Righteous factions – Positive firestorms!

1 Cor. 11:19 states: For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.
Commentary Thomas Nelson:
“One of the positive results of divisions, or factions in the church is that it becomes obvious who the genuine Christians are in the congregation.”
Now while this commentary sounds good at first glance, there’s much more to it then meets the eye. My first question is this: Obvious to who? Is the congregation always in line with the spirit, the body of Christ? And are those who are being accused of division always the source of the faction itself? Or is there a blind spot, a faction in leadership that needs to be addressed; such as erroneous doctrine? Are those that leave the church always the one’s in error?
Unfortunately, it’s been my experience that many believers can’t discern a righteous firestorm or faction from that which is trifling. Most just view any storm as a negative; and understandably so because they are programmed that way! We are taught that a servant of the Lord must not quarrel; that we should never get in passionate debates. We use scriptures out of context to bolster this point; failing to understand that this scripture taken from Timothy was intended for those in opposition to the faith. Not believers just trying to find some peace and unity in the spirit within the congregation.
In a perfect world we would not have to get passionate about God’s word. But we are in the here and now, and as a result we must learn to battle these things out. To examine this point further, let’s go to Titus 3. This is one of the most widely abused scriptures in the entire bible.
Commentary by Thomas Nelson:
Titus 3:9-11 – Paul was admonishing Titus to avoid anything that would promote wickedness among the believers. Reject a divisive man – Titus was to cut off the churches relationship with any person who would not submit to correction after two warnings. The greek word for warped here suggests that Satan is perverting this person. Sinning indicates that the man will not change his ways, and continues to rebel against God.
This commentary is vague, erroneous, and abusive; and manages to entirely sidestep what was really going on between the apostle Paul, Titus, and the Jews. Titus 3:9-11 states: But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law, for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonishing; knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned. Titus 1:10 states: For there are many insubordinate, both idol talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped; who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not.
Here is what was going on: There were those of the circumcision, the Jews, mixed with the Cretans. They were raising the same arguments that they had with Jesus; trying to justify themselves by the law and claiming: ‘Our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! Now your saying that everyone is justified by grace through faith; that this Jesus of Nazareth has taken away the sins of the world, and that we are no longer justified by observing the law; Blasphemy!’
In other words, this was no trifling argument. This was Paul’s warning to Titus concerning the infiltration of the law; the leaven of the Pharisees. The terms warped, sinning, being self-condemned are in direct reference to the Jews, in that they were still living under the condemnation of the law. To use these scriptures without clarifying this point in order to disfellowship people from the congregation is downright wickedness! This is using God’s word as a weapon. And the real factious, divisive party would be the one using this tactic.
The point I am trying to make here is this: that we learn to take a wider view concerning factions and divisions. That we as Christians would be more discerning and open to the spirit; that we would look to God and to His word for answers when we see a firestorm in our church. That we would not give man preeminence just because he is a pastor or leader; that we would give our fellow believers in Christ the same godly love and respect due all of us who are in Christ.
Footnote: One of the most ludicrous statements in the church today is this: if they were of us, they would not have went out from among us. What this is really saying is that because an individual leaves a particular congregation, he’s no longer in Christ. It’s a pretty terrible thing to proclaim that one of our brothers or sisters is suddenly now antichrist! The only valid use of this statement would be that someone actually left the core teachings of Christ, and denounced essential doctrine.
And Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.’
Matt. 20: 25-28
Commentary by:
G.L. Miller

‘If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed!’

When we fail to teach believers the full impact of what Jesus accomplished on our behalf, which is grace by faith alone, we are putting before believers a stumbling block. Why are we so afraid to tell people that our salvation is not dependent on our behavior, but on what our precious Lord and Savior went through to accomplish? Did Paul not ask us: ‘Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect in the flesh?’
The way the gospel is preached these days reminded me of my friend Glen who is in prison. He has a 15 years to life sentence because yes he did commit a horrible crime. He has already been in their for 16 years, and every time he goes to the parole board, they give him more lists of things to do, so that he may one day be worthy enough to earn his freedom. My friend has far exceeded their requirements to qualify him for freedom. Now he is at a point where he does not even want to go because he says they are most likely going to deny him. The only thing they have left to keep him bound is his crime. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Why in the world would we continue to give the saints lists of do’s and don’ts, subtly bringing them under law and faith in works?
Needless to say, until the parole board decides that the penalty for the crime has been fully paid, Glen will never be free. When we teach believers to keep going to God to ask for forgiveness for the sin Jesus took away, (i.e. 1 John 1:9), we are literally telling them that it is not finished and the crime still remains, causing them to never really be free.
So it is with a believer who has not stepped into the full assurance of God’s grace and forgiveness which our precious Lord provided when He was beaten, tortured, punched, kicked and completely mutilated for; then resurrected in the newness of life. He ushered in a new covenant, reconciling us to God forever. Within THIS TRUTH is the newness of life. Until we start living the resurrected life that he has made available to us, and get past the cross where even Jesus did not stay, then like my friend Glen, we will never truly be free.
Jesus said: ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’

The Carnal Mind – Romans 8:7-8

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God; nor indeed can be. So then those who are in the flesh cannot please God.’
What exactly is the carnal mind in this context? To examine this we must go back to Romans 8:1. Remember context is very important!
Romans 8:1 states: ‘There is therefore now, no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.’ This is one of the most important verses in the entire bible. It declares the penalty for sin paid; it declares that we’ve been made right with God; justified by the blood of Christ; that we have peace with God; that we are holy and blameless and without accusation in His sight, and as a result there is no condemnation for us who are in Christ EVER! To walk in the spirit is to live by faith in what this verse declares. To walk in the flesh is to doubt what this verse declares.
Romans 8:2: ‘For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.’ This verse is key to understanding these passages. And what this scripture means is this – that we have been removed from the penalty of the curse of the law; that we have been born into the law of the spirit of life in Christ. That we’ve entered into a new relationship with God, and are no longer under the influence and guidance of the law; controlled by the stringency of the law which always produced death.
Romans 8:3: ‘For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.’ What this verse is saying is this – that we were unable to keep the law because of the weakness of our flesh, so God in His mercy sent the Son to condemn, or rather to pay the penalty for, the indwelling sins of our flesh forever.
Romans 8:4: ‘That the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.’ What this means is this – that the righteous requirements of the law were fulfilled in us, so we would not walk in the condemnation of our flesh through living under the law; but that we would walk according to the spirit by faith in the fact that Jesus did it all.
Romans 8:5 – ‘For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit, the things of the spirit.’ This is basically a restatement of verse 4, stating that to walk in the flesh is to walk in obedience to the law, rather than to live by faith in what Christ accomplished.
Romans 8:6 – ‘For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.’ To get a better understanding of this verse, we must go back to Romans chapter 7, and read verses 7-11. Paying special attention to words like: all manner of evil desire, dead, died, death, killed me. This will also help to clarify the remaining two verses in this study.
Romans 8:7 – ‘Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.’ Remember context is important! What this verse says is this – that the carnal mind is the legal mind. This mindset is at enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God. Notice the word law here is singular, which depicts the royal law of love.  In short, what this means is that the legal mind is actually incapable of fully grasping and expressing the agape love of Christ.
Romans 8:8 – ‘So then, those that are in the flesh cannot please God.’ This verse is pretty self-explanatory; and pretty much sums up this set. What its saying is this – that the legal mind, the Christian life lived in observance to the law does not please God. This is living in the flesh; this is the carnal mind.
Footnote: For many years I did not have this interpretation of Romans 8:1-8. I thought to be carnally minded meant having bad thoughts or having sin in my life. I had sat in churches for years, and heard this chapter preached dozens of times, yet somehow I did not get it. I realize now that it’s because it was not taught with authority, neither with clarity nor in context; and now when I ask people the question: What does it mean in Romans ch. 8, when it talks about the carnal mind?; you’d be amazed at how many churchgoers can’t answer this question properly. My question is why?
Commentary by:
G.L. Miller

Focus on physical healing- Is it law or is it grace?

The indwelling sin of the flesh, as well as, the physical sickness of the body are one and the same. They are both a direct result of the fall of man. Jesus did not come to eradicate sin in the temporal, either in terms of the indwelling sin of the flesh, or physical sickness. He came to give us eternal life. Sin and sickness will not be eradicated until that which is corrupt puts on the incorrupt and is glorified.
When our focus is on sin, we are under the principle of sin, and if we are under the principle of sin, we are under law; for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. This verse does not remove sin from our lives, but rather declares the penalty paid; the fact that death will be swallowed up in life when we are glorified and receive our new heavenly bodies.
What I am saying is this, if our focus is on physical healing with a promise, we are focused on the inherent sin of the physical body which is in a state of corruption. I’m not saying that we should not ask to be healed, however, asking with expectation is an entirely different matter. If Jesus came to eradicate sin and sickness in the temporal, he failed. And since we know Jesus did not fail, what then was His focus; and as a result what then should be ours? What promises can we really hold onto with complete faith? And what promises can we really make to others regarding what Jesus came to provide for mankind?
Remember, that which is not of faith is sin, and sin dwells in the house of bondage with the law.
Footnote: This commentary is mainly directed towards those that hold to a belief system that says since there is no sickness in heaven, there should be no sickness on earth. Or to those that actually promise physical healings to others. This stuff is just plain bad theology; lacking sobriety, as well as a true love and concern for others. If you really love someone, you are not going to make promises to them that may or may not happen.

Subsequent reading: Romans 8:18-25, note esp. verse 23
1 Cor. 15:50-56

Commentary by:
G.L. Miller

Condemnation Disclaimer!

I am writing this disclaimer to dispel any arguments my critics may have concerning the judgment of God. The bible is very clear concerning this matter, and to verify this, I will use the words of Jesus Himself taken from John 5:28-29: ‘Do not marvel at this. For the hour is coming in which all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come forth. Those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.’ This very vivid and horrific picture does not leave much for the imagination, and what it says is this- that we are spiritual beings and will live forever somewhere; that we will be raised up with a spiritual body to spend eternity either in heaven or hell.
Now with that said, I will say this – although I might have used this type of language every now and again, I am convinced that it is God’s kindness that leads one to repentance, and His favor that leads to our desire of Him. I have been with Jesus for ten years now, and my ministry has been with the cream of the crop, with convicts, dope-fiends and hookers, and I can honestly say, that in all that time I never witnessed anyone that was actually, sincerely scared into heaven. These people for the most part did not fear death! In fact, many actually welcomed the thought! What they feared was life and what they needed was love..they needed Jesus!
Footnote: If some do gooder would have approached me with a message of condemnation before I was saved, I would have told him to get the hell out of here before I pop a cap in your butt! Notice I edited one word for the sake of my new nature. Ha!
Commentary by:
G.L. Miller

Seeing God as He is!

Gen. 4:9-17
Cain killed an innocent man. A man precious in the sight of the Lord! He murdered his brother; his own flesh and blood. When the Lord asked Cain, ‘Where is your brother?’, he said without remorse, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?” Then after the Lord’s admonishing, Cain said, ‘My punishment is more than I can bear!’
Indeed the Lord proclaimed curses over Cain, ‘When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.’ Now did the Lord really curse Cain? Or did Cain curse Cain by his own actions? A fugitive and a vagabond; aren’t these things, these curses just a by-product, the consequence, of a murderer on the run; a man running from both God and man? Never staying in one place long enough for a crop to yield its strength, its fruit!
The Lord did not punish Cain; Cain punished Cain! From the beginning, Cain’s problem was Cain; and the fact that he did not see God as He is. He did not find grace in the eyes of the Lord. The sin of unbelief punished Cain, and the by-product of that sin consequently led to the sin of murder. Cain was at enmity with God in his own mind, and therefore received the punishment of sin, ‘I shall be hidden from your face, I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.’
The Lord knew Cain’s heart, and the curses He proclaimed to Cain were merely a reflection of his heart. Cain’s own heart was cursing Cain. His heart of unbelief; his inability to see God as He is. God never separated Himself from Cain, and God did not curse Cain. God did not make the statement you shall be hidden from my face; Cain made the statement: ‘I shall be hidden from your face.’ God did not send Cain out from His presence, Cain went out from His presence. As we shall go on to see, God loved Cain.
I want to stop right now before we go on and explain something. When we look at these stories, we need to realize that the focal point is not Cain, or Abel, or Adam and Eve. The focal point is the Father! Of course there are application concerns, but I can assure you that it all centers on the love of the Father.
To continue, God put a mark on Cain, a covering to keep him from getting killed. Cain eventually settling down was given a wife and a family which he built a city around, naming it after his son. The Lord showed Cain immeasurable mercy and grace, and was giving Cain time until his dying day to see his Father as He was.
The Lord was always open to Cain. Cain could have repented, changed his mind at any time and said, ‘Lord, that was a terrible thing I did. I’m not even really sure why I did it. I’m confused, and I feel empty and alone. Lord please help me!’ And the Lord would have redeemed him, Cain knowing experientially what the Lord had been trying to reveal to him all along; His immeasurable mercy, grace and truth; and Cain would have been healed, walking and talking with the Father again.  
In conclusion, the next time you hear a sermon that depicts God as a punishing God, I hope you will call to mind the story of Cain. God does not punish sin. Sin itself is punishing. The unbelieving mind which declares itself at enmity with God produces a tortured and punished soul. God never intended to leave man in that state. For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
Commentary by:
G.L. Miller

Jesus is not religious!

We hear a lot today about fighting for our rights. The religious community is on fire concerning President Obama’s most recent position; the fact that religious institutions and personal business owners will be required inadvertently to provide via their insurance companies contraceptives, as well as, prenatal care to their employees. Their main contention is a violation of conscience; the secondary issue being a violation of the constitution, i.e. their 1st amendment rights. The first issue deals with the fact that they would inadvertently be enabling abortion. The secondary issue being that of a loss of so-called God given rights.
However the bible is very clear regarding the ministry of the saints. The only right we have as Christians is to walk by faith in Christ in an expression of His love.  Jesus did not fight for His rights! In fact though He was God, He held us in greater esteem then Himself; and He went to the cross to prove it. Jesus did not come to change nations, or even people for that matter. He came to give man spiritual life!
Maybe if we got that part straight, we would affect the world around us with the love of Christ that they could turn to Him and be saved. Changed by His amazing love, rather than being beat down by our religious rules and bickering. When we are worried about our conscience being violated, who are we really concerned with? Ourselves…or the poor unsaved person we are supposed to be loving? That’s the problem with fighting for ones rights; it always points to self!
Commentary by:
G.L. Miller