Tuesday, May 12, 2020

'Glory in Tribulations' - Romans 5:3

In the Book of Revelation, the 18th chapter an angel cries out, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen …’ And, later in that chapter, another voice cries out, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.’

Now, Revelation 18 is talking about what happened in chapter 17. “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great [whore] who sits on many waters, 2) with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication [spiritual fornication], and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.’” A great religious institution that has ‘fallen, is fallen.’ Completely wiped out! A religious Babylon!

Verse 8 – “Therefore her plagues will come in one day – death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.”

Verse 9 talks about ‘the smoke of her burning.’

Verse 10 – “…’ Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’”

Verse 17 – “’ For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.’”

Verse 18 – talks about ‘the smoke of her burning.’ That whole institution is simply destroyed! It is speaking of a great religious institution who ‘sits on many waters.’ It’s not the United States of America, the United Kingdom, or any other nation – rather it is, basically, Vatican City.

This great religious institution has committed abominable practices.

God’s people are not to be partakers of her sins it describes in that chapter.

Over in 2nd Corinthians, the 6th chapter, the apostle Paul makes a similar statement when he is writing to the church there in Corinth. In this second letter here he uses a statement that I believe has been misinterpreted over the years within the churches of God and even abused in some cases. But is indeed a similar demand for Christians as we read in the Book of Revelation.

2 Corinthians 6:11 – “O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you!” – in other words, ‘we are able to speak frankly with all of you.’ “ … our heart is wide open.” – ‘we have great sympathy and understanding for you.’ Verse 12 – “You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.” – in other words, ‘It’s not because we don’t have this great heart with the love for you, but it’s because of your heart.’ Verse 13 – “Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.” – in other words, ‘I’m like a father who is speaking to his children.’

Verse 14 – “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”

And this is where I wish to focus for a moment.

Let’s look at this term ‘unequally yoked together with unbelievers.’ How is that possible!? How are we to avoid being unequally yoked with unbelievers!? Is the apostle Paul saying here that we are to not have any contact with unbelievers!? What about my wife!? She is an unbeliever. How are we going to make it through this life if we have to avoid unbelievers?

Are we to be like a commune? – like the Essenes of the 1st century? The Essenes went out into the wilderness throughout Roman Judea and dedicated themselves to voluntary poverty, daily immersion, and asceticism. Or, a more modern commune – such as the Amish or even the Mennonites – which practices complete abstention from society as a whole? Is this what we’re supposed to practice?

Now, in his preface, Fred R. Coulter, who put together a faithful version of the Holy Bible with commentary – I absolutely love this Bible which I received from someone I love dearly – he says, “A secular humanist worldview has emerged over the past fifty years, gradually eroding the knowledge of the true God. As a result, a form of “Christianity without God” has developed.”

He continues, “Central to this removal of God from the public conscience is the destruction of the Bible itself. Indeed, the foundation of Christianity is being subverted and corrupted with new “easy-to-read” translations that alter the Word of God so dramatically that the true message of God has become lost – unrecognizable to the reader.”

Have you ever heard someone say, “You can prove anything from the Bible”? Well, that statement is true – and false. It’s true if only isolated passages are used. But it is utterly false if the whole divine revelation is in view. In other words – if you take the entirety of the Bible and you look at all the references for your specific idea, then you will find out that what you thought was true was absolutely false. And, as F.R. Coulter points out – the public is designing Bibles in such a way that one only needs to use isolated passages. When one only selects one passage of Scripture and attempts to use it to support their idea – it is very dangerous and can have lasting consequences.

Sadly – and I’ll tell you this story. A friend of mine who just passed away – who had been at one time a minister with the Open Bible Standard Churches – would use isolated passages to try and prove his idea of reincarnation. Such passages as John 1:21, John 9:2; and even including his twisted take on Luke 16:19-23 – not having any understanding that this is but a parable. And, indeed, it was dangerous and had a severe consequence on his life.

Now, I mentioned the Amish and the Mennonites. Somewhere back in their history, someone said to them, ‘this is what we need to do!’ And look where they are today. Hundreds of years later and they’re still observing this practice of abstaining. Like Weird Al Yankovic’s words echo – “You know I shun fancy things like electricity. At 4:30 in the morning I'm milkin' cows.  …  Living in an Amish paradise.”

I’ll give you another example of only picking a Scripture out of the Holy Bible – you know that God’s living Word says, “’ There is no God.’” Do you know where this is at!?

Psalm, the 14th chapter. But if you read the whole context it says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” We are to read the whole passage – you cannot just pick and choose from the Bible. One must use the whole Bible to gather His truth.

There are those who will take a single passage and establish a doctrine, or a standard which governs their life – such as my friend who I spoke of earlier. And, the lives too – unfortunately – of their followers.

So, what does it mean to be ‘unequally yoked’!?

Well, what does this word ‘yoked’ bring to your mind? Well, for me it makes me think of a yoke of oxen. A yoke of bondage – like we read in the Book of Exodus when the children of Israel were under bondage. Traveling through Ohio in Amish country, I have seen oxen yoked together.

Very early God instructed His people to be separate.

Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, is not to be that closely related to an unbeliever. And I’ll explain this.

First, let’s address my wife.

Turn with me if you will to 1st Corinthians, the 7th chapter, verse 13 – “And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.” – so, it’s alright for them to be married.

Verse 14 – “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, …” – because she believes somehow in God’s eyes they’re protected. “ … and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; …” – so, either spouse - if there is a believer - they’re set apart in God’s eyes because of the one that does believe. “ … otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.” – so, God’s protection is around the whole family.

Verse 15 – “But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.”

So, a believer can be married to an unbeliever and still be in God’s eyes a holy person and be under God’s protection.

So, to be ‘unequally yoked’ with an unbeliever is like the idea of ‘can two walk together, unless they are agreed?’ – Amos 3:3. We are not to have social or religious FELLOWSHIP – in other words, close friendship – with any except those who know and OBEY the TRUTH of God. We must try to WORSHIP with them – and attend those churches.

Let’s turn back to 2nd Corinthians in the 6th chapter. The apostle Paul continues here in verse 14 – “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” – here he’s making a comparison. Verse 15 – And what accord has Christ with Belial? …” – or rather, Satan the devil. What association is there between the two? “ … Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16) And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.’

He’s sort of asking the question here – how can these two opposites coexist and yet the Christian remains pure!?

Now, in 1st Corinthians 5:9, we read about the incestuous relationship that was taking place within the church there in Corinth, and they wrote letters to Paul. And, of course, Paul obliterated the idea of leaving those people within that congregation. “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10) Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11) But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother [or sister], who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person.” – talking about people that are inside the Church that have these characteristics.

Now we’re told in Matthew 18:15 that if we have a problem with a brother or a sister we are to go directly to them! And, you are to take witnesses with you, so that everything will be established. Then, if they won’t listen, go to the Church.

He taught in Galatians 5:9 – “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” This one abominable practice that is within the Church could destroy the whole flock. Because everybody will say – ‘well, he’s getting away with that. I should be able to get away with this.’ Paul knew that that had to be dealt with immediately. Now, Paul’s ex-communication of this man – was it permanent? It is evidence – later on – that Paul wrote to them and said, ‘you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.’ If he repents he should be allowed back. And, that was the apostle Paul’s heart – and I believe it was a wonderful example of how he dealt with that. Unlike what was done to me. After I had repented of a doctrinal error on my part, the minister of a church of God dropped me like a hot potato. Not following our Lord’s admonition in His parable of Matthew 18:12-17.

Indeed, we are to separate ourselves from evil. And that separation is from desire, from the motive, and the acts of the world and its present world system.

Let’s talk a little concerning this.

Revelation of the 13th chapter talks about a ‘beast’ power - a reorganized and revitalized concept of the “Holy” Roman Empire. It says, “And he [this great ‘beast’ power] was given a mouth [a great worldwide religious institution] speaking great things and blasphemies, … 6) Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. 7) It was granted to him to make war with the saints …” – a war against the true people of God. Implemented by these two very false and diabolical leaders. “ … and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.”

Now, you want to talk about WORLD POWER!

Verse 8 – “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Now, the word “world” here is a Greek word – kosmos – meaning, the whole of the universe, or, a system opposed to God. And, indeed, Satan the devil has organized this world of unbelieving mankind, which is based upon his principles of force, greed, selfishness, self-righteousness, of ambition, and personal pleasure.

This soon-coming end-time world system is going to be imposing and extremely powerful – with mighty armies. Even including today - many of these pagan nations (meaning non-Israelite nations) have extremely powerful armed forces! – e.g. China – second only to the U.S. and Russia, with available manpower of over 752 billion! Japan – available manpower of over 53 billion! Russia – available manpower of over 69 billion! 1 And, they are so-often outwardly religious! Outward religion in China is growing! 2 In Japan, 70.4 percent of the population practices Shintoism, 69.8 percent Buddhism. 3 In Russia - Orthodox Christianity remains the biggest religion in Russia at 71 percent. 4 They are scientific, cultured, and even elegant. As an example – look at the beautiful buildings of St. Petersburg, Russia – of St. Isaac’s Cathedral (a museum) - with its phallus which towers into the sky! Indeed, that ‘Empire style’ architecture resembles that which you see at the Papal Basilica of St. Peter’s in the Vatican – much of which is so gothic in their appearance. And, I believe they should be dynamited and blasted from this Earth – because they look to me as if they have been influenced by Satan the devil! They have these gargoyles and demonic creatures on them. And it’s supposed to be a religious building!? And yes, you go inside of them and much of the time the ceilings are painted with beautiful art that will knock your socks off – talk about culture and elegance! Gilded gold, silver platers, marble floors! There was no expense held back upon the building of these cathedrals.

So, we are in a world which has these elements – but is seething with national and commercial rivalries, and ambitions which are held by armed forces. This indeed is a system – as we are beginning to witness from the “totalitarian” systems being implemented because of the COVID-19 pandemic – can force you to worship a certain god if they so desire. And, they are dominated by satanic principles.

Our Lord Jesus Christ encountered this when He was on this Earth. In Matthew chapter 4 let’s look at a couple of examples – where Jesus made some interesting statements.

Matthew 4:8 – the very first recorded encounter He had with Satan the devil – who appeared to Him while Jesus was in the wilderness tempting Him over and over with all these temptations. “Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” – beautiful and marvelous places! Cities upon hills – with towering church buildings! Verse 9 – “And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’”

And, it has been pointed out – Jesus did not deny the fact that those things belonged to Satan, that he is in charge of this world.

John the 12th chapter. Jesus said, “… ‘Father, glorify Your name.’ Then a voice from heaven, saying, ‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.’” And, some of the people there looked around and said, ‘was that thunder!? Was that a voice!?’ And Jesus said to them, ’ This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31) Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.’ – talking about Satan the devil here is the ruler of this world.

Turn over to chapter 18, verse 36. Jesus told Pontius Pilate while He was standing there at this mock trial for His life, ’ My kingdom is not of this world. …’ – now, most people believe that Jesus Christ came to save this world. He did not! “ … ‘If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.’

In Ephesians chapter 2, verse 2 – Satan the devil is called “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.”

In Ephesians chapter 6, verse 12 – “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Sometimes, when you are going through a terrible trial – and surely, this past month has been a great trial for me of magnitude proportion. It appeared as if nothing was working out. And I was reminded of the Scripture, “glory in tribulations.” Indeed, this is hard for anyone. It’s been difficult for me this past month – because what I thought was a blessing from God Almighty and Jesus Christ was but of my own doing. And the actual blessing was the undoing. Satan the devil – using my own desire and concern for others – tried to burden me, to place a yoke about my neck. And, even in America, it just appears as if we’re under attack! And we so often forget to read this Scripture right here – ““For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Very wicked, powerful, demonic spirits!

Have they declared war upon us!? Well, maybe they have!

In 2nd Corinthians chapter 4, verse 3 – “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4) whose minds, the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” – talking about the power of Satan the devil and how he’s blinded the minds of people.

So, we are to separate ourselves from any association that could cause us to fail or to fall. We are also to separate ourselves from false teachers.

Here is what the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in 2nd Timothy chapter 2. Now, we don’t have a single word recorded by Timothy. But what we have is what Paul wrote about Timothy. And, you can read between the lines and tell that Timothy may have been a type of person who needed a lot of encouragement. And, Paul was trying to bring him along and try and encourage him to deal with the problems within the Church, to stay close to God’s Word, study to prove yourself worthy of the gospel given to you. Stick to the principles of God. And, Timothy did a wonderful job.

Verse 14 – “Remind them of these things, …” – of personal conduct and of relationships. “ … charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.” – about people getting stuck on a word – and they would argue back and forth about what that word meant.

Verse 15 – “Be diligent to present [to study the Bible!] yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16) But shun profane and idle babblings, …”

Another true story. When I was growing up, my father and uncle would get in long argumentative discussions over the Bible – of what the Bible did or did not say – while inebriated with alcohol. Often such arguments were over a single word or phrase in the Bible. This Scripture is describing useless debates – may be genealogical histories of the history of Jesus Christ! In fact, I recall one such discussion between my father and uncle concerning this – my uncle argued quite vehemently that Queen Jezebel was related to Jesus Christ! A hair-splitting debate that went on for hours! Paul calls this, ‘profane and idle babblings. “ … for they will increase to more ungodliness.”

Verse 17 – “And their message will spread like cancer. …” – it is like a cancer within a congregation that can split that congregation into so many fragments.

Later in that same chapter, he says, “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.” – it’s only going to start a fight. Now, I get statements and questions, and I will read it if it is a legitimate question. I certainly, out of the bottom of my heart, want to help people understand. The apostle Paul told Timothy to use gentleness and to be kind. And to help people through problems. But we are not to get into a religious argument with someone.

Jesus Christ when He prayed said, ’ I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.’ – talking about His disciples.

In 1st John chapter 2, verse 15 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. …” – and yet we see John 3:16 which says, ’ God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, …’ God knew humans potential.

You know, it would only take a few in every city of our great nation to repent to God and stave off this terrible pandemic. Because God gives us an example – He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.” So, think about that. Here is Sodom – a heinous city with abominable acts unto God – and He says, ‘if you can only find ten I won’t destroy the city.’ So those few people are like ten in one million that God looks down upon and says, ‘I’m going to protect that city because of that one person.’ And, that’s whether they’re in a marriage, or in a town, a city, a state, or nation. Also, look at the example of the prophet Moses – when God wanted to wipe out the whole nation! And one man got on his knees and prayed to God and said, “Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people.” And the LORD – the God who would become Jesus Christ – relented from the harm He said He would do to His people. He was moved by the faithfulness and righteousness of one man! Friends, those are glaring examples!


In 1st John chapter 5, verse 19 – “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” – this certainly is a banner which should be plastered on the news every night!

Friends, this is the battle we face. We’re very naïve at times – when we’re out shopping, the movie theater, to the mall. We should realize the wickedness and the evil that is out in the world. It is there.

Romans chapter 12, verse 1 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

This is one of the reasons that the Pharisees condemned Jesus Christ – recall that He would eat with tax collectors and sinners, and recall the time when a woman who was a sinner took an alabaster flask of fragrant oil and began to wash His feet with her tears as she wept. And the Pharisee who saw this spoke up and said, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” Jesus associated with tax collectors and sinners. But the difference is – Jesus wasn’t trying to conform to their way of life, He was trying to get them to conform to His Way of life. And that’s the difference. He was trying to bring them to repentance, to heal them of their infirmities, to bring them to a place of forgiveness of all of their sins – both physical and spiritual.

God the Father and Jesus Christ really can’t use us until we have this complete separation from sin.

Let me explain – turn over again to 2nd Corinthians chapter 6, verse 17

“Therefore ‘Come out from among them …’ – the apostle Paul quoting Isaiah 52:11. “ … ‘And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.’ 18) ‘I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.’

Now, Jesus was a prime example of that – Hebrews 7:26 says that He was ‘separate from sinners.’ In other words, He didn’t partake in the same activities that they did – yet He loved people who were laden down with sin and was sympathetic to their needs.

So, God’s living word instructs us not to be ‘yoked together with unbelievers’ in case it might pull us away from God. Whether it’s our social group – with their language and actions, motives, habits. Or, your group of friends which do not exhibit godly habits that may eventually infect you. You need to ask yourself – what do they like to do? What do they like to watch on television or in the movies? Where do they like to go? Is this or can this affect my behavior? It might even be your job that forces you to continually decide between ethical and moral observances or moral and immoral behavior. In a few rare cases – like the church in Corinth – it could be a church group that doesn’t practice or exhibit biblical values or qualities. Now, don’t just march out of the Church because you just don’t like somebody – that’s not at all what the Bible teaches.

The overwhelming evidence points to the fact that you are to come out of those areas that will drain you of your Christian zeal, which will continue to stretch your faith, batter your compassion, and understanding – and harden your heart in such a way that God and Christian living seem completely unattractive and of little worth in a world in which principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness are against you. There lies the destructive nature of these acquaintances.

Friends, if we do this – our LORD God says, “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters!” □


1) https://www.globalfirepower.com/.
2) “Religious observance in China is on the rise.” Council on Foreign Relations, Religion in China, Eleanor, A., 11 Oct. 2018; retrieved 11 May 2020.
3) Religion in Japan - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Japan. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
4) Major Religions in Russia - https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/religious-beliefs-in-modern-russia.html. Retrieved 11 May 2020.

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