzed. The aspect of things is fast changing. The past twenty years has seen a movement into a realm where the old methods and means no longer prove effectual. We shall soon find a tremendous pressing down of the powers of darkness upon this earth, using the world-powers to such a degree and in such ways as to eclipse anything which has hitherto been. This is in full accord with the Word of God. There will be one, and only one hope for God's people, and that is their knowledge of Him in Christ and the power of His resurrection as a present spiritual reality. Not their activities, enthusiasms, organizations, enterprises, creeds, "churches," orthodoxy, and so on, but HIMSELF. That time, which is now coming upon us - though imperceptible to so many who are preoccupied with plans and programs - will make manifest the principle of the "One Body..."
[Source: "A Witness and A Testimony" magazine, Sep-Oct 1930 Vol. 8-5]

It is no wonder that so many are hearing the Spirit calling to “come out of her, My people, lest you participate in her sins and partake of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4). The church has become a place of confusion (Babylon). Not only are her doctrines leavened, but the very system stands in the way of the saints attaining to “the fulness of the stature which belongs to Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).

It is time for all saints to examine the system itself. Does the system of religion promote a Spirit directed life? Have you been brought to a complete abandonment to go wherever Christ would lead you, and to do whatever He would instruct you to do? Are you comfortable in the church because it assures you that Yahweh is well pleased with those who participate in its programs, while not requiring you to give up everything?

Luke 14:33
“So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all he possesses.”

There is a reason that the Christian Religious System is not under attack by the masses of Christians. There is a reason there is no wide call for reform. The church as a man-made institution is comfortable for those who do not wish to be disturbed. To be led of the Spirit will cost a man or woman everything. Nothing can be held back. Yet the corporate religious system will permit a man or woman to hold onto a significant portion of their property and their life.

People of God, the hour is late. It is time for all believers to question the Christian Religious System in the same way that a young Jewish woman named Erica Goldson has questioned the American educational system. The religious system permits men and women to continue to walk after the desires of the flesh. The Spirit of Christ will not. Do not allow yourself to follow blind guides. There is One who is appointed to lead you. That is the Spirit of Christ who indwells all the saints.

Galatians 5:16
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

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Monday, April 5, 2021

The Peril of Self-Pity

Joseph Herrin (7-2-2001)

For some time it seems the Father has not spoken to me a direct word, but yesterday I heard Him speak by His Spirit and what He revealed seemed to me to be a very serious matter with Him, and I feel led to share it.

I had lain down for a nap yesterday evening with several issues weighing on my heart, and when I woke up I heard the voice of the Father speaking to me. I had been in a rather dark mood as I had been pondering all of the difficulties and rejection and misunderstanding I had endured over the last two years, and which I continue to face. It has been a difficult place to have been stripped of so much and to have endured so many trials, especially since it has been in isolation and lonely places that I have had to walk.

I was in a dark mood as I considered these things, and I lay down to take a nap as these things were on my mind.  When I woke up the Father spoke two words to me: “self-pity.” Following these words, He began to speak to me of the peril of self-pity.

Self-pity is a trap that some of the greatest of saints have fallen into, and because of its effects upon them they became disqualified for further service and their mantles were given to others. Some of these saints endured far more than other men, and they were accounted faithful, righteous, and holy, yet in the end they succumbed to the sin of self-pity and they could advance no further with the Father.

As Father spoke to me of these things, I sensed no severe correction from Him, only a desire that I would gain understanding and overcome this peril. I understood that if I gave in to self-pity, and began acting out of it, that I would not be able to go any further with God. Again, this did not seem to come to me as a threat, nor out of anger, but as a statement of fact, and I sensed a desire from the Father that I would pass this test as well.

Over the last number of years I have endured much as Father has led me down the path He has had for me. I have become an outcast on many levels; from my church, from my family, from friends, from Christianity itself, and I have suffered much misunderstanding and false judgment from others. I am not alone in this, for I know many others have suffered these same things in recent days, as well as have many saints down through the years, some of whose stories are recorded for our benefit.

Father reminded me of Moses, who was a very meek man and who walked in faithfulness before the Father. He shared an intimacy before God that no other man of his day knew, and yet he was falsely judged as trying to be a lord over the people and of directing people according to his own will, when in truth he was walking in obedience to Yahweh’s will. The leaders of the Jewish people falsely accused him at Korah’s rebellion, and at one time even his own brother and sister judged him falsely.

Moses grew tired of all of the rebellion of the people and their unbelief grieved him. At times he felt  so weighed down with the burden of the people that he gave way to self-pity. One such moment is recorded in the following scripture.
Numbers 11:11-15
So Moses said to the LORD, "Why hast Thou been so hard on Thy servant? And why have I not found favor in Thy sight, that Thou hast laid the burden of all this people on me? Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth, that Thou shouldest say to me, 'Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which Thou didst swear to their fathers'? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me, saying, 'Give us meat that we may eat!' I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. So if Thou art going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Thy sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness."

Yahweh never corrected Moses for this complaint, at least there is no record of any such correction. This root of self-pity remained in Moses until it bore fruit in his life and he struck the rock when he was commanded to speak to it. It is to be noted that when Moses struck the rock that he chastised the people with his words, yet his anger was not a righteous anger demonstrating a zeal for God. Rather, his anger was rooted in his own self-pity and his offense that the people were once again grumbling about his leadership when he was simply doing all that the Father had shown him to do. When Moses struck the rock he was in actuality demonstrating anger toward God for burdening him with a rebellious people who kept falsely judging him. His self-pity manifested in this action.

Later, we see in the story of Elijah that he too came to a point of self-pity. After spending three years in isolation, knowing that if King Ahab caught him he would kill him, he then called all Israel together to confront the prophets of Baal. Elijah was outnumbered 850 prophets to one. He knew what it was to stand alone in obedience to Yahweh. He saw Yahweh perform a great sign and all the false prophets were killed. He then outran Ahab to Samaria and overheard Jezebel saying that she would kill him before another day had passed. In great weariness of soul and body he fled to the wilderness where he lay under a tree wanting to die.

In both of these instances, the self-pity of these men led to their mantles being given to another. Moses was replaced by Joshua and Elijah by Elisha. Even though their self-pity kept them from advancing further, these men were not rejected by Yahweh. We see that they are the two who appear with Yahshua on the mount of transfiguration. They represent the remnant who are being called forth in this day. It is therefore a caution that their same failing should be found among the remnant and also be a point a disqualification.

As I lay on my bed and considered this I was made aware that I and many others are being tested in this regard. Many of us have endured isolation, rejection, and false judgment. Many of us have also endured members of our families rejecting the truths Yahweh has revealed to us, and we have experienced family members taking sides with others against us. To add to our temptation to self-pity, many have also experienced financial lack and we have had the necessity laid upon us of working to support our families while pursuing the fulfilling of the ministry entrusted to us by Yahweh.

I know that for myself, this has added to my complaint against God, and my feelings of self-pity. I have thought that at the very least that Father should reveal His provision where it is unnecessary for me to work and to write at the same time. I have felt like the ox that was muzzled while threshing the grain. When so many false ministers are growing fat off of the offerings of the church, there is seemingly no provision at all for those who are ministering in righteousness and truth.

Father began to show me that these seeds of self-pity have been present in my mind, and if they are not uprooted and cast away that they will bear fruit and cause me to be rejected for further progress in the kingdom. I was led to confess these things and to ask Father to deliver me from the peril of self-pity.

It is interesting that both Moses’ and Elijah’s self-pity arose because they were being personally criticized and maligned for doing the will of Yahweh. They did not understand why reproach should fall on them for their obedience. Why should the people grumble against Moses because they did not have water? Shouldn’t they look to Yahweh for water? Why did Jezebel want to kill Elijah for having the false prophets killed? Was Elijah the one who caused fire to fall from heaven and to consume the sacrifice?

In the same way, why should the remnant saints of God today be condemned and maligned for walking in obedience before the Father? Why should our reputations be besmirched and our character be a reproach? Yet it is the Father’s good will.

As I thought on this and the Father continued to minister to me, He showed me that it is proper for us to respond with righteous anger when people malign His name and character or act out of unbelief towards Him. However, in anything that touches us personally we are to demonstrate a different response: we are to turn the other cheek. There is no room for anger to be manifested in anything that touches us personally.

Father showed me that I cannot respond in anger towards family, friends, or church members for the actions or words which have been spoken against me. I am not to react in any way, but I am to follow the example of which Paul spoke.

I Corinthians 4:10-13
We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.

It is one thing to endure these things and to entertain self-pity. It is quite something else to be content with these things and to feel no pain that this is our lot.

Many of God’s saints are enduring this test at this moment.

It is not by coincidence that so many circumstances seem to be conspiring against us at this time. Father is testing us to see if self-pity will overcome us, or if we will overcome it. We could respond in anger or wrath at the things coming against us. We could choose to not trust people again, but in doing so we would actually be striking out at God for the unfairness of the burdens placed upon us. It is not a rock we are striking, our self-pity is an expression of discontent for the difficulties the Father has chosen for us to endure.

I am amazed as I think that men such as Moses and Elijah could walk in such intimacy and faithfulness with Yahweh. They could demonstrate faithfulness when all others were unfaithful. They could have revelation and understanding of Yahweh’s ways, and yet they could still fall prey to the peril of self-pity. It seems that those who endure the very most must at the end face this subtle enemy. Those who never walk in faith and who never know what it is to be called to stand alone will never know what it is to be tempted by this peril. Only those who have walked down long and difficult paths face this peril.

It would be very grievous for any of Yahweh’s overcomers to be hindered by this after all they have passed through. Father has told us that we must give place to wrath, for vengeance is His and His alone. We will never be justified in acting out of personal hurt, nor of harboring pity for the difficulties and pains present in our lives. We must turn the other cheek, and speak a blessing where we are reviled; we must endure when we are persecuted; we must conciliate when we are slandered.

We are to count it all joy when we are persecuted and slandered for the sake of righteousness, for great is our reward in heaven. As Paul, we must concur that these are but momentary and light afflictions and they are not worthy to be compared with the glory to be revealed in us.


Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063