The following article was written by my friend Josh Parker ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). This article is important in our battle to reclaim the Church from the impostors who have overrun it because it exposes the truth about the nature of Christian suffering as opposed to the lies form the deceivers preaching their man-focused non-gospels. I pray that you will be fed and edified as you read it. – Mike Ratliff
It is Impossible to “Cast Out” One’s Flesh
by Josh Parker
As the apostate church continues on and on oblivious to its errors, another thing which goes unnoticed or uncorrected is the error of trying to “cast out” one’s flesh (carnal nature). Unfortunately, this is common within the Word-Faith movement, and/or various other charismatic churches. Dear reader, please understand that I am not against being happy, charismatic, or prosperity. I am only against unsound Biblical teaching which can cause my brothers and sisters in Christ to stumble or fall into error. In the following letter, I will do my best to explain how the flesh (carnal nature) is not something which the believer can “cast out.” The flesh is neither a demon, nor something which God can “miracle” out of our lives. Instead, the Bible explains that our flesh is something which must be crucified through adversity, so that we can truly enter into God’s rest.
Throughout the gospels, the Bible contains several great examples of men who know that there really is a cost for following Christ. These men were refined and made whole by enduring the unfavorable and the uncomfortable. The world despised them and did not always welcome them with open arms. It is unfortunate that few (and not enough) Christians have really accepted that fact as being the truth. Because the apostate church has many deceivers in the pulpits as well as in their midst, true sound Biblical discernment has become taboo. Anyone who recognizes and discusses a problem within the apostate church can easily be misunderstood and labeled, “judgmental” and/or “uncooperative.” They may even be labeled as rebellious or unregenerate. In this document, I intend to bring an issue to light in order to expose a huge problem which can hinder the spiritual maturity which every Christian longs for.
Does Cost Free Christianity Exist?
The greatest deception in the apostate church is that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit promises everything pleasant, wealthy, easy, and comfortable. Material wealth, perfect health, high standing in the world, a trouble free life, and no sorrows seem to be that warm fuzzy lie: “Drive Thru Christianity,” which thousands flock to see on the popular TV networks. It is a doctrine which “tickles one’s ears,” and it is no doubt what the masses want to hear. My brothers and sisters, this is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, this is the apostate gospel which Jesus said would be popular, and welcomed by many in the last days.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:3-5 (KJV)
For those of you who may be offended at this, then I will post what Paul said about his experiences in following and being faithful. You will see that God never promises high standing in the world, nor that we are guaranteed heaven on earth. What the Bible does promise, is that God’s grace is sufficient to get us through difficult times. Examine the ministry of Paul below. Did God give him heaven on earth, high standing in the world, and a life without troubles?
“Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place. And labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the off scouring of all things unto this day. I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.” 1 Corinthians 4:11-14
Did you see that? Paul had a job on the side to pay for his needs. Did you see a million dollar salary, a gold plated chariot, and a mega church paying for a life of luxurious vacations? What about those 5 star meals, caviar, diamond rings, and expensive speaking engagements? Is this the gospel that you have been exposed to?
Here is some more about the cost of serving the Lord. Again, we will use Paul.
“Giving no offense in any thing, that the ministry may not be blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” 2 Corinthians 6:3-7 (KJV)
What about how the world received Jesus? Did everybody receive him with open arms, a prime time TV show, and a million dollar salary?
“And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? And many other things blasphemously spake they against him.” Luke 22:63-65 (KJV)
The Bible never teaches cost free Christianity. In fact, the Bible says that adversity (fiery trials) can be evidence that we are being molded to the image of Christ. God tries those he loves in order to work on their character. In God’s eyes, a man’s character is worth more than material wealth or worldly standing. It is God’s sovereign right to remove comfort zones in order to keep us from becoming spiritually complacent, ungrateful, or prideful. Throughout our trials, the enemy, Satan, cannot tempt anymore than God will allow. God frequently allows circumstances which we wish he would not.
“The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.” Psalms 11:5 (KJV)
And in the following verse, the scriptures will again remind us that walking with God is not always going to be easy. In fact, the scriptures show that we will understand the glory, and mature spiritually because of our experiences. God tries those he loves, because he wants them to be humble, patient, wise, broken, grateful, gentle, and understanding. It is a good thing that it is actually God (not Satan) who has the decisive upper hand on calamities. Satan, the adversary, cannot do anymore than God will allow him to.
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you. But rejoice, inasmuch ye are partaker of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (KJV)
God Gives Grace to Get Through Adversity
One of the most common arguments in regard to struggles is that God always wants to “miracle” the Christian out of unfavorable circumstances. This is definitely not always true. Instead the Bible teaches that in many cases, God frequently allows things which we wish that he wouldn’t just because it may be for our own good. In short, we are commanded to endure things when it is time to endure. Again, we will use Paul as a great example of God demonstrating his sovereignty in the suffering of Paul.
“To keep me from being conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (KJV)
Now ask yourself. Could God have removed the thorn if he had wanted? Of course, but he didn’t. Paul explains why God didn’t remove the thorn in verse 7. Paul explains that the thorn was still there to keep him from being conceited. In plain English, it was there to keep Paul from giving himself credit for the revelations, and from becoming prideful. It was also there because it helped Paul deny himself and learn to accept that God is sovereign in all affairs –whether they are bad or good. Paul certainly learned that God is not someone we can take to court when things don’t go the way we want them to. Our mighty humble Lord is a molder of men who knows how to strip men of their pride.
God is a Sword Smith
One of the best illustrations in regard to God’s sovereignty is the fact that God demonstrates his sovereignty like a sword smith. A sword smith is someone who is an expert in making swords. In the process of molding the blade, the sword smith will expose the metal blade to heat in order to create a better sword. If the metal is exposed to high temperatures for long periods of time, then the blade is more malleable. It is then easier for the sword smith to work with the metal so that he can mold it to whatever image he chooses. Without any heat, the sword cannot be molded. This principle applies to every believer in the body of Christ.
“Like a good soldier of Christ Jesus, share in the hard times with us. A soldier does not take part in things that don’t have anything to do with the army. He wants to please his commanding officer. In the same way, anyone who takes part in a sport doesn’t receive the winner’s crown unless he plays by the rules. The farmer who works hard should be the first to receive a share of the crops. “2 Timothy 2:4-6 (NIRV)
Have you ever noticed that when things get difficult, we tend to seek God with an earnest heart? The Bible says that we will find God in the valley. We will not always find him on the mountaintop. God still does his fighting in the valley. Unfortunately, the apostate gospel implies that under the blood of Christ, we will never have to experience the valley. Let us see what God says about those who are misled into the lie.
“My people have been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains; they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.” Jeremiah 50:6 (KJV)
Paul Calls the Believer to Judge Right from Wrong
In our daily experiences, we can be subjected to some really bad things in life. In this world, we will encounter things or people which we should avoid. Because this world is not perfect nor is it always that safe, God has given us the ability and the responsibility to judge right from wrong. Along with that responsibility, we must not be afraid to exercise that right: whether it is for our benefit, our protection from violent people and bad situations, or for the sake of protecting someone that we love. (Especially if we desire to stand firm, and live a life which is holy and pleasing to God!). If we exercise righteous judgment in our daily lives, then we can protect ourselves from corruption. Let us look at a few more verses, and what Paul says about exercising that right in our daily lives.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:14 -16 (KJV)
Did you know that God loves it when we judge right from wrong?
“It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.” Proverb 21:15 (KJV)
“To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” Proverb 21:3 (KJV)
It is our responsibility to decide who we associate with, and what kind of life we live. If we cannot properly discern what is just or good, then how can we guard our hearts from corruption, wickedness, dangerous people or unbiblical teaching? We cannot belong to the world and God at the same time. We are in the world, but not of it.
“Ye ask and receive not because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:3-4 (KJV)
Is the world and those around us our example, or is Jesus Christ our example?
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 (KJV)
God’s Word is there for us to put things to the test and examine them. It is not there for us to use as an extra curricular activity, nor just if we are bored and have some time to spare. It is an instruction manual for how we should interact, and how we make decisions in our daily lives.
God is calling us to come out of the world. It is our responsibility to separate ourselves from the false gospel as well. If you are a member of Word-Faith, then I want to encourage you to seek the true gospel. God is indebted to no one, and he cannot be taken to court if he doesn’t make you rich. He will give a man what is according to his will, even though your will may not always be the same as his. For this very reason, we should not always assume that what we want is always what he wants. God can (and will) deny a man of what he desires if those desires are not according to his sovereign will. In every case, God knows what is best for you more than you do, so I would not question his judgment. And even though the molding process may be uncomfortable and sometimes difficult, at least you will be more of what God wants you to be instead of what you think that you should be.
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14 (KJV)
God still blesses and redeems, no doubt. He can even surprise you out of no where. Those who know God, and have been walking with him for quite some time, know that he is also a “last minute” God. Sometimes he purposely waits to show up in the very end in difficult situations in order to strengthen our faith, teach perseverance, instill patience, and to learn respect for him. All of these are demonstrations of God’s sovereignty which must be understood in order to mature spiritually. God is certainly not a genie in a bottle who answers to men’s beck and call.
Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me. Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” Proverb 30:8-9 (KJV)