“Hand-me-down Christianity”

by The Mad Preacher

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”…

How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:5-6, 11-12)

What were the teachings, or yeast, of the Pharisees and Sadducees; and why did Jesus give such a grave warning? First, here’s a bit of information about these two religious sects.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices―mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law―justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” — Jesus (Matthew 23:23)

The Pharisees were determined to separate themselves from anything, or anyone, that they considered impure, both morally and doctrinally. And because of their strict interpretation of the Levitical law [the Torah—the five Books of Moses Pharisees and Sadducees[1], they became legalistic and prideful. Jesus condemned them for being lawyers instead of lovers, for having their emphasis solely on observing the legalistic requirements of the law rather than on meeting the needs of others. They were condemned not so much for what they did but for what they didn’t do. They neglected what Jesus called, “…the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.”

So, Jesus was warning us about the yeast of empty legalism. God called us to be lovers, not lawyers.

How about the Sadducees? Unlike the Pharisees, they gave no credence to what was called “the oral law,” that is the traditional teachings, or the scriptural commentary of the elders as laid down in the Torah. They considered the written law alone to be the only divine authority. That was a good approach to God’s word. However, they embraced a very liberal view of the scripture. For instance, they effectively denied anything supernatural. They didn’t believe in the resurrection of the body, the immortality of the soul or the existence of spirits or angels. Because of this approach toward the law, they were constantly at odds with the Pharisees.

However, the Pharisees and Sadducees did have something in common. Each thought they were right and everyone else was wrong. Plus, they were also hypocrites.

“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them…Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”        — Jesus (Matthew 23:2-4, 13)

Sadly, much of contemporary Christianity is saturated with the yeast, or the teachings, of the Pharisees and Sadducees. It is blended throughout their theology and church tradition. Jesus strongly warned us to “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” The effects of their teaching are widespread and devastating to the Body of Christ.

He [Jesus] replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men…Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” (Mark 7:6-8, 13)

The effects of hand-me-down traditions of man, or rules taught by men, are that they drain God’s Word of power in the life of the one who embraces them. Baseless legalism binds us with empty traditions and liberalism denies a God of powerful displays in our lives. You see, when we remove the “super” from “supernatural” all we have left is merely the natural—that done only in the flesh. Consequently, we end up trying to do the ministry in the flesh rather than in the power of the Holy Spirit. Eventually we end up defeated, cold and void of true direction.

How about you? Has this kind of yeast been folded into your life? Jesus knows how deadly this yeast can be. So, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Nobody knew His secret ambition Nobody knew His claim to fame He broke the old rules steeped in tradition He tore the Holy Veil away Questioning those in powerful position Running to those who called His name (But) Nobody knew His secret ambition Was to give His life away [2]

See a video of this message on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzLI6A7U8Gk

Look for new posts from The Mad Preacher on Saturdays. 

[1] For more info go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torah

[2] Secret Ambition by Michael W. Smith from his album, I 2 (eye) ©1988, Reunion Records

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“Burning House” by the Mad Preacher

burning houseA few weeks ago I posted on my You Tube page a video entitled, There is no such thing as a true atheist.” [Click the link to view it] Atheists came out of the woodwork. Many of them just attacked me but others wanted to debate with me. This I refused to do even although it mad some of them angery. I try to stick to Paul’s formula when sharing the Gospel. “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)  This is a response to one’s commit stating that he doesn’t believe there’s a god because there is none.

I can say that I don’t believe in something, but my non-belief doesn’t make it so. I made these videos, not to spark off a big debate or make atheists angry with me. I posted them for one reason, and only one reason, to give me an opportunity to tell you about Jesus and the life changing effect that he had on me and on the lives of multimillions of others who embraced Him as their Lord and Savior. I’m a man in a burning house. There is only one door, only one way out of the blazing inferno and I’m desperately trying to direct everyone to that door. Jesus said, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, will be saved.” (John 10:9)

Jesus said, “… this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) My friend, Jesus’ words are ringing true today. The gospel (good news) is being broadcast all over the world. It carries the message about Jesus and the free salvation he offers and this message is touching people all over God’s creation. At this very moment, through TV, radio, the Internet and many other venues this gospel of the kingdom is being preached everywhere. Jesus said that when you see this taking place the end of all things is near, judgment is imminent!

So, I’m still running around the burning house begging people to come through that the Door, the only door out. I’m talking with God about you. I’m asking that He will break through that wall that you have built around heart in order to show you the light of truth and then to show you the overwhelming love that He has for you.

Saber Rattling or “Not every barking dog bites!”

by The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

sabor english“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”        (James 4:7)

Recently I was watching a TV pastor teaching about spiritual warfare. The preaching was powerful and the word he brought was sound. As he preached the congregation began to really get into the spirit of things. They began to cheer, wave their arms and shout “Amen!” It was the kind of service that I enjoy most.

But as I watched the congregation come to a fever pitch, a sobering thought suddenly occurred to me. “Not every barking dog bites!” And then I thought, “How many of those in the congregation who were the loudest, actually had no bite in their bark at all? How many of them were just making noise?” Then I thought, “How many of us who shout at the Devil and shout the name of Jesus at demonic forces are really doing little more than… saber rattling?” Saber rattling—it means to offer a show of force. It means to make threats at an enemy in hope of intimidating him into submission.

Have you ever heard someone say, “You know the Bible says, ‘Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.’ So, just resist him! Command him to leave you and your family alone. Plead the blood and the name of Jesus against him and he will flee!” Yes, there is a lot of truth in that statement. However, that is not how you resist the Devil. There is something you must do first before you can even think about rebuking demonic powers.

Many who quote that verse, in the context of resisting the devil, don’t quote the whole verse. They leave out the first part. That’s amazing considering the first part of James 4:7 tell us how to do the second part—resist the devil. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. [In so doing you will] Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The first part of this verse must be in place before you can do the second part.

May I ask you a personal question? Is the Enemy running all over you and you don’t know why? Have you tried to claim authority over him, but he still runs over you? If so; may I suggest the strong possibility that you are not submitted to God, that you may be holding out on him. Could it be that God has spoken to you about a specific area of your life and you’ve chosen to ignore His correction? Could there be something you haven’t submitted to Him?

If this is the case chances are you’re not doing the first part of the verse and are, therefore, failing in the second part. Your bark has no bite in it. When you leave out the first part of James 4:7 all your rebuking and shouting at the devil means nothing. Your so-called spiritual warfare is just so much noise and amounts to little more than saber rattling—an empty show of force that the devil ignores as he continues to runs havoc in your life?

What I’m sharing is worth considering, isn’t it? So, do you have an attitude of submission? Are you doing the first part of the verse, or are you just saber rattling? What areas in your life are not submitting to God? Why not ask him to show you those holdouts that you have in your life? Then when He does, repent and submit them to God.

If you’ll do this, the enemy will begin to flee from you in panic. He’ll feel the bite in your bark! Your lifestyle of submission will show him that you mean business!  The enemy will start running from you in complete terror. You see, Satan cannot defeat a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led and Spirit-submitted child of The Most High God!

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”  (1Peter 5:6-10)

It seems to me that the Devil gets too much credit, and that some Christians are rebuking demons when they should be rebuking their flesh. As Paul said, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:18) Boy, do I relate!

This is what I denote when I said, “Could it be that God has spoken to you about a specific area of your life and you’ve chosen to ignore his correction? Could there be something you haven’t submitted to God? If that’s the case chances are you’re not doing the first part of James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God” and as a result, you are failing in the second part, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Indeed, we need to practice some good old-fashioned self-control before we try to do some demon-control.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Many of us have been guilty for over-spiritualizing things by seeing a demon behind every bush. However, we must not make the big mistake of de-spiritualizing things by not seeing the Enemy’s misdirection in our lives. I was guilty of this for years, and it got me in a whole heap of trouble.

Many Christians have made the mistake of thinking that because Satan is defeated he is no longer a threat. If this were true why would the Holy Spirit, through Peter, deem it necessary to offer such a strong warning? Furthermore, why would the Scripture admonish us to put on armor and take up weapons if we weren’t at war?

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13)

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2Corinthians 10:4)

It’s true that Satan’s major weapon is deception, but it’s also true that he attacks in other ways as well. He can torment us physically and mentally. In addition, he can wage a war of persecution directed against us.

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.              (2 Corinthians 12:7)

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelations 2:10)

You probably already know this. This is just a reminder so that we will heed the words of Peter, “Be self-controlled and alert.” Now, notice Peter’s wording, “self-controlled and alert.” It seems that he is echoing the words in James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. [self-control] Resist the devil [be alert], and he will flee from you.” This brings us right back to where we started—submission.

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. (1Peter 2:11)

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.

 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. (Romans 6:11-13)

Submission to God is the greatest weapon we have for resisting the attack of the Enemy. Those who keep blaming the Devil for their sin need a wakeup call. One cannot rebuke the Devil without first rebuking their sinful nature. To not do so is nothing more than saber rattling and will leave you in defeat and misery.

Empty Bottles by The Mad Preacher

Empty BottleJesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23)

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”— Jesus (Matthew 23:27-28)

 “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” — Common English Idiom

I think it was Jamie Buckingham who said, “It doesn’t do any good to put a label on an empty bottle.” Jesus said, “…out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”[1] In other words, a person is measured by the contents and not by the container. Ministerial credentials or seminary degrees are of no value if the one holding them has nothing of import to give to others.

In my academic and ministerial experience I have come across several people with fancy religious labels. They had diplomas from well-known graduate schools and seminaries and had a bunch of letters after their name like B.A., M.A., M. Div., D. Min., Th. D. and Ph. D. after their name. I have a couple of those myself. Much like the chief priests, the Pharisees and the Scribes of Jesus’ day, they had loads of head knowledge and lofty titles. Indeed, they were bottles with fancy labels but they were empty bottles. They possessed no real answers and, therefore, offered none. In fact, these empty vessels needed to be filled themselves.

 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools. (Romans 1:22)

 … having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (2Timothy 3:5)

I remember one such man who was my advisor and the head of the religion department where I studied for my pre-seminary degree. Dr. Chris was well educated and was fluent in ancient Greek and Hebrew. However, he possessed some very twisted and damaging views about the Bible. The basis of his warped thinking was this; he didn’t believe that the Bible was the infallible Word of God. Because of his foolhardiness, many young, impressionable students had their faith shipwrecked by his foolish blabbering.

… always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. (2Timothy 3:7)

He and I often butted heads in class. I would openly, but respectfully, call his outrageous claims into question. Unlike the others in my class I was more a seasoned Christian and was not as easily deceived.

And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:52)

On the other hand I have known many great men and women of God much like those described in this passage. They had the same type of formal education and had all the credentials. Yet, these powerful men and women of God were overflowing with something that empty bottles, like Dr. Chris, were woefully short of—joy, the fullness of the Holy Spirit and faith. They were also full of God, his Word and his passion for people. Plus they possessed something else that these others did not—authority. They were able to pour themselves into the lives of others because these bottles were not empty. Like King David of old they could say, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup [or bottle] overflows.[2]

 [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.                                                    (Mark 16:15-20)

“Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.” — Jesus (Luke 20:46-47)

Jesus warned us to beware of empty bottles. A whitewashed tomb is what he called them. They have nothing to offer but words of death. Don’t be fooled by their fancy labels. What are the contents of their hearts?

“The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance [the label], but the LORD looks at the heart [the contents].” (1Samual 16:7)

What are the contents of your heart? Maybe you’re someone who has a fancy label and little more.  Maybe you have no label at all, but you’re still an empty bottle that desperately needs to be filled. Jesus is standing by waiting for you to allow him to fill you to overflow with his presence, his peace, his forgiveness, his love and a life with a purpose.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:3)

This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

[1] Matthew 12:34

[2] Psalms 23:5