Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles...
I introduced this subject in Part One, and then had some more background information that I wanted to share, so I wrote a large addenda to Part One.
I wrote in Part One, that I wanted to discuss a few of the Works of the Flesh in this treatment. I will not go over each and everyone. But, here are some observations of mine on the works, or characteristic traits of human nature, called here by Paul, and translated by English translators, as simply the “flesh.” This is mostly what is described as King James translation English.
This probably cannot be improved on.
For all the Bible translations that we have today, corrupt inherent human nature is still best described by the many translations of the Bible, as the “flesh.”
It is interesting to note that the first four works of the flesh are sexual sins or excesses beyond which are responsible or acceptable behaviour to God.
These are difficult sins to overcome in many lives…for both men and women.
Different statistical studies show that over half of all professing Christian men view online, or look at internet pornography, on a regular basis of some sort.
Viewing pornography is a gateway for other sexual sins such as fornication and adultery. The same studies note something that I was not aware of at all: that 20% of women view pornography online. I had no idea of this.
The Barna Group, a Christian polling company, is headed by respected long-time church trend researcher George Barna. Mr. Barna has been doing this for some time. He is known for his credible and accurate statistical surveys among Christian denominations and groups. In his own polling on this topic, Barna goes further and breaks down somewhat the viewing of, or addiction to, online pornography by different denominational or evangelical belief groups.
This is kind of interesting.
Incredibly, Barna reported that 95% of those who describe themselves as “born-again” Christians, or perhaps, the most fundamental faith-based Christians, …had issues with viewing pornography…
It appears in the light of this, that there is an extreme need for “true repentance.”
These sins are not being overcome. The Blood of Christ is not working very well for these folks.
The modern era of “easy believism;” nominal spiritual commitments; the church becoming its true nature as a corporate business model and no longer a spiritual organism; and the failure of media staged mass evangelism has led to a great many failures in “bringing forth fruits worthy of (true) repentance” (Luke 3:8a).
Some of the works of the flesh are based on selfishness and jealousies.
These are pretty much pandemic in human nature.
Then there is drunkenness and revelings. Some translations read instead of revelings, “carousing,” or even “orgies.” This kind of lets you know to what extent that “revelings,” go to. A poll taken has shown that 40% of Evangelical leaders, ministers, and pastors, “socially drink alcohol,” or drink on a regular basis.
Alcoholism is also an issue of repentance.
In many revivals, particularly those of yesteryear, alcoholics were notable converts. In such grassroots revivals, you could nearly always count on the “town drunk” to get thoroughly converted, swear off drinking entirely, never to touch a bottle of booze again, and became a regular “pillar of the community.”
His wife fell in love with him again, if he was married, his children rejoiced, and became incredibly proud of their father. In addition, there was no more a record of anyone in that family line that had any issues further with drunkenness and alcohol.
You can read of most any famous revival, such as the Western Revivals, the Cane Ridge Revivals, the Great Awakening, the revivals under Whitefield, the revivals under Finney, the revivals under Daniel Rowland, the revivals under Smith Wigglesworth, and the several Pentecostal Revivals in general and under individual leadership, and you will read of some remarkable conversions and testimonies from drunkenness or alcoholism, similar to what I just described above.
Yep, overcoming a terrible sin, like drunkenness, has its benefits… and extended benefits.
Alcoholism or drunkenness is not a disease as claimed nowadays, however. Paul simply and astutely calls it correctly as, a work of the flesh.
Even in Billy Graham’s famous Crusade revival that put him in the public eye, the 1949 Los Angeles, California Crusade, there was a well known celebrity who had been a bad alcoholic and womanizer, who got “saved.”
His name was Stuart Hamblen. I sure like, to this day, his gospel songs that he wrote. He was perhaps, one of Hollywood’s original “singing cowboys.”
During a 1963 return crusade in Los Angeles, Billy Graham called Hamblen’s conversion, “the turning point” in his lifelong ministry.
Whereas before, Graham’s crowds were small, Hamblen’s celebrity status gave impetus for much larger crowds thereafter (Wikipedia). This story doesn’t end there, however.
I got the opportunity to meet Stuart Hamblen.
STUART HAMBLEN, pretty much as I remember him, when I and my mother met him at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, circa, 1973 or 1974. According to a post-mortem write-up by the Los Angeles Times in 1989, Hamblen was a recovered alcoholic who abandoned alcohol after a tent revival conversion by evangelist Billy Graham.
The Times article also cited that during the 1930s and 1940s, Hamblen appeared in a number of low-budget Westerns, with John Wayne, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Gabby Hayes and other cowboy stars. Newspaper clippings also reflected other “credits”: arrests for speeding, resisting arrest, ignoring traffic tickets, drunken driving, driving under the influence, et cetera.
According to the L.A. Times though, “Hamblen tried to put all the mischief of his early years behind him when he attended Graham’s revival in 1949.”
Hamblen even ran for the President of the United States, in 1952, as a fringe Prohibition Party candidate.
In 1971, Hamblen returned to his original medium, radio, with a nationally syndicated program called, “The Cowboy Church of the Air.”
However when I met him a couple of years later, Hamblen was very drunk. He admitted when he introduced himself to us, that yes, he was the famous Stuart Hamblen. He had with him, though he was married to his wife eventually of a life-long 55 years, an Oriental woman who best charitably could be described as a “woman of ill repute,” who was leaning on his arm.
Hamblen made no apology or mention of his condition or his companion.
This was no surprise to those that were familiar with him, as eight years earlier, in 1965, Hamblen plead “no contest” to a drunk driving charge.
At Hamblen’s funeral, several years later, Billy Graham gave Hamblen a Christian eulogy.
I guess Billy Graham owed him.
But I couldn’t have done that… I saw the real Hamblen.
There is a repentance…and then, there is a repentance that comes from God.
The two are as different as night and day.
Man’s repentance doesn’t go far enough.
It didn’t for Hamblen.
He was a drunk that reformed…
Being a “reformed” drunk, is not a drunk who receives a repentance from God.
God is not interested in reforming people. That is what man attempts to do.
God is interested ONLY… in transforming people.
Mr. Hamblen is an example of someone who got very “religious,” and “reformed” his behaviour.
Paul the Apostle is an example of someone who received a revelation from God about himself and his behaviour, and underwent something different:
Those that reform themselves, end up, “falling off the wagon.”
Paul received a repentance granted from God. Paul ended up “fighting the good fight of faith.” Paul didn’t fall off a wagon… he climbed up a scaffold in which he henceforth gained a “crown of righteousness.”
There were no eulogies for Paul though.
Then again, Paul didn’t need one.
As I wrote just earlier above, I will write again for emphasis:
“It appears that there is an extreme need for ‘true repentance.’ ”
“The modern era of ‘easy believism;’ nominal spiritual commitments; the church becoming its true nature as a corporate business model and no longer a spiritual organism; and the failure of media staged mass evangelism has led to a great many failures in ‘bringing forth fruits worthy of (true) repentance.’ ”
Hamblen was an example of “easy believism.”
The fact is, he didn’t go far enough. He became a drunk again, and a womanizer. It is noteworthy when we fail, and fall back into sin, we fall back into it with aplomb.
Yep, Paul called alcoholism a “work of the flesh.” That is pretty much all it is…
Paul said that those persons that indulge, in any of the “works of the flesh,” would “not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Paul viewed this involvement in the “works of the flesh” as a symptom of being lost in sin.
It doesn’t matter then what one, or ones, of the “works of the flesh” a person is involved with. You could be involved in sexual vices, selfishness or wickedness, or alcoholism; and you won’t be part of the kingdom of God.
You aren’t saved! You are under condemnation. Your sins are not being forgiven. How can they, when they are repeated over and over, and over, again.
This is serious business. You aren’t fooling God. Nobody was fooling Paul.
Now, I want to make some observations on another “work of the flesh.”
It is a “work of the flesh.”
It is not relegated to witches, warlocks, wizards, or sorcerers.
It is in the human nature of every individual human being. It is in the heart of every person.
It doesn’t need chants, invocations, omens, ritual, or spells…
It is just another work of the flesh.
Here is what “witchcraft” is.
It is a managed, focused, and directed, highly negative energy that is directed toward another person, or being.
It usually involves a good deal of envy and jealousy, and exponentially a large amount of hatred. This highly negative energy is very destructive. It can injure, maim, destroy and kill its object, depending on the leverage and experience of the individual using it. It can use curses, contact objects, spells, incantations and other forms of directed energy to achieve results.
It leaves the perpetrator in very poor spiritual shape. The victim or target, is usually in poor physical and possible spiritual shape. It is just as much as an addiction to use, or to have, or to control, as alcohol, drugs, or sexual uncleanness, is.
There… here is one of the great mysteries of human nature,… witchcraft.
It destroys relationships, families, marriages, churches, and friends.
Have you ever used witchcraft?
Paul says that you have.
If you have walked in the flesh… yes, you have probably used witchcraft.
Indeed, the fact is, and no statistical or Barna poll is necessary, is that everyone is guilty of this sin in some magnitude.
You can be free of this terrible hatred, jealousy, and negative destruction put on others.
You have to discern it.
You need to confess it to God, and others that you have hurt others with it, if they are still around you… Chances are, that they aren’t… Witchcraft is pretty efficient that way. No one sticks around you that may have been victimized by it. People instinctively know that about you if you are using such “energy.” If that is the case, then you just have to do the best you can to be reconciled to others and yourself.
If you indulge in this sin of witchcraft, then you are engaged in a “work of the flesh.” You cannot be saved. You cannot be in a state of Grace. You are deceived…if you think otherwise. You can quote the Bible, quote prophecy, claim to be in fellowship with Christ… but you aren’t. You are a false professor. You aren’t genuine. You can have a lot of religious spirits that can impress others; but the true disciples, well, you cannot deceive.
If you are engaging in this particular work of the flesh, like any of the others, you then need to receive real repentance for it. Obviously, the repentance that you think you have isn’t doing much for you…except making you a “two-fold child of Gehenna,” as Jesus said.
God grants repentance… It is true repentance… It doesn’t fail.
When you do, and have been forgiven by God, your conscience cleansed by the Holy Spirit and the fellowship of Jesus Christ… you can be free of this, and the other works of the flesh.
Those are not just words…
They are spiritual realities.
You really can be free from such things.
Jesus Christ can deliver you. He came to “save his people from their sins.”
Whether it is witchcraft, sexual immorality, drunkenness, or any other work of the flesh.
Seeking and believing God for these prerequisites above can put you in a greater “walk in the Spirit.”
And, that is even more freedom. Walking in the Spirit, is really walking in freedom. David alluded to this in his Psalm… 51:12… “Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me in your free spirit.”
In the old genuine revivals of yesteryear, folks would pray all night to “get saved.”
They would stay in the “anxious seat” as long it took. Or, in the old tent revivals, where there was a separate tent for seekers of salvation to “pray through.”
Now there is a term that is never used anymore. I never hear of it out here in popular Christendom. But you read about more of it, right here on this blog, as I write about it elsewhere. I know what it is to… pray through…
This is what is responsible for my Christian witness.
I am not going into it here and explain it.
After all, it is pretty well self-explanatory.
Nowadays, because of the influence of mega-media preachers with their promotion of “easy believism,” or what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace,” the experience of salvation is… empty.
This is why the same penitents keep going back to Billy Graham crusades and keep, keep coming forward at the so-called “altar call.” They have experienced an “empty” salvation.
This is absolutely true.
The mass majority of people going up there to his podium at his altar call who receive “literature” for salvation, and have a general, half-baked prayer said over them, have been there before…again,… and again…
Remarkably, only 2% of those that are “converted” in a Billy Graham Crusade, remain that way….
That’s right, I said “two percent.” That is not even Vegas odds. That is a 50 to 1 chance, you can receive, what you may be satisfied with as a salvation experience!
That is pathetic.
Compare that to a Finney revival, about a 180 years ago, where 80% testified of conversion, and continued in this “way.”
That’s right… I said, eighty percent…Nobody in Las Vegas wants to play 1:4 odds. That is how certain that God was working among imperfect human beings,… to eternally save them.
Think about it.
Then read of this story, right below, of “two revivals,” when you do your thinking.
PICTURE AND TEXT FROM MY SECOND BOOK: “Today’s mass evangelism uses ‘Madison Avenue’ advertising in targeting special groups, is well financed, and engages in unabashed hype and sensationalism like some carnival sideshow barker. Here in this ad, Billy Graham claims ‘sin-smashing’ success…Graham also claims that 160,000 people have heard his message of “salvation,” and has 5,000 conversions (about 3%, which is about the right figure for Graham’s ministry despite the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper owned by William Randolph Hearst who instructed his reporters to cover the revival, and “puff” Graham. Hearst built up his newspaper readership by emphasizing crime stories and of course, the never-ending and bizarre Hollywood actor scandals). Compare Graham’s efforts with Philip the Evangelist as recorded in Acts 8, where no slick advertising, no extravagant claims, and no amount of favorable press were necessary! Then ask yourself, after you read the Acts 8 account: what revival and Gospel would you rather hear?”
Yes, something is very wrong here.
Well, as the adage goes,… “you get you pay for.”
Nowadays, instead of “praying through” and getting the repentance that ONLY comes from God… well, you got a variety of “easy believisms” and “cheap graces.”
Here is a running inventory of such “sell-out” experiences:
~ Reciting the Four Spiritual Laws.
~ Asking Jesus to come into your heart.
~ Citing the “sinner’s prayer,” or whatever that is, as there is no Bible reference to it.
~ Any other superfluous or shallow mealy-mouth confessions.
Famous media personality Ted Turner stated for the record, that he did all these things. Yet, nothing ever happened to him. Turner says the whole exercise is a sham, bogus…As a result, he became an atheist. He opposed God whenever he could by denial. Turner really wanted to be saved; he wanted to be a Christian. When no power was exhibited, he lost hope.
Mr. Turner is in his seventies now. Most of those who are, sense their mortality clearly. Consequently, Turner now no longer calls himself an atheist. He admits to being an agnostic…now.
The poor man: he is still trying to figure it out. At any rate, how many years of his life have been wasted because of sham, bogus, “easy believism,” and “cheap grace.”
I admit it… My heart aches for people like Mr. Turner. I wish he could read my words which are in profound sympathy for him. Even rich men need God’s grace.
I detest vehemently all these “shortcuts.”
Jesus didn’t take any “shortcuts” for me.
Jesus took the “long way” to Golgotha.
This is what Paul pointed out to the Galatians.
The Galatians were thinking of taking a “shortcut,” courtesy of the Judaizing teachers.
Paul had to get them back on track…
Paul wrote to them saying, “Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For… Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross.” (Galatians 3:1).
This is how the New Living Translation cites this text. Interesting.
…In reality, it was more than this…
…The Galatians actually saw a vision of Christ, when Paul was preaching this to them, in which this very Vision appeared and they saw… Jesus crucified on the Cross, ..yes, …just like it happened on Golgotha!!!…
The Galatians saw in this powerful and moving Vision, that Jesus didn’t take any “shortcuts.”
…They saw Jesus paid it all…
Nope. There was no “cheap grace” on Golgotha…
Nope. There was no “cheap grace” that the Galatians saw in amazement in the Vision of Golgotha…
Jesus paid the price.
He paid it for you!… Just he did, for those Galatians, which you have so much in common with, as I described in Part One.
If you are a recipient of “cheap grace,” then you have a “cheap saviour.”
Believe me though, Jesus Christ is no “cheap Saviour.”
When you pay your price, then you see Jesus very much in a similar way as the Galatians. Salvation should be revelatory to the seeker.
Ask Jesus to be very real to you as…
Be sure though, you have a real repentance, …first…
Thanks for reading.
Copyrighted. Joseph Spickard, 2015. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this intellectual property without prior permission from the author is prohibited.