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In the Last Days

Part 1 – The End of the World

‘What is the world coming to?’ say our elders with a sigh as they look around and see how much ‘society’ has deteriorated since their day. Well, the simple answer is, ‘It’s coming to an end.’ The world is coming to an end.

The End of the World

This is a phrase which is usually relegated to being part of a trite reply to those who have experienced some mishap: ‘Oh, don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world!’ But it is soon to be the end of the world. This world – that is, all things that pertain to the realm of time – is to be brought to an end by the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ, the ushering in of the day of judgment and of eternity.

When he comes everything of this world will be burnt up with fire from heaven, yea, even the elements shall melt with fervent heat, 2 Peter 3:10-12. Nothing will remain but the great mass of humanity – every one who has ever lived – resurrected, souls reunited to their bodies, appearing before the Judge of all the earth, Revelation 20:11-15. And at last on that day every mind will be absolutely concentrated on this one stupendous fact: This is the day of judgement! The man sitting on the throne of judgment is Jesus Christ! And I know what is about to take place!

I read somewhere once that it has been estimated that over the history of mankind upwards of sixty billion – 60,000,000,000 – people have inhabited the earth, and every one of them will appear on that day – including the reader. And what is more, all their names are recorded in heaven: either on the front cover of a book in which is written everything they have ever done, said, thought, or intended to do, say or think; or their names will be found written in a book called ‘the Lamb’s book of life’, which book contains no record of their sins and iniquities, because the cover has been sprinkled with sanctifying, justifying, atoning, and cleansing blood: the blood of the Lamb of God.

Those whose names are found on the cover of their own books will then see them opened to be judged by those things written therein. And as ‘there is none righteous, no, not one’, and as ‘there is none that doeth good, no, not one’, then this judgment will be a straightforward declaration of guilt and condemnation by the Judge with an immediate dismissal into the place of punishment – the lake of fire. There will be no court case with defense lawyers, no mitigating circumstances considered – like ‘learning difficulties’, ‘diminished responsibility’, ‘disadvantaged upbringing’, and whatever else is used today to justify sin – and there will be no appeals; some will plead desperately on their own behalf, cp. Matthew 7:22, but all to no avail. No, the day of judgement for these is a day in which the Judge will announce his guilty verdict, and carry out the sentence.

Meanwhile those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will immediately be declared ‘not guilty’ – for the Judge, seeing the blood, passes over them, declaring to have no memory of their sins, Hebrews 8:12 – and ushered into the presence of the glory of God, forever to be with the Lord.

All these things godless man rejects. Scoffers who walk after their own lusts are willingly ignorant of the end of the world – and of all that pertains to it – and are quite happy to believe that time and the world will go on in perpetuity, 2 Peter 3:3-7. But who cares, and what does it matter what godless men think; these ‘wicked’ shall soon be cut off in their ignorance, pride, arrogance, folly and unbelief, Psalm 37:9-13, for God’s inspired holy scriptures tell us that the end of the world is a sure occurrence, 2 Peter 3:10-12; and as much as the unbelievers ignore it, so the children of God look for it, hope, watch and long for it; as it is the day of their ultimate salvation – in the fulness of what that means.

Carnal religious men, also, in effect, disannul any real expectation of the end of the world – at least in their own life-time – as they concentrate day by day on ‘the here and now’: on eating and drinking; buying and selling; building and planting; marrying and being given in marriage, etc., on striving to make sure that all things are secure for their lives ahead and ‘for generations to come’. But why shouldn’t the end of the world happen upon this generation? Upon our generation? Why can’t people conceive of the idea that the rising generation could be the last? Because although they may have a doctrinal assent to ‘the end of the world’, they in reality love this world, desire to live long happy lives in it, and desire also that their children be given the best possible start in life so that they too can prosper throughout their lives and, hopefully, into retirement.

But it is to be my contention in this article – and it is my expectation – that the end of the world will occur before my natural life is expected to end – and I am now in my mid fifties – and that today’s youth need not worry about pensions, etc., for it will be very surprising if they get to old age. And I will immediately give one of my reasons for saying this; which reason I believe the spiritual will not find unconvincing nor scripturally unjustifiable.

When I first wrote this article it was what the world recognised as the year 2013. But I am not persuaded from scripture that God counted it as 2013, but rather closer to the year 1984. Now, six years later, it is 2019, or 1990. Bear with me, please.

The scriptural account of the creation of the world – and therefore of the beginning of time – has been accurately dated – drawing a time-line using, among other things, the ‘begats’ of Genesis chapters 5 and 11 – to around 4,000 BC. Therefore – forgetting ‘science falsely so called’ – the world has been in existence for about 6,000 years. Now I believe that, although the six days of creation were six literal – 24-hour – days, they also point to the history of time in which God ‘works’ before ‘resting’. We are told in Genesis 2:3 of all God’s work, and nowhere in the account are we led to believe that after one day’s rest he intended to start working again. Genesis 1:31-2:3 speaks of finality regarding the work of God; he was now at rest.

So we can see this creation week as a picture or type of the whole history of the world, of time; in that ‘one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day’, 2 Peter 3:8. Now although that is a phrase which in its context is not necessarily meant to be a literal statement of actual fact, yet it is such an unusual use of language, and is such a striking phrase, that we can justifiably refer to it as a relevant truth when seeking to understand how God – who inhabits eternity – views time.

Therefore I conclude that it is not unreasonable to assert – and that without doing despite to the scriptures – that time could very well be destined to run for six thousand years before its end comes and the eternal ‘day of rest’ is ushered in. But if that is the case then how is it that we have come to 2019 and are still here? Because, as I said, I believe that we are closer to 1990 than 2019 for a counting of years, and therefore our continued existence is not surprising.

How have I come to this? The answer lies in how God reckons the counting of time. This year is counted as ‘the year of our Lord – Anno Domini – 2019’. This is because the years have been counted from the coming of Jesus Christ into the world, that is from his birth. But now it is generally accepted that the Lord was actually born at around what we would call 4BC – possibly as early as 7BC, which would make 2019 nearer to 2023 or even later. But if that is the case then how can we get back to 1990 or thereabouts? The answer lies in Exodus 12:2, which reveals how God counts.

The killing of the Passover was to be for the children of Israel ‘the beginning of months’; for it was to be the ‘salvation’ of the people of God, and the means by which they were released from bondage in Egypt. And, as far as God was concerned, this was a new thing and a new beginning for his people. It is therefore again not unreasonable to conclude that as the Passover was a figure of Christ and his death for the salvation of his people – a releasing them from the bondage of sin and from this world, and a bringing in of the new covenant in his blood – that God actually counts Anno Domini from the death of his Son and not from his birth. If that is the case then we must shorten Anno Domini by approximately thirty three years – the generally excepted duration of the life of Jesus on earth – making 2023 1990. Therefore the year two thousand is still ten years away – in what we would call 2029.

I must stress though that all these dates are approximate, there can be a margin of error of a few years either way. Therefore I am not making a prediction that, ‘The World is Going to End in 2029!’ But what I am saying – and this I will go on to prove – is that if we simply examine the testimony of scripture regarding the end of all things we must come to the conclusion that the Lord’s return, the end of the world, and the day of judgment is very near – literally; and ‘the signs of the times’ prove it.

Now it is these ‘signs’ which so many today fail to read, notice, or even look for – such is our unwillingness to have the end of the world come and spoil our plans for the future. But the signs of the times are given for us to discern the imminence of the end, and ultimately to cause us to look up when our redemption draweth nigh, Luke 21:25-28. And I believe that the day in which we live – like no other day before us – is the day when these words are at last relevant: their fulfilment being nigh. I wonder how many reading this read The Times every day but miss ‘the signs of the times’ altogether. But where else do you think the newspaper got its title but from this phrase of the Lord Jesus?

Now it is because we have been given signs ‘of the times’ – a phrase which points to a period of time rather than to a ‘day and hour’ – that we cannot and should not predict a specific date for the end of the world, Matthew 24:36; nevertheless we can say with some certainty that because there is next to nothing left to be fulfilled of Christ’s teaching regarding the state of the world before he comes, then the end must indeed be nigh. Therefore where is our ‘holy conversation and godliness’, and our ‘looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God’? Indeed, are we looking at all for ‘new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness’, or are we more or less content and even desirous to remain dwelling in ‘the world that now is’? 2 Peter 3:11-13, Philippians 3:17-21.

These things ultimately separate the children of God from those whose affection is set on the things of the earth: the inmost desires regarding the coming of the Lord Jesus. Nevertheless it is to ‘the signs of the times’ of the Lord’s coming that we will now turn.

The Signs of the Times

In Matthew chapter 16 we read of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to Jesus to tempt him in asking of him a sign from heaven. In reply Jesus rebuked them for their hypocrisy and for their blindness that, although they could discern the next day’s weather by reading the signs in the sky, yet they could not discern the signs of the times in which they lived.

Here they were, the great leaders of the Jewish religion: supposedly being the custodians of the law, the interpreters of the prophets, and the teachers of the people regarding the coming of Messiah; but when he came they missed the ‘signs’ of his coming altogether. And yet what signs there had been, and how striking it is that none of them were revealed ‘in secret’, as the following examples show:

Firstly there was the strange affair of Zacharias the priest who went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense: ‘and the whole multitude of the people were praying without – outside – at the time of incense’. But when he came out after ‘so long’ a time – much longer than they’d expected – they rightly ‘perceived that he had seen a vision’; but he couldn’t speak of it. In fact he had been told that his long-barren wife was to bear a son who would ‘make ready a people prepared for the Lord’, the very fulfilment of Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. And when it all came to pass then ‘fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judæa. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be!’ To which Zacharias immediately replied: ‘Thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins…’, Luke 1. A clear and open ‘sign’.

And then there were the shepherds. The angel of the Lord and ‘a multitude of heavenly hosts’ had appeared to them in the open countryside to declare the birth of ‘a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord’ – no mysterious riddle to unravel in that statement. And after they had gone into Bethlehem and seen the babe, we read, ‘and when they had seen, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning the child’ – that he was the Christ – ‘and all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds’, Luke 2:8-20.

Then many months – even up to two years – later, a star appeared in the heavens, and wise men came to Jerusalem to ask the then king: ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him’, Matthew 2:1-3. At which question not only was the king troubled, but ‘the whole of Jerusalem with him.’ Manifest signs.

Then there were the striking conversations the twelve year old Jesus had had with the doctors – presumably the doctors of the law: eminent men – in the temple itself at Jerusalem: ‘And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers’; not least his ‘parents’ when he spoke to them of ‘being about my Father’s business’, Luke 2:41-51. But then, verse 52, nearly two decades must pass wherein ‘Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.’

Until the time came for John the Baptist’s ‘showing unto Israel’, who appeared in the wilderness ‘preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem’, who heard him declare himself to be the voice of one crying in the wilderness who was come to prepare the way of the Lord. Therefore he said that there was one mightier than he who would come after him who, though he, John, baptised them with water, this other one would baptise them with the Holy Ghost, Mark 1. Strange message. Amazing and openly witnessed sign. But not so strange for those who had heard Zacharias’ words at the birth of his son thirty years earlier. If ever there had been a living ‘sign’ – even from his birth – it was John.

And presently there was the fulfilment of John’s testimony: Jesus’ appearing and baptism, with the testimony from heaven: ‘Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased’; not to mention ‘the Holy Ghost descending in a bodily shape like a dove upon him’, Luke 3:21,22. And what about John’s testimony of the Person of him of whom he spoke: ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world… and I bare record that this is the Son of God’, John 1:29-34. Again, all these things were done, and unequivocal testimony was given, in the open and clearly seen by all those who, like Simeon and Anna before them, ‘waited for the consolation of Israel’.

Signs? Well, just read Matthew’s gospel, even up until Jesus’ rebuke regarding ‘the signs of the times’; only the blind, or, rather, ‘a wicked and adulterous generation’ could fail to see them. And then read John’s gospel which used the actual word ‘signs’ in relation to Jesus’ appearing, miracles and doctrine: ‘this beginning of [lit.] signs did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him’, John 2:11, 4:54; ‘And many other signs truly did Jesus…’ John 20:30.

Now, as there were so many signs that accompanied Jesus’ first coming, we must not be surprised to discover that there will be many to herald his Second. Indeed, there are to be many signs – there are many signs in our day – which point to his coming again. But are we to be as blind to these signs as the religious hypocrites were to the former signs? Apparently we are. For if you start discerning the present signs of the Lord Jesus’ imminent coming, and then seek to point them out to most professing Christians, you are likely to get an incredulous rebuff – ‘Well, that’s your opinion.’ No, it’s the signs of the times! And, by the way, they play out one of the signs themselves: they slumber and sleep; have no oil in their vessels with their lamps, and are too occupied with ‘the future’ on earth to be bothered to hear what you have to say – or, rather, what the Lord Jesus had to say. But his coming will take them unawares, cp. Luke 21:29-36, because, ultimately, they love this world, though they have an outward religious lifestyle and some sort of profession of the name of ‘the Lord’: just as those blind to the first signs had.

Nevertheless it is clear that the Lord Jesus taught his disciples to look for the signs of his coming. And, yes, he confirmed to them that there would be an ‘end of the world’; for in explaining to them the parable of the sower he had said, ‘the harvest is the end of the world’, cp. Matthew 13:37-50. Therefore when he was asked by his disciples regarding ‘the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world’, he didn’t rebuke them for their fanciful notions, but immediately answered, confirming and commending their soberness of thought: ‘Take heed that no man deceive you’, Matthew 24:3,4; cp. also verses 5,11.

‘Take heed that no man deceive you’

Therefore we can see straightaway that the whole question of the end of the world can be subject to deceitful and false teaching. But the Lord Jesus, who is ‘the truth’, dismisses any doubts as to what the accumulating signs will be by teaching his disciples what to look for before ‘the end shall come’: notice in verses 6-14 the phrases, ‘but the end is not yet… these are the beginning of sorrows… he that shall endure unto the end… and then shall the end come.’

So Jesus is saying that from then on – from the time of his first coming until his second – there will be stages passed through which will be signs to the spiritual – cp. 1 Corinthians 2:14,15 – that the end is getting ever closer. At the same time the unspiritual will rise up – although religious and even professing Christians – to deceive many with their false prophesy and teaching regarding the end times (or with their lack of teaching regarding the end at all). This of course has been fulfilled to such a degree that there is now an abundance of differing interpretations regarding the whole subject of Christ’s second coming and the end of the world – all supposedly gleaned from scripture – and if one were to be aware of but half of them one must suspect that there is a great deal of falsehood and deception in it all.

Now it is not my intention to look into the various schools of thought regarding these things, but just to try and bring forward something of what the Lord Jesus and his apostles taught without any preconceived ideas of what they must have ‘meant’; and if we do that then we will each be able to examine ‘what we think’ by what the scriptures actually teach. And then, if the Lord opens our understanding to understand the scriptures, we will come into some appreciation of what the truth is.

If we look at Christ’s answer to his disciples’ queries as recorded in Matthew 24 verses 5 to 14 we will get some clear signs which are to be seen. Just read these verses through and see if you recognise in the world today anything of what the Saviour is speaking about.

Firstly he says, ‘For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many’, verse 5. Jesus says that many who come in his name – in Christ’s name – are deceivers. Therefore many ‘Christian’ teachers and preachers are false. Is this a teaching which is consistent with other scriptures and with the history of the new covenant age? It certainly is. If you read through the New Testament you will find many warnings regarding ‘false prophets’, ‘deceitful workers’, ‘false brethren’, and ‘Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven’; though they’d prophesied in his name. It is a sobering fact that the man who stands in your pulpit next Sunday morning is likely a false prophet and therefore unregenerate – and you are commanded to test that assertion for yourself and beware of him, Matthew 7:15, 1 John 4:1.

And what of these who say, ‘I am Christ’? what do they mean by that? Well, ‘Christ’ means ‘anointed’; a Christ is an anointed one. How many ‘anointed ones’ have risen up in the world and in the church – especially in the last two hundred years or so? Countless. Some say they are ‘anointed’ to preach, but are not, for Jesus only is, Luke 4:18. Others say they have had a vision or revelation from God, but have been proved false because they speak error and do not preach ‘the doctrine of Christ’, 2 John 9,10. Some say they have seen visions of angels, or of Jesus, but whose ‘revelations’ and subsequent teachings have been at variance with what the Saviour himself taught.

And then there are those who have called men unto themselves ‘in the desert’, or ‘in the secret chambers’: i.e. apart from the rest: in communes, or perhaps in secret or closed societies where only ‘the chosen ones’ or the ‘initiates’ gather to learn ‘the secret doctrine’. These false Christs might also have attracted their followers with ‘great signs and wonders’, such great works and words apparently so similar to Christ’s doctrine and teaching – with pretty similar affects in those who hear – that even the very elect are in danger of being drawn in and deceived. But the true Christ says, ‘go not forth’ unto them and ‘believe them not, Matthew 24:24-26.

Again, many have come into or out from the midst of the professing church with doctrines which, upon honest interpretation of scripture, are shown to have no foundation in the apostles’ doctrine. Men have risen up to be some great one in the church – in Christ’s name – which have drawn men away after them, and away from the singleness which is in Christ. How many sects, churches and denominations have appeared which in some point or another have deviated from the one true gospel; from the narrow way; from the way of the cross; from the way of faith, into works, or law and bondage, into cunningly devised fables and the traditions of men? Many. Therefore the developers of these sects and propounders of these doctrines who come in the name of Christ must be false.

And how ‘many’ are led astray by it all! Said Jesus, ‘and shall deceive many’. Just look at the most popular types of churches today. In some places and under certain ministries literally hundreds, or even thousands of people gather. And it is more or less a universal verity that the most popular churches in any given town are the modern evangelical type – the bright and breezy, praise and worship type; with their modern Bibles – each one ‘corruptible seed’ – slick contemporary ministries, and plenty going on to feed the flesh; but if you examine the doctrine taught in these places – if any doctrine is taught – you will soon find a great departure from the doctrine of Christ: Arminianism in one form or another underpins them all.

Witness the charismatics, and the faith healers; move to the beat of the bands, the music groups and the modern worship songs: all fleshly religion and very popular with the ‘many’. Observe the adherents to programmes like the Alpha Course, and just see how wayward these places are in their doctrine. But all in the name of Jesus! Unconvinced? When the Alpha Course first came out its own newspaper blatantly and repeatedly described Alpha as ‘Fun and unthreatening, just like our Lord himself!’ The question doesn’t really need asking: Which Lord? 1 Corinthians 8:5.

But then there is another type of ministry to be wary of. The apostle John warns of those who, although they may come preaching many things which seem to be broadly in accordance with the truth of the gospel: using many scriptural words and phrases; nevertheless they very subtly leave out vital truths in their preaching. In 2 John 7 we read that ‘many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.’ Then there are those who ‘abide not in the doctrine of Christ’, verse 9; and who ‘bring not this doctrine’, verse 10. See how subtle these things are? It’s not what these people say as such, it’s what they don’t say. These ministers’ failure to declare the whole of the doctrine is then called by John ‘evil deeds’; so ‘…receive them not…’ commands the apostle.

Just to be clear: there are many preachers who say many things in the name of Jesus, expounding the scriptures seemingly thoroughly, and even systematically, and yet all the while are imperceptibly side-stepping ‘the doctrine of Christ’. Just go down to your local church, chapel or fellowship and sit under its ministry for the next six months and see if it be not so. (No, don’t; I would spare you that.)

In this category also can be included specialist ‘ministries’ – groups or organisations which have been formed to propagate certain aspects of biblical truth – like Creationist ministries, or Bible Societies, for example; who, although professedly Bible-believing – and even AV-upholding – concentrate so much on their chosen topic that their preaching of the gospel leaves much to be desired; they ‘bring not’ the doctrine of Christ.

The Lord Jesus didn’t begin his reply to his disciples’ questions, then, in an arbitrary manner; immediately he said, ‘Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.’ And it has come to pass; and the many do not take heed.

Signs aplenty

Secondly, the Lord teaches that before his coming again, ‘ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars’, verse 6. That is, there will be actual wars, and you will hear of the threat of wars. One of the great ploys of power seekers is to create circumstances in which the masses either fear war unless drastic measures are taken – usually involving the surrender of sovereignty or ‘liberties’: a rumour of war; or have actually manipulated wars into being so that a new ‘order’ can arise out of the devastation to secure ‘lasting peace’ – the old order necessarily being swept away forever.

Of course we are well aware of the history of this world over the last two hundred years or so to see the fulfilment of this sign. It is interesting also to note that, although the Lord Jesus specifically uses the word ‘war’, which literally means, ‘much destruction’, modern man – inspired no doubt by the prince of the power of the air, who hates the word of the Lord – has substituted that word with many similes: so now we hear of ‘hostilities’, ‘troubles’, ‘conflicts’, ‘campaigns’, etc.; but call them what you will, they are still what Jesus called them: ‘wars’, and they each fulfil his words.

I once heard someone say that there had been only one day in the whole of the Twentieth Century in which there had not been at least one war going on somewhere in the world. Now whether that was literally true or not, nevertheless ‘see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet come.’ No, nation must rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. As long as there are men in the world who lust after power, or for an overturning of the established order – whether they be known to the general population or not – there will always be a stirring up of strife: agitation; whether it be locally, regionally, or even at times internationally.

Then Jesus teaches that the world will also experience natural troubles as well as manmade ones: ‘and there shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places’, verse 7. But wait, are famines and pestilences natural occurrences? What is a famine? It is lack of food. But is there not enough food in the world to feed everyone? Apparently there is. I once heard that Britain scrapes eighty million tons of food off its collective dinner plates every year. No, famines are man made; droughts, which can cause local famines, are sent by God.

But as Jesus’ words are first and foremost spiritual then famines must be seen in the sense of famines ‘of hearing the words of the Lord’, Amos 8:11. The Lord seems rarely to be speaking in our day; there are many Bibles, much religion, some preaching, an abundance of worship and fellowship, but little hearing. Perhaps never more than in our day is it true that the vast majority of professing Christendom has a name to live, but is dead. It is the worst famine God can send upon a people – silence from heaven. But then what can you expect when countless men who preach today preach – at best – in word only, having received nothing by revelation of Jesus Christ? That almost to a man they preach only what they have learned from ‘flesh and blood’ and not that which they have received by revelation from the Father in heaven. So it is no wonder that true hearing has all but vanished.

And what of pestilences. This is a word which can be used to apply to many things. Pestilences can be plagues which God sends, or diseases which arise from man’s sinful activity – or as deliberately introduced into a population. And then what a pestilence false doctrine is! What spiritual destruction ‘another gospel’, ‘another Jesus’, and ‘another spirit’ brings. Nevertheless they must all come about before the end. But although there be earthquakes in divers places – again prevalent in our day – the end is not yet, for ‘all these are [just] the beginning of sorrows’, Matthew 24:8.

Next the Lord Jesus turns his attention away from signs which can, on one level, be seen in the world at large, to speak of the signs that will be seen specifically among his disciples. Verse nine reads, ‘Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.’ The former part of this verse has seen its fulfilment throughout the gospel age: ‘you’, God’s people, have consistently been delivered up, afflicted and killed by the world, especially when overtly godless regimes have held sway – or when the Lord has been doing a mighty work in the earth. Just read Foxe’s ‘Book of Martyrs’. Consider the plight of the reformers and of their brethren and sisters in the reigns of Henry VIII and Mary Tudor – that is, around the time of William Tyndale. How many of the Lord’s people have been put to death under fundamentalist religious governments and secular dictatorships.

But the second part of the verse, ‘and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake’, has not come to pass as yet. Why? Simply because there are still many countries in this world where God’s people are not officially hated by the authorities, and are not as yet being delivered up and afflicted. The time will come when the true children of God will find safety nowhere on earth – among all nations – but the time is not yet. That will be a time when ‘all nations’ will be under some sort of world governing authority, it is forming as we speak, but is not yet fully realised. But more on that later.

It will, of course, be the true children of God that will be hated of all nations, not the false professors. When the time of great world-wide tribulation comes – when all nations will be officially anti-Christian – ‘then shall many’ who now profess Christ ‘be offended, and shall betray one another’ into the hands of the authorities, ‘and shall hate one another’, verse 10. After all, Jesus did say ‘that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service’, John 16:1-3; so these are ‘Christian’ persecutors not secular: but ‘twas ever thus; for Jesus’ greatest enemies were ‘the elders and chief priests and scribes’, cp. Matthew 16:21.

But these worldly conforming ‘Christians’ will not have ceased their profession of Christ; no, they will have imbibed a very much watered down version of his teachings which will have removed all semblance of dogmatism, doctrinal absolutes, or any hint of ‘fundamentalism’ or ‘bigotry’. Why? Because ‘many false prophets shall rise’ – many: a great hoard of them in the churches – ‘and shall deceive many’, verse 11. Many for the many. These false prophets will, by their teaching, adapt the Christian profession into something which can still be practised ‘in the modern world’ without any danger of persecution, affliction or hatred from ‘all nations’. I wonder if the reader can see the seeds of this in the churches already – more than seeds though.

The result of all this – for be assured that the many will, and do, quite happily imbibe this new worldly form of Christianity – will be that ‘the love of many shall wax cold’, verse 12. The love of many regarding what shall wax cold? Regarding the love of the truth; the love of God’s revealed will; the love of the gospel of Christ; the love of the doctrine of the gospel; the love of the strait gate and the narrow way – the way of the cross; the love of the brethren. And what does the Lord Jesus call all this? ‘Iniquity’, verse 12. To hear false prophets, to embrace and believe error, to imbibe the spirit of worldliness in the churches, to save one’s skin under the threat of persecution, to shun the ‘suffering the loss of all things for Christ’, to turn the back on the truth of the gospel, to avoid the offence of the cross, to love and keep one’s life, is called by Christ ‘abounding iniquity’. And it is ‘because iniquity shall abound’ that ‘the love of many shall wax cold’, and by implication die altogether. Yes, many apostates are to be revealed in the last days.

But not all will turn away, for Jesus says that some will endure unto the end, verse 13: ‘But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.’ Notice here how the Saviour does not say ‘but they that shall endure’, but ‘he’ that shall endure. In comparison to the many who will fall away, only a small minority – mere individuals – will endure; that is, they will endure unto death – probably at the hands of their persecutors – or they will endure right the way through the great tribulation until the coming of the Lord – ‘those that are alive and remain’. Again, this is a common thread of teaching running throughout the whole of scripture: ‘few there be that find it.’

One final thing must be fulfilled before the end. Says Jesus, ‘And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come’, verse 14 – again, the end shall come. As long as there are elect souls being born into this world who are to be called by the grace of God under the sound of the gospel, the world will continue. But as soon as the gospel of the kingdom, as preached, has reached the last soul to be brought to a knowledge of salvation under its sound then the end will come. In fact, when all other signs have been fulfilled, and can be readily observed by the spiritual, this one last sign will still be working until that very last soul is called, leaving no other reason for the world and time to continue. Contrary to popular belief this world does only continue for the calling of the elect. Yes, as with the world, worldly Christians will have their eyes fixed on the future in time, and on all the things they are about to do, enjoy or achieve for themselves or ‘for the Lord’, until the day arrives wherein somewhere, in some quiet corner, the Spirit of God applies the salvation of Christ to the very last soul for whom Christ died, and then the world will end.

Now, reader, can you see why everything outside a seeking the salvation of your soul is ultimately vanity and lies ?

Part 2 – One mind

Conspiracy

I want now to introduce a thought which will prepare us for the sign to be revealed in the next section, after which we will conclude with looking at what the world will be like immediately before, and even on the very day of Christ’s coming.

How often do we hear of ‘conspiracy theories’? Conspiracy theories abound regarding evil men in high places plotting to take over the government of a nation, or even of the world, and subjugate the general population under their rule. Of course the deniers of these always refer to them in such a way as to make us think they are far fetched: warranting only our disbelief or amusement.

But can these things be dismissed so lightly when not only history – ‘Remember, remember the Fifth of November’? – but the scriptures themselves are so full of acts of conspiracy? I believe that if we look at the basic principles, and investigate the origins and ultimate purpose of conspiracy, then we will suddenly become very sober minded as we begin to see the world in which we live, and the events which shape it, in rather a different light. We introduce this thought in preparation for looking at Revelation 17; where we read that before the end of time all the world will come into ‘one mind’; therefore there must be movers ‘behind the scenes’ working hard to bring this about – in other words, someone has to be conspiring.

To conspire is to plot and plan, and as it is usually done in a malign rather than a benign way, then the conspiracy is usually carried out against something or someone. To conspire is to work in secret, covertly: it carries with it the desire to undermine, defame, weaken, overcome or destroy a person, authority, or longstanding system. Conspirators seek to deceive, confuse and divide so that they can conquer.

But from whence cometh conspiracy – ultimately? Well, the author of conspiracy is Satan himself: Jesus said, ‘I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven’, Luke 10:18. And why had Satan been cast out from heaven? Because he had conspired in his heart to be as God: ‘I will ascend… I will ascend… I will be like the most High’, Isaiah 14:13-15. But he was cast out. And then what did he do? He conspired to destroy God’s newly formed creation and to cause the fall of those created in His image: ‘Yea, hath God said?… Ye shall not surely die… Ye shall be as gods’, Genesis 3:1-4. Conspiracy? Yes indeed: ‘the serpent was subtle.’

There you have the origin of all real conspiracy. And do you think it ended there? Consider the following words from the gospels: ‘And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against [Jesus], how they might destroy him.’ ‘Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.’ ‘Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude’, Luke 22:3-6. That last passage especially is riddled with the language of conspiracy, and reveals from whence conspiracy ultimately comes.

We are told of the evil one that he is called ‘the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience’, Ephesians 2:2. If you are not a child of God then you are indwelt – possessed – of Satan who constantly works in you – conspires – to cause you to rebel against God, his commandments, his will, his Son, and his gospel. He beguiles you, seduces you, and tempts you away from the truth, the light and the right way with the sole purpose of destroying your soul. Just look again at Genesis chapter 3. He is doing nothing different in you than he was doing to Eve in the Garden. All he did was to point her to the fruit of the forbidden tree – a picture of this world. After she and her husband had fallen her own testimony to the LORD God was that ‘the serpent beguiled me’: lit. ‘caused me to forget’. The serpent conspired against the woman, and therefore against the man, and therefore against God. And this, in essence, remains all of his work. Indeed, ‘Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time’, Revelation 12; and he is deceiving the nations to this day, Revelation 20:8.

Some might protest here that Satan doesn’t possess people today. Surely that is an idea from the dark ages of superstition (Jesus’ day?); surely we live in more enlightened times now. And yet the opposite is true. We live in as dark a day as has ever been, and all man’s ‘enlightenment’ is just so much benightedness. Why? Because the outworking of the conspiracy is in full flow now. Paul says that ‘the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them’, 2 Corinthians 4:4. These are ‘the lost’, but if you ask them regarding their state they would deny that designation of themselves. Why? Because they are being conspired against; are having ‘the wool pulled over their eyes’ regarding the truth of their actual state. Jesus referred to such as ‘fools and blind’. Duped.

As to my assertion that people are possessed today: this would be revealed just as much as it was in Jesus’ and the apostles’ day if there were men with something like the same calling and the same Spirit as they, preaching the true gospel with the same power; then you’d soon see who were truly ‘the Lord’s’, and who were possessed with demons – and that would be just inside the churches, let alone without!

Now do you still smile ‘knowingly’ at the idea of conspiracy? With this in mind we can now consider one of the major fruits of Satan’s conspiracy against man in the last days.

Revelation 17

In Revelation 17 there is a sign of the end of the world which is appearing even as we speak, and is, I believe, one of the key signs in these last days: that of the rise of ‘one mind’ upon the earth.

But first we must look at the immediate context. In this chapter we read of a woman: she is described as ‘the great whore that sitteth on many waters: with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.’ And why not? For the word ‘whore’ – or harlot – just means ‘fornicator’; one to whom others ‘sell’ themselves – the word in the original being that from which we get the word ‘pornography.’ As to the ‘many waters’, they are the inhabitants of the earth: ‘peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues’, verse 15.

Therefore this great whore can be seen as the seducing spirit of the world, which extends its range over the whole earth, and exercises its intoxicating power upon all the peoples of the earth, both high and low, rich and poor. Whether they be kings or commoners, all sell themselves to her charms, and none of us can escape our natural desire to do so. And what is so seductive to the inhabitants of the world? Why, Lust. And Pride. The apostle John wrote elsewhere of ‘all that is in the world’; and what is that? ‘The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life’, 1 John 2:15. This is what the great whore stirs up and encourages in the hearts of men and they are quite happy to make themselves drunk with the wine of this, her fornication.

What is it to be drunk? It is to lose control of the natural senses, of reason and soberness: it is to be intoxicated to such a degree that one cannot think properly, is not too alert, and so is in danger of being overcome or even arrested by one stronger than he, and in more control of their reasoning. Thus to be drunk – to be seduced – is to be in danger from the wiles of an enemy, or from an unexpected calamity. We have seen that in the Garden of Eden Eve was ‘beguiled’ by the serpent to forget the commandment of God. In Luke 21:34 Jesus warns his disciples to take heed to themselves, ‘lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life’, so that the end of the world would not come upon them unawares.

Surfeiting and drunkenness here is descriptive of indulgence; or, to use a crude modern expression, of being absolutely stuffed. And what is the worldling but one who is filled to the brim with the love of this world? Consider how the average worldling spends most of his ‘spare time’. Who do you think is behind today’s mass entertainment and instant access technological gadgetry? It certainly is not the Spirit of God. The root of the word entertain is ‘to hold’, and certainly when one is being entertained, through whatever medium, one is definitely being held captive in the moment. Likewise amusement – which is a key element of entertainment – means to be diverted from serious consideration: to stare almost mindlessly so as to be transfixed upon whatever the trifle might be. I think of this word as meaning ‘without thinking’ – a-muse: not musing. But whatever the true definition, the result of entertainment and amusement is that the person is not thinking of the things of God, of eternity, of the judgment to come, of the safety of his own soul. Therefore we can tell who the author of these seductions is.

Yes, this is the work of the great seductress: the great whore: to fill the soul with so much of this world that it has no time to consider or prepare for its latter end. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: ‘Ye cannot serve God and mammon.’ Mammon is everything that this woman will dangle before your lusts and desires to keep you from serving the true and living God, and from redeeming the time in these evil days: and you will serve mammon totally and absolutely, because its wine is addictive: captivating you completely. Thus a description of the world, the way of the world, and the things of the world.

But don’t think that it is just the common people who fornicate with the great whore; no, it is ‘the kings of the earth’ as well. These are ‘the powers that be’; not only what we would today call monarchs – who have much more power than is generally percieved, but any rulers or leaders; anyone in a position of authority who has spared no cost to get where they are. In other words, the ambitious – sometimes fiendishly so, the career-minded, successful ladder-climbers who must attain to the top positions, for power’s sake, for notoriety or for wealth. And how else can one attain to such heights in the world except one ‘sells his soul to the devil’, so to speak. These are the ‘kings’ of the earth. The here-and-now is everything to them and they will do ‘whatever it takes’ to get to the top.

[Now if the reader has the inclination, the time and the interest to investigate what is loosely called the ‘New Age’ movement, secret societies and the doctrines of Gnosticism, then you will soon realise how totally and pervasively this ‘prince of the power of the air’ – the spirit of the great whore – has been working in the children of disobedience at the very highest levels of our society; and that for many centuries now: in politics, business, education, the media, publishing, and even in the ‘entertainment’ industry. And it will not take you long to realise that ‘all is not what it seems’ in the world.]

Which brings us back to the woman. Next she is seen as one that sits ‘upon a scarlet coloured beast’; which beast is ‘full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: and upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.’

We are then told that she is ‘drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.’ Therefore as well as being the seducing spirit of the world and the lover of kings and nations, she is portrayed as delighting specifically in the bloodletting of the saints. And no wonder, for only they resist her charms and denounce her way of life.

Of the beast, upon which the woman sits, we are told that he ‘was, and is not [at the time of the vision], and yet is [to come].’ Thus he has had power, had no power at that moment, but was due to have power again. We read that he ‘shall ascend out of the bottomless pit’. In chapter 20 we discover Satan bound for a thousand years as a result of Christ’s work upon the cross and the bringing in of the gospel – ‘and is not’ – being at the end of that period ‘loosed out of his prison.’ After that he has power – ‘and yet is’ – to ‘go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth… to gather them together to battle… and compass the camp of the saints.’ Back in chapter 17 we see that the beast is given his power by ‘ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.’ And then we read that ‘these have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.’ Then these, just as Satan in chapter 20, ‘shall make war with the Lamb.’

Among other details in this chapter we see that the great whore will finally be opposed and made desolate, and naked, and be destroyed by the ten kings – the ten horns – before they in turn finally give their kingdom unto the beast, with whom they will reign for ‘one hour’; i.e. for a relatively short period of time, Revelation 17:11-13.

Now what is the meaning and conclusion of these things? It is this. Towards the end of the world there will be what these people will like to call a ‘new world order’ appearing on the earth, encapsulating a spirit which reigns over and in all the ‘kings’ of the earth, generating ‘one mind’ among them, and consequently among all those over whom they reign: all except those whose names were written in the book of life from the foundation of the world. This new order will have replaced the old one – although godless in itself, pictured here as the great whore – being even more evil in its nature; for it will be the time when ‘that Wicked is revealed… whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs [yes, he has signs, too] and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish’, cp. 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12. And, of course, this will be the time of ‘great tribulation’ for the people of God – yea, ‘such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be’, Matthew 24:21 – for the whole earth will be ruled by this Wicked.

This again answers to the loosening of Satan in Revelation 20 to ‘go out to deceive’ all the nations on the face of the earth and ‘to gather them together to battle’ against the saints and their beloved city – Jerusalem which is above: the church; for you must remember that this is spiritual warfare not carnal. For all this to happen the hand of the Lord will have been apparently ‘taken out of the way’, as if loosening his restraint on wickedness, to carry out his ultimate purpose of ‘destroying the Wicked with the brightness of his coming, consuming him with the spirit of his mouth, and devouring him and them with fire from God out of heaven.’

Thus the testimony of scripture is that ‘in one day’ Babylon will fall, Revelation 18:8, and in one hour of that ‘day’ will that Wicked reign in and with ‘the kings of the earth’, before all will be brought to a quick and sudden destruction by the coming of the Saviour at the end of the world. I would encourage the reader to look up the references and seek a knowledge of these truths for yourself. I don’t pretend to have full light on every detail of these apocalyptic writings, I am just trying to extricate the principles from them in order that we might be sober and ready for when these things begin to come about: well, they are happening already, if only we would see it. 2 Thessalonians 2, Revelation 17-21.

One Mind

But we must investigate this ‘one mind’ spoken of in Revelation 17:13, for this we can easily observe forming in the world today. Obviously this ‘mind’ is a totally godless mind, one that is opposed completely to the true and living God and his truth, opposed to his Christ and to his people, opposed to the very principle of righteousness, and to the glorious gospel of the blessed God. That is the fundamental nature of this ‘one mind’.

Of course this mind has always been abroad in this world, but just before the end it will be total, and rampant, and settled among the inhabitants of the earth, and therefore there will be nowhere on earth where it is not openly manifest. Furthermore, this mind will be ‘official’ policy: it will be written into ‘the constitution of the world’. At the head of this new world mentality will be one who has risen up to oversee, administer, and indeed, have the overarching power and authority to execute the dictates and consequences of this ‘one mind’; well, the people of the earth and their ‘kings’ will demand it, for it is the way they already think, and so he will have the world-wide liberty to do it. In the light of this, of course, we can see how there will be no safe haven on earth for those who possess ‘the mind of Christ’. Here will have come to pass Jesus’ words, ‘…ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.’

But how can such a mind be brought about over the inhabitants of all the earth? Surely with all our different cultures and languages it would be impossible to cause everyone to think in the same way! Well, let’s think about it. Consider the heart of man. Regardless of culture or language the universal verity is that ‘the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked’, there being ‘none’ by nature ‘righteous, no, not one’. Furthermore, the prince of the power of the air is said to work in the children of disobedience: they being all those outside of Christ; therefore it is not difficult to see how the whole of humanity alive on earth at the end of the world could be manipulated into having ‘one mind’ regarding wickedness. Anyone today with the eyes to see, and with the spirit of discernment, will be able to conclude with me that this time is indeed upon us, and that, therefore, at long last, the end of all things is at hand.

So how is a ‘one world-wide mind’ being brought about? Well, first of all we must remember that it is primarily the ‘ten kings of the earth’ which possess this one mind. In other words the unity of wicked thought is first and foremost to be manifest among the rulers of the earth. But these rulers are not primarily our elected politicians, but are the real powerbrokers behind the scenes who finance and support, organise and control those who rise to power in the nations. This is why I have written elsewhere against ‘democracy’ as a valid and ‘free’ system by which nations should be governed – because the people you vote for are not the real ‘powers that be’, they only give the impression of ruling.

So to rise to any great position in ‘the world’, any candidate must conform to ‘the way of the world’ and its mentality, and therefore to the diktats and agenda of those powers. In the very last days you will have to imbibe this ‘one mind’ of absolute antichrist which will infuse all the kings’ way of thinking, and there have been systems and organisations set up from centuries past which, under Satan, have been working to this end.

In the last two hundred years or so there have been many singular events and changes in societies which have left them irreversibly different from what they were before. Consider the various Revolutions which occurred in America, France, and Russia; think also of all the monarchies which have fallen: where the ‘natural rulers’ have been replaced with ‘democracies’. And consider how the world was irreparably changed during the Twentieth Century by two World Wars. Consider things like the advent of the theory of Evolution as an explanation of how mankind came into being; and how that the Scriptures were grievously undermined in the 1880s with the appearance of the Revised Version based upon a corrupted Greek text of the New Testament.

If these two latter events in themselves do not declare, ‘Yea, hath God said?’ then I don’t know what does. What an undermining of the truth of God they have been. But these have all just been the fruits of the wicked plans of men behind the scenes. For it is a fact that since the Eighteenth Century there has been a concerted effort to bring back to the fore the Ancient Mystery Religion of Babylon – where all the earth was of one tongue. And what was that religion? Man becoming God! ‘Let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name…’, Genesis 11:1-9.

The underlying doctrine of this religion was, and still is, Gnosticism: the gaining of secret ‘knowledge’: that knowledge which, for the few who receive it, promises to bring Wisdom and Power. But it is all based on an inversion of the truth as it was from the beginning of the creation; for it teaches that the serpent actually set man free in the Garden of Eden, in his saying that he could eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: after all, they say, weren’t their eyes opened? But set free from what? They teach that Jehovah had bound man in ignorance with His prohibition, but that Lucifer, the bringer of light – hence ‘the enlightened or illumined ones’, as they like to call themselves – liberated man from the ‘evil’ clutches of Jehovah, enabling him to walk in the light of understanding of good and evil. And from this early liberation man began his ‘evolution’ upwards to eventual godhood – ‘Ye shall be as gods.’ Therefore according to Gnostic doctrine it is Lucifer who is to be worshipped as the great liberator of mankind, not Jehovah. And as for the Lord Jesus in their doctrine; well, as man was now illuminated, and well on his way to achieving godhood because of his breaking the shackles of Jehovah’s commandment, then Jesus’ coming to ‘save’ was pointless, for ultimately ‘man shall not surely die’!

Hence the new age belief in things like reincarnation, karma, and nirvana; embracing pantheism, evolution and humanism. All these beliefs disregard the true and living God, raise man up as being his own god, and introduce the ancient hope that man will eventually ascend to immortality – without the need of Christ’s salvation. Well, if man is becoming God then the whole idea of him being a sinner and in sin is completely rejected.

As I said before, this mentality can clearly be seen to have permeated every strand of society today: so from banking to government; business and the media; from the education system to the whole spectrum of the entertainment industry; the occultic doctrines of Gnosticism have infused the way of thinking.

Now if there are some readers who think this is all a bit far fetched, and hard to believe, then let us just ponder again the scriptural teaching regarding the binding and loosening of Satan as recorded in Revelation 20. We have seen that Satan was ‘bound’ at the cross: ‘how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his goods’, Matthew 12:29. He was bound for ‘a thousand years’ in the bottomless pit, shut up, and with a seal set upon him: ‘now is the prince of this world cast out’, John 12:31. The result of this was that ‘he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled’; after which he would be loosed a little season.

Now the reason for his binding is significant. When bound he could not deceive the nations – the world. Christ’s death upon the cross, with his subsequent resurrection, ascension, seating on the right hand of God, and sending of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, was a great binding of Satan so that the gospel of salvation by Jesus Christ alone – and by faith in his blood – could be preached ‘in all the world’ – among all nations. Before the coming of Christ, God had only had dealings with Israel: they were his Old Covenant people, but now in the gospel New Covenant dispensation the Gentiles too were to be brought in. But before then the nations of the world were in darkness, shut up to any knowledge of the true and living God: indeed, without hope and without God in the world. And why was that? Well, Satan obviously ruled in and deceived those nations; but now in the gospel day he has been bound so that he should deceive these nations no more till the thousand years be fulfilled. So his binding by Christ at the cross was to enable the gospel to have free course in the world. And it has come to pass. Gentiles have been called by the grace of God: salvation has come into all the world – among every tribe, nation and tongue.

But look again at that word ‘fulfilled’: the thousand years must be fulfilled. This indicates the completion of a purpose rather than a literal one thousand year period coming to an end on a certain date. This is the book of Revelation after all. The number one thousand is a number of completeness, of fulfilment; so when it is God’s time to release Satan from the bottomless pit after a certain plan has been fulfilled, he will. Then will come to pass the fruits of Satan’s release, the deceiving of the nations again and a gathering of them together against the Lord and against his anointed: Christ and his people. And if you cannot see this happening in our world today, like never before, then you are failing to exercise any spiritual discernment regarding ‘the signs of the times’ in which you live.

The thousand years of Revelation 20 have been and gone. Satan is let loose already and is raging against Christ and his people by bringing about this one-world mentality of godlessness and antichrist. Just look at the media, the education system, scientific doctrine, the modern mentality in our liberal, pluralistic, socialist, ‘tolerant’ age, and see if it is not antichristian in its very nature.

This assertion is easily proved when we consider some of the particulars of this ‘one mind’ which have become plain for all to see – if we will see. Just see how the world has changed even in the last twenty years, as well as in the last two hundred. We have already hinted at the devastation of the ‘old’ ways of thinking which Darwin’s theory of evolution has wrought; and the undermining of the Scriptures which the Revised Version – and all subsequent versions – brought in. I believe these were some of the first fruits of the loosening of Satan out of the bottomless pit. Let us be clear: there is no new thing under the sun. When Satan was cast out of heaven in the first place and was found ‘loose’ upon the earth, what was the first thing he did? He went to man and said, ‘Yea, hath God said?’ and there is no reason to believe that he didn’t do exactly the same thing immediately he was loosed out of the pit: he again attacked the authority of the word of God. What confusion all these modern versions of the scriptures have brought. What an undermining of the truth of man’s origins – and all that pertains to it – evolution has caused. Both are sure signs that Satan was loosed sometime in the middle of what we call ‘the nineteenth century’.

But this was only the beginning. Think of all the cults that arose around the same period: just about all the established cults in our world today, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons, Christadelphians, Spiritism, Christian Science, Theosophy, etc., can trace their origins to that century. And there are a multitude of others which have come in since: not least the ‘new age’ movement. But if you care to look into these things you will find that there are three fundamental beliefs which underpin them all – although they may be manifest in different ways in each: and they are these: ‘Yea, hath God said?’ ‘Ye shall not surely die.’ ‘Ye shall be as gods.’ And these three ancient lies have not failed to seep into the professing Christian church either, as it has progressively abandoned the purity of the doctrine of the gospel of Christ in favour of any number of ‘other’ gospels which, of course, are no gospels at all.

But look at the world today and see how this ‘one mind’ is developing. How to bring it about? One way to produce a unification of thought among the inhabitants of the earth – which will cross boundaries, languages and cultures – is to create a common ‘enemy’ – a global enemy – and fear of that enemy (cp. Luke 21:25,26), which has no hope of being defeated unless the world comes together to fight it. Enter ‘man-made global warming’ and the supposed danger to the environment by climate change: ‘If we don’t do something drastic we will destroy the planet!’ What a great excuse, by the way, for the governing authorities to burden their people further by introducing all manner of ‘carbon taxes’!

Enter also the ‘War on Terror’; such a vague term which can be used – and will increasingly be used – to justify any authority’s suppression of just about any ‘uprising’ among ‘the people’ (remember, democracy is a lie), regardless of its validity. Think of the world-wide monetary crisis, and the problems associated with global debt and the tax evasion tricks of an increasing number of multinational companies. Unless we all ‘come together’ we will never overcome these problems which threaten us all.

And what about the created fear surrounding things like disease, super-bugs, and drug resistant strains of viruses. All these things are subtly designed to cause people to think and then to act globally rather than in their own locality; which will in some way or another mean that they have to give up something of their liberties, and nations their sovereignty, ‘for the greater cause of world peace, safety’ or whatever else. How many times have we heard the phrase ‘Global problems need global solutions’ punctuate these things. But they are all ultimately designed to bring about ‘one mind’.

And then there are other things that encourage a global mentality. Just look at the ‘International Network’ – internet – the ‘World Wide Web’ – www. – a ‘web’ and a ‘net’ which covers the whole earth. Why do you think the powers that be are so alarmed to hear that there are still about thirty percent of households in this country which are still not ‘on-line’? And why are they doing all they can to maximise the opportunities for all to be connected, by bringing in total coverage of super-fast broadband, etc.? Because when all are on-line then all will be in the system, all will be able to be contacted, ‘informed’ and monitored: what a great tool for any future totalitarian regime! What? That sounds a bit Orwellian, you say. Of course! Wake up! ‘They shall all have one mind.’ Globalism and universality are the order of the day.

Which leads on to the political state of things. Well of course all the leading politicians are involved in bringing this about. See if you can find one major democratic country on the earth whose political leaders are not fully attuned to and compliant with the promotion of the above things. Why, it just wouldn’t be ‘politically correct’ to argue otherwise! Have you ever wondered why some of our politicians, before they get into power, seem so genuine and full of good intentions, and why they say they want to do the right thing by the people; but when they do get into office they suddenly change their tune, go back on their promises and become more globally-minded? Now you know why. There are ‘powers that be’ behind the scenes: long established systems in place, and there are carefully planned agendas to be carried out, to which each passing generation of elected leaders must conform. Yes, there is a great spirit abroad upon the earth to bring the minds of men and nations together on these issues, and woe betide any ambitious politician who seeks to swim against the tide.

Do you find this hard to accept? Let me give the illustration of the way of the world and of our political system as being a huge ocean-going liner sailing into the sunset: the course is set by the ‘captain’, and there is to be no deviation. But on board ship there is a hive of activity. The people of the world have formed themselves into many different groups and parties; have formed various systems and processes by which to govern themselves, many of which are markedly different from others on the ship. Nevertheless there seems to be a great liberty among the differing sections of the population to do things their own way.

Here and there – on the left side or the right side of the ship – you will occasionally find more radical views expressed, and in differing parts of the vessel you might come across different ways in which the voyage is viewed, with varying levels of desire to see ‘change’. Some groups seem to be more vocal than others, and for a time they seem to get the ear of the captain to reconsider his course – at least inasmuch as it pertains to certain elements of the population. And yes, things might actually change for some groups on board: some might achieve more independence and sovereignty for their distinctive traditions; while other groups might form societies and pacts which enable them to form ‘ever closer union’ with one another.

So when you look at the whole you will see quite a diversity in the government of different parts of the ship; in some places where autonomy is greater there might be more prosperity and liberty seen, and therefore others from less progressive areas might migrate to those better parts with the hope of gaining greater wealth or position. But no matter how much people and societies and nations prosper and glory in their democratic achievements; and no matter how powerful, influential and important some of their leaders seem to be in the influencing and running of the ship; the ship still continues on the same course. Why? Because most, if not all, of the very successful leaders on board are secretly in cahoots with, and are taking their orders from, the captain!

What is politics? In each nation it is different parties arguing about how best to run the economy: of what they would do if they got into power: how they would legislate regarding health, and education, and jobs, and housing, and welfare, etc. And we are stirred up to be engaged in this political process, and are duped in our consecutive generations into thinking that our votes ‘can make a real difference’: ‘It’s time for change’: ‘Yes we can!’ ‘Vote for, ‘A better future’, ‘A fairer society’’. But meanwhile, away from the local issues of each nation, step by step, year by year, unremittingly, the world comes ever closer to exercising ‘one mind’.

And so to some more of its characteristics. Wherever you turn today you find governments with ‘a green agenda’; despite the fact that man-made climate change is scientifically unproven, still, they press ahead regardless. Why is this an issue, you ask? It is an issue because ultimately it makes man the greatest enemy of ‘Mother Earth’. Again if you research these things you will discover a rather shocking plan to ‘depopulate’ the world – drastically depopulate – in order to lessen carbon emissions and therefore ‘save the planet’. They reckon that as much as ninety percent of the world’s population has to be wiped out for the earth to ‘survive’ for generations to come.

Also this great depopulation must take place because it is a simple fact that the vast majority of the world’s inhabitants just don’t have that ‘enlightenment’ needed to take man into their golden age of Gnostic self-worship. I heard one leading proponent of this hope say that until there are enough ‘perfected men’ in the world – people who think themselves god, and who posses the esoteric ‘secret wisdom’ – there cannot exist a true democracy. In other words, there are just too many ignorant, base-minded, people in the world – aka, you and me – to hinder the ultimate fulfilment of their plans, for in their fully enlightened democracy all members of society will be initiates into what they call ‘the pure Luciferian doctrine’ of man being God; therefore the ‘dead flesh’ of the old humanity has to be, as it were, cut out.

Sound unbelievable? The teaching of the Lord Jesus does seem to indicate a time of mass destruction on the earth just before he comes: cp. Matthew 24:21,22; see also Revelation 9:13-18. Look at these verses in their contexts and see what they suggest to you.

In the light of all this it is perhaps not so surprising to learn that the British government has no more plans to carry out a national census – the 2011 census was the last. I believe that the next decade is going to see major events in this country, as well as in the world at large, which will bring about major loss of life, which a census in 2021 would expose by hard data to the horror of the remaining general population. So the absence of that census would conveniently help to hide these things. Just something to watch. [Since writing that paragraph I’ve heard that there will be a census in 2021. We’ll just wait and see.]

Then in close connection to these things, enter the next aspect of ‘one mind’. Euthanasia. Again if you have eyes to see you will have realised that in the last few decades there has been a marked shift in attitudes towards the elderly – regarding their importance, the respect they should be shown, and even in the validity of using all means possible to care for them or extend their lives. Remember we are speaking here of a mentality, an attitude of thought, a way of thinking. Even in the period of my relatively short life I have seen a marked deterioration in society’s attitude towards the older generations. There is now a spirit in the air which is beginning to question whether it is actually beneficial for society to sustain respect and honour for our elders.

And this frame of mind is not only limited to ‘the young’. Older people too are beginning to think that when they get to a point when they think they ‘will be a burden’, that perhaps they would want to become beneficiaries of ‘assisted dying’ for the benefit of all. Add to the mix all the horror stories you hear about care homes, hospital treatment of the elderly and vulnerable; not to mention the vast cost to the nations’ finances in caring and health costs, as well as the massive pensions bill which is only set to increase ‘with an ageing population’, then it is no wonder that an increasing number of people are beginning to think that they ought to plan to ‘take control’ of their latter end.

Added to this you have an increasing number of people – especially the severely disabled – who are becoming very vocal in demanding their ‘rights’ to have their lives ended. But this is the classic ‘thin end of the wedge’ to eventual all-out mass murder of the vulnerable. Yes, it is gradually becoming more acceptable – or less shocking – to consider ‘going off to Switzerland’ instead of being a burden to family or society.

Again, how many times have we heard phrases like ‘you wouldn’t let a dog suffer like this’ when commenting on the painful or apparently hopeless state of an old or disabled person. Of course, it is evolutionary thinking which causes people to equate a human with a dog, but there is no equality between the two at all. Man has a soul, a dog hasn’t. When you put a dog down it ceases to have any conscious existence; but that is not true of a human being. People who are ‘helped to die with dignity’ don’t cease to exist when their heart stops beating: for it is appointed unto man once to die – however that death comes about – and after this the judgment, Hebrews 9:27.

Nevertheless a new mentality is forming that, in the context of huge global problems with the environment, debt, and the cost of servicing an ageing population, in the not to distant future euthanasia will become more of a reasonable ‘choice’ – necessity – in man’s struggle to survive. Well, they’ve been ‘euthanasing’ unborn babies – in law – for over fifty years now, and if they’ve practised systematic murder of one vulnerable section of the population what makes us think that they won’t bring it in for another – all dressed up in ‘rational’ and ‘logical’ arguments.

Now most people you talk to actually abhor the thought of these things; they don’t like the thought of taking life, except in accordance with justice: i.e. capital punishment; they don’t, on the whole, accept man-made global warming, and believe that each country should look after its own interests and not be bothered with what is happening in other parts of the world. War on Terror? How many people really believe that it is ‘in our national interest’ to invade foreign lands and help put down ‘evil regimes’ to keep our streets safe from terrorism? Left to ourselves I believe the answer would be ‘not many’. But remember, ‘one mind’ has to emerge among the nations of the earth, so the people of the world have to be ‘trained’ to this end. Enter, next, the media.

Twenty-four hour news; online media accessible from anywhere on earth and by everyone. If ever there is to be ‘one mind’ upon the earth then the media will have to be fully involved. And of course it is. Someone said to me a while ago that he didn’t believe my ‘conspiracy’ theories. But let me ask you this: Do you trust the media then? And by that I don’t mean do you trust them when they give facts like, ‘There was a crash on the motorway this morning and ten people were killed.’ Those are reported facts. But what I mean is, do you trust the slant of the media? Do you believe the ‘world-view’ which it propagates? Are you in agreement with the ‘general consensus’ views that it portrays as being the most ‘reasonable’ and ‘mainstream’? You might say, but hold on, we live in the ‘free’ West; we are constantly being told that our press is free and independent; we’re not like other countries whose media are just the mouthpiece of the state, spewing out propaganda all day!

All right, if you think that, and believe that our media is as you say; and if you are a professed Christian, then let me ask you this. Do you believe in evolution and millions of years? Because the media infuses that ‘theory’ into its reporting and slant at every given opportunity: witness especially the science reporting and analysis. And what about the media’s generally liberal perspective on things; does it not trouble you that the main thrust of opinion tends towards the promotion of secular humanism rather than biblically-based godliness? When was the last time you heard a decent, unbiased, in-depth interview on primetime programming with someone who was evidently God-fearing and socially conservative; who was given ample time – without constant interruption – to propound a belief in Creation, the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and his word, and of the blessedness of any nation which upholds the law of God? You never have heard such a thing.

Ah but, you say, we do have a free press; you can write in with ‘your say’, we can phone in with our opinion; we can vote in or vote out our politicians using our ‘democratic right’; we are free to say as we think – within reasonable bounds. Ah, there you are. And who sets the bounds? You just try standing up in your local high street and expounding what the scriptures say regarding the socially – politically – accepted norms of the day and see where it leads you. No. With the general slant of the media being left-leaning – witness how often the likes of ‘the Daily Mail reader’ are maligned – pro-evolution, and the ready promoters of the ‘globalists’ agenda, it is not true to say that our media is free from producing propaganda. The way of the world is promoted by papers, television and radio, and the current way of the world is to bring everybody into ‘one mind’.

Just think about it. When there is a revolution or a military overthrow in a country what is the first thing the revolutionaries do? Take control of the state media!

Again, you say, you just can’t accept these inferences. Read your Bibles! ‘The whole world lieth in wickedness’. The god of this world continually blinds the minds – the mentality – of them which believe not the truth of the gospel – the only depository of truth in the world. The whole world is full of vanity and lies. There is no ‘truth’ in the world, for Christ himself is ‘the truth’, and the world is outside of Christ, knows him not, and cares nothing for his gospel. How then can the world or anything which emanates from the world – like the media – be anything other than corrupt and a propagator of lies and deceit. Nevertheless, you still believe the media?!

Now consider the education system. Is it really any different? What better tool is there for the powers that be to fashion the thinking of the young into a universal mentality. Again, is the state system the place to send your children to receive instruction on the holiness of God and the glory of his Son? to discover the wonders of creation and the liberating truths of the gospel of Christ? Are all their studies based on the belief that there is only one God, that his scriptures are true and trustworthy, that he upholds all things by the word of his power, and that we are accountable to him and that, however much we may achieve in our lives, all will ultimately be vanity without a saving knowledge of Christ? Are our eighteen year olds coming out of the state system having learned the fear of the Lord, with humble minds and a desire to serve? Or does it send its students out into the world more or less with the belief that ‘God hath not said anything’, that ‘ye shall not surely die – at least not for a very long time yet’, and to all intents and purposes, when they prosper, achieve, and realise all their ambitions in life ‘they shall be as gods’? The latter of course.

The mentality that the young are being indoctrinated into today is vastly different to the one that perhaps their parents and definitely their grandparents learned. A great shift has occurred in the thinking of the current generations as compared to the one or two before them. In fact there is a great gulf fixed between today’s childhood and youth and their elders. Not least, of course, because of the electronic advancements of the last two decades – internet, mobile phones, etc. – but in the way they view the world. Today children are being made citizens of a global village; socially they are much more diverse and pluralistic than their more ‘traditional’ elders. It could almost be said that the upcoming generation lives in a different world to the one mine grew up in.

But this is all well and good for the powers that be: for the new ‘one mind’ makers. Yes, ultimately the young are the key to bringing in a new mentality upon the earth: a new order of things – for a different, brighter, more illumed future – where man takes his last evolutionary step towards something like deity on earth. If we can get – ‘educate’ – the young to think universally instead of parochially then we will be greatly advanced in reaching our goal; after all it is today’s young who will be the main players in the final stages. So, separate them from their parents early in life – our local nursery takes them from three months old – by getting them soon entered into – and then keeping them longer in – ‘the education system’, and teach them differently from the old ways of thinking, especially in an understanding of the past.

National identity has to be eroded to cause upcoming generations to think beyond their borders; so undermine loyalty to nation states, reinterpret its history – especially its ‘proud’ history. Portray all those oldies who go on about ‘the war’, and ‘how things used to be when I was young’, as out of date, out of touch with the modern world, and even a hindrance to the advancement of man. Teach the young attitudes which are diametrically opposed to those of their forefathers. Make them think that really the world will never have been so fully functional as it will be when they grow up and take on the governance of the world.

Educate them into thinking that past generations were in darkness with their beliefs in absolutes, in right and wrong, in man’s sinnership and God’s authority. So old fashioned attitudes towards morality must be destroyed by ‘liberal’ attitudes, after all, the new morality will be fundamentally anti-Christian. Teach them distorted and unnatural views of what ‘the family’ is by introducing them to the validity of diversity in relationships. Emphasise ‘the rights of the individual’ instead of the virtuous characteristics of humility, loyalty, service and responsibility. And again, cause them to think globally – which is the future – and not in a narrow-minded, insular, local way.

And if the education system can achieve these ends, and if the children emerge from its clutches with a mind which is at variance with its parents’, then it will have achieved its goal of preparing the upcoming generation to embrace fully the ‘one mind’. These things must come to pass according to scripture, and they are coming to pass in our day as a plain matter of fact.

Rebuilding the Tower of Babel

All this adds up to one thing: the rebuilding of the Tower of Babel. If you think about it, in principle, the bringing about of ‘one mind’ upon the earth will issue in something akin to ‘one tongue’ upon the earth. And this is where the real power behind these events is exposed. From the Garden of Eden Satan has been whispering to man that he can become God, and one of the ancient fruits of this temptation was the building of the city of Babel – Babylon – which had a tower that was designed to ‘reach unto heaven’, Genesis 11.

But God said ‘No’ to their wickedness, came down and confused and confounded their language and speech – Babel means ‘confusion’. Thereafter it was the will of God that men should live in separate nations with their own tongues, so that there could be no intermingling or communication between them. But nowadays this is all being reversed. We not only teach our children ‘foreign languages’ in school, but we travel easily between countries and continents; we can communicate across borders by a variety of means, and are kept informed in ‘the news’ about events that are happening in other countries – as though we are supposed to be interested.

Also today we have a world wide mechanism in place to facilitate the building of this modern day ‘tower’. The Internet. If ever there was a means of communication designed to enable the whole world to be of ‘one tongue’ again it is this. Being ‘world wide’ it can only really draw the peoples of the world ever closer in tongue and mentality. It is now just about all pervasive, is irreversible, and is increasingly being used by the authorities to include every aspect and function of society. It won’t be too long before the citizens of the world just won’t be able to ‘live’ without it.

All this is part of rebuilding the tower of Babel. Politically speaking, again, this can only be brought about by unifying bordering states into supranational blocks, like the EU. Gradually these blocks grow bigger; monetary and ever closer political union is introduced as ‘natural progressions’, until eventually the systems and the mentality of the peoples are set up and prepared for the acceptance and embracing of some sort of World Union of States. All these things are happening in our day and cannot be reversed. [Again, sinse writing that the UK has voted to leave the EU, but you just watch, one way or another it’ll not happen, for an ultimate one world government cannot abide the exisitance of independent nation states.]

Nevertheless they are all a sign of the working of wickedness in high places, for it is all part of the outworking of man raising himself up – or being raised up – to take the ultimate control of his own life and destiny on earth – to be as God. Thus it can all be seen as rank rebellion against God, just as the original builders in the land of Shinar were rebelling against the one true and living God. No, there is no new thing under the sun.

But just when man thinks he has attained to this highest of ambitions God will again step in and say ‘No’; for in reality man will not have been worshipping himself as God but Satan incarnate as God: the ‘kings’ of the earth and all the peoples of the earth will have been bowing down and worshipping ‘the beast’ as God, albeit for only ‘one hour’.

But at the end of that ‘hour’ the Lord will appear in the heavens and will consume that Wicked one, and all who follow and worship him, with the spirit of his mouth, and will destroy them all with the brightness of his coming. This will be the final day, the day of judgment, when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with his holy angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, see 2 Thessalonians.

And as these things will surely come to pass, so there is another thing you can be certain about: none of this will appear on the news, in the next day’s papers, or across social media, for there will be no more news broadcasts, no more discussion programmes, no more analysis from ‘our political editor’, no more newspapers to be printed, and www. will have gone up in smoke; for this will be the end of all things: the end of the world!

And what is the Lord’s command to his people when they see all these things begin to build? Speak out against them? Petition parliament? Vote UKIP to halt it all? No. None of these things. ‘Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man’, Luke 21:25-36; for you must realise that this last period of the history of the world will be a time of great tribulation for the people of God.

The Mark of the Beast

Which leads us to the mysterious subject of the mark of the beast; a subject of great debate and puzzlement, and the reason for much exercise of febrile imaginations. We find this mark mentioned in Revelation 13, a chapter dealing with the last days wherein the beast is worshipped by the vast majority of the inhabitants of the earth. Indeed, ‘he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name’, verses 16,17.

Then we get something of an explanation of these words. ‘Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six’: six six six, verse 18.

Immediately we are assured that these things can be understood by those who have spiritual understanding. These are the Lord’s own people whose ‘understanding he opens that they might understand the scriptures’, cp. Luke 24:45. And there are, I believe, three things in these verses which, if we interpret correctly in principle, will yield a good understanding of their meaning; and will then enable us to be aware of their fulfilment, and cause us to pray in the midst of it to be kept until the end.

First of all we consider the mark itself. What is a mark? It is an imprint. This mark of the beast is something which is ‘imprinted’ in either the ‘right hand’ or in the ‘forehead’ of all those who receive it. Next the mark is something which belongs to the beast – is reflects his character. If you have the mark of the beast it shows that you belong to him and that you reflect in some way his character: at least it means that you are happy to be identified with him whose mark it is.

This mark is furthermore a guarantee of present and future security on earth – having it enables you to continue to ‘buy and sell’: activities vital for life. Then this mark is an all encompassing mark: that is, just about all will have it readily and immediately it is introduced, for it will be the one key to active and necessary citizenship in the new order of things. Who in their right mind would be without it? Yes, we know it comes with strings attached: that we have had to sign up to this new ‘religion of the world’, worshipping this great world saviour that has appeared, but, well, it’s a small price to pay to be able still to purchase our necessities for life; after all, I’ve a family to provide for.

Secondly, where this mark is found. We are told that it is placed specifically in the right hand or in the forehead, in other words in the places of doing and thinking. This speaks then of the mark of the beast influencing the way we live, how we act, and how we think – our mentality: again, a unified world-wide mentality is suggested. [In my first edition of this article someone pointed out to me that I had mistakenly used the word ‘on’ instead of ‘in’: ‘on the right hand, on the forehead’; which I’ve now corrected. If the mark is only ‘on’ us then it could mean merely an outward physical mark with no real spiritual application, but if it is ‘in’ us then it reveals the depths of our mentality, which is what I believe this passage is revealing.]

Broadly applied the mark of the beast is simply ‘the way of the world’. In one sense all those outside of Christ, not born again of the Spirit of God, not saved and called by the grace of God, have the mark of the beast because they live and think as the world does. But specifically at the end of the world, in this very last stage, it does seem that there will be a mark given to people without which they will not be able to continue being an active member of society.

Thirdly, this mark is ‘the number of a man’. This simply means that it is a number which pertains to the understanding of men – it is one of their numbers: 666. Six, of course, is the number of man, while six repeated shows a straining towards but continual falling short of that perfect number seven; as we read, ‘For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God’, Romans 3:23. So six six six represents man in his fallen state; and what situation could arise which reveals more fully man’s utter corruption in sin than his desire – in that state – to be as God? Remember, it is this beast which possesses and gives this number to man, and he can be traced back to the Garden of Eden. So this is the number of man in rebellion against God. And what is that if not the spirit of the world?

But what of this mark if it is to be taken literally. Some will readily point to barcodes: each one has 666 on it – the number six being represented by two thin lines: there is one set at the beginning, one in the middle, and one at the end of each barcode: they are easily seen because they extend further than all the other lines which represent the other numbers of the code. These barcodes are everywhere, on just about every product sold. In the light of this many will point out that with the advances of modern technology it is not impossible to imaging some sort of tagging system of humanity where they are identified by running their hands over some sort of scanner – very useful in a future cashless society for when you are undertaking some sort of transaction, especially when ‘buying or selling’.

And this is a reasonable assertion. After all, animals – pets – have been tagged for years; it is all very convenient, for if a straying dog is found then all the authorities have to do is scan the pooch and all its details will come up – name, address, etc. and it can be quickly and easily returned to its owner. Advance the thought and it’s not far down the road to tagging all humans with chips, upon which will be recorded all their individual details: name, date of birth, national insurance number, bank details, health records, doctor’s names, insurance details, etc. etc.: in fact all the identification information needed in one simple device to enable people to live securely and deal readily in the brave new world.

The only snag is that there will be conditions to its being kept in tact. For you see by then everything – every transaction of whatever kind – will be done by means of this chip: there will, of course, be scanners for these tags everywhere, most likely on some future generation ‘smart phone’. And what will these conditions be? We have already hinted at these: signing up to the way of the world: thinking and acting in accordance with the way the new society works and functions. A condition will be ‘worship’ of ‘the beast’, however he is to be manifested at that time; and therefore, to use a blunt phrase, you’ll have to have ‘sold your soul to the devil’ to retain it.

Make no mistake. This is going to be the time of great tribulation for the saints of God. Continued peaceable living, going about our daily routines of working, buying, and contributing to society will no longer be possible. If you don’t have the chip you will be classed as a non-person: you will not officially exist because there will be no record of you in ‘the system’. And if you at one time have had the chip but then come to a point when you can no longer subscribe to the way of the world for conscience sake, conversion to Christ, or because worship of the world saviour will have been latterly introduced, then your chip will simply be switched off and all you had in bank accounts, etc., will simply be deleted. The next time you go to make a purchase or undergo a transaction of any kind the machine will just beep and declare that no record of your existence can be found.

And then what will happen? There will be no record of you owning the house you live in, so you will be evicted. You won’t be registered at the local doctor’s surgery. Your state pension or benefit payments will stop because you ‘don’t exist’. All information on your chip pertaining to driving licences, passports, credit and debit facilities, and any membership of societies, associations, parties or clubs will all have been erased. Cash will have become obsolete so the best you will be able to hope for to purchase your daily needs will be either by bartering, which will only last for a while until all your possessions run out; by working for friends or family who, although possessing the mark themselves, still might retain some compassion for you and will provide you with food or even shelter in return; or by begging. But it will not be long before the authorities will discover that here is someone who is going against the accepted way, even though you might not actually be speaking out against it, and who is not worshipping the Great Leader who has brought peace and safety, not to mention truth and enlightenment to mankind. So you will be arrested, will ‘disappear’, and will be at the ‘mercy’ of the godless mentality which reigns over the whole earth.

You don’t believe all this could happen? Well, just read Revelation 13 again. None of this is fanciful imagination.

But how could it all be brought about in the first place? How could the inhabitants of the earth fall for a system so controlling of their ‘liberties’? The only way it could happen is if the masses themselves called for it. And in what possible situation would they ever do that? If they thought the world was in imminent danger of being destroyed; if civilisation was ‘on the brink’ of some horrific catastrophe, or if some catastrophic event, like a Third World War, was near or already under way, and unless we all came together under the rule of a suddenly arisen peacemaker – and gave our utter allegiance to him for the good of ‘humankind’, (as they now refer to us – a very subtle denial of a literal Adam), indeed, for his very survival upon earth – then all would be lost. Don’t you believe that, under Satan, men are not conspiring at this very moment to bring this about? Remember that the ultimate goal of antichrist is Power – complete and absolute power – over all the inhabitants of the earth, and power over all their affairs; and they will do anything to bring that about. Of course they will do anything to ‘be as God’.

Please remember that this Wicked will have at his disposal ‘miracles, and signs, and lying wonders’. The whole world will ‘wonder after the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with the beast?’ There must come a time of great upheaval on the earth – even near destruction of all things – out of which will arise this great peacemaker – the saviour of the world – who will then cause the inhabitants of the earth to cry, ‘Peace and safety’ at last!

Think about all these things, reader. Ponder them. Ponder the possibility of them actually happening in your lifetime, and don’t be among the mass of the deceived, Revelation 13:14; view them forming before your eyes as daily reported by the media. Pray to God to give you the eyes to see it happening, and pray ultimately that you will be saved from the wrath surely to come upon this present evil world at the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of the world, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-5:4.

The Christ

At this point it does become necessary to mention the view of many regarding an upcoming thousand year reign of Christ on earth. If we look at it in the context of what has been written already we will begin to see the deviousness of it. Why? Because this Wicked that is to arise, to whom the kings of the earth will give their power, and to whom the inhabitants of the earth will give their unwavering allegiance and worship, is none other than ‘the Christ’ which the New Age movement expects to arise, and which the major religions are looking for to be the fulfilment of all their prophesies and expectations. Again if you feel inclined to investigate these things for yourself you will find that many if not all of the world’s major religions, including the New Agers and, yes, apostate Christianity, are all expecting a Christ figure to appear to reign on this present earth, to bring peace, and to set up a kingdom which will last for…? …a thousand years!

This is why what is called in the church the Premillenial view of the last times is so deceitful – as well as being a dreadfully carnal interpretation of the ‘reign’ of Christ. This teaching that Christ is going to come and reign on earth for a thousand years plays directly into the hands of the deceiver who, when he arises will readily tell fallen Christendom that, yes, he is Jesus Christ, while turning to the New Agers and telling them that he is ‘the Christ’, while again turning to the others and declaring himself to be their long awaited ‘great teacher’, prophet, man of wisdom, or whatever else they are expecting him to be. And they will all believe him! And will worship him as such! But you can be sure that he won’t be the true Jesus Christ despite the fact that so many in the church will also have gone after him.

Now there are one or two phrases which are commonly used amongst those – of whatever religion or belief system – who are looking for this saviour of mankind. One is ‘the Christ’. If you look into the writings of Theosophy and of the New Age movement you will find blatant and open references to the coming of ‘the Christ’. In line with the warnings of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 24 they are looking for ‘The Reappearance of the Christ’: the anointed one who is to arise to lead humanity to its final goal of becoming gods on earth.

This Christ is also referred to as ‘The Coming One’: the one expected who will usher in the New Age; and, yes, he is to appear to bring in this new age when the old age – the old order of things – has finally run its course. When I was a teenager in the late ‘Seventies I remember a pop song which talked about ‘the age of Aquarius’: ‘This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius…’ Of course I didn’t understand the massage of the song then; I, like many others, just liked the music. But the message is quite clear: and is the core of the New Age message – truly ‘another gospel’. The so-called age of Pisces is coming to an end and the age of Aquarius is beginning. Pisces is representative of a fish – and one of Christianity’s supposed symbols is a fish; whereas Aquarius, they say, is symbolic of man, or of the perfected man. In other words, the age of Christianity is waning while the age of the glorified man is waxing. Sound familiar?

Aren’t we constantly being told that we are in a post-Christian era? That we are entering a new era wherein man, having gained so much knowledge and enlightenment, especially in the realm of science, has the increasing power to control his world, his destiny, and his very existence on earth? We are. And it is this idea that a ‘new age’ is dawning which apostate Christianity is being prepared for by Premillenialism. As I said, when ‘he’ comes, he will tell them that he is Jesus Christ come to set up his thousand year reign on earth, but he will be false. Yes, he may have appeared as it were from heaven, as witnessed by the whole world and broadcast repeatedly on ‘the news’, the still existant social media ‘crashing’ with excitement; but it will have been a false, deceptive, appearing – ‘miracles and signs and lying wonders’ will have been in his power to use to deceive the nations. It is not beyond the wit of man now to use holographic images of a Christ descending from heaven accompanied by a (previously?) raptured church, or angels, or mighty ones. But however he appears the whole world will see it and believe it.

But surely Christians with open Bibles won’t be fooled by all this! Won’t they? Apart from the prevalence of Premillenial teaching today – and in some places it almost seems to be the number one doctrine you have to assent to if you want to be a member of the church – the language of many of the Bibles currently open in front of Christians actually concurs with the teaching of the New Agers. Consider Matthew 11:3 in the new age, New King James Version: it has John the Baptist asking of Jesus – with capital letters – ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ The Coming One? Can you see it?

This Version also, along with many others, now has the words of the Lord Jesus at the end of Matthew’s gospel rendered, ‘…behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’; the age, not ‘the world’; cp. also Matthew 24:3. Which brings us to another Version which I’ve briefly had exposure to recently: J.N.Darby’s of the Exclusive Brethren. He too has ‘the coming one’ in Matthew 11:3 and ‘age’ for ‘world’ in the references already given. Yet he sits even more comfortably with the new age doctrine – whether intentionally or not – by constantly referring to Christ as ‘the Christ’, especially in the Epistles, that is, in the apostles’ doctrinal statements: those statements which together constitute the gospel.

Consider the following randomly picked verses from Darby: ‘For as in the Adam all die, thus also in the Christ all shall be made alive’, 1 Corinthians 15:22; ‘…in whom the god of this world has blinded the thoughts of the unbelieving, so that the radiancy of the glad tidings of the glory of the Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine forth for them’, 2 Corinthians 4:4; ‘But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craft, so your thoughts should be corrupted from simplicity as to the Christ’, 2 Corinthians 11:3; ‘…for the administration of the fulness of times; to head up all things in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth, in him’, Ephesians 1:10; ‘Let the word of the Christ dwell in you richly…’, Colossians 3:16; ‘Whosoever goes forward and abides not in the doctrine of the Christ has not God. He that abides in the doctrine, he has both the Father and the Son’, 2 John 9; ‘…and they lived and reigned with the Christ a thousand years’, Revelation 20:4.

The Christ, the Christ, the Christ. ‘The doctrine of the Christ’, 2 John 9, is a fundamental doctrine of the New Age movement, and Darby finds a perfect home for it. Therefore anyone looking for the coming of ‘the Christ’ to usher in a new ‘age’ on earth will not be uncomfortable with these translations.

But who is the Christ? Well there has only ever been one true Christ: one person who has been anointed of God: and that is the Lord Jesus Christ, cp. Luke 4:18. And Jesus made reference to this fact in Matthew 16:20: the only place where the Saviour refers to himself by name: ‘Jesus’, and by anointing: ‘the Christ’: ‘Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ’, AV. But Darby doesn’t have him declaring this, for he deletes the name Jesus, as do just about all the modern versions. You see, if Jesus was ‘the Christ’ only, and not specifically ‘Jesus the Christ’; then the New Ager can just come along and say, ‘There you are! Jesus of Nazareth had the Christ spirit in him for his age, but now we look for ‘the coming one’ who will possess the Christ spirit for the new age.’ But if the Lord was ‘Jesus the Christ’ then he alone can only ever be said to be ‘the Christ’; which is what Matthew 16:20 and the Authorised Version tell us; while Darby and a whole host of the modern corrupt versions effectively deny it – or at least undermine this truth.

Thus we conclude here that the modern Christian with his modern Bible can find little argument against the New Ager who is looking for ‘the coming one’, whom he calls ‘the Christ’, to appear at the end of ‘the age’. And if the reader believes in a coming thousand year reign of a Christ then you might be surprised to find that you aren’t in disagreement with people who you would otherwise think have wayward ideas of spirituality in the New Age movement, because you’ll be worshipping ‘the Christ’ alongside them, unless the Lord opens your eyes now to your dreadful error.

I leave these things for the thoughtful reader to ponder over.

Part 3 – ‘…until the day…’

And so we come to consider the final days of time. Again, it is a sobering and indeed a fearful thing to realise that ‘the day of the Lord will come’, that there is literally going to be a last day: a last evening, a last night, a last morning. The sun will have set for the last time, and it will have risen upon the last day. The reason that it is so fearful to us is that we are just so taken up with the things of time – our natural state. Time was before us, we were born into, and have grown up in time, so all our natural expectations have only ever related to the time state. But now we are told by the Son of God that it is all going to end. Everything we have known that relates to time and the senses is going to be destroyed by fire from heaven when the day of judgment comes.

And the Lord Jesus confirms all these things when he said, ‘But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only’, Matthew 24:36. Here we see that there is literally going to be a last day, and a last hour in that day; and that the Father alone knows the date. We all live by dates, by days and months, and we plan our days by the hour – just look at your diary or appointments calendar. And Jesus here says that on one of those dates, on a specific day, and in a certain hour of that day, the end of the world will come and time will finish. And although only God knows the exact date, yet those born of the Spirit look and long for it and are given to discern the signs which point to that day being ‘even at the doors’, Matthew 24:33.

‘As it was in the days of Noah’

What then will the world be like when the Lord Jesus returns to end time and bring in the day of judgment? Well, the Saviour himself said that ‘in the day when the Son of man is revealed’ the world will be the same in character ‘as it was in the days of Noah… and of Lot’, Luke 17:20-37. Now although this reference to Noah applies primarily to Noah’s day before the flood came, in the context of all the things we have been considering I believe it has some relevance to the ‘one mind’ which is appearing now. How? Because as Noah lived a further 350 years after the flood, then it is evident that he lived to experience the confusing of the tongues because of the rebellion of his descendants at the Tower of Babel, before which the whole earth had been of one language and therefore of one mind. So even there we have a connection with ‘the days of Noah’.

But if we look at what the Lord Jesus was teaching when he said, ‘As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man’, Luke 17:26, Matthew 24:37, then we will get a stark realisation of the imminence of the end as we see man in the present day living more or less identically to how men were living on the morning the flood came and took them all away. Imminent? The end that close? Yes indeed. When will we wake up to these things.

Genesis chapter 6 tells us what the earth was like at the time of Noah’s building his ark. In fact this was the state of things before the LORD commanded Noah to build the ark and was indeed the reason for it. So when Jesus said ‘as it was in the days of Noah’, the ‘it’ was referring to the moral state of man at the time with its consequences for ‘the earth’: for ‘the world that then was’, 2 Peter 3:5-7.

In Genesis 6:5 we read, ‘And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.’ It is striking to observe again the absolutes in that verse: ‘every imagination’ without exception; ‘only evil’ without deviation. And is this not a fair description of the world today? The fruit of this is something else clearly visible today: the earth is ‘corrupt before God’, and is consequently ‘filled with violence’, Genesis 6:11: ‘filled’ being another absolute. Corruption here means ‘ruin’: the earth had been totally ruined and destroyed morally because of man’s sin. Verse twelve sadly states: ‘And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth’, ‘all flesh’; and as far as God was concerned this necessitated ‘the end’, verse 13.

But what are men’s ‘imaginations’ which were only evil continually – lit. ‘day by day’? The word in the original speaks of a ‘determination’, a ‘resolution’, a purpose in man to form his mind into thinking, reasoning and therefore acting in a certain way: and that way, saith God, was ‘only evil continually’. Man in sin is bent – hell-bent – on rebelling against God. As he is determined to believe the lie that he can be as God then all his thoughts, lusts and ambitions are naturally exercised towards that end. Therefore what other fruit can the ‘imagination of the thoughts of men’s hearts’ bring forth but ‘wickedness’ and ‘evil’? This is the same truth that was revealed by the Lord Jesus in his doctrine. Because in its natural firstborn state ‘the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked’, then, said the Saviour, ‘Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man…’, and which manifest the greatness of his wickedness upon the earth, Matthew 15:16-20. All these things are commonplace, and even celebrated, today, cp. Romans 1:28-32.

Let us never be in any doubt. Judgment came in Noah’s day because of man’s sin and rebellion towards God his creator. The flood was world-wide, the whole earth was ‘overflowed with water’, 2 Peter 3:6, so that even the highest mountains were covered, Genesis 7:20. Likewise when the Lord Jesus appears at the end of the world ‘in flaming fire’, that fire will cover and indeed consume the whole earth: ‘the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up’, 2 Peter 3:10. Why? Because of man’s sin and rebellion towards God his creator. The sin of man is the sole offence towards God and he will put an end to the world because of it: he’s done it once and he’ll do it again. Every time you dig up a fossil you see evidence of the judgment of God because of man’s sin, and yet next time there will be no fossils left behind, because then, even the elements will melt ‘with fervent heat’ – lit. ‘having been set on fire.’

But let us investigate this in more detail as we look at the words of the Lord Jesus in Luke 17:26-30:

‘And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.

‘Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.’ ‘…until the day… but the same day…’

If one word describes what daily life is going to be like on the day of Jesus’ coming it is surely ‘normal’. How routine everything will be: ‘Eating and drinking; buying and selling; planting and building; marrying and being given in marriage’ – so marriage will continue till the end despite all the attacks upon it. And there is one unifying characteristic of these things: they all say, ‘there is going to be a future’. We eat and drink to sustain our bodies until the next meal, or through the night until tomorrow. We eat and drink to fuel our bodies for the work of the day. But in these verses – and notice how this is the only sign mentioned in both Noah’s and Lot’s day – it is more the indulgent nature of eating and drinking which is being addressed rather than the partaking of our necessary ‘daily bread’. We have already seen that the Lord Jesus warns against ‘surfeiting and drunkenness’ in the last days, lest ‘that day come upon you unawares’, Luke 21:34. Isn’t it a characteristic of the decadent West to ‘eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow… who cares!’ Don’t people ‘sit down to eat and drink, and then rise up to play’? None of these attitudes betray a sober expectation of the end of the world.

Yes, of course there is going to be a future! Why else would people buy or sell anything? Why do we buy things? To use them! To use them today, tomorrow, or sometime in the future. Surely we buy for the future. And we sell for the same reason. We sell usually for money: to get gain; which money is then used to buy things – for our present or future needs, or to invest – for that future, or to save ‘for a rainy day’ – although having secured a good interest rate will be of no use when the ‘rain’ is fire and brimstone.

And it is the same with planting and building. These things speak only of an expectation of the continuance of time; without a future these two occupations become nonsensical. But on the day that the Son of man is revealed trees will have been planted, new houses finished, new centres opened, ribbons cut, and the photographs taken for inclusion in tomorrow’s local paper.

And what have you planted or builded today? Perhaps nothing material, but what about ideas? What about plans? What about ambitions? What about dreams? Have you not been formulating something in your mind today which you hope to develop over the coming days? Please do stop and think. Yes, we must live, and do, and provide responsibly for ourselves and our families, but what is your mind continually on? What are your expectations for ‘tomorrow’? How shocked and offended will you be if the Lord steps in soon to spoil your prospects with the revelation of the Great White Throne?

And then there is that definite prospect of the future – ‘happy ever after’ – in marrying and being given in marriage. Who would spend all those months planning for ‘the big day’ if they thought the reception was going to be interrupted by ‘the trump of God’? I remember hearing once of a wedding ceremony where some people were highly offended when the minister reminded the congregation that that is exactly what will be happening when the end of the world comes. I don’t know if he went on to ask ‘the happy couple’ if they’d considered that their special day could be the last. Well, who does? But the very moment the trumpet sounds multitudes will be occupied in ‘marrying and being given in marriage’: young couples will be in jewellers buying rings, brides-to-be will be trying on their wedding dresses for the first time, invitations will be being posted into letter boxes, and ‘just married’ signs will be driving off into the sunset. New suits and outfits will be being bought, gifts wrapped, hotels booked, and journeys planned. ‘The question’ will just have been ‘popped’, ‘I will’, just vowed, confetti will be floating to the ground, and bubbles still rising to the tops of glasses when the Son of man is suddenly revealed.

‘Until the day’: until the very day, and upon a certain hour of that day. ‘But of that day and hour knoweth no man’: ‘…until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away…’, Matthew 24:38,39. ‘But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all’, Luke 17:29. So shall it be, and so shall it fall upon this present wicked generation at the end of the world.

The Sin of Sodom

At this point I want to turn aside and consider briefly the sin of Sodom – ‘as it was in the days of Lot’ – because the scriptural testimony is rather surprising. It is usual for us to associate Sodom only with the sin of ‘men with men’, but this is only made apparent in two places: Genesis 19:1-11 based on the phrase in verse 5, ‘…that we may know them’; and Jude 7, in the phrase ‘…going after strange flesh’; and yet none of the other references to this city in scripture make mention of this aspect of their iniquity at all.

The reason I am mentioning this here is that as I have been writing the previous section today it has struck me how that the Lord Jesus in Luke 17 – when referring to ‘the days of Lot’, which relate specifically to him being in Sodom – doesn’t mention this perversion at all; all he says about the world at the time of his coming in the context of Lot is, as we have seen, that people will be eating and drinking, buying and selling, and planting and building: the Saviour draws no attention to any type of deviancy at all. And yet today there are certain elements within the professing church who think it their sworn duty to be crying out against this one particular sin as though it was the worst in God’s eyes. But the Lord Jesus never once mentioned it, and neither did Paul in any of his preaching; he only wrote of it in its particular context within the whole of the doctrine of the gospel. Yes, this sin is vile, which is perhaps why both Paul and the Lord thought it ‘a shame even to speak of’ it, cp. Ephesians 5:12; but they did ‘protest’ regularly against the much more heinous sins of unbelief, hypocrisy, Pharisaism, pride, idolatry, and disobedience of the gospel. So let the present day campaigners take note.

But let us have a look at the testimony of scripture regarding Sodom. There is no doubt that ‘the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly’, Genesis 13:13: that their sin was ‘very grievous’, 18:20. But then Ezekiel 16:49 tells us exactly what ‘the iniquity of Sodom’ was: it was actually ‘pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness’, as well as the fact that they didn’t ‘strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.’ Again, ‘they were haughty, and committed abomination before me’, saith the Lord GOD.

Yet none of these sins were unique to the men of that city. Was not Israel also guilty of all these things? We know that pride is the prime sin, as far as the LORD is concerned – although not as far as the religious hypocrite is concerned, Proverbs 6:16,17, Luke 18:11,12. The men of Jerusalem, ‘the people of the land’, had also ‘vexed the poor and needy’, Ezekiel 22:29, indeed, the children of Israel were often rebuked for not meeting the needs of ‘the fatherless and the widow’, Ezekiel 22:7, Jeremiah 5:28,29, Psalm 82, Isaiah 1:23, Isaiah 10:1,2, etc. ‘Pure religion’, says James, is not to cry out against perversion, but ‘to visit – care for – the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world’, James 1:27.

And what about Israel’s haughtiness – its arrogance before the LORD? ‘Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. I also set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken’, Jeremiah 6:15-17. Haughtiness.

It is a plain fact that on many occasions throughout their history the only difference between ‘Judah and Jerusalem’ and Sodom was that in the former ‘a very small remnant had been left in the land’, otherwise it too would have been destroyed, Isaiah 1:9. There had been no remnant in Sodom, hence its destruction: but not before the one righteous man, Lot, had been hastened out: there had not even been found ten righteous in the city, cp. Genesis 18:23-26,32. But Jerusalem and Judah, remnant aside, were actually no different to Sodom: they were unashamedly open in ‘declaring their sin as Sodom’, Isaiah 3:9; cp. 1 Kings 14:22-24; therefore in Lamentations 4:6 Jeremiah cries, ‘the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom’.

This again was alluded to by the Lord Jesus in his doctrine when he said that it will be ‘more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment’, than it will be for that city which rejects the word of the Lord, the gospel, by the mouths of those whom he sent to preach it: and this was addressed to the professing people of God, not to the Gentiles. Indeed, if the mighty works which had been done in Capernaum had been done in Sodom, it, Sodom, would have remained until this day – presumably because it would have repented like Tyre and Sidon, Matthew 11:20-24.

Think of that, all you who will not hear and fall under the truth of the doctrine of the gospel of Christ, but who nonetheless go on calling yourselves Christians: it will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for the men of Sodom – men you look down upon in disgust in your self-righteous pride – than it will be for you, except you repent. Now, do you still think the sin of Sodom is the lowest of the low? Do you still pride yourselves in writing to your MPs to get the laws changed regarding this one sin? Why don’t you write complaining about the levels of pride, selfishness, over-indulgence, and haughtiness – not to mention worldly ambition – in society, all of which undermines the stability of that society?

Why don’t you write to the legislators about other evils: for instance, by pointing out that the state has no God-given right to legalise the removal of your children from the home at a very young age to ‘educate’ them, and that it should instead do all in its power to make sure that the parents have every opportunity to do it themselves. After all, it was early revealed that children should remain at home under the influence of their parents until they got married, not until they went to university, Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6 – how about that for a radical way of thinking? But it is God’s way. Therefore why not cry out against every agency which promotes and sustains the cult of ‘youth’, and lobby for the abolition of ‘teenage’ culture – this period of life being revealed in scripture as ‘vanity’, Ecclesiastes 11:9,10 – and protest that the young should be out and working: contributing to the income of the family home by the age of thirteen. Just think of all the benefits to society there would be if these things were followed.

But, of course, those who think that the only ‘sins’ they should speak out against are the ones they don’t commit themselves, are not going to call for legislation against those things which they spend their time pursuing. But don’t you know that the sin which underpins worldly ambition in all its guises, covetousness, is an oft-mentioned sin that those professing Christ should flee from rather than embrace for prospects’ sake? What is ambition to succeed in this world, to get gain, to please yourselves, and to feather your own nest in this time state, but ‘covetousness, which is idolatry’? And yet it is because of these things that the wrath of God is said to be coming upon the children of disobedience, see Ephesians 5:3-7. But it seems to me that there are many ‘Christians’ who are quite happy to be exercised with them. But, then, I suppose we do read that in the day wherein the Son of man is revealed they will be occupied with ‘planting and building’, etc.

Just look at those verses in Ephesians 5. Paul there speaks about this wrath of God which is coming and, although it is because of fornication, filthiness, and all uncleanness, it is also because of foolish talking – idle words – and jesting; it is again for being a whoremonger and an unclean person; but it is also for being covetousness, which Paul then repeats: covetousness, which is idolatry: ‘Be not ye partakers with them’ that do these things. And this he repeats to the saints at Colossae: the wrath of God is coming upon those children of disobedience who not only practice like perversions, but who are driven by ‘covetousness, which is idolatry’, Colossians 3:5,6.

Covetousness. But whatever happened to ‘be content with such things as ye have’ among the professed people of God? How can ‘take no thought for the morrow’ be taken other than literally. Is the Lord’s faithfulness not good enough for us in this ‘got-to-have-it-all’ society? Hebrews 13:5,6. And idolatry. In Israel of old they used to fall into the same idolatry as the heathen round about them. And one of the abominations they committed was to sacrifice their children to false gods – causing their children to pass through the fire. But this is replicated today as young people are ‘sacrificed’ to the way of the world: as they are pushed to succeed, advance, lust and desire after top marks, top positions, honour, respect and security ‘in this world’: i.e. ‘planting, building’, etc., instead of being encouraged to seek supremely the kingdom of God and his righteousness: the salvation of their souls at all costs, in the light of the fact that the end of the world is nigh. And it’s no good saying that ‘Well, my children are being brought up to go to chapel’, because they won’t be warned against worldly ambition there: they’ll more likely be trained up as good little Pharisees – carnally minded within a religious profession – and what good will that do them in the end?

So, as we have now looked at the various sins of Sodom – way beyond the narrowly perceived sin – and as we now see that modern society and today’s professing church is just as riddled with the same – the reader’s conscience having to give the amen to it – then we can now understand how the same fire which consumed Sodom ‘in a moment’, will burn the whole world up in an instant at the Lord’s coming.

In the light of all this, where will we be on that day? What will we be doing? Where will our heart’s affections be set? What will we be looking ‘ahead’ to? To time? like the world? Or will we be observing the signs of the times – perhaps suffering great tribulation because of the times – and looking for the appearing of the Lord? Only those who have found grace in the eyes of the Lord will be so doing, while the rest – whether religious or not – will be completely taken up in the things of the world and an expectation of the future, ‘until the fire comes and takes them all away’.

‘But Noah found grace’

So we come to consider the last aspect of the days of Noah which we can see in ours also: that there are so few who seem to have ‘found grace in the eyes of the LORD’, Genesis 6:8. We read that ‘Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God’, verse nine. But his walk was in stark contrast to those around him, because when we read that ‘God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually’, it is instantly said, ‘but Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD’: the whole world had fallen to walking in that way, but Noah was walking in this way.

As so often, we are reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘few there be that find it’, Matthew 7:14. Out of the whole of humanity in the days of Noah only a ‘few, that is, eight souls were saved’, 1 Peter 3:20, and seven of those were only saved because the head of the house was righteous. This of course reminds us of ‘Jesus Christ the righteous’, the Head, Surety, and Saviour of all his people. He only was the righteous one, but all those in him by covenant relationship will be saved from the wrath to come because only he ‘was a just man and perfect in his generations… and walked with God.’ Noah therefore is a type of Christ, and his wife, three sons, and their wives, a type of the church, his body, who pass through the waters of judgment ‘in him’ and land safely in the new world, which next time will be ‘new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness’, and that is a promise! 2 Peter 3:13.

What then does it mean that Noah ‘found grace in the eyes of the LORD’? The grace of God is that gift which he bestows upon all whom he is determined to save. This is God’s electing grace which has been towards his people chosen in Christ from all eternity. But here we read that Noah ‘found grace’: then, he must have been seeking it. Although the number and the persons of the elect are determined and known of God from all eternity, yet in time, as each are born into the world, they are brought to seek the salvation of their souls: that is, to seek mercy and grace from the Lord. Noah was not reckoned to be a just man because he sought grace, but having found grace. He found grace in the eyes of the Lord because the Lord had convicted him of his sin and had stirred him up to seek that grace of God which bringeth salvation. The grace of God is bestowed upon all who truly seek it. Nowhere in scripture will you read that only those who can trace their election of God can then seek the grace of God: a pre-knowledge of election doesn’t come into it. Neither the Lord Jesus, nor any of his apostles, ever once cried, ‘Come unto me, all ye elect of my Father, and I will give you rest’, or, ‘Let all the elect believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and they shall be saved.’ The objective doctrine of the gospel declares that, indeed, only the elect can and will be saved, but when a person is under conviction of sin and is brought to see that only the Lord Jesus can save him, then that person will at length ‘call upon the name of the Lord, and shall be saved’: he will find grace in the eyes of the Lord. Thus the sinner, in experience, is made a recipient of the work of God; for, as Jesus taught, ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent’, John 6:29.

It may seem strange to some to find that there are people who do think in the way described above. These are they who would not presume to seek, or to call upon the Lord, because they just don’t know – have never received a testimony – that they are one of the elect. At a glance this attitude might seem to be very submissive to the doctrine of election and to the sovereignty of God in salvation; but in reality it is nothing but careless, rebellious fatalism: the people who reason this way just have no need of salvation – to find the grace of God – in their experience, and therefore never will.

But Noah sought grace, and found it. And here is another fruit of having found the grace of God: he heard the voice of the LORD warning him ‘of things not seen as yet’: in other words, of the coming judgment, and so, ‘by faith’ in that word of warning, and therefore ‘moved with fear, Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house’, Hebrews 11:7. And this is what the grace of God will bring: knowledge of the judgement to come upon this evil generation, and a preparation to escape the same. And if you walk with God in the light of this tremendous truth – of the end of the world – and if by faith you hear the word and obey it, like Noah did, then by that very obedience you will ‘condemn the world and become an heir of the righteousness which is by faith.’ Yes, while the whole of the world, and the whole of the false profession of the LORD in these last days has its affection set on eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building – for tomorrow! – and marrying and being given in marriage, only those who have found grace in the eyes of the LORD will find safety – salvation – in the coming judgment of fire, when everything will be burnt up.

Nevertheless, you’ll be hated for your way, and for the message you sound; and maybe some with a Christian profession will seek to ‘kill’ you, for Jesus did say that those who would seek to kill the disciples – as well as ‘putting you out of the synagogue’ – separating you from their company – will do it ‘thinking that they are doing God a service’, John 16:2; so these are ‘Christian’ murderers.

But still it is said – and it happened, too – that Noah did find grace in the eyes of the LORD, he did build the ark to the saving of his house, and therefore he did escape – pass through – the judgment which he, by faith and revelation, did see coming. And as it was in the days of Noah, in all these aspects, so shall it be in the day that the Son of man is revealed.

So after reading all this, does the reader now feel persuaded, having been warned, and has it now become a necessity with you to flee from the wrath to come? If you have any love for your soul then forsake the way of the world: both its mentality and ‘life style’; flee also the corrupt and apostate modern profession of Christianity in all its denominated forms, and turn to God seeking to find grace in his eyes – the salvation of your soul: for the time is short, see 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, and its context.

And if you have already found grace in the eyes of the LORD, then ‘walk with God’. The Lord Jesus said, ‘Follow me’. The Lord is walking, he is going in a certain direction, and taking a certain course, and he commands his disciples to follow him in the way that he leads. Listen for the voice of the Lord and obey it; pray for grace to discern the will of God, and then do it. Keep yourselves from idols, and from idolatry; keep yourselves in the love of God; cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. If you are one of the sons of God and look for his appearing, and know that when he does appear you shall be like him, then, if you have this hope – which is a certain hope – purify yourselves, even as he is pure. Redeem the time for the days are evil, walk worthy of the Lord, and increase in the knowledge of God. Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and may the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give us each the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, that we might abide in Christ and therefore endure until the end, so that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

Worldliness

What is worldliness?

The first thing to say is that whatever the scriptural answer to the above question, the flesh will not like it. Paul wrote that ‘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’, 1 Corinthians 2:14. The things of God, his ways of looking at things, are totally at variance to ours (cp. Isaiah 55:8,9), so that all he declares to be ‘the truth’ is bound to meet with opposition from us unless we are indwelt of his Spirit, and submissive to his teaching.

Worldliness : What Man Thinks

Having been brought up in a church-going family, and having lived most of my life among chapel folk, I have long been exposed to the idea that worldliness is something to be avoided if we would be ‘good’ Christians. And, of course, scripture has been quoted to establish this doctrine and to keep us on ‘the strait and narrow’.

My grandparents’ generation had fairly definite views on what worldliness was, but times have changed, for today it seems to be either much less of an issue, or much harder to define. In fact, I recently asked a young modern evangelical what her understanding of worldliness was, but she seemed to have no idea what it was: at least she couldn’t tell me anyway.

But this is not the case with everyone. Some do retain definite views on what they think worldliness is, which views they impose quite rigidly upon their people – and especially on their young. But as we shall see it turns out to be a Pharisaical view: one which concentrates solely upon works and outward appearances and performances. Indeed, Pharisaism is the state of judging others by our own standards and traditions, where we become the benchmark by which all others are to be judged, as in Luke 18:11,12.

In researching this article I have asked a number of people from different Christian traditions what they think being worldly is, and I’ve also observed what others obviously deem worldliness to be, and the following is something of what I’ve discovered.

First of all going back to my own upbringing and to what was, until perhaps thirty or forty years ago, the generally accepted and settled view among Christians on what worldliness was. You were worldly if you went to the cinema, went dancing, listened to ‘popular’ music, or if your women wore make-up and bedecked themselves with overmuch jewellery. Reading novels was counted worldly, and perhaps buying a (tabloid) newspaper and having a television set; but radio was all right. Going to the pub was definitely worldly, along with other sordid things like playing bingo, taking part in raffles, or playing cards – although it would be ‘harmless fun’ to play ‘snap’ or ‘happy families’ with the children.

Now today, among those for whom worldliness is still a big issue, some of these things have been extended: for instance, not only do their women not wear make-up or have their ears pierced, but they are also discouraged from having short hair, and, although they are allowed to wear pyjamas and leggings – the current ‘fashion of this world’ for girls – they definitely cannot wear trousers – although one suspects that quite a number of the women ‘wear the trousers’ in the home.

Again, there seems to be quite particular views among some on what worldliness is in regard to sport: so you wouldn’t go to a football match on a Saturday because ‘that’s worldly’, but you can have a kick around with the children at the local park ‘because it’s good exercise for them’. You wouldn’t join the world in having the occasional relaxing game of golf, but you could go for a nice long walk in the country! – one is worldly (because you’re swinging your arms every 100 yards), the other isn’t; but thinking about it, you could probably get away with playing ‘pitch and putt’ or ‘crazy golf’ when on holiday at the sea side. Taking the lad to have a game of snooker at the local ‘triangle club’ certainly would be worldly, but staying home and playing Monopoly, or the like, would probably not be frowned upon. And so it goes on.

Having a television is a very big issue with some. In some churches you cannot be a member if you have a television set. But you can have the internet! As far as I know if you have a television today you potentially have access to hundreds of channels, but with the internet, well, it’s the ‘world wide web’ – ‘the world in your home’ like never before – and the sky’s the limit with iplayers, Youtube, etc. But because being online today is increasingly ‘needful’ – especially for the children’s education and, therefore, advancement in the world – then it is not classed as being worldly. And even if you only have a computer but not the internet, then there are plenty of interesting DVDs you can buy and watch – documentaries, nature programmes, ‘harmless’ children’s videos, etc. without falling into the category of being worldly because, well, we don’t have a TV.

This reminds me of an attitude of years gone by: that whereas you would never go to the cinema, yet in later years if you got a television set you could, with no apparent twinge of conscience, quite happily watch the very same films in your own living room. Again, whereas you can stand and watch the world go by from your kitchen window, and imagine what sort of lives your neighbours have based on what you observe, if you had a television and watched ‘Neighbours’, you’d be worldly.

Having said all that, though, the child of God is better off without the television, and will actually not want it in the house. It, like the internet – like everything in the world, ultimately – is ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. There may be ‘good’ things on it at times but mostly in its ‘programming’, content, and more importantly in the attitude which it subtly ‘channels’ into the mesmerised mind, it is the number one tool for training its watchers to think and reason as the world does. What else in the modern world encourages lust, desire, greed and ambition as much as the television? Whether the viewers are ‘intelligent’ or not, they are but clay in the hands of the broadcasters, who can continually mould their mentality according to the present course the world is taking. And don’t forget that it is the evil one himself who is ‘the prince of the power of the air’ waves, see Ephesians 2:2,3.

These then are some of the attitudes towards worldliness which have been in days gone by, or are prevalent today. And what can we say about it all? Are these attitudes the answer to our original question? I would have thought that the above clearly indicates that there is something terribly amiss in this state of mind and understanding as to what worldliness is. Do not all these things betray a great spirit of legalism? Is not all of this a ‘works’ mentality? Does it not bypass completely the truth that God looketh first and foremost on the heart? Is this not the religious hierarchy issuing particular diktats so that, in the not doing them, their people can feel more holy than those that do? Yes. But this attitude is completely opposite to walking by faith: to the spirit of the gospel, and to being able truly to rest and rejoice in the finished work of Christ.

I found it increasingly amazing and bewildering that this frame of mind was so prevalent in the denomination of which I was last a member; especially because two of its pillars of belief were, supposedly, the necessity of ‘heart religion’, and that ‘we are not under the law but under grace’. But there you are: such is, and ever will be, the blindness and hypocrisy of the Pharisee.

But someone is going to say here, Hold on. Are you saying that the things you’ve been writing of are not worldly? Surely if the heart was right none of them would appear in the life of the child of God. Although it is true to say that much of the above would probably hold little interest for those on the narrow way, the question tends to miss the whole point of what worldliness is; for when we come to look at what the scriptures define as worldliness – and not what men think, whose views change from one generation to another – then we will get a whole new perspective on the subject; yea, we will discover what God himself thinks. And in so doing the child of God who is caught in the bondage of men and of systems, will be set free to view ‘the world’ and the true Christian walk as it really should be. Mind you, the process of coming there – especially if you have been born and brought up with something like the above mentality – will be hard, will cause enmity from others who like their works of holiness in not being ‘worldly’, but it will be liberating in the end – after all, gospel liberty is the antithesis of legalism.

This is not to say that I am about to advocate antinomian abandon. I do not believe that as we are now in Christ we can live as we please, do what we want, have our fill of ‘the world’ and then arrive in glory, as Luke 9:23,24 clearly indicates. No, there is worldliness to be avoided, but as we shall discover, it is far deeper and more profound than what those who hold to the above definitions perceive: because worldliness does indeed emanate from the heart, and cannot primarily be judged merely by outward actions. Salvation, in all its various aspects, is not of works; why else do you think it must be all of grace? What pleases God is faith, Hebrews 11:6; he views the state of the heart, cp. Psalm 51:6,10,16,17; while a purely legalistic view of worldliness renders one blind to these things.

The ‘Non-worldly’ World

Before we come to investigate what worldliness is let us look for a moment at one or two things of ‘the world’ which are not worldly. When I first discovered the apostle John’s words ‘love not the world, neither the things that are in the world’, I found that they were quite unsettling to my then legalistic mind because I was taking them literally (as well as out of context). What I mean is this. I reasoned that if something was not ‘of the Spirit’ then it must be ‘of the world’. So I was beginning to form this understanding that, outside of legitimate work, everything that was in the world – ‘the things that are in the world’ – was sinful to view, peruse, be interested in, or enjoy. As we were supposed to be those who ‘walk in the Spirit’ I thought that even something like appreciating nature was wrong because it was the creation rather than the Creator, was therefore ‘carnal’ and not spiritual.

Also I reasoned that anything which stimulated or delighted the senses like, in my case, classical music, was to be avoided because, again, that could not be classed as a fruit of walking in the Spirit. So when someone quoted 1 Timothy 6:17 to me, or rather, at me: ‘God hath given us all things richly to enjoy’, I suspected that it was simply being used to justify anything we wanted to do. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before this brought a heaviness to my spirit, and a severely judgmental attitude toward those who couldn’t see it the way I thought I did. Pharisaism.

So let us try to unravel all this by shining the light of scripture upon it, for we must have peace in our consciences before God as we walk in this world. The Lord Jesus in his prayer to the Father in John 17 didn’t say that his people, though not ‘of the world’, should be taken out of the world. So shutting ourselves away from the physical world and leading some sort of monastic life would not be right. Also this would be doing something the Lord Jesus himself didn’t do; after all, he ‘came into the world’; he lived and moved and had his physical being among sinful men, yet in so doing ‘did no sin’. So I gradually realised that there is nothing wrong with seeing beauty in, and thanking God for his creation. Although the earth is polluted with sin and under a curse through the Fall, yet it retains a certain beauty which shows forth God’s ‘eternal power and Godhead’, Romans 1:20. His children can see their Father’s handiwork in the wonders of creation, but it does only remain physical and has nothing ‘spiritual’ about it. None can come to God through the work of his fingers: creation itself, though beautiful, is not a way by which we can approach God. The Lord Jesus clearly asserts that designation only for himself, John 14:6.

There is a belief that ‘God’ is everything in which there is life, where the physical creation is part of the Creator; this is called ‘pantheism’, but is totally at variance to the revelation of Scripture. ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth’, for ever distinguishes God from his creation. He is a Spirit and exists apart from the work of his hands. Of the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son, it is written, ‘All things were made by him’, John 1:3, Colossians 1:16; he therefore existed and exists before and apart from his creation. It is sin – idolatry – to worship the creation rather than the Creator, Romans 1:25, Exodus 20:3.

So, as creation is not God and not of itself spiritual, then glorying because of it can be not much more than a fleshly exercise. Whereas it is not wrong to thank God for his creation – and perhaps we should stop and ‘consider’ it more often, Psalm 8 – it, in itself, does not give the new man spiritual fulfilment or peace of mind. Nothing outside of the revelation of Christ: his wonderful Person and work, can fulfil the longing which the child of God has. Paul’s sole desire was to know Christ and be found in him, etc, Philippians 3.

There is beauty for the senses in creation but there is only beauty for the spirit in the Saviour. How often, when feeling fed up or frustrated, have we gone to the delights of creation for rest and peace and yet, although finding temporary physical refreshment, have come away still empty within, when we’d have been better exercised in seeking the Creator. No, but the Spirit leads the children of God to seek after and feed upon Christ himself who is their ‘all in all’. So if we find our desires being drawn away from the Lord Jesus Christ, then to whatever we are drawn becomes ‘the world’, including the physical world.

Another important point needs to be made here. Nowhere in Scripture is the child of God told that honest labour, albeit in and amongst the world, is ‘worldly’ and wrong. ‘Come out from among them and be ye separate’ is not an exhortation to withdraw from the world in an absolute sense, as we have seen; the context there is separation from every thing false in religion, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. No, work is good, it was, after all, part of the original creation which was ‘very good’: ‘And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it’, Genesis 2:15. Sin had not yet entered, nor Eve created, yet there was the man commissioned to work: although as yet for Adam it was not labourious. The apostle also witnesses the same to the Thessalonians, observing that there were some ‘walking disorderly’ among them, ‘working not at all, but are busybodies’; of them he writes that therefore they shouldn’t eat, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12.

Work is good, and mostly work is out in the world, amidst the pollution of it, and it can, as a result, be a sore trial to the children of God. But there is no calling to surround ourselves only with heavenly things at the expense of earning our daily bread. Remember the Lord Jesus’ prayer was not that his people should be taken out of the world, but that they be kept from the evil while in it; after all, Paul exhorts ‘servants’, that is, ‘employees’, to be good workers for their ‘masters’, whether they be brethren or not, Ephesians 6:5-8.

The Lord Jesus, his people’s great example, worked most of his life as a carpenter, no doubt having to deal with people – customers – all the time. And when the Spirit of the Lord had descended upon him, he was not slow in going into the world to preach, teach and heal. He was rebuked by the religious hypocrites of the day for receiving sinners, for going into their houses and eating with them, Luke 15:2; he didn’t shut himself away in the hallowed sanctuary of the Temple and call the people to come and hear his words – after they had ceremonially cleansed themselves; no, he was ‘in the world’ constantly. The very fact of the Incarnation, God the Son coming into the world from the glorious realms of eternity, humbling himself and taking upon him the likeness of sinful flesh; exposing himself to the filth of the world of men in unbelief, is a clear indication that it is not God’s will for his elect to absent themselves totally from ‘the world.’ ‘Ye are the salt of the earth… ye are the light of the world’, he told his disciples; and salt and light are useless unless amidst and among, Matthew 5:13-16.

How many of the Lord’s people, who have needful and legitimate employment in the world, may have to conform – to many outward appearances – to ‘the way of the world’ as part of their occupation; but they are still not worldly. Although Zacchaeus was a tax collector, there is no reason to believe – from the text of scripture – that he left that occupation after salvation had come to him. But we can be sure that he was the most honest publican around thereafter.

Other of the Lord’s people find their lot cast in pretty horrendous circumstances. Take Lot, for instance. There is no indication from the scriptural text that he knew the character of the city of Sodom when he chose the well watered plains of Jordan for his cattle to feed on; after all if he’d chosen the opposite path, presumably Abram would have had these plains for his cattle. No, but Lot was a righteous man whose soul was vexed when he found himself among the inhabitants of the city ‘in seeing and hearing the filthy conversation of the wicked’ day after wearying day. But the Lord rescued him. And it is no good sanctimonious people pointing the finger at Lot here and saying, ‘Ah, yes, but he lingered, and had to be hastened out!’ Yes, but he didn’t look back, as they would likely do if they suddenly lost their comfortable home, most of their family, all their possessions, and probably their financial security as well – not to mention the shock of hearing their home town going up in flames behind them.

The point about Lot was that, as a just man, he wasn’t worldly, even though he lived in an environment that most of us have not had to experience – yet. Yes, some of the Lord’s people do hate the position they are in, not least because their minds are so polluted by the environment in which they live or work. All you can do is pray for grace to fall under the sovereign providence of the Lord for the present, and call upon him that, if he will, you would like a position less troublesome to your spirit. But in it all, you are not worldly yourself, and none should judge you for living in ‘such a place’, or having ‘such a job’.

So the world out of which God’s people are called does not include the world of legitimate work. If however we are ‘career-minded’: that the work we pursue is driven by fleshly, proud ambition, by the love of money, or power and status; is gain-orientated above and beyond our needs, then greed is at play, and covetousness, which is idolatry; this is wickedness and worldliness. And the same is true if our lust is to be some great one in the church.

But to counter all this the Lord’s people have a simple encouragement which, when applied to the heart by the Spirit, sets them at liberty, and gives peace and rest: ‘Let your conversation [manner of living] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me’, Hebrews 13:5,6.

Finally here it is always good for the Lord’s people to be reminded of their position ‘in Christ’ – another sure counter to worldliness. The Lord Jesus said of his disciples that ‘…they are not of the world…’ Now this is a statement of fact. In Christ his people have been called out of the way of the world and are now members of his body and indwelt of his Spirit. Consequently as they ‘walk in the Spirit’, they ‘fulfil not the lusts of the flesh.’ If we believe in the power of God to reign in the hearts of his people – without their permission or consenting co-operation – then this must be the case. This is a fundamental truth. God works in his own both the will and the doing of his good pleasure, despite the fact that they are still in the flesh and fall under many temptations to indulge their lusts – yea, and sometimes do fall therein. But, ultimately, they do not walk according to the flesh as a constant way of life, as they did before they were called, 1 Peter 1:14-25, 4:1-4.

Being ‘in Christ’, therefore – not merely being in an outwardly strict denomination – is the only state to be in which cannot be called ‘worldly’. All those outside of Christ are in the world, whether they be religious or not. Unregenerate men in pulpits are one hundred percent worldly. Every self-righteous Pharisee in the pew is of the world. Works mean nothing. If you are not in Christ then you are of the world.

Worldliness : What God Thinks

There are two verses of scripture which are most commonly quoted with regard to worldliness. The first is the aforementioned 1 John 2:15: ‘Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world’, and the second is James 4:4, ‘know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God’. To a lesser degree the phrase from the prayer of the Lord Jesus in John 17 mentioned above might be alluded to: ‘they are not of the world’, and possibly Romans 12:2, ‘be not conformed to this world’ – although perhaps more rarely: it being rather more difficult to take out of its immediate context – verse one being too close to costly living for comfort. Also in more specific situations – regarding women not wearing jewellery, make-up, or trousers – reference would be made to 1 Peter 3:3, 1 Timothy 2:9, 2 Kings 9:30, and Deuteronomy 22:5.

Before coming to these verses one or two preliminary observations must be made. These exhortations regarding ‘the world’ are made specifically to the people of God, and not to the, as yet, unregenerate, though professedly religious. In John 17 the Lord Jesus is praying only for his disciples: for those ‘which thou gavest me out of the world’, verse 6. Jesus is not praying for all mankind. He says in verse 9, ‘I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.’ Therefore we must always remember that gospel exhortations are always addressed to God’s people – to those in the faith: the New Testament Epistles being written to them alone. So it is wrong to impose, or seek to apply these exhortations to those yet dead in trespasses and sins.

Likewise we must keep in mind that the holy scriptures are first and foremost a spiritual revelation, which only those born of the Spirit can receive unto salvation and profit. It was to Timothy, a man of God, that Paul wrote, ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…’ 2 Timothy 3:16,17. Paul had said that the scriptures were able to make ‘thee’, Timothy, a child of God, ‘wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus’: and not all men have faith except the elect, to whom it is given as a free gift, cp. 2 Thessalonians 3:2, Ephesians 2:8-10.

That religious giant of Jerusalem, Nicodemus, was told emphatically by the Lord Jesus that all his religious learning, understanding, and perceptions: not to mention his outward performances, were carnal and counted for nothing; he ‘must be born again… of water and the Spirit,’ John 3. Only those who have been regenerated by a sovereign gracious act of God the Holy Spirit can, by his inworking, obey spiritual exhortations. Those dead to God and to spiritual life have no grace, no faith, and no desire rightly to obey any gospel exhortation – although that doesn’t stop many of them taking those same exhortations and applying them to themselves, just as they take all the scriptures and interpret them how they please, which is always, obviously, carnally, and to their own condemnation.

But when the Lord Jesus prays for his people we can be sure that the Father will answer him: Jesus will always receive answers to his prayers, as he declared at the tomb of Lazarus, ‘Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I know that thou hearest me always’, John 11:41,42. He is even now praying for his people at the right hand of the Father – the only reason they are being kept from falling away, Romans 8:34. So in the light of this we can conclude that to impose gospel exhortations in a legalistic manner upon the unregenerate will only make them into good little self-righteous Pharisees – and what use will that be to them? – and that all God’s people will be called out of the world, rescued from worldliness, and kept from the evil. In another place Jesus stated, ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me’, John 10:27; not, ‘I hope they will follow me’, but ‘they follow me.’

So let us look at these verses which are used to justify men’s interpretations of worldliness, and see if they are being applied correctly, or misapplied to justify a particularly chosen view. We will start with James 4:4, because this verse, in context, goes, literally, to the heart of the matter. The words ‘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’, come in the context of addressing the problem of ‘your lusts’, verse 1. There is inordinate desire in your heart: a burning lust for something you must obtain, and it wells up in you to such a degree that you will even pray to God for its fulfilment. But it is the very spirit of worldliness.

James asks, ‘From whence come wars and fightings among you?’ Why is there such disquiet among you at times? Why are ye so often discontent? And he answers straightly and directly: ‘Come they not hence?’ Is this not the reason? It is the reason, without a doubt: ‘Come they not hence, even of your own lusts’ – lit. ‘hedonism’ – ‘that [lit.] wage war in your members?’ These are Peter’s ‘fleshly lusts’ which likewise wage war against the soul, 1 Peter 2:11. ‘Ye lust, and have not’, frustrating, isn’t it? But do we throw ourselves on the mercy of God and cast off this spirit of worldliness? No. ‘Ye kill – or envy – and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war’ within yourselves, in utter frustration because you cannot get what your heart so desires – and this is a principle which applies, ultimately, to everything we desire outside of Christ himself, cp. again Philippians 3:7-14. ‘Yet ye have not, because ye ask not’. Ask who? Well, God presumably. You are the children of God and have these desires, so why not ask him for their fulfilment? Well, I did, but I couldn’t get what I wanted! ‘Ye ask, and receive not’; well I know that! But why didn’t God answer me and give me my heart’s desire? ‘Because ye ask amiss’ – which word indicates that the motivation behind the asking is all wrong, for it is according to the flesh, sinfully: remember that Christ did nothing ‘amiss’, but we’re the opposite. So it is said, ‘Ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.’ I want it, and I must have what I want.

Then the truth of the gospel cries, ‘Ye adulterers and adulteresses’, so men and women suffer from this; and yes, adultery is not just going off with your neighbour’s spouse – or imagining doing so, but adultery is lusting after things which are not Christ’s things, and which are not according to the revealed will of God, and is the fundamental spirit of worldliness: ‘Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world [walking hand in hand with the world in the way that it thinks and desires] is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.’ Why? How? Because lust and desire is the driving force behind ‘the way of the world’. Must have! Got to get! Must qualify! Must advance! Must obtain! Must succeed! And how prevelant this spirit is in those who outwardly, and as viewed in the mirror – and at chapel – appear barely to be worldly at all.

Now read James 4 verses 5 and following to see the grace of God to all those who – though his people – suffer from this affliction from time to time, and who, by his grace, fall under the exhortations – obey the gospel – and attain to the ‘lifting up’ of verse 10.

Next we turn to what the apostle John says in chapter 2 of his First Epistle. And, lo and behold, he says the same thing: ‘Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world… For all that is in the world’ – so this is the complete definition of what worldliness is: ‘all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life… is of the world’, verse 16; nothing here about women wearing trousers, is there? No, this is a heart matter: a matter of the affections: ‘Love not the world.’ So ‘the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life’, according to the apostle’s doctrine, is what ‘the world’ and worldliness is.

This truth was first manifest in the garden of Eden. There was the woman being subtly tempted, openly lied to, and having her mind corrupted by the serpent: and what do we read? ‘And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food’ – the lust of the flesh – ‘and that it was pleasant [lit. ‘a desire’] to the eyes’ – the lust of the eyes – ‘and a tree to be desired to make one wise’ – the pride of life – she partook of the ‘fruit’ of the tree of ‘the love of the world’, Genesis 3:6, 2 Corinthians 11:3. Achan, too, ‘saw… and coveted’ of the spoil of Jericho, and although it was practically useless to him – he could never have displayed it openly – yet it satisfied the lust of his heart to have it – until the judgment came, Joshua 7. James, earlier in his epistle, gives us this worldly principle which destroyed Achan: ‘Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death’, James 1:14,15. Yes, worldliness is lust within, and it is that which brings about our fall. [In my early days I used to remember this order in James – lust, sin, death – as LSD..!]

Now this is where things become very uncomfortable for the legalist; for all that he judges as worldly is what he can see others doing. But is this not how Saul of Tarsus was found out? ‘I was alive without the law once’, he said. Yes, there he was in all his outward legal pride: not doing these things, doing the other things. He could stand in front of the glass on the Sabbath morning just before he went to synagogue and, making broad his phylacteries, could purr, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are…’ But he was ignorant of the state of his heart: for ‘when the commandment came’ – ‘THOU SHALT NOT LUST’ – ‘sin came to life in me, and I died.’ Note: this tenth of the Commandments is the only one which addresses the interior man. So God does look upon the heart after all. And what does he see there? ‘The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life’: worldliness. And ignoring this fundamental definition makes all outward religious observances, performances, and adherence to peculiar denominational traditions, totally irrelevant and vanity.

But there is something more to this verse in 1 John 2; for the context shows to whom the apostle was writing. And it was specifically to the ‘young men’, verse 14. This exhortation was not addressed to ‘the fathers’ nor to the ‘little children’. To the young men John had said: ‘I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world…’ None of these things were addressed to the little children; for although John could already write confidently to them that ‘your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake’, and that ‘ye have known the Father’, which, after all, is eternal life; yet it seems that the apostle thought it too soon to exhort them with this ‘stronger meat’ which would still be too much for them to bear. But to the more mature – the young men – although as yet not the elders: the fathers, who had been long in the way – to the young men, John did still feel the need to warn of the dangers of loving the world and the things that are in the world. Obviously these young men were still liable – despite their spiritual overcoming thus far – of being enticed away; and if you know anything of the power of your flesh then you will have painfully discovered how true that is.

This reminds us of the fact that it is only those who ‘endure to the end’ which shall be saved. Apparent spiritual maturity, attainment, and power even to ‘cast out devils in thy name’ – overcome the wicked one – is no guarantee of final salvation. The Lord’s people are to hold the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end; are to forsake themselves and take up their cross daily; are to fight the good fight of faith constantly; are to run with patience the race which is set before them. There is a standing, and having done all, to stand; a patient continuance in well doing; a daily looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God; there is a settled state of loving his appearing. There can therefore be no presumption, no slackening in the way of faith, on the narrow way which leadeth, in the end, unto life. And what is one of the reasons the way is so narrow? Because it is a way which says ‘no’ to the way of the world: a way so totally contrary to the way the flesh would take, inasmuch as it is called ‘crucifying the flesh with the affections – passions – and lusts’, and a mortification – starving to death – of your members upon the earth. Oh, what enemies we have within! So as there is no room for careless presumption in these young men, they are warned specifically not to love the world, neither the things that are in the world.

In the light of this let us pause for a moment to consider the temptation and overcoming of the Lord Jesus. Here was a man who, although he was in the world, was not of it. At one point late in his ministry he comforted his disciples with these words: ‘These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer’ – take confidence from this – ‘I have overcome the world’, John 16:33.

And how do we understand Jesus to have ‘overcome the world’ in the context of what we’ve been considering? Well, just go to his temptation in the wilderness at the hand of the adversary. These three temptations – which actually make up one complete temptation, or trial – was nothing different in principle to what Eve faced in the Garden: to partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – the things of this world. Can we not see that inherent in Satan’s temptation of the Saviour was the falling under and indulging ‘the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life’? cp. Luke 4:1-13. But the man Christ Jesus instantly and totally overcame the devil and yielded not to the temptation. This is not to say that he could have yielded but didn’t; but it is to show us that he was totally ‘without sin’ in his Person and therefore could not be tempted of evil; and that, as ‘the last Adam’: as the head of the spiritual body, the out-called, he was not and could not be touched or overcome by the tempter, as he said, ‘…the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me’, John 14:30. And so it can be said of these sanctified members of his body, that, being ‘in Christ’, the evil one now has nothing in them either – not ultimately.

This is the pure doctrine of the gospel. Consider it: can a person be indwelt of the Spirit of God and Satan at the same time? What has Satan got in those who are ‘in Christ’: who live by faith? He’s got plenty in those who walk after the flesh, and who love the world and the things that are in the world; but he can have nothing in those who have been ‘crucified with Christ’ and are therefore ‘dead’, Galatians 2:20. Again, it is essential, by the work of God within, to have a full understanding, and to live in the light of this wonderful doctrine of the unity of Christ and his people.

So, the Lord Jesus overcame the world for his people as their covenant head – just as Adam fell into the spirit of worldliness, and all his posterity in him, as the first head of mankind. The question now arises for the reader: Who, then, are you ‘in’? Do you love the world, being still in Adam, or are you overcoming the world in Christ? In Adam you will be full of lust for this world, for the things which eminate from the realm of time, and for the indulgence of the senses; but in Christ, though greatly tempted at times, you will be overcoming these things. Don’t forget: the temptations of the devil and the power of the flesh are not so great that it is impossible for the saints to overcome them; not if ‘greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world’; cp. 1 John 2:13,14; 4:4; Revelation 3:21; 12:10,11. Unbelief may scoff at that truth, but faith lays hold upon it and by grace walks in the light of it, to the glory of the Saviour.

‘The Lusts’

So, let us return to look at these lusts – first mentioned by James and now by John – in more detail. ‘The lust of the flesh.’ If you are a child of God you will indeed be all too aware of the power of the flesh when at times it rises up to consume you with its desires. And this is a trial that you – though in Christ – will have to endure, more or less, for the rest of your life. Nevertheless we have just hinted at the answer to how these desires can be overcome: and it is with the gospel – of course. And we do not tire of repeating it. Paul, writing to the Colossians, first reminds them of their position ‘in Christ’, before exhorting them to ‘mortify your members which are upon the earth’. He tells them that it is only as they keep in mind that, in Christ, they have been ‘circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ’, and that they have been ‘buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.’ (Wonderful truths. Where are the men preaching and expounding these things today to the comfort of the flock?)

But the apostle’s doctrine doesn’t finish there: ‘And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.’ What a comprehensive defeating of our enemies! Colossians 2.

‘Wherefore if [as] ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world’, there’s your ‘philosophy, vain deceit and traditions of men’, Colossians 2:8 – so worldliness has been defeated in Christ – ‘why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances?’ – those traditions which men impose on you – ‘after the commandments and doctrines of men’; the obeying of which makes you think you are not worldly: ‘Touch not; taste not; handle not’; can you see the frowning faces and wagging fingers? ‘which all perish with the using’! Why do you do it? Why do you let men impose upon you their Pharisaical traditions with ‘a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh’? Why? when you are in Christ, having union with him in his death, burial and resurrection?

But, ‘If ye then be risen with Christ’, which ye are, then ‘seek those things which are above, where Christ [and you in him] sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection [the desires of your mind] on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.’ Oh, this wonderful doctrine of the gospel is the only answer to worldliness: ‘ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.’ How many of us can truly walk in the light of having been ‘crucified with Christ’? Not until we can – losing self completely – will our natural desires count for nothing. If I am dead, then what can I lust after? And so ‘when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore’ – in the light of all that wonderful gospel truth here is the salient exhortation – ‘Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth…’ Colossians 3:1-5.

Away with these legalists, imposing their works upon the people, instead of preaching and expounding the doctrine of Christ to them. But then, how can they preach Jesus Christ and him crucified if their ‘works of righteousness’ – their outward supposed nonconformity to the world – are so encouraged by their traditions and laws. What need they of Christ at all if they have somewhat to perform themselves. Either salvation is all of grace – exclusively of grace from first to last – or it is of works. Either the Christian walk is ‘by faith’ or it is by legal performances. The only valid work in the way of faith is ‘the work of faith’; the only true labouring is ‘the labour of love’; which two things are driven on by ‘the patience of hope’, 1 Thessalonians 1:3.

And how are these things manifest in the current context of Colossians 3? In the mortification of your members. To mortify is ‘to cause the death of’. But we will never completely see the death of our members – the seat of all these lusts – until we have put off this corruption and entered into eternity. For while we are still in this world, and while our spirit, which longs to be with Christ, is incarcerated in this body of sin and death, then this will always be a trial: part of the ‘much tribulation’ we must go through. But the flesh can be starved; it can have its sustenance cut off; it can be kept from seeing, hearing and being stimulated by those things which invigorate it: ‘mortified’.

And this is exactly what the Lord Jesus taught his disciples on more than one occasion: ‘If thy hand cause thee to offend, cut it off… If thy foot offend thee, cut it off… If thine eye cause thee to offend, pluck it out’, Mark 9:43-48; Matthew 5:29,30. These words are not to be taken literally, of course; they mean that we should keep ourselves from doing, walking in, and seeing those things which lead us into the stimulation of the flesh. So, if you have a certain weakness then rid yourself of all those things which encourage your exposure to it. If you are, like me, a television-holic, or if you are hopelessly addicted to, say, the internet, then the only thing to do is to remove it from your house – you’ll have no peace in your spirit until then.

With this in mind the apostle exhorted the Hebrews to ‘lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us’, Hebrews 12:1. Every child of God has those things which readily cause them to fall; they know what they are, and so does their enemy. We each have certain ‘lusts of the flesh’ and ‘lusts of the eyes’ which so easily beset us; but we are to ‘lay them aside’. Much prayer and diligence is needed, and often many cries go up to the Lord when a certain temptation is upon you. And it is hard. But again the gospel of God concerning his Son gives the answer: ‘Looking unto Jesus… For consider him…’, verses 2,3.

The apostle Paul experienced the same trials of the flesh; which is why he said, ‘I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway’, 1 Corinthians 9:27. Why so hard on himself? Because he was running the race to obtain an incorruptible crown. Echoing what we have previously said, there was no presumption with this man. Just because he was an apostle and had received abundant revelation didn’t mean he could lightly give way to the lusts of the flesh and the eyes thinking that, oh, well, ‘once saved, always saved’. No, but he strove to ‘tame’ his body (Tyndale). When his eye offended him, he plucked it out, not indulged it while holding a perverted interpretation of what salvation by grace alone meant: Paul was no antinomian. So, ‘mortify therefore your members’ is essential to a true Christian walk.

Therefore it is just not good enough to impose specific prohibitions on people, as if all the Lord’s people are tempted with the same things. Saying things like, ‘It is worldly for the children of God to have television, so we will make a rule which says that no member of the church can have television’, is to miss the whole point; for to some TV is just not a source of temptation. No, they can rule it so completely that they use it for their own benefit, never abuse it, 1 Corinthians 7:31, and know where the off button is – just like most do with the radio. But for others the screen just sits there alluringly saying, ‘Watch me, watch me’, leaving the poor child powerless to resist. In that case, then, as with anything like it, the flesh must be mortified; it has to go.

This point has to be emphasised, because this is the crux of the matter. Some of the Lord’s people struggle with certain temptations and desires which others are never troubled with. The spirit of the world is lust, desire, and, as we shall see, ambition. That which overcomes one member of the body betimes is unknown to another. Those things which are of no interest to some are a heavy burden to others. How much pain and dread they feel when they are beset by a certain temptation, which would be to others hard to understand. Therefore the tried soul needs pity, empathy, and a loving prayerful concern from his brethren; not for the church to legislate against it and then charge the poor soul with being worldly – especially when they are never tried with that particular temptation themselves.

I hope the sober reader can see the great principle that I am trying to bring out here. Paul wrote on more than one occasion that some of the Lord’s people are weak and some are strong; all must be guided by their own consciences, and none should judge another if the latter’s conscience is clear and their actions are not unlawful: cp. Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8. But this is all overturned by the legalist who makes blanket rules and stubborn definitions regarding what worldliness is; and if they are strictly imposed upon all, then will not the innocent be offended, whose consciences are clear before God? or will not those who fall under them – because they want to stay in that particular company – be led to believe that they are being holy, and are not worldly, even though they may remain unregenerate? Again, I say, whatever we do which makes us think we are either more holy, or better than others, betrays nothing but the spirit of the Pharisee; is an attitude is not taught of the Father, betrays no real need of Christ and his salvation, and is a long way from the life of faith.

This attitude also betrays a blindness to the truth that, even if a person were to separate himself totally from ‘the world’; yea, if he were literally to pluck out both his eyes, and burst both his ear drums so that he lived in total darkness and silence, thus separating and freeing himself, supposedly, from all worldly stimuli and temptations, that the world would still be in his heart. Blind men can still imagine, and deaf men can still hear the dictates of the heart. Oh, its works, all works.

Which leads us to the other thing which is in the world: ‘the pride of life’. What does this legalistic attitude produce but pride: raging pride. ‘These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him’, One: ‘A proud look.’ But the pride of life – which is quintessential worldliness – is, obviously, missed completely by the legalist. As the end of his conversation is pride, then how can he see it in himself? In the denomination of which I was once a member I heard more than once – in solemn tones – that ‘On my way to chapel this morning I saw people mowing their lawns, going shopping, pursuing their pleasures… and yet here we are, but a few in number, found by the grace of God in the Lord’s house.’ Well, how wonderful! But not by the grace of God, I’m afraid; but by ‘the pride of life.’ How I was increasingly repulsed by otherwise carnal men who put their religious observances and conformity to particular traditions of unworldliness down to the working of the grace of God. The end of the grace of God is not pride in men’s dead religion! Please do meditate upon the attitude of mind which brought forth the Pharisee’s ‘confession’, Luke 18:11,12; and don’t think that his attitude has disappeared just because from time to time you like to mutter the publican’s prayer, verse 13.

But the pride of life reaches much deeper than this. It is not just pride which is addressed here, but the pride of life. And what is this if not the working of ambition – the lust of the mind – ambition to attain in this world. Paul’s desire of Philippians 3 is a right ambition, and the Lord who looketh upon the heart can see if it is there or not, regardless of what other people think they see. What drives us in our daily lives? What hopes do we have for the future? What do we desire for ourselves and for our children? Security? – that is, financial security? A good ‘education’? – as the world calls it. A good job? Position? Success? A good pension? Being comfortable in old age? Perhaps respect or honour is your goal. Well, you can have it all in this life if you work hard: and then when you die you can go to hell, cp. Luke 9:23-25, John 12:25,26; for the desire and pursuit of these things is the very essence of worldliness.

I am not saying that if the child of God finds himself in any of these positions in the providence of God that they are necessarily worldly-minded in themselves – Joseph, for instance, was repeatedly raised to positions of authority and honour, Genesis 39:1-6, 21-23; 41:37-44; but if these things are the ambitions of your heart, and are what concentrate your mind above everything else, then you are of the world, regardless of how holy you appear on a Sunday.

When the Lord Jesus said, ‘What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world’, what he meant was this: ‘What shall it profit a man if he attains to everything he desires in this life.’ A very poor man can be said to have ‘gained the whole world’ if he is happy with his meagre lot, wants for nothing – except perhaps to be left alone – and has no further ambition in this world, or for the next.

But to those who profess the Lord but still hanker within for more in/of this world, let me ask you a question: Whatever happened to ‘and having food and raiment let us be therewith content’? 1 Timothy 6:8, cp. Ecclesiastes 4:6. But we live in the rich West, and our standard of living is so comfortable nowadays; it is just our hap to have been born at this time; surely we should not impoverish ourselves just because we are Christians! No, that is true. But doesn’t it show what a rotten corrupt godless ‘civilisation’ we live in, when we can treat the exhortation of the apostle as though it were now irrelevant? What about, ‘Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest!’ ‘Foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.’ I suppose we just view the Carpenter with smug, condescending amusement, pitying his narrow-minded simplicity, do we? Surely if Jesus were on earth today he’d avail himself of all our ‘mod cons’ to encourage fully the advancement of his ministry? Well, for those who have eyes to see, the ‘rich’ West, being a civilisation built on debt, cannot continue much longer before it comes crashing down. Then these words of the Lord Jesus and his apostle will suddenly look very stark and relevant for ‘the 21st Century’, and will find out and separate the ones who, despite the advantages of the trappings of ‘modern life’, have not placed all their ‘faith’ in the here and now, but have always had their hearts and minds set upon the world to come. You see, true discipleship costs; it must cost. It costs self: ‘Follow thou me’, said Jesus; and if we are following him then ‘the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life’, won’t be found reigning in our hearts.

To sum up, then: being worldly is desiring, thinking and reasoning how the world desires, thinks and reasons. These lusts of the mind determine how we live, what we pursue, what is important to us. If you look at ‘the people of the world’ and see from their walk, and hear from their conversation the same desires, ambitions and reasonings that you know dwell in you and drive you, then you are worldly – even though you might hide behind a religious exterior. And in a way your life will be more frustrating even than theirs, for because you are religious and have to maintain some sort of holy-looking exterior, then your lusts – which are the same as the world’s – can never be fully realised, because you cannot and must not live as you would; for though your heart and conscience tells you otherwise you must continue to give the impression to the world – and more importantly, to others at chapel – that you are not worldly at all. But don’t forget that the day of judgment will soon be upon you, when the secrets of all men’s hearts will be revealed – remember Solomon’s ‘with every secret thing’, Ecclesiastes 12:14 – and you will be judged by what the Lord sees there. If only these words would sink down into our ears and rest in the very depths of our being: not only does the Lord look upon the heart but, ‘I the LORD search the heart’ as well, Jeremiah 17:10.

What repentance is needed here. Paul writes to the Romans, ‘be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind’, 12:2. The renewing of your mind is repentance. The mind has to be transformed – transfigured, lit. ‘metamorphosis’ – from thinking and reasoning as the world does to thinking ‘soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith’, verse 3. Indeed, the whole of this passage in Romans 12 is dealing with ‘proving the will of God’ – a key need for the people of God, cp. Matthew 7:21. Therefore Paul has exhorted his readers that they, ‘by the mercies of God’, are to ‘present their bodies’ – including their desires and lusts – ‘a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God… be not conformed to this world… be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind’. What is this if not a turning from the old mentality to the new – which is the very essence of repentance. Nevertheless the doctrine of the gospel here declares that in Christ the Lord’s people already ‘have the mind of Christ’, 1 Corinthians 2:16, and therefore as they walk in the Spirit they will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.

Christian Women

In the light of all these gospel truths, then, we can now briefly comment on the other verses quoted at the beginning of this article, which mostly seem to pertain to women: the legalistic interpretations of which suddenly now appearing rather tiresome.

Firstly 1 Peter 3:3. This verse is used to impose the law of not wearing jewellery: Thou shalt not have your ears pierced, etc. But when I was among the people who placed such great importance on this, I saw numerous necklaces, bangles and brooches. But why focus in this verse on the ‘wearing of gold’ only? For Peter also mentions ‘plaiting the hair’, and the ‘putting on of apparel’. Why not impose a restriction on any styling of the hair; and why not frown on fashionable clothing? Yet I don’t remember seeing much ‘dowdiness’ in the chapels – especially not among the fashion-conscious and vain young women. I saw relatively short skirts; smart suites and jackets – often with very masculine square padded shoulders – various styles of hats, depending on the time of year – with sometimes even a feather or two; and all presented in a variety of colours. Not to mention the matching shoes and handbags; for you must realise that God won’t meet with us if we’re scruffy, or casual, or worse, if we ‘clash’!

Some might not like this style of writing, saying it is sarcastic and ungracious. Well if that’s how they want to describe the exposing of their hypocrisy, then that’s up to them; but it’s nothing compared to what will be heard on the day of judgment by those who abuse the holy scriptures and live by their traditions at the expense of the truth of the gospel. For the problem with all this – whether these things were imposed to the full or not – is that this is not what Peter was talking about. He wasn’t making general comments about how women should dress and what they should or shouldn’t be wearing; he was talking about a Christian woman’s relationship to her disobedient husband.

There is a godly woman whose husband is not ‘obeying the word’, verse 1; and in this situation the temptation might be to start lecturing him and perhaps even ceasing to obey him, as she is not in disobedience – how easy it is for pride to rise up when we see another wandering into paths which we never would. But no. She is to continue to ‘be in subjection’ to her husband, that he ‘without the word’ might ‘be won by the conversation of his wife.’ She is not to preach at him, nag him, dishonour him, but uphold a ‘chaste conversation coupled with fear – reverence’, verse 2. And it is in this context that her adorning is mentioned. And what is the great adorning of a godly woman to win her husband to the right way? Not by outward ‘seduction’, verse 3, ‘but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price – very precious’, verse 4. How different this verse reads now in its proper context, and how devoid of legalism and vanity it is.

1 Timothy 2:9 is likewise used to impose the non-wearing of jewellery. But again the immediate context reveals a specific meaning and interpretation to the verse. Paul is speaking from verse one specifically about prayer. In verse eight he addresses the men when they pray and then in verse nine ‘in like manner also’ the women when they pray. The broader context, say, up to verse 12 of this chapter, would seem to indicate that the apostle is referring to the occasions when the church is gathered together – prayer was part of the order of such gatherings, cp. Acts 2:42. So then it would be improper for the women to be overly adorned. Soberness of dress, adorning, and behaviour, springing from a soberness of mind – remember it’s the state of the heart which matters – is the theme of this verse.

Now it may be argued by some – and this was my initial reading of the text – that nowhere in these verses does Paul actually use a phrase like ‘when ye come together’; so that the words of verse nine should be applied to women in all their lives, and not just while they are in church or chapel; and this sounds reasonable. But if this is the meaning here, then all we can say to those who think it is, Well, follow it then! and follow it to the letter. Make sure that at all times, and in every situation, your women and girls are never to be found in immodest apparel – skirts must always be down to the ankles; no transparent or ‘body-hugging’ clothing; no swimwear, no slightly low-cut tops – summer as well as winter; indeed nothing should be worn which will cause a man’s head to turn. They must constantly exercise shamefacedness: modesty and reverence of character; and sobriety: ‘the voluntary limitation of one’s freedom of thought and behaviour’. They must never have broided or braided hair – probably better to keep it covered at all times – never bedeck themselves with gold – including gold watches, I presume – or pearls – granny’s beads? – or costly – expensive – array. You see, if you want this verse to mean what you profess it to mean then you must implement it absolutely. But then, it will still only be ‘filthy rags’ – so to speak – if the heart is not right.

The third verse used to impose a closely related ‘rule’ upon women and girls is 2 Kings 9:30. This verse apparently instructs women that it is worldly to wear make-up: If you wear make-up you will be nothing better than wicked queen Jezebel who ‘painted her face’. But she also ‘tired her head’ – that is, beautified her hair – her whole appearance: we just cannot get away from this prohibition regarding styling the hair. But how many women and girls regularly do this so as to be attractively presented to the world; or perhaps to ‘win over’ a situation as Jezebel was trying to do here? Again, if you’re bent on legalism in religion then you must be consistent and mark and fall under every jot and tittle; i.e. ‘in all things’, Galatians 3:10.

But then, was the painting of her face really the reason for Jezebel’s downfall? Hardly. Just look at her character which exposed where her heart really lay. We read that this woman ‘slew the prophets of the LORD’, while she entertained the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of the groves. And hear her words to Elijah the man of God after he had slain the prophets of Baal at the brook Kishon: ‘So let the gods do to me, and more so, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.’ And what about the whole affair of her stirring up Ahab her husband against Naboth: what did she care about that righteous man’s desire to obey the law of the LORD regarding the inheritance of his fathers? No. Here was an altogether godless woman; and having put a bit of make-up on her face is now the least reason for her torments, 1 Kings 18,19,21.

Fourthly, Deuteronomy 22:5 is quoted in relation to women wearing trousers. Apparently trousers are the only item of clothing which pertains exclusively to men. So we never wear shirts, as women do, or shoes, or jackets, sweaters, socks, etc. Ah, but most of those other items come in men’s and women’s styles, you can always tell the difference. Exactly! So too with trousers! But why pick on trousers? Would this interpretation hold true among the Lord’s people who live in cultures where the common dress is different to ours? But Deuteronomy 22:5 speaks of ‘that which pertaineth to a man’, and ‘neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God’ – just like all those who walk in Pharisaic pride are an abomination to the Lord, Proverbs 6:16,17.

But surely this verse is speaking of what today would be called ‘cross-dressing’: men literally dressing as women, and women as men. What the Lord is prohibiting here is the confusion of the sexes. If you cannot tell, or if you verily think it is one when in fact it’s the other, then you’re at the proper meaning of this verse. So for religious men to come along and start categorising single items of clothing can only lead to the shifting interpretations of ‘the fashion of this world.’ It’s just another scheme which Pharisees have invented to keep their people under submission, so they can ‘lord it over them’.

How hard it must be for girls who have to endure teasing and perhaps even bullying at school because ‘you always wear skirts’. Some might say, ‘Ah, but they are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake’. No they are not. If they are merely under the rule and in bondage to the legalistic traditions of unspiritual religious men, and if they are as yet unregenerate themselves, then that word does not apply to them. No, they suffer at school so that their elders can glory in the flesh, in ‘not being as other men are’.

One last reference for those who insist on keeping the people concentrating on outward appearances to the exclusion of the heart: just read Matthew 23:25-28: you will not get past the judge of all the earth and his words.

So what do we conclude from all this. I hope I have shown that the constant testimony of scripture is that outward appearance among the spiritual children of God in their daily lives is nigh on irrelevant. God looketh on the heart, as it is out of the heart that proceed all manner of lusts and the very spirit of worldliness – and we ignore this profound truth at our peril. Everything else flows from this. The worst thing that can be said about all these outward things is that they are but vanity – just as ‘all is vanity’ anyway; it shows that those females who concentrate over much on beautifying themselves are likely in a poor state spiritually, as are those men who like to make their appearance more respectable or attractive in public; for let us not forget that there are plenty of males who spend just as much time in front of the mirror as females do. And anyway, there is another fact that is quite lost in all this legalistic nonsense: that there are many non-religious women in the world who never wear make-up, etc. – but they are still worldly!

Please don’t think that I am for one minute advocating headlong integration into all things ‘worldly’; I just want us ‘to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God’; to walk solely by faith and to be free from a legal mind. And how else is all this to be realised but by ‘abiding in Christ’, cp. John 15 and 1 John 2:28: surely this is the settled state of the children of God from which all righteousness flows, verse 29. I believe that the principle behind ‘I will have mercy, and not sacrifice’ is completely set aside by all those who are bent on a legal show; indeed, Jesus did address that word to Pharisees, Matthew 9:10-13, 12:1-7.

To repeat the fundamental exhortation of the new covenant in this context to the people of God in their daily lives: ‘Let your conversation – manner of living – be without covetousness – lusts – and be content with such things’ as the Lord in his providence has bestowed upon you. Why? Well surely our main concern in this life is that the Lord would keep us, sustain us, and protect us from godless men and temptation; that he would provide all that is needful for us to live quiet and peaceable lives in this wilderness; and that he would so captivate our hearts and affections that we’d never be found wandering out of the way. And that is what the apostle goes on to say: ‘For the Lord hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say’, and our boldness is in Christ, and by our union with him, ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me’, Hebrews 13:5,6.

Despite what we each might vainly wish for our outward appearance – an appearance which deteriorates all too quickly – and despite the fact that some spend rather more time than others think they should on ‘things indifferent’, yet with no trouble of conscience before the Lord; nevertheless let us not be like the heathen in heart, who only have their lusts set on the here and now; but rather, ‘Seek ye first – and foremost – the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all your daily needs shall be added unto you.’ Remember that the goats’ condemnation is that they never meet the spiritual needs of the sheep, Matthew 25:41-46, not that they fall sometimes into a vain show.

Furthermore, for peace and rest in your consciences before God, whatever you do, ‘Cease ye from man’, especially legalistic religious men and their traditions; for their breath is only in their nostrils, and they shall soon perish. But seek after revelation from the Father of the truth of the gospel of Christ, in the power of it; settle for nothing short of ‘the faith of the Son of God’, and the liberty of the Spirit, found only in ‘the perfect law of liberty’. And if you are found in this way then you will be able to judge your own motives and actions according to righteousness, be at peace in your own conscience before God – a very precious state to be in – and won’t need any wagging fingers to tell you how you should be living.

And then may the Lord grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God, Ephesians 3:16-19.

And what will ‘all that is in the world’ matter to us then?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Appendix

The bonfire…

Peter tells us that, at the end of the world, ‘the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up’, 2 Peter 3:10. Therefore we can justifiably view ‘the world, and the things that are in the world’ as a huge bonfire ready to be ignited at the coming again of the Lord Jesus. So as we live on this bonfire, then all that we possess, own, make and accomplish is nothing but kindling for the flames. Every time we buy or gain something, then all we’ve done is add or move ‘a twig’ from one part of the bonfire to another. Now if we lived in the light of that, perhaps we would hold all our ‘stuff’ – goods, Luke 17:31 – with a much looser hand.

‘Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved’, what is left to us? What is of any real value in this world? Being ‘in Christ’, the salvation of our souls, is the only thing of value – of immense and eternal value. When we appear before the judge of all the earth, all that we ‘possess’ will have come down to this: Am I ‘in Christ’, or was I ‘of the world’? If I was of the world then I will have nothing on that day, because the bonfire will be ablaze.

Yes, all things will suddenly have become very stark, clear and simple.

‘Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh’; yea, for ‘the day of the Lord will come.’

Holding the Truth in Unrighteousness

In Romans chapter one Paul writes of those ‘who hold the truth in unrighteousness’, verse 18. But what does this phrase mean? Well, whatever it means it is serious enough to reveal that the wrath of God is upon those who do such a thing; for Paul writes, ‘For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness’.

Yet who today betrays any sense of being under the wrath of Almighty God? Surely next to none. So perhaps there isn’t anyone guilty of this deed of holding the truth in unrighteousness after all? But Paul tells us that the wrath of God is revealed; that being the case then obviously it is not presently felt or even perceived by those who do hold the truth in unrighteousness; although one day it will be made all too plain.

For as we are about to discover, just about every human being born into this world quickly comes to ‘hold the truth in unrighteousness’; although there are exceptions: those in whom the LORD plants his fear in early childhood. But as to the vast majority of us, as we shall see, it is not long before we evidence ‘ungodliness and unrighteousness’ in our young lives.

The Truth of God

Before we come to consider what the word ‘hold’ means in this context, we must first look at what ‘the truth’ is which is thus held, and held in unrighteousness. The truth here is ‘the truth of God’; these people have ‘changed the truth of God into a lie’, Romans 1:25. And if they have changed it into a lie then there must have been a time when they knew what this truth was: perceiving and understanding it without a doubt; and yet, although knowing it, deliberately changing it into a lie.

But this didn’t mean that they ceased to be religious; for we go on to read that having wrought this change they still ‘worshipped and served’ a god; but their god was now ‘the creature’ rather than the Creator. ‘The creature’ here can mean anything in or of the creation, including the individual: that is, ‘self’. Does that ring true? Do people worship and serve themselves? Of course they do; proving that they continue to fall for the ancient lie: ‘Ye shall be as gods’, Genesis 3:1-5.

What then is ‘the truth of God’? It is that which God has revealed to every person: first ‘in them’ and also outside of them. We must understand that we are here speaking of innate knowledge: that which is part of the very fabric of our being, which is common to all – and that regardless of natural abilities, intellect, or education. This knowledge, being inherent, is perceived and understood by all from a young age, whether they are ‘brainy’ or have ‘learning difficulties’. Yes, genius or apparent simpleton, it maketh no difference; all have this innate knowledge of the truth of God; and so all who hold it in unrighteousness – to whatever degree of consciousness – are rightly rendered ‘without excuse’, verse 20.

Firstly, then, Paul says that this knowledge is ‘in them’, Romans 1:19. He writes that the wrath of God is against them ‘because’ – for this very reason: ‘because that which may be known of God’ – that is, ‘the truth of God’ – ‘is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them.’ That is clear enough, isn’t it? God has manifest the truth regarding himself within each of us, and we perceive, know and believe it from an early age, regardless of whether or not we’ve been exposed to ‘Christian’ influence.

As I said, this is innate knowledge; we have it as we have life and breath. It is not something learnt from others; we do not have to be taught it as we grow up into childhood; we are born with it. Therefore each of us early knows there is a God: that he sees us, hears us, and looks into our hearts and minds beholding all that is there; after all, ‘The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding…’, Proverbs 15:3. What gives a young child an early realisation of conscience, a sense of right and wrong, and presently, as rebellion matures, a ready aptitude to self-justification? Nothing other than a knowledge of God! ‘That which may be known of God’. It is in them! No wonder, then, that he is nothing short of a ‘fool’ who says ‘in his heart’, not just with his lips, but within, ‘in his heart, There is no God’, Psalm 14:1.

Nevertheless it is interesting to observe at this point that the unbeliever and the mocker – though in rebellion and denial – will always inadvertently declare God’s omnipotence. How? Well listen to what they say: ‘If there is a God why didn’t he stop that terrible event happening?’ Or, ‘If he is a God of love why does he let all those children die of starvation in Africa?’ etc. Do you notice how they really do believe that God is Almighty – that he has power over events? But then ask them if he has power over their lives too – and why he doesn’t ‘make them’ or ‘stop them’ from doing this or that, and you will soon hear his sovereignty disappear.

Again, it must be emphasised that this perception of there being a true and living God is not because we have had Christian parents or gone to Sunday School. Go to some isolated tribe – unvisited by ‘missionaries’ – and what will you find? Men bowing down and worshipping something they think to be God. But who taught them there was a God? No one! They know it! Follow Paul to Athens. His spirit was stirred in him because these supposedly intelligent and sophisticated men worshipped just about every god going; and just in case there was another deity they built an altar to this ‘Unknown God’, whom they then ignorantly worshipped – which of course is no worship at all, cp. John 4:22-24. But although they were ignorant of any fuller understanding of this God, yet they knew enough about him to perceive that he ought to be worshipped. Therefore Paul declared him unto them, Acts 17:16-34.

The word ‘manifest’, in, ‘that which may be known of God is manifest in them’, carries the meaning of ‘shining’; therefore we are not talking here of something mysterious. This knowledge of God which we all posses by our very entrance into this world is no vague half-light of perception which we can pretend to be doubtful about; it is a shining revelation, a full understanding. As a light cannot be mistaken or misunderstood when it shines out in the night; so neither is this manifestation of ‘that which may be known of God’ in us. We know. We may grow up to deny that we know it, and hold it in unrighteousness; but still we know what is true and cannot get away from it. We think we can successfully put it away; and most do happily dismiss it for the whole of their lives; but it will suddenly reappear in all its stark and shining presence on the day of judgment when they appear before the God whose truth they turned into a lie.

Be warned, unbelieving reader. You know this is true. God doesn’t just exist because we choose to believe in him; and he doesn’t cease to exist just because we decide to turn atheist – an atheist simply being one who hates God and his truth (have you noticed how certain atheists, illogically, spend much of their time and energy venting their anger, hatred and rebellion against the God they say doesn’t exist!).

Again, the word ‘showed’, as in, ‘for God hath showed it unto them’, speaks of revelation – and of divine revelation at that: ‘God hath showed it…’ The reason the light of the knowledge of the truth of God shines in us from an early age is because God himself has revealed it unto us. Again, it is no wonder that we are without excuse when we deliberately go on to hold this truth in unrighteousness.

But there is a second witness and testimony to ‘the truth of God’ apart from this interior illumination; and that is outside of ourselves in what is known as ‘creation’, Romans 1:20. Look at the world around you. Even the most casual of observations must bring forth the honest admission from us that it could only have come into existence if a great God had designed, formed and created it. And even though the world is now fallen, under a curse, and is in ‘the bondage of corruption’ because of man’s sin – ‘the whole creation groaning and travailing in pain together until now’, Romans 8:21,22 – yet it retains much of its original beauty and order.

What about all the ‘natural’ laws which even godless ‘scientists’ have shown exist, and by which they work and make detailed calculations; did these come into being by chance? Surely all the order manifest in the natural world on the grandest, down to the most minute scale, could not have arisen out of chaos? Each one of you reading this, for the mere fact that you are a living human being, each one of you knows – intuitively – that there is a God who created all things, whether you will admit it or not. Why? Well listen to the language Paul uses – and again there is no ambiguity here: ‘For the invisible things of [God] from the creation of the world are clearly seen’, you can easily perceive them, ‘being understood [simply] by the things that are made’ – understood! ‘even his eternal power and Godhead’; even his eternal power and Godhead? Yes, even that: and specifically that. So then creation itself is a sufficient exterior witness to each and every individual of nothing less than the ‘eternal power and Godhead’ – or ‘deity’ – of the God we all know exists. Yes, God is God indeed.

Paul was not backward in declaring these truths – especially when preaching to the Gentiles. In Lystra, for instance, when the people would have done sacrifice to the apostles, Paul, and Barnabas with him, cried: ‘…ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with joy and gladness’, Acts 14:8-18. God left not himself without witness!

We need no other revelation of the knowledge of the existence of God – and of our necessary accountability to him – than these two testimonies which God himself has freely given us with our life’s breath: one within, the other without. (And Paul says nothing here about the testimony of holy scripture – another objective account of the truth of God; nor of the Person and work of Christ – especially of the historical verity of his resurrection – a most stupendous event full of glorious testimony; cp. Acts 17:31.) And so it is said that all those who nevertheless turn this truth of God into a lie: denying what is known to be true, and holding it in unrighteousness, will be without excuse when they are called to appear on the day of judgment before the God who created them.

So we can conclude thus far that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all those who hold the truth of God in unrighteousness only and fundamentally for the denial of these two witnesses. The wrath of God is revealed because we deliberately turn our backs on the interior and exterior testimonies God has given us regarding his existence, eternal power and deity. And how striking it is to realise that nothing has here been spoken of rejecting the gospel – the salvation wrought by Christ upon the cross – which is the ‘doctrine’ of most Arminians; for they are likely to tell you that the one only damning sin is unbelief regarding Christ; whereas Paul here teaches that the condemnation is much more basic than that. Thus every one who holds the truth in unrighteousness is counted ‘without excuse’ regardless of whether or not they’ve heard the gospel. Of course, those who do hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ but do not obey it must be rendered doubly without excuse; cp. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, and Matthew 10:5-15, etc. see below.

Holding Down the Truth

By now we should be getting an inkling of what it means to ‘hold’ this truth in unrighteousness. The word here translated ‘hold’ literally means ‘to hold down’ – Tyndale had ‘withhold’: it has at its heart the meaning of forceful suppression. Witness the policeman not only arresting but pinning the criminal to the ground so that he cannot get away. See a pile of papers on a desk with a weight down on top of them to stop them blowing away. Downward pressure has to be exerted in both instances to avoid the ‘escape’ of the thing being suppressed. So does man with the truth of God: he falls on it violently, arrests it, holds it down, stifles and suppresses it so that it – the truth – can be subdued, silenced, and put away according to our ungodly and unrighteous desires.

Oh, how people hate the truth! Why? Because it reveals to them in the depths of their being their inherent sinfulness and rebellion against God. It reveals that they are totally wrong in all their natural inclinations and that, try as they might, they can never bring forth one thought or action which will satisfactorily subdue the realisation that God is going to judge them, and judge them righteously for their very being as sinners. And born of this is a resentment: not a resentment towards themselves because of their sin, but a resentment and hatred towards God for viewing them in all his holiness! Yes, we hate God naturally because he is not like us! Therefore instead of falling under this truth and repenting of our very nature we quickly seek to suppress it.

And what is the result of this suppression? Firstly, verse 21, ‘they glorify him not as God, neither are they thankful’. This must be the obvious first fruit of holding down the truth. Oh, foolish man! Yea, O foolish child! There you are with this innate knowledge: that you ‘know God’! – ‘because that, when they knew God’ – yet you contradict your own knowledge by turning it into a lie and quickly refuse to glorify him as God.

Did I say, ‘O foolish child’? Yes, indeed. After all, ‘Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child’, Proverbs 22:15. How early in our lives does ‘I’ come in! Now, be honest. How many children do you know who, having learned to walk, talk, understand and reason, and all by their third, fourth, fifth years, are heard to give God continual thanksgiving and all the glory for giving them their amazing faculties? Is it not rather that the vast, vast majority have already turned the truth of God into a lie, and, holding down this truth in unrighteousness, have begun to assert their own ‘rights’, will, desires and honour? It is. They want what they want, not what God rightly demands. They have already rejected the thought of ever loving the Lord their God with all – the whole of – their heart, soul, mind and strength; and their neighbour has quickly become a second-class citizen in comparison to me and my desires.

Don’t tell me – says Paul in effect – that sweet innocent little children, in whose mouth butter wouldn’t melt! – ‘Oh, she’s such a good little girl!’ – cannot learn early to dethrone Almighty God from their heart’s affections and clamber up onto the vacant seat themselves.

From this earliest age then, the command of God to ‘all men every where to repent’ must be sounded; and ‘all men’ means all human beings who have already shown signs of having held down the truth of God in unrighteousness. Forgetting that ‘childhood and youth are vanity’, Ecclesiastes 11:10, how we are guilty of indulging little children: building up their proud, vain characters into thinking they are someone ‘special’, when in fact they are, at heart, unrestrained little rebels against the God they are already quite content to put away from their thoughts and rob of his glory. It is no wonder that wise Solomon directly exhorted the young man to whom he was speaking: ‘remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth’, Ecclesiastes 12:1; for he knew that even by the time he’d reached his youth – teens – the knowledge of early childhood had already been held down; after all ‘remember’ simply means to bring back to mind something once known. What an already wretched history of sin a youth has! Yes, it is in childhood that the unrighteousness of suppressing the truth of God occurs.

The second necessary fruit of this is that they ‘waxed full of vanities in their imaginations’ [Tyndale]: their manner of thinking and reasoning being totally given over to vanity; ‘and their [now] foolish hearts were darkened’, Romans 1:21. Those little children and, unless grace intervenes and repentance comes, those youths and adults, possess benighted minds and hearts – the ‘shining’ which God created them with beginning to be dimmed. Instead of their thoughts being according to the early perceived revelation of the truth of God, the workings of their minds now become vain: vanity and lies replace the truth as the driving force of their desires and wants; and where existed the light of understanding regarding the nature of God and man, darkness has begun to pervade the heart. At the beginning they ‘knew’ and perceived what was good and true; but now ignorance, confusion, and stupidity rule because of rebellion.

But do they admit it? No. ‘Professing themselves to be wise [no less!], they have become fools’, verse 22. And what ‘wisdom’ is theirs? Nothing but the ‘wisdom of their own conceits’. Now they have begun to lie to themselves – within. Although their conscience tells them one thing – pointing them back to ‘the truth of God’ – yet their darkened hearts and foolish minds not only resist but increasingly revel in lying to themselves that in fact they are growing in wisdom. How worldly-wise they are: ‘You don’t need to tell me anything’, is the language of the heart, ‘I know what I’m doing!’ Yes, you are listening more and more to the serpent, aren’t you: ‘Yea, hath God said?… Ye shall not surely die… Ye shall be as gods…!’ Fools. All of us. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools; and in effect saying in their hearts, ‘There is no God’ but me! But that is the very essence of corruption! Psalm 53:1.

Now don’t think that the religious are immune from, and have escaped this temptation. Do you not know that the worst sinners on the face of the earth – and the most deceived – are the religious hypocrites: those who hide these corrupt workings of the mind and heart behind a supposedly God-honouring and holy-looking exterior? It’s not the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah who will inhabit the lowest hell, you know. No. Jesus said that it will be ‘more tolerable’ for them on the day of judgment than for those who refuse and receive not the words of the Lord Jesus and his apostles – which is ‘the word of the truth of the gospel’, cp. Matthew 10:5-15, Mark 6:7-13. (It is interesting to note that one of the things they preached was ‘that men should repent’, Mark 6:12.) Remember also that it was the religious hierarchy – who would ‘receive the greater damnation’, cp. Matthew 23:13,14 – and the frequenters of synagogue who were most offended at Jesus’ doctrine and sought his downfall, e.g. Luke 4:14-29 – whose children can be found in church and chapel, pulpit and pew to this day.

Yes, more tolerable – by degrees more bearable – for the sodomite than for the professed Christian who contends against and does not obey the truth of the gospel of the grace of God – of the doctrine of Christ; but who instead perverts it with whatever error, lie, half-truth and man-made tradition he can lay his hands on to satisfy his foolish, ungodly and unrighteous mind; and, by the way, to relieve himself of ‘the offence of the cross’ too – in all the fulness of what that phrase means, cp. Galatians 5, etc.

The next fruit of suppressing innate truth regarding God is that the image of the uncorruptible God – yes, despite all that we try to do with his image it does remain incorruptible – is changed by our corrupt minds and hearts ‘into an image made like to corruptible man, and birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things’, Romans 1:23. (By the way, Tyndale had ‘serpents’ for ‘creeping things’; it’s not surprising that the ‘subtle’ creature would be found in there somewhere, cp. Genesis 3:1, Revelation 12:9.) It was evident to Paul in his day, as it no doubt remains true regarding darkened man in ours, that beasts and images of beasts are worshipped as God. But the first part of this verse renders all us ‘civilised’ people – who would never be so pagan! – guilty of idolatry still; for Paul says that we change the glory of God ‘into an image made like to corruptible man’. There’s your self-worship again!

How many professing Christians love to ‘glory in the flesh’. Free-willers, legalists, traditionalists and ‘word only’ Christians, all love to think that by their believing, works, sincerety, or perhaps just by their impressive head-knowledge of scripture, they are going to present something to God which they think, or hope, will count towards their acceptance before him. And the Lord Jesus has already told us that this will be their plea on the day of judgment: ‘Lord, Lord, have we not…?’ That is the cry of all those who have ‘changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man’; but they will go no further: ‘Depart from me, ye that work iniquity’, Matthew 7:21-23. He has warned you beforehand.

But changing the glory of God into an image made like to corruptible man, can also manifest itself in the professing but false Christian as he creates an image in his (vain) imagination of someone he likes to call Jesus; but one which does not resemble the true Jesus, though one which the idolater is quite happy to worship. Just go around the churches of our land today and listen to the ‘Jesus’ which is preached, and observe the ‘Jesus’ which is subsequently believed in, and it will not take you long to discover – if you’re honest – that it is more often than not – nay, almost universally – ‘another Jesus’, 2 Corinthians 11:4. How? Because Christ’s doctrine is not their doctrine: Jesus’ words have been perverted to such a degree that their Jesus teaches them differently to what the Lord of glory reveals to his own sheep.

William Tyndale felt these things deeply: listen to him reeling in the pain of it all: these ‘heretics and false preachers ever falsify God’s word, with which the church of Christ shall be thus miserably plagued unto the end of the world.’ It’s the worst plague of all: false prophets preaching another Jesus to the spiritual starvation of the sheep. But these goats will end up on the left hand on the day of judgment, though many of them are popular and ‘successful’ now, Matthew 25:31-46.

‘Wherefore’, in the light of all this, Paul continues: ‘Wherefore God also gave them up…’ Also? Why, what else has he already done to them to cause Paul to say ‘also’ here? Well, God has revealed his wrath from heaven against them; subsequently he has ‘also given them up…’ They have failed to give him the glory due to his Person; have refused to render thanksgiving to him for their very lives; have usurped his rightful position as king in their hearts; have changed his glory into their own; and turned their backs on the shining revelation of his truth in them; so, he also has given them up: ‘given them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves’, Romans 1:24.

Oh, how clean is the truth of God; and how clean it is to fall under and live in the light of it! But once hold it down in unrighteousness – when still a child! – and how unclean we manifest ourselves to be. Uncleanness is what results in following ‘the lusts – desires – of our own hearts’. This is the very spirit of the world and worldliness: ‘the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life’, 1 John 2:15-17. We’re guilty! All guilty! And so we ‘dishonour our own bodies between ourselves’. This goes far deeper than sexual perversion; this has to do with fundamentally degrading our humanity – made in the image of God – by putting him away, going after what we want, living our own lives, indulging our lusts, being our own masters, corrupting ourselves from the way that God intended man should live in union with him, cp. Genesis 6:11,12.

Man, the pinnacle of God’s creation; into whom God breathed the breath of life, causing him to become a living soul. Man, made uniquely in the creation of God to walk with God uprightly; to glory in his Creator; to delight in his works; to praise and worship him for giving him life, and breath, and all things. But no. Adam fell, and we in him. And before you think to blame Adam for your wretched state then just remember that although it is true that ‘by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men…’, you are just as guilty because the apostle’s doctrine goes on to say, ‘…for that all have sinned’; confirming not only our generation in Adam but also our happy delight in continuing in his sinfulness, Romans 5:12. Make no mistake: you love your sin, and you love to sin. No one will turn and blame Adam on the day of judgment for their condemnation and damnation; for all have sinned knowingly, deliberately and constantly from the moment they perceived they could hold down the truth of God in unrighteousness. And this is condemnation, John 3:19.

Yes, we ‘dishonour our own bodies between ourselves’. What is this ‘between ourselves’? Well, it is our encouraging of one another in this ungodly and unrighteous path. Paul later writes of these who have at length fallen completely into ‘all unrighteousness’ – as must be the consequence of holding down the truth in unrighteousness – that though they ‘know the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but consent with, and have pleasure in them that do them’, Romans 1:29-32. There you are. Not only do they deliberately suppress the truth of God, but knowing full well that they are going to be judged by God for it, still, they seek out, delight in, and actively encourage the same in others… Until eternity; when they will curse one another for glorying in holding down the truth – which each knew they were doing; for lying to one another in their ‘fun’ and pursuit of happiness in the things of the world – ‘life’, as they called it; and for not being plain honest with each other as they followed after the lie. But then it will all be too late. Husbands and wives, whose gravestone read, ‘Reunited’, if they had both died in unrighteousness, will curse and scream at each other for all eternity because of their mutual folly of ignoring the two witnesses God had given them, and for their continued encouragement of the other in the same.

And this is true for any relationship in this world: family, friend, work or business. I sometimes think of people like Laurel and Hardy – the comedy duo of the 1930s – who I loved to watch as a child. If they both died in rebellion against God their creator then the laughter ended a long time ago.* No, they won’t be in eternity now patting each other on the back for their successful careers in making the world laugh. They will have found that ‘the end of that mirth is heaviness’ indeed, for having held down the truth in unrighteousness, Proverbs 14:13. I’m sure that if we could hear them now they’d be screaming with horror and regret that they’d made even one film; that those who watch them and love them for their comedy would stop at once and seek out the truth of God instead of wasting their time in their entertainments. But we can’t hear them; just like we can’t hear all those writers, artists, actors, musicians, and every other notable person who has ever lived who, though highly esteemed still in the eyes of modern man, nevertheless died holding down the truth in unrighteousness. So, what good their ‘art’ and fame now?

(*Just moments before he breathed his last Stan Laurel voiced his desire to be skiing. When his nurse asked him if he skied, he replied, ‘No, but I’d rather be skiing than doing this’, and he was gone. What a terrible ‘this’ to come to.)

Another fruit of this rebellion is that some also manifest what Paul calls ‘vile affections’, whereby they act ‘against nature’, ‘working that which is unseemly’ – a polite way of describing indecent, shameless, perverted and filthy behaviour, verses 26,27. And don’t think that the not doing these things outwardly renders us guiltless, for God looketh upon the heart and sees the root of every unrighteous lust there.

And then perhaps the most fearful fruit of ‘changing the truth of God into a lie’: they go the last step and arrogantly abandon the knowledge of God altogether, with the most dreadful consequence, verse 28: ‘And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient’ – those things which are not becoming of a human being created in the image of God; why, no beast of the field ever sank this low in its nature. These minds which were once so enlightened with that shining of divine revelation in those early days of innocence, have now become ‘reprobate’: totally devoid of reason, right judgment, and any real common sense. How man in sin denigrates himself in his rebellion! What a miserable debased being he is: filled with all unrighteousness. Godless, self-centred, full of deceit and utterly conceited. Hypocritically self-righteous; judging and condemning others for doing the same things that he himself indulges in, see Romans 2:1-3. Totally ignorant of the fact that he is sold out to sin, a helpless serf of Satan, and under the wrath of Almighty God.

How often do we hear today of ‘mindless acts’: like ‘mindless violence’ or ‘mindless destruction’. Well, the ‘mindless’ actions of human beings are because they have been given over by God to a reprobate mind. And the reprobation is also manifest in the intent or imagination though it may never be brought to outward fruition: so the ‘decent’ among us are still as reprobate within. What a dreadful state to arrive at when there was a time when man ‘knew God’: had him in his knowledge, believed in him, feared him, and knew that he was accountable to him. But now, with his reprobate mind, he becomes ‘filled with all unrighteousness’ – which is an absolute state; for you cannot get much fuller than ‘filled’, verse 29.

No, none are without excuse in their sin and rebellion. We hold down the truth of God in unrighteousness from an early age and pay the price in being given a reprobate mind. Thus we arrive at true atheism: the state of being totally ‘without God’, Ephesians 2:12.

Therefore we must repent. We must turn back to the early-known God and his truth which we have held down all this time. While we have life and breath there is yet hope if we will turn. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners – yea, even the chief of sinners. None of us who know and feel our sinnership need despair if we will turn and seek the true and living God. He will teach us the truth; reacquainting us with the knowledge we once had – but now to a much greater degree; for, ultimately, he will show us Christ and his salvation; which is what Paul called, ‘Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ’, Acts 20:21.

And in it all God will have all the glory: as we begin to detest sin in ourselves; flee from those sinners in whose company we once delighted; lose our reprobate mind – for we will now have the mind of Christ, 1 Corinthians 2:16; turn from all our unseemliness; be rid of our vile affections; cast down the image of self which we so passionately worshipped and served; learn real wisdom; be no longer foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is; be cleansed from vain imaginations; get understanding; flow with thanksgiving and glorification of God our Creator whom we now ‘know’ savingly: For this is eternal life: to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, John 17:3.

And then what fulness; what completeness; what a wonderful state we will find ourselves in: a possessor, by the grace of God, of a knowledge which views now with unsurpassed wonder, ‘the eternal power and Godhead’, of Almighty God! Godhead? Yes, Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Ghost – the Deity. He is known; the work of each is revealed; we will become a recipient in experience of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the love of God, and of the fellowship of the Holy Ghost. The Father has drawn us; the Son is shown to have saved us by his blood, and the Spirit has regenerated, taught, and applied the blood to our hearts and consciences.

Salvation – what a word! – Salvation: a rescue from imminent death; is known and experienced to be ‘of the LORD’: of the Father, of the Son, of the Holy Spirit. No works here; no glorying in the flesh indulged. All the glory is God’s. All the praise belongeth unto him. We are saved. Sin is put away, sins are borne away, the sinner is forgiven; and as recipients of this wonderful work we now live, no longer under the wrath of God, but in the light: the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

And now the opposite state of ‘holding down the truth in unrighteousness’ has been entered; for now in Christ we are those that ‘do righteousness’; as it is written of those who know the Father: ‘And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him’, 1 John 2:13,28,29. What a transformation! Yea, what saving grace!

Therefore…

How needful it is for ministers to be preaching these truths; after all, they do constitute the beginning of the gospel of Christ. How so? Because Paul in this Romans epistle has just written that he is not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, 1:16, which statement leads him directly to declare this first: that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all who hold down the truth in unrighteousness.

But where are these things being expounded among the gatherings of professed believers today? Are they in your meeting? In some places they may be brought out to a degree in word only, with people in the congregations avidly taking notes to aid their learning the doctrine in the head – though usually remaining strangers to the truth of it applied in their experience. But once hear a man declare these things in the power of the Spirit and you can be sure that he will be despised and rejected in the churches; for the truth is that the vast majority of church- and chapel-goers just don’t want to hear them. No, they want only what they call ‘the gospel’: by which they mean the work of Jesus upon the cross, accompanied by what they imagine to be faith, believing and salvation. But when Paul started expounding the doctrine of the gospel – having introduced it in verses 16 and 17 – he didn’t commence with the cross but with the condemnation of man in sin: there is no mention of Christ and his salvation till a long way into chapter three.

But the modern church is bent on skipping these thoughts of being condemned in sin and just wants to hear the ‘lovely’ or ‘precious truths’ about God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice. But the whole concept of, and need for, salvation is totally irrelevant to those who do not feel their own guilt before the eyes and under the wrath of Almighty God. Many people may be readily enticed into ‘committing their lives to the Lord’, or ‘accepting Jesus as their Lord and personal Saviour’ in a created atmosphere: usually under the sound of sweet ‘spiritual’ music – perhaps enhanced by soft lighting – and beguiled by persuasive gospel salesmen or youth leaders, without ever feeling one scrap of condemnation in their souls.

But when Paul set out to write to the Romans – under the direct inspiration, leading and power of God the Holy Spirit – his exposition of the gospel of Christ was no wooing exercise designed to deceive the lost into wandering effortlessly through a wide gate of false conversion, but was a systematic exposition of the doctrine of the gospel from the very beginning: and the beginning was then, as it remains today – if ever a soul is to come into a saving knowledge of the truth – ‘For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold down the truth in unrighteousness…’, Romans 1:18-3:20.

And you can be sure – by the testimony of the apostles’ doctrine – that no other gospel is worthy the name; and that no one can be rightly established in the truth but according to the doctrine of this gospel. As that is the case then where does it leave the ‘salvation’ of all those who say they ‘believe’, though they have never heard the doctrine of the gospel rightly expounded? And furthermore, what does it say about the legion of preachers, ministers, pastors, evangelists, youth and children’s ministries who never start where Paul did? Well, you can answer the questions for yourselves.

And while considering that, also remember these words of the Lord Jesus already alluded to: ‘…wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat…’ Matthew 7:13ff. And yes, the word Jesus used was ‘many’.

Therefore we can say categorically that, still, from its very beginning, ‘the truth of God’ is being held down by the ungodly and unrighteous, as much, if not more so, within the churches as without; and that this holding down is what Paul calls ‘unrighteousness’. Yes, whatever replaces a knowledge of, and a walking in the truth, is called ‘unrighteousness’. How dreadful it will be on that day, then, for all those who continue to do such a thing.

Repent, lying preachers, repent.

And flee lying preachers ‘my people’, flee. Continue reading “Holding the Truth in Unrighteousness”