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Carnal Christianity Part One - The Head and Not the Tail

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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: 13-14 (ESV)

As the great apostasy intensifies there is a battle over the soul, if you will, of the church today. The great falling away foretold in the Bible is well underway as people within the church system itself continue to fall away further into a darkness they cannot perceive. Hearken to the warnings of Christ:

"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! - Matthew 6: 22-23 (ESV)

There are increasing numbers of self-professing Christians who bathe in their darkness. They love their darkness. They cannot tell however that it is in fact dark. They instead have believed the great lie. They have accepted the delusion sent to those who simply refuse to hear the true message of the Gospel:

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. - 2Thessalonians 2: 9-12 (ESV)

This delusion beloved does not come from the enemy. It comes from God. Look at the prerequisite. They have refused to love the truth and so be saved. They follow the false signs and lying wonders of this world and of Satan. They relish the wicked deception set before them. This is why the Bible says in these last days that men will not even tolerate sound doctrine. I am amazed when people bristle at accurate, biblical correction of false teaching. You can dress falseness up in the name of Jesus all day long but if there is no real relationship to Him it does not matter. That relationship is forged in His Word. Remember the Seven Sons of Sceva:

A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, "I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!" Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, "I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?" Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered. - Acts 19: 13-16 (NLT)

There are far too many today following the path of Sceva. Talking the tough guy spiritual talk but no walk to speak of. Throwing around the name of Jesus without any real relationship. There is a reason why an exasperated Jesus asks - who do you bother calling me "Lord" if you refuse to do as I say?

Yet we love the delusion. We live for it sometimes. We move from false spiritual experience to false spiritual experience and fancy ourselves as basking in the light when we are surrounded by the present darkness of this world. The darkness feeds our flesh. It scratches our itching ears. It has its own language and catch phrases. It uses the same Scriptures, usually ripped out of context, to assure us that the broad path beneath our feet is really narrow. Just a quick check of some of the mega church pastor Facebook posts today reveals the message:

"There is a winner in you. You were created to be successful, to accomplish your goals, to leave your mark on this generation. You have greatness in you. The key is to get it out." - Joel Osteen

Expecting nothing gets you nothing. I'd rather expect a lot and get half of it, than expect a little and get all of it. What are you expecting? - Joyce Meyer

Christ has paid the price for you to enjoy God's favor, peace, protection and provision in every area of life. - Joseph Prince

These are our considerations for today. Is there a winner in us or a sinner in us? Were we created to bring glory to God or to achieve worldly success? Is there greatness inside of us or no good thing? Should we be on our knees thanking God for His sacrifice or standing with our hands out expecting more? Do we look to Cavalry for our blessed assurance or for the favor and provision of God in every area of our lives? Is our Christianity biblical, or carnal? That is really the question. Carnal Christianity takes the things of God and cheapens them to be about us. The Bible becomes a story about us instead of Jesus. Worship goes from being about the glory of God to the glory of man. Sermons go from sound biblical exegesis to sugary topical studies designed to motivate and teach people who need a Savior desperately, that they can help themselves.

As indicated, carnal Christianity has its own buzzwords, catch phrases, and poorly exposited Bible verses. From time to time, I will deal with such verses/phrases and today we have a very common exhortation from seeker-friendly pulpits - you are the head and not the tail! Anyone who has sat through enough purpose driven messages has certainly heard this nugget preached. It is exactly what we want to hear. It scratches us right where we itch. We want to go to church on Sundays and hear how great we are instead of how great thou art. Where exactly does this notion come from however and is it being used correctly? The answer is found in examining the context of the key verses today from Deuteronomy.

Let us start with the most immediate context, the verses themselves. While it makes it clear that God does indeed promise to make Israel the head and not the tail we tend to overlook the caveat, even when it is in the same verse, as it is here. 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 have commanded you today, to the right hand or to the left to go after other gods to serve them. That is a heck of a chunk of context that never seems to be reiterated when the preacher tells you that God wants to make you the head and not the tail. It is not quite as simple as merely stating it as fact for everyone listening. Let us now expand our context to examine the chapter we find these verses in and we will see things begin to crystallize more. Deuteronomy is the final book of the Torah; the law. Chapter 28 is towards the end as Moses is wrapping up and reviewing for the people. Here is how the chapter begins:

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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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