Monday, October 3, 2011

The Leaven of Herod (Part Two)

Two things I ask of you, LORD;
   do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
   give me neither poverty nor riches,
   but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
   and say, "Who is the LORD?"
Or I may become poor and steal,
   and so dishonor the name of my God.  (Proverbs 30:7-9)

"Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous--with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!"  (Matthew 5:3, Amp)

       Many Christians today wrongly believe that they are called to be strong in the power of their own flesh and might, that somehow this is pleasing to God.  Yet nothing could be further from the truth.  For these people, any weakness is viewed as failure and should be avoided at all costs.  Even if they feel weak and out of control. they'd never admit it for God would be sorely displeased and disappointed.  Therefore, these same individuals frequently wear the mask of strength at all times while hardly ever depending on the Lord for anything.

       It is never God's will that we function on an independent plane outside of Him if for no other reason, simply because it leaves Christ and His finished work at the cross, and the power of the Holy Spirit out of the entire equation of human existence thereby making it impossible for God to get the glory.  (How can He be glorified when we've done His job for Him?)  This mindset, this evil influence, the leaven of Herod is nothing more than religious atheism.  We can dress it up and make it look biblical, hence acceptable to those around us, but God sees straight through it.  "All a person's ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD."  (Proverbs 16:2)

       I once provided care for a gentleman who had a son that was a pastor.  The patient and his wife spoke incessantly about how great their son was, about all of his academic accomplishments and how he pastored a large church of several hundred parishioners.  During my 12-hour shift, neither the husband nor the wife once mentioned the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the head of the Church at large and Who is the Chief Boss of their son.  ["And he is the head of the body, the church....."  (Colossians 1:18)]  Sadly, there wasn't even the slightest hint of Him in their conversation.  Finally, it became apparent to me that neither my patient nor his wife knew the Lord Jesus as their personal Savior.  As far as they were concerned, their son's numerous successes were the golden calf, the god to be revered and adored. 

       Beloved, it's this attitude, the leaven of Herod, religious atheism, that is so prevalent in the Body of Christ today among those who confess Christ as their Lord and Savior.  It's frightening and quite disturbing.  (Oh, and please don't be of the mindset that I'm some harsh, overbearing Christian!  There's nothing wrong with us bragging on our children and what they do, especially for God's Kingdom and Christ's Church!  But we must be cautious and temperate in all things. [Galatians 5:22]) 

       Dearest friends, there is no place in the Bible that even remotely purports that Christians are to function as independent entities apart from God, His Christ and Spirit.  "Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (I Corinthians 1:24) is that which undergirds the success of the believer, and to the extent we truly believe and rest in that truth, the more successful we become in the Kingdom of God.  God in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in us must needs be the source of all things accomplished in and through us, else we will surely end up trying to save ourselves, serve the Kingdom in the power of the flesh and worse yet, be in charge of our own destinies.  That may seem innocuous, but really it's quite dangerous spiritually.  Even in its most innocent appearance, operating under the unholy influence of the leaven of Herod is a literal proclamation of emancipation from God Almighty.  Whether we see or intend it that way, that is the way the Lord interprets it.  And quite honestly, if we choose to live emancipated from God, we become no better than Eve in the Garden of Eden when she fell for the serpent's lie.

       "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he at it."  (Genesis 3:6)  We note that Eve passed the fruit to Adam and he hence passed it on.....and on......and on.....and on.  Death and separation from our Creator became the fruit of that awful choice.  AND now today, as it was in the Garden of Eden, the spirit of independence from God spreads like a viral contagion and has lamentably pierced the safe-haven walls of the Body of Christ.  So we sons and daughters of God must beware!  ["Don't you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?"  (I Corinthians 5:6)] 

       Frighteningly, no one is exempt from the poisonous leaven that permeates the hearts of the spiritually slothful.  The fruit of independence captivates the sinful nature of the believer and without further question, appears almost virtuous.  But again, this attitude is nothing more than the leaven of the once mighty King Herod, a reality of christian infidelity at its finest.  It is sheer unbelief and rightly stinks in the nostrils of God.

       Be not deceived, dear believer!  God does NOT help those who insist on helping themselves, but rather, God helps those who humble themselves before Him and freely acknowledge that their whole being and existence depend solely on Him and Him alone!  ".......'God opposes the proud but gives favor to the humble.'  Humble yourselves, therefore under God's mighty hand, that he might lift you up in due time."  (I Peter 5:5-6)  The Lord can only operate in the lives of those who are surrendered to Him, those who have given up their will in exchange for His.

       Jesus warned His disciples to steer clear of the leaven of Herod; the Holy Spirit through the Word of God warns us believers today to do the same.  May God's Spirit give us eyes to see and ears to hear.  We forever shall be dependent upon God Almighty for everything in this life, for it is the Spirit in us, as we wholly yield ourselves to Him, that works the good and perfect will of the Eternal God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen."  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

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