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Posts tagged ‘faith’

CAMEL FILTERS

 

Matthew 23:24

Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

 

In the days of Jesus, the tiny flying insect called a gnat was “unclean”–i.e., it was on the list of animals that the Jews were forbidden to eat, according to the Law of Moses. Most people are aware that Jews will not eat pork; this is why. The pig was also on the list of unclean animals. Anyone who violated this law and ate something that was “unclean” was considered to be ceremonially defiled and was subject to the penalty of such an infraction of the Law.

The Pharisees in the days of Jesus were extremely meticulous and ostentatious about observing even the tiniest matters of the Law. It was a common practice in those more primitive days to have a large pot of drinking water in a communal area. As we all know, insects like gnats are attracted to open containers of water and many times will get trapped in the water and die, being unable to free themselves. The Pharisees apparently would make a great show of filtering these tiny gnats out of the drinking water by pouring the water into their cups through a piece of white linen or something similar and showing all those around any of the offending creatures that they had been so diligent to “strain” out.

This is what Jesus meant when he spoke of those who would “strain at a gnat.” They were filtering out tiny specks and making a big deal over it so others would acknowledge their spiritual superiority.

However, Jesus observed another dietary practice common in their day, about which the Pharisees were apparently unaware. In geographical regions where there were not many trees, there was a scarcity of firewood. In the particular land where Jesus lived, it was customary to use dried camel dung as fuel for fires—not just fires for heat, but also cookfires.

Surely it comes as no surprise that as fuel burns the smoke from its fire contains microscopic particles of the fuel’s molecular components. When we eat something that is hickory smoked, the taste and flavor of the food we are consuming has been enhanced by the exhaust from a fire fueled at least in part by hickory wood chips. Technically, we are consuming microscopic particles that were released from the hickory fuel during combustion and which floated up and adhered to the surface of the food being cooked. This fact is true even if the fuel being used is odorless.

Now it becomes clear what Jesus meant when he said the Pharisees were swallowing camels whole! The camel, it should be noted, was also on the list of unclean animals which were prohibited from the diet of the Law-observing Jews. No self-respecting Pharisee would ever think of consuming a camel steak or a camel burger!! However, something not even visible to the unaided eye was coating and permeating their “sanctified” foods as they were being cooked over fires fueled with dried camel dung. How abhorrent to consider that they were unwittingly contaminating their carefully prepared kosher food with the waste product of an unclean beast!

I personally don’t believe Jesus was telling the Pharisees not to strain out the gnats as much as he was saying they shouldn’t feel quite so smug about not ingesting unclean gnats when all along they were consuming foods defiled with the microscopic residue of the most unclean part of an unclean camel, a creature that just happens to be 260 million times larger than a gnat!

 

Conclusion….

Notice the context of Matthew 23:24….

Matthew 23:23-25

23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

No matter how careful we are to faithfully follow “the letter of the law,” Jesus is teaching us that it is possible to be unknowingly “spiritually contaminated” with and by things that are not visible to the carnal eye. I will go on record as saying it doesn’t really matter—in the final analysis—what we look like on the outside if our heart is black with the absence of justice, mercy and faith.

 

 

Rev. Tim D. Cormier

(C) Copyright held by Tim D. Cormier. This document may not be reproduced in whole or in part, except for personal use, without the express written permission of the author.

More Than Just A Form

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof….”
–2 Timothy 3:5

 

If we understand this scripture correctly, godliness (piety, right living) has two phases or parts. One is external and visible, and is called the form of godliness; the other is internal and invisible, and is called the power of godliness. We are admonished by the Apostle that there will be some in the last days who will have a form of godliness, but who in fact will be empty of the power of godliness. From such we are instructed to turn away, or, in other words, avoid.

Apparently, the form of godliness can be imitated and manufactured. It is like a glove that reveals the shape of the human hand, even when the hand is removed or withdrawn from it. However, just as the glove without the hand has no power or ability to function, so is the person who merely possesses the form of godliness without the power of godliness.

Such people look like Apostolics, act like Apostolics, and even go through the motions of worship like Apostolics. Yet there is an emptiness to their praise, and their testimony is hollow. Their witness is weak and ineffective. They are spiritually tepid. They have a form of godliness but they lack its power.

We are living in an age where an alarming number of so-called Apostolics are content with merely the form of godliness without also possessing the power of godliness. The great danger in this is that it takes the true power of godliness to maintain a viable walk with God. But because we have had such a heavy emphasis on “externals,” many of our modern Apostolics feel more secure around someone who has a “good standard” than they do around someone who has a “good spirit.”

We are truly living in perilous times. Some of the most godly-looking people have proven to be quite empty of true godliness. The power of godliness works within the lives of those who possess it and creates the form of godliness in them. Those who have the form of godliness but do not have the power of godliness have either imitated those who do have it or have retained the form of godliness from a time in their lives when they actually did possess the power thereof.

It is frightening to consider the amount of spiritual “con artists” that are thriving in the Apostolic ranks these days. Where is our spiritual discernment? Where is the prophet who will rise and rebuke the pretenders and the play-actors? We must have more than merely a form of godliness! And we must avoid those who only possess a form of godliness. How could anyone who truly possessed the power of godliness be comfortable around someone who merely had a form of godliness?

Sometimes our preaching has emphasized adherence to a standard to the exclusion of receiving an understanding of the true nature of God. We often judge others by their “form of godliness” (i.e., their standards of holiness), but when the Son of Man comes He will be looking for FAITH! What a shame it is to consider that Divine Healing is treated as a joke in many conservative Apostolic circles today.

There are congregations that look great, but where is the ability to pray the prayer of faith for the sick? Where is the power to keep ourselves unspotted from the world? Where is the power to love our enemy, and to do good to them who hate us? Where is the power to pray for them who despitefully use us? Where is the power to forgive?

Have we glorified the “earthen vessel” to the point that the “heavenly treasure” has departed from it? Heaven forbid that we would wind up as empty, powerless shells – beautiful gloves with no working hands, or highly polished shoes with no feet to walk in them.

Make no mistake about it: the form of godliness is vital to the power of godliness. But we must never fall into the snare of assuming that because the form of godliness exists the power of godliness invariably accompanies it. We must not confuse outward manifestations of godliness with true holiness. And we must never make final judgments about someone’s standing in God simply because of the way they dress or live up to certain codes.

People who merely have a form of godliness but lack the power of godliness are highly susceptible to deception, and eventually wind up in false doctrine of one sort or another. The reason for this is because the power of godliness derives from the preaching of the Word of God. We are living in the time when man cannot endure sound doctrine, but according their own lusts they have heaped to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they have turned away their ears from hearing the truth, and have therefore been turned unto fables. The end result of this is spiritual impotence due to not hearing the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.

It is possible to dress conservatively and go through all the motions of godliness and still not possess the power of godliness within. This is a dangerous state. When we begin to feel empowered simply because we have a form of godliness, we have been deceived into thinking that is all we need. But we still need to fast and pray and worship God in spirit and in truth. We still have to connect spiritually with the preacher as he ministers to us the Word of God. We must be spiritually energized by the Holy Ghost within us. We receive power after the Holy Ghost comes upon us – power to work, power to witness, power to live an overcoming life.

God forbid that we should possess merely an empty shell of what a true child of God should be. We need more than simply a form of godliness – we need the power of godliness. We need power to intercept new forms of evil before they invade our homes and hearts; we need power to discern what spirits are trying to help us and what spirits are trying to harm us; we need power to overcome the constant downward pull of earth’s gravitational force; we need power to resist the ever-seducing siren’s song of worldly music; we need power to stand up for what is right even when it is not popular or safe to do so; we need power to ferret out all the subtle nuances of the New Age movement that have invaded Christendom; and we need power to defuse the demonic bombs that have been laid in our paths in an attempt to destroy us.

May God help us in these last days to beware lest we succumb to the pressure to settle for just a form of godliness. We must have more than a mere form of godliness – our very survival depends on our possessing the power of godliness.

Rev. Tim D. Cormier

Reprinted from the November, 2002 issue of the Apostolic Standard.

(C) Copyright held by Tim D. Cormier. This document may not be reproduced in whole or in part, except for personal use, without the express written permission of the author.

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