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Carnal Christianity Part One - The Head and Not the Tail

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"And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. - Deuteronomy 28: 1-2 (ESV)

There are two crucial things for us to understand here. What did God mean when He said, "all His commandments that I commanded you today" and what blessings is He referring to? The portion of all the commandments is easy enough. This is referring to the entire Torah. All 613 Mosaic Laws. That is what is being wrapped up here in the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy. So God is promising Israel that if they obey all of the law, he will provide a certain level of blessings. What blessings? Everything contained in verses 3-14, culminating in our key verses today. God was not just promising for His people to be the head and not the tail but also to be a lender and not a borrower. All of our enemies to be defeated. There are in fact twelve verses filled with the promises of specific blessings contained here if we would just follow the law. What is the problem with that beloved? No one can follow the law. The only one who was able to was Jesus! Not to mention that if you broke one law you broke them all! The Mosaic Law made us recognize our sin but it required a Savior to deliver us from them. So even within this localized context, it appears this blessing of being the head and not the tail is unreachable.

Further compounding the problem is that the chapter does not end there. For seeker-friendly preachers it does but we are always required to take all of Scripture into consideration. Still within this localized context there are 53 more verses to chapter 28! I wonder why so many preach the head and not the tail verse and then ignore the remainder of the chapter? Possibly because the last 53 verses deals with the curses for disobedience. Rarely will the feel good preacher show you both sides of the coin. They will happily show you the grace side but never flip it over to deal with the law. Always about blessings but never about judgment. God becomes a genie in a bottle and our first wish is that we become the head and not the tail. That is 53 verses of context ignored. Expanding the view of our context we take this Book in light of the entire Bible. There is no question that the key verses, including the promise to be the head and not the tail, are part of the law. It is one of the specific blessings if we were able to keep the law. Yet what is our relationship now to the law under the grace of God?

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.- Colossians 2: 13-15 (ESV)

We were dead in trespasses because no one could keep the law. God forgave us this debt, canceling its record against us and the legal demands. What legal demands? For starters the 53 "curse" verses of ignored context in Deuteronomy 28. Christ took Deuteronomy 28 and the rest of the law and nailed it to the cross so that we are no longer bound to it. According to the Bible Jesus became the curse for us. Considering all of this context, why do preachers continue to tell people that God wants to make them the head and not the tail?

Because it sounds so good and we want to hear it. I can already hear the argument. Jesus did lead a sinless life, keeping the commandments of the law so through Him, we ought to be able to lay claim to the blessings of Deuteronomy 28. This logic is manmade however and not biblical. You cannot lay claim to the blessings of Deuteronomy 28 and ignore the rest of the context. Those considerations were for the people of Israel and even if you want to make the argument that we are grafted in, you cannot escape the fact that Jesus nailed the requirements to the cross for us. If there is any doubt, we simply need to apply what we are saying to Christianity today. These are the promised blessings from Deuteronomy 28:

Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out."The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. The Lord will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. The Lord will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in his ways. And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. And the Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. - Deuteronomy 28: 3-14 (ESV)

One of the tell tale signs that you are sitting under false teaching in this country is the preaching cannot apply beyond our shores. The prosperity gospel, word faith gospel, greasy grace, and nearly every other abhorrent mangling of God's Word cannot exist outside of this country. In order for this transference of the blessings of Deuteronomy 28 to believers today to be accurate, it would have to be automatic and totally dependent upon the life of Jesus. Take a good look at this list of blessings. Do these all apply to your life? Do you know anyone they all apply to? Can you imagine trying to explain to the persecuted Christians in Iraq that God intends for them to be the head and not the tail? Can we preach to the underground church in China that God intends for them to be blessed in the city and in the field? Can we sermonize to the Christians in Lebanon that the Lord will cause their enemies to flee seven ways before them? Of course not; because these verses are not promises of blessings to Christians. They were promises of blessings to Israel if they could keep the Mosaic Law, which they could not. Head and not the tail? What does Jesus say about this?

But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, "If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all." - Mark 9: 34-35 (ESV)

If anyone wants to be the head, they must be the tail. Beloved, I am not saying that God does not wish to bless us. I am saying He already has through Christ Jesus on the cross. Can there be more? Sure. Can we be the head and not the tail? Sometimes. But to preach it to thousands of people as if it is the will of God for all of them to be the head and not the tail is simply not supported Scripturally. Was Peter the head and not the tail when he was crucified upside down? When Paul said he was the least of the Apostles was he not realizing that he was the head and not the tail? Are the Christians in the Middle East today the head and not the tail? We need to realize that when we hear this preached it very well may be for our itching ears only. If you want to lay hold of a promise today, try this one:

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, - 2Timothy 3: 12 (ESV)

The real persecution is coming to the shores of this country soon. I do not mean the trivial matters we think are persecution today. I mean real persecution. Christians will have to decide if they are serving God or man. They will have to come out from among them. That is, if they are desiring to live a godly life. Those still shackled to carnal Christianity will not even realize it. They will still walk around in their darkness telling everyone how bright their light is. Chasing the dreams of being the head but in reality, only chasing their own tails.

Reverend Anthony Wade - September 5, 2014

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
 
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