“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Ro 8:14 AV)
The Charismatic Mind. The charismatic movement has so screwed up the mind of the modern Christian, that our understanding of Scripture does not come close to that of the church in earlier times. There is no greater evidence than in the matter of “being led by the Spirit.”
I knew a man once who didn’t go to work one day because he turned over a board in his yard that morning, saw some fat worms, and felt the “leading of the Spirit” to go fishing. [He also caught some very fine fish, which confirmed that he had been correct about the leading.] I knew a woman once who claimed inspiration for her pies. I admit they were very good, but not better than some made by an infidel. Both thought they were “led by the Spirit.” It is dangerous to read the Bible only once.
The Whole of Scripture. This is the danger of reading a verse here and a verse there, not only out of the immediate context of the local passage, but also not relating the meaning to the whole doctrine of Scripture. In this text, for instance, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” has nothing to do with recipes for pie or whether to go fishing. This is the reason God gave us brains, enabled us to develop the art of writing recipe books, and wisdom to use knowledge aright to decide whether today would be a good time to leave my employer without the help he needs and has paid for.
Jesus said it is a “wicked and adulterous” generation that seeks after signs. God has given man all he needs to live a godly and productive life. Man has a brain. He has opportunities to learn and think. The Bible explains the way of the Lord. To demand a sign or special attention is to denigrate the clear and perfect revelation of God and is an affront to God.
The Sons of God. Who? Those who receive revelations about pies? Not on your life. The sons of God are those who have received the Gospel, confessed Christ, and are disciplined in the way of Christ, and finally raised from the dead and received into glory. This is what the whole book of Romans is about, and this verse [Romans 8:14] may come close in importance to Luther’s text, “The just shall live by faith.” The life that we live by faith is a supernatural
life—eternal life that is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is by the preaching of the Gospel that we receive the Holy Spirit, according to Paul in Galatians 3, and not by the hearing of the law.
What a Glorious Thing is Salvation! It is from beginning to end the work of the Triune God: the Father who appointed us to eternal life, the Son who died for us and perfectly obeyed God on our behalf; and the Holy Spirit. He takes us by the hand and leads us through all the works of God: Calling, justification, adoption, sanctification and glorification.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit that Paul is speaking of in Romans 8:
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered…. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Ro 8:26-30 AV)
“Led By the Spirit.” In the Greek, “Led” means to personally attach yourself and conduct a person to the destination. We have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear [vs. 15], but we have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry “Abba, Father.” We are called by the Spirit, receive faith by the Spirit, are justified by the Spirit, baptized into Christ by the Spirit, sanctified by the Spirit, kept by the Spirit, raised from the dead by the Spirit, glorified by the Spirit, and taken to heaven by the Spirit.
This is not to denigrate the work of the Spirit in natural things, such as invention, imagination, science, music, art, etc., even including pie recipes and the ordering of the mind to organize our lives. Our natural life comes from the Spirit, but this does not make us sons of God in the sense of our text quoted above. Natural life is poor indeed in comparison to the magnificent work of our Comforter [John 14:16], who is given to us now that our Lord is in Heaven, given to us to make certain that we do not fail of the grace of God that is given to us [Phil. 1:6].
God’s Mighty Power. This work of the Holy Spirit is the “mighty power” that works in those who believe, the power that raised Christ from the dead and makes us His “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk therein.” [Eph 2:10] This is the work that is begun in us that will be performed unto the day of Christ. [Phil 1:6] We can work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, because it is God who works in us both to will and to do his good pleasure [Phil 2:13].
Amen! What a glorious power that works in the church of Jesus Christ, “from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph 4:16 AV)
Paul’s point is that we must have more than a natural life, one received from Adam. In this he echoes the words of our Lord, “Ye must be born again. That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”
“What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?” (Ps 30:9)
“To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.” (Ps 30:12)
First: The First Duty of the Tongue is to Praise the Lord.
The Tongue Is the Glory, or the Shame of a Man. The tongue must not be neutral in the matter of praise. We are to speak of His glory and His grace. Silence is treason against the Lord. Jesus said that if we denied Him he would deny us; if we confessed Him he would confess us. The difference between going to heaven and going to hell is in the confession of the tongue and faith in the heart. In all the ages of the church faithful believers have been known as confessors.
The Words of the Mouth Reveal the Condition of the Heart. Jesus said “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Mt 12:34-37)
The Righteousness of God is Given to Those Who Confess Christ. No greater statement of man’s wickedness has ever been made that that made by the Lord Jesus, “Ye would not come to me that you might have life.” Only a most wicked heart would turn away from the beauty of the Lord Jesus. This is the reason that the Apostle John would write, “He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” It is shameful to deny the Lord Jesus, and leads to hell if there is no repentance.
“After that I was turned, I repented; and after that I I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.” (Jer 31:19)
Praise Is Natural for the Sons of God. “So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will show forth thy praise to all generations.” (Ps 79:13)
“Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” (Isa 43:7) “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” (Isa 43:10)
So Man Is at His Finest, When from the Heart He Praises God and Loves the Lord Jesus Christ. “What good is my blood, shall dust praise thee? Shall it declare your truth?” God is not the God of the dead but of the living. You must be alive to praise God and be a witness to His truth. God has highly exalted Jesus Christ His Son and has purposed that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God. This cannot fail unless Omnipotence can be thrown from His throne in Heaven. The dead shall be raised for man was created for the glory of God and must live to speak His glory.
Second: The Second Duty of the Tongue is to Speak Truth
The Glory of God Demands That We Speak The Truth with Our Neighbor. If a man trades in deception and lies, how will His praise of God be believed? Our words of praise will have the stench of death about them, hollow and empty. Can sweet water and bitter water come out of the same mouth; can you praise God and curse men? Who will believe you when you praise the Lord, when you trade in lies and deceit every day? Will filth cause men to believe?
Silence in the Truth Is Also Treason against The Lord. It is the Lord that created the heavens and the earth and brings everything to pass by His powerful word. Any deception about His reality is treason against His kingdom. We are to love the truth and bear faithful witness:
“If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?” (Pr 24:11-12)
“A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.” (Pr 14:5)
The Ninth Commandment Forbids False Witness and Is the Key to True Leadership. What good man will follow those who lie? True pastors and elders are those who speak the truth and bear faithful witness. A lying tongue shall not stand before the Lord, because the man with the lying tongue does not accept the reality that God has created. Like Satan to Eve, he tries to convince others that God does not know the nature of the true world. It is emphatically NOT true that you can change reality by changing your perception of reality. Reality is what it is; the liar would seduce you to distort things and pretend things are not what they are. He distorts words, ideas, things, events, people, places, and qualities to build his own dream which he erects for his own ends, either to escape some fear or to acquire something that is not his.
The Liar Deeply Wrongs Those Who Follow Him. The liar constantly bumps into reality and makes life miserable for himself and for those who listen to him, or for those who love him. His lies cause his loved ones and friends to make decisions contrary to reality, with great harm to them. This is especially true of those who lie about God.
Every man must face this fundamental truth: the God of the Bible is the only true and living God. Jesus Christ is His Son, the only Savior of the world. “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” (1Jo 2:22)
The Worst of Sins Is Committed by The Tongue. The tongue is a world of iniquity and is set on fire of hell, James says. The fires of hell smolder in the hearts of the wicked and break out into detestable things spoken about God and men. No cosmetics will change this reality. The tongue can only be cleansed by the cleansing of the heart.
“Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they he used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:” (Ro 3:13-14)
“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.” (Mt 12:31)
This is the reason that the Psalmist prayed:
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Ps 19:14) “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” (Ps 141:3) “My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.” (Ps 119:171)
The Person Who Sees No Problem with The Lying Tongue Is Not to Be Trusted. “Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.” (Pr 4:24)
This is the reason that our trust must be in God alone. All men are naturally liars and their words and ways are not to be depended upon. “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” (Ps 118:8)
“Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.” (Ps 40:4 AV)
“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.” –Matthew 2:16.
Israel looked and longed for the coming of the Messiah. When He came there would be great joy and happiness. His coming was described in the Psalms: “He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment. The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.” (Ps 72:2-4 AV)
Very often God’s actual working in the world seems to contradict His promises. And so it would be with the coming of Christ. Who would have thought that the first social consequence of the coming of the Lord Jesus would be the slaughter of the innocents? How could He be the Messiah, the Savior of the World?
Do not think that the Kingdom of God comes without trouble and anguish, for it does not. Sin has been put away by the blood and obedience of Christ, but we do not yet see all things put under His feet. He has not yet taken possession of His inheritance. Until He does the people of God will know distress and trouble and sorrow. God has not promised that life would be peaches and cream, but that we would overcome our troubles and sorrows by faith.
After planting the churches of Asia Minor Paul retraced his steps, ordaining elders in the cities and “confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22]
He thought that I had become cruel and mean. His young teen daughter had come to me in tears, saying that he had behaved badly to her, had fondled her.
He tried to make me see that he loved his daughter, that he had not hurt her. Of course I believed that he loved his daughter, as he saw it, but I tried to show him that his action was wrong and contrary to his responsibilities as a father. I didn’t succeed at it. He wept and I wept in the same room that his daughter had wept before. There was too much weeping. Sometimes sorrow is for consequences, not for the sin that brought the consequences. It was a long time ago. Nowadays I would call the police, for a crime had been committed, but we didn’t think like that in those days. We did remove him as youth director; he was angry and left the church. He should have gone to jail.
The trouble was, as I could not see at the time, was that this father equated sentiment with love. They are not the same things. Sentiment is self-defined and self-centered. If you make me feel bad you are bad; if you make me feel good, you are good. I felt bad for his daughter and for him, for I had my sentimentality, also. I am much tougher, now, thank God.
Sentiment decides on the basis of, well, sentiment. Love is defined outside of history and man’s emotion. Feeling is self-centered: “I feel so bad! I am so happy! I am so upset!” So many live
their lives wallowing in sentiment, and know so little about love.
This author does not claim to be a champion at love, but he does know that every good thing comes down from the Father of light in whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning. [James 1:17] The definition of love is outside ourselves and outside of creation. It has something to do with sacrifice for others as God loved the world and gave His Son; it has to do with God’s perfect righteousness because love is the keeping of God’s commandments; it has to do with responding to God, because we love Him because He first loved us; it has to do with fulfilling responsibilities as husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church; it is connected to sobriety as wives are to be sober and love their husbands and children; it is contrary to bitterness, for husbands are to love their wives and not be bitter.
Sentimentalism is emotion disconnected from reason and principle. It can be very destructive. “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” (Pr 12:10) The wicked may get rather sentimental over whales, puppy dogs, gamboling fawns, and frolicking lambs, but his policies lack the discrimination of reason and put people out of work and render land useless. But he feels good about it, and his sentiment may justify himself in his own eyes. Even though his life may be immoral and wicked, he thinks himself to be a kind and loving person, for he cares very much., you see.
You have seen the bumper sticker: “I hate mean people” or something of the sort. The translation goes something like this: “I don’t like people who don’t surrender to my brand of sentimentality. I am a good person and I cry over endangered mice, but support partial birth abortion. I weep for seals, but support murderers. I support those who abandon their spouses and children and think they need to be given space to find themselves. I cry for abandoned puppies, but am disgusted with the mother who weeps that her daughter gave birth out of wedlock.”
Such a person does not know God nor the judgment of God. God is willing to show His wrath [Romans 9:12; Rev. 14:10] and will take vengeance upon the ungodly with flaming fire [[2Thess 1:8] God knows that fire brings pain to the ungodly and will make them feel bad, but His eternal wrath will not be deterred by their weeping and gnashing of teeth. [Rev. 12:10,11] The bitter cup was not even taken from our Lord when He suffered for our sakes. [Matt. 26:39]
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:” (1Pe 1:22 AV)
“We have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.” [Is. 28:15b] The man who does not seek his safety in God must seek it somewhere else. Sometimes he finds it in other people, whose lying words give him a sense of security. “There is no God, or certainly one that will judge the world.” “There is a God,” they may say, “but nothing certain can be known about him; if you follow your heart and do the best you can, you will be all right.” There are many lies from the devil who is the Father of Lies, according to Christ. Where faith is weak or absent, man seeks to avoid responsibility and ownership of his sins, by lying about them and lying about God.
The man of faith finds his refuge in God, who cannot lie. “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:” (Heb 6:18) Faith leads us to trust in God, who made the heaven and the earth. This puts us in touch with reality and we begin to see things clearly, not deceived by our own hearts. None of the vain refuges built by men’s imaginations can stand the judgment of God. “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.” (Isa 28:17)
“But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.” (Ps 59:16)
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We will send A Basket of Figs free of charge to anyone who requests it. It is our desire that these little papers be used of the Lord to bear witness of the truth as it is in Christ. Our only request is that they be read: you do not even have to agree with everything! Unless otherwise indicated, Pastor Powell writes all articles, and they may be freely duplicated as long as duly credited. We do not solicit funds, nor will we give or sell our mailing list to anyone. All readers of this publication are invited to visit our website: www.trinityrcus.com. The website for Basket of Figs is http://basketoffigs.org where you will find back issues of Figs and other delicacies. Some of these may not be for your taste, but you can pick and choose, and download anything you like. For some you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, which may be downloaded free at http://www.adobe.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org