“For I would that you knew what great conflict I have for you and them at Laodicea and as many as have not seen my face in the flesh.”
The journeys and experiences of this chosen vessel of Yehovah were in the very least, magnificent. His love and concern for those who gave the testimony of a good conscience before the Lord dominated his entire life as he loved his neighbour as himself. The reality of the commandment was made known unto him by the Spirit of Holiness. This revelation was observed in his daily way of life and heard in his speech. At the beginning, there were those who knew nothing of him save “that he which persecuted us in times past now preaches the faith which he once destroyed” (Gal.1:23) but now, nearing the end of his life and ministry, he was given to bring to mind those things which he suffered for the name of Jesus.
He addressed his correspondence to those whose hearts were knit together in love. These were not fair weather friends, social acquaintances or religious comrades for they were ones who had been given like precious faith by the Spirit within and who knew of the common deliverance of every child of grace. They had “all riches of the full assurance of understanding to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God and of the Father and of Christ” which came not through studies of ancient languages or daily discourses in theology. These had the knowledge and spiritual understanding of the perfect holiness of the sovereign God and the total vileness of the creature. They were the incorruptible seed of God, born from above by the Spirit of God, made partakers of flesh and blood and experiencing the trials and tribulations of the habitation of this dwelling. They were loved with the everlasting love of the eternal Father yet made subject to the vanity of this corruption in hope of the manifestation of the sons of God.
If any did not fit into this extremely limited criterion then this correspondence was intended for them. Only those who have experienced the pains of death when the Spirit enlightens them to the total corruption of man can be comforted in their sorrow. And only those who have been granted to forsake all and follow after the truth know the contradiction of the war in the members wherein they groan within themselves and it is no different today. The Spirit of God teaches His children to know the Lord by the manifestation of His love in their being. He shows them His power and majesty through His creation, He reveals the inner desire to return to the Father’s house by opening their eyes to the futility and corruption of this world and He manifests His love through His chastening hand.
These people and all who have the hope of glory within attest to the full assurance of understanding of the acknowledgement of the mystery of God because the fullness of the Godhead dwells in them and they in Him. They are one in the Father, who is the source of all life and in whom is hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, they all speak the same language, which is one of sorrow and affliction and they all look for the time when they shall put off the tabernacle of this dwelling and be manifested as being clothed upon in the fine linen, clan and white. Yet while in this habitation, these children of the Israel of our God experience the heartache of the passions and limitations of the natural man. He is weak in strength though he boasts himself to be strong; he is subservient to the course of the path that he has been given to walk even though he imagines himself setting his course and directing his steps and he has been deceived to think of himself much higher than he aught by the pride of his heart. Adam is gullible and corrupt. His resolve is unto impotence like as the grass of the field and his glory is as the flowers which fade away (I Pt. 1:24). Therefore these were in need of comfort in the troubles they were experiencing and the only ones who can comfort the brethren are those who have been through great tribulation. The God of all comfort comforts His children in all their tribulation for they are a peculiar people who have been chosen in the furnace of affliction. Here the Refiner’s fire purges away the dross and chaff while exposing the worth and the brilliance of the precious living stones within. “For this cause we do not faint but though our outward man perish, yet the inward is renewed day by day; for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding eternal weight of glory” (II Cor. 4:17).
“And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words” (2:4)
The ears of the natural man are atoned to hearing the sounds of this world. They strain to hear the softest whisper, rejoice in sounds of joy and praise and are repulsed with the reverberations of loud, tumultuous and boisterous sounds. These vibrations are interpreted by a carnal mind that has been given a very limited and constantly suspect means of interpreting the sounds and drawing conclusions from what was allegedly heard. The serpent is not what man would consider and cognitive being yet when he spoke unto Eve in the garden she not only heard him but she understood his verbiage and entered into discourse with him. She heard with her ears, understood with her mind and formulated a response all within her abilities given to her by God, thus there remains the ever present ability (or disability) in man to be deceived by what is heard and understood. Adam stood with her as she conversed with the serpent and he could not stop her from performing the part she was ordained to play nor could he refute the logic of the adversary for it was conducive to the passions of his heart.
Many examples are presented in the scriptures of the weakness of the natural man and the inability of Adam to retain and understand the things of God. The children of Israel repeatedly saw, with the naked eye, the powerful hand of Yehovah God yet they could not retain His majesty in their hearts. They saw many in the wilderness fall by the hand of God yet they continued in their rebellion against Him. Moses told them of their stubbornness and warned them, by the Word of God, “for I know your rebellion and your stiff neck. Behold while I am alive with you this day, you have been rebellious against Yehovah and how much more after my death?” (Deut. 31:27). After the death of Joshua and the elders who had witnessed the hand of God in their sight, the children of Israel did evil in the sight of Yehovah, not because God had abandoned them but because they could not retain Him in their minds neither did they desire to retain Him. Jesus told the disciples that after His death and resurrection, men would come in His name to deceive many “saying I am Anointed” (Matt. 24:5). Paul sent from Miletus to Ephesus and called the elders of the church together. He told them; “for I know this that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29). So when Paul addresses the brethren at Colosse about ‘certain men who shall deceive you with persuasive speech’ he had the testimony of the nature of man, the testimony of the scriptures and the testimony of the Spirit of God as his proof that these things would come to pass.
Man is capable of being persuaded by many things. He can be influenced by friendship and swayed by family. He can be coerced by social, economic, political and religious pressure causing him to be converted under duress. His eyes are easily distracted and his retention span fluctuates with the subjects at hand. His mind is occupied with the cares of this world and his existence and in addition to this, the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them. Such was the case when Peter’s eyes were diverted from looking upon the Master, as He walked upon the waters, to see the winds and the waves. This and many other personal experiences give just record to the lack of concern and conviction of the nature of Adam to the things of God and the ability of this corrupt being to be drawn away after the desires of this world. This is what God intended when He fashioned man from the dust of the earth, this is how man functions (after the law which I find in my members) and this is the reason Paul was given of the Spirit to instruct the elder of the churches to be alert to; ‘this I say unto you, certain men shall come to deceive by giving a false reckoning in attempt to circumvent the truth with persuasive discourses from which arguments normally follow’
Paul told Timothy to “avoid and flee from youthful desires, but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they gender to strifes” (II Tim 2:23). He instructed Titus to “avoid foolish questions and genealogies and contentions and strivings about the law for they are unprofitable and vain” (Titus 3:9). These all indicate that this is an ever present condition in the natural man and a common condition amongst the brethren of hope.
“Beware lest any man spoil you though philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ” (2:8).
Many people have been given of God to desire and enjoy extended endeavours into the world of philosophy and traditions. These are the people of the land whom God has left among the children of Israel to prove Israel (Judg. 3:1). They attempt to explain things wherein they have no knowledge through superstitions and folk lore as they present themselves as wise in their ability to unfold the mysteries of life. They are crept in unawares among the little flock to raise the curiosity of man by the agitation of the pride of the natural heart about things that they themselves know nothing about. They speak with great swelling words to draw off a following of disciples after themselves yet they have not the love of the brethren. They have been endowed by the Creator with the ability to “speak with the tongues of men and angels” yet they have not the love of the ‘fellow inhabitants of the pasture’ (neighbor).
The desire of these individuals is to ‘carry off the spoils’ or to ‘rob of the reward’ as a treasure of victory. They are given a following of prestige and honour through the plaudits of man as the earnest desire of Adam is realized in his attempts to have the preeminence and be like God. The prize they are after is the same prize that Adam sought in the garden; to be accepted of God.
The children of grace have been made accepted in the Beloved because He, being faithful above all the house, has fulfilled the Law in all righteousness. The imputed righteousness by His faith is the reason why His children have peace with God (Rms. 5:1). The Spirit causes them to walk after a new heart in the keeping of the commandment of God and they have the testimony of the finished work of Messiah. Adam lusts against the spirit because these are the attributes which he desires. Just as Adam fashioned his aprons of fig leaves and Cain brought forth the fruit of the land by the labours of his hands so now ‘certain men desire to carry off the booty and lead you captive through philosophy and traditions’.
Paul told Timothy that these things must come to pass for “the Spirit now speaks expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (I Tim. 4:1). He further stated that the practice of engaging in “foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes and the servant of the Lord must not strive” (II Tim. 2:23). To Titus he admonished; “but avoid foolish questions and genealogies and contentions and striving about the law for they are unprofitable and vain” (Tit. 3:9). And thus it is evident that the nature of man is present in the assembly while here in the habitation of this dwelling, warring and lusting against the peace and rest of the inner man; therefore the children groan within “waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Rms. 8:24).
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink or in respect of an holyday or of new moon or of Sabbath, which are a shadow of things to come; but the body of Christ” (2:16).
The infamous ‘NO MAN’, who has rejected the chief corner stone and built his house upon the sands of the earth, cannot speak the name of Yehovah, cannot number the redeemed of Israel, cannot sing the new song of the redeemed of the Lamb and cannot speak the new name of the children of Zion and unto whom the preaching of the cross is complete foolishness, is not to be the standard whereby the lone pilgrim is singled out and separated either in isolation for misconduct or in praise for adherence to the rudiments of this world. Adam is indeed well equipped to make this determination because he is of the earth and because he is “carnal sold under sin”. He fashions his opinions and standards after that which his eyes can see, his intellect can comprehend and his imagination can speculate but he has not the mind of God.
The ways of Yehovah are not his ways and the eternal thoughts of He who inhabits eternity cannot be compared with the limited and flawed cognitive abilities of the creature. Paul said that those things which he saw in the third heaven were unlawful for a man to utter. Adam has not the words to describe the beauty of the Holiness of God nor the ability to comprehend the wonders of His glory. His eyes cannot behold Yehovah God, his mind cannot retain Him for he cannot receive the things of the Spirit neither can he know them. He has not faith so he is incapable of pleasing God and since all men are liars, he has not the truth, therefore, he cannot worship God aright. Yet he presumes to stand as the one who would accept or reject the prisoner of hope based on his performance in the arena of public opinion and outward demonstration.
The thief upon the cross gave no credence to the practices of the law and therefore was esteemed a vile and worthless being by all who looked upon him, yet he was a child of grace. Judas was esteemed a disciple of Messiah even after Jesus dismissed him and dispatched him unto his duties of betraying the Son of God. The judgment and conclusions of man are incompetent at best therefore the brethren are admonished that even though certain men will attempt and strive to be the judges over you by the standard of weak and beggarly elements, yet they are not judges over who is in the Beloved; “for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rms. 14:17).
“Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind” (2:18).
Here is the wisdom of the Revelation; “let him that has understanding count the number of the beast for it is the number of a man” (13:18). When the theologies of man rear up and show themselves, they will make open manifestation of their understanding of mysteries and the unraveling of things to come. The mastering of the ancient languages entitle them to a vast expanse of speculation into those things that they have not seen and the natural man is drawn out after such chicanery. These men are given to set themselves up as role models of faith and order to be followed and emulated as they stand as ‘umpires’ over the flock. These set policy and procedures for the aesthetics of the congregation and have great concerns for the economic and social well being of the fold. They, being sons of Adam, will have the rule over their brethren rather as they forget the fatherless and the widow and oppress the stranger. They call out to all who will hear; “come see my zeal for Yehovah” and take great pride in how humble they are. They have no care for the burdens which the strangers and sojourners must bare as they promote self and they know nothing of the warfare within. These teach the propriety of presentation in a look good and feel good atmosphere and speak of vague concepts with immense vocabularies which the common man cannot understand. This sets them apart as the elite of the group and eventually establishes them as the leaders and rulers over the assembly.
Before looking about and attempting to identify these villains within the assembly rest assured that these characteristics are the same in all of Adam’s seed. The delight in the accolades of the fellow man and the praise for accomplishments is an pleasing elixir to every natural pallet. Cain desired the preeminence over Abel just as Ishmael did to Isaac and Esau did to Jacob and although they had just intents in their own minds yet they had no right in the purpose of God. The natural man seeks to have the preeminence over the inner man and to suppress him into servitude, thus “Diotrephes, who loves having the preeminence among them, did not receive us” (III John 1:9). This is why the Spirit instructed Paul to tell the elders from Ephesus that “also of your own selves shall me arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). This is why there shall many arise who call themselves “Anointed” seeking to have a following.
Paul was not warning the congregation about these men so that they could rise up themselves and fend them off but rather that they be aware of this as an inevitable event. The simplicity of the gospel, “I am God there is none other”, is contrary to the understanding of man and therefore as long as man is involved, there shall be leaven in the lump (thus the feast of Pentecost has wave loaves baken with leaven – Lev. 23:17). He cannot understand the ways of God nor can he comprehend the mind of God therefore the limitations of his corruption contends with the purity and simplicity of the love of God for His people; “lean not upon your own understanding”
“And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered and knit together, increases with the increase of God” (2:19).
The gospel of the Anointed Salvation of Yehovah God is praise unto Him for the Lord God Omnipotent reigns. His blood has been shed for the sin of His people and it cleanses them from all unrighteousness. They are the recipients of the eternal love of the Father without condition and being circumcised with the circumcision not made with hands, whereby the foreskin of their hearts have been removed in the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ, being buried with Him in the baptism of His death and burial and being raised again unto newness of life, they are one in Him as He is in the Godhead. He is the summation of all things in Him for He has created all things by Him, for Him and through Him that He might have the preeminence being the head of the body. He has supplied all the needs of the body having blessed them with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies and made them to sit together with Him in the throne of grace. They have need of nothing for they have all in Him. He manifests His power in His creation that the invisible things of God might be seen in all that He has made and he demonstrates His love to His children as He chastens them.
This is the body of Christ here in the habitation of this dwelling. This is why the children cry out to the Father because the man strives daily as he is perishing to deceive with persuasive arguments and false reckoning, carry off the reward, obtain an following of his fellow man, sits as judge over the standard of propriety and would lord over the flock as an umpire determining what is acceptable; “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I serve the law of God but with the flesh the law of sin” (Rms. 7:25).
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
March 13, 2016