98. Beware - denying the two natures will cause a conflict in your soul
Is there a conscious spiritual conflict in your soul? There should be if you are a mature child of God seeking continuous sanctification. The Apostle Paul wrote: 'The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature' (Galatians. 5:17). Our attitude to Christian brethren also tests our profession of faith. Do we love them? As I explained after the Ruth Nelmes' speech (Section 58), the apostle John wrote: 'We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers' (1 John 3:14). Even those we do not get on with easily are loved because it is a gift of God's grace and a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25). It is also a fact that God may bring together others with equally rough edges so we can smooth each other off in the battle that we should be fighting to bring the gospel to the lost world. This is not the sentimental love that the world knows in emotional terms, or even the filial love that God places in all men and women, but Biblical love which is a practical grace, something that works. God's Son showed His love for us when He left heaven and, though equal with God, took human flesh and: 'humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross' (Phil. 2:5-8). 'And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers', adds John, the Apostle of Love (1 John 3: 16).
Biblical love is the test, and a test Antinomians like Wheelhouse fail, for a Christian does not just love his brethren, he also hates sin. He hates it because it robs him of blessing and makes his life, and the lives of others, miserable; but he also hates it because his sin took the Lord Jesus Christ to die a vile death on the accursed Tree and because it robs God of the glory which is His rightful due. To sincerely hate sin is a clear sign of a genuine Christian, for no unbeliever or any kind of 'religionist' ever hated sin as it is revealed through the Word of God to a disciple of Jesus. Those who follow the Antinomian Wheelhouse will ever be ready, like him, to excuse their sin as opposed to the Biblical recommendation which is to hate sin and love holiness. One follows the other, for the apostle John wrote that the sons of God will one day be like Christ and, on that day they will see Him as He is: 'Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure' (1 John 3:2-3). A clear love of holiness sorts the wheat from the chaff.
The New Testament makes it clear that there aren't two classes of Christian, as cults such as the Jehovah's Witnesses teach, but there are two classes of people in this world. Every human being is either in the light or in the darkness and either loves his brethren or hates them and is either holy or unholy. Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Darkness and Light, 1982, p. 345, Banner of Truth) pulled no punches: 'If you are not holy you are not a Christian … If you claim to love Christ and yet are living an unholy life, there is only one thing to be said about you: you are a bare-faced liar!' John wrote: 'The man who says, 'I know him,' but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him' (1 John 2:4). It is for every man to continually examine himself, not to be castigated by unholy liars, such as Roger Wheelhouse, who show by their actions that they are cowards who love their own ego-tripping lives and put themselves before the brethren. The behaviour of the factious man is the opposite of the exhortation of the Holy Spirit speaking through Peter (2 Peter 1:5-7) :
'For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness knowledge; and to knowledge self-control; and to self-control perseverance; and to perseverance godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love.'
This is the way to make our calling and election sure.
99. Beware the lawless who run amok in the church
The test Paul gave the Corinthians proves any deceiver, or those they have deceived, to be following another gospel (2 Corinthians. 13:5):
'Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you unless, of course, you fail the test?'
If one of the twelve apostles could prove to be a deceiver, it is clear that others like him can infiltrate the meetings of professing Christians and may even aspire to leadership! The R.T. Kendall camp will argue that there is a massive difference between law and grace in that, as long as a man controls his actions, the law does not care what his heart feels like. Grace, they say, is vitally concerned with the heart and wants that heart to be filled with love and benevolence, instead of hatred and bitterness, and so it controls it from within. They claim that law deals with the surface, grace with the centre; law appeals to fear, fear of a penalty while grace appeals to grateful love; law prescribes what one ought to do while grace creates a "want to" within. They argue that we all prefer grace for ourselves, but law for everyone else, but the work of the Spirit is to teach us to show grace toward others as well as desire it for ourselves. It is clear from Scripture that it is a natural thing to be legal for the natural man needs law to control his actions. If he does not have the law to tell him what to do, or he has a low view of the law (as exhibited by Wheelhouse) he will run amok and be lawless, and the result is the anarchy and rebellion seen in today's 'civilized' societies and in churches led by such men. The natural man needs law as 1 Timothy 1:8-11 makes clear:
But we know that the law is good, if a man uses it lawfully, knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers. for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
They argue that the regenerate man or woman who has come to believe in Jesus Christ and is now in a living relationship with him, and in whom the Spirit of God dwells, is not to be governed by the Law. The Law is not made for him they say, for we who know Christ are to be controlled by grace in every aspect of life. In Romans 7:6, Paul writes:
But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
They claim that we are not to be under the Law and argue that Paul repeats this, with different emphasis, in Galatians 4:9:
But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
The New Testament carefully emphasises the two extremes of keeping the law: legality, which the Galatians had slipped back into, and license, which is most prevalent today, and is too often taken to mean that grace really means no control at all. Antinomians gain the idea that you can do anything you want in grace: you do not have any restrictions; you do not have any rules or any regulations; you just do as you please, and nothing can stop you. Since you will be forgiven, you may feel free to live it up all your life and treat people as you like - a description of Wheelhouse at work.
This is a most common misunderstanding of grace, but it is one that is far from the truth. The devil does not really care which error he pushes you into. If he can get you into either one, your life is ruined as far as usefulness for God is concerned. But true grace accepts the law for what it is - a superb guide that forces you to the conclusion that you can never be good enough at keeping the law to please God in any way. If you err in one thing you fail in totality! License is lawlessness and anarchy; it is saying "I'm free to do anything I want, there are no limits to my indulgence. If I want to do something that the Bible says is wrong, well I'm not under the Law, but under grace, and I can go ahead and do it." That is license and it is error that leads to religious anarchy - but there are some who feel that this is what grace means.
At the other extreme there is legality and, to escape license, we sometimes rebound into legality as a result of the condemnation of conscience that comes with living a wild, free, uncluttered life. It is also something that drives many people into the cults, such as the earlier example I gave of the woman who rejected the unlicensed 'grace' exhibited by her Assemblies of God 'pastor' (who had a love child with the church secretary and had been carrying on this 'affair' for 23 years!), but now welcomed the legality of the Jehovah's Witnesses as a relief from the licentiousness of her former church. So, instead of coming to a mediate position of grace, we can fall into error by going clear over to the side of legality and impose on ourselves laws, and rigid rules and long lists of "don'ts" - which prevent us from doing anything but eat, sleep, and read our religion. And instead of reading the Bible, which can be used by the Holy Spirit to correct us, we are immersed in the cult leaders writings, such as the 'Watchtower' and 'Awake!' Magazines!
A widespread misunderstanding exists among some 'Once Saved Always Saved' adherents in that many feel that grace is so opposed to Law that it never involves any commands or rules of any kind! They insist that wherever you find commandments in the Bible, that is law, and, if you live by grace, you cannot have any laws or rules of any kind. You sometimes hear people say, "I'm under grace, I don't need any rules in my life." And if you refer to some rule they rebel, and say, "That's not for me. I'm under grace; I'm not subject to any rules." The Bible indicates plainly that grace still keeps rules and the commandments, e.g.:
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you," (John 15:12).
"Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together" (Hebrews 10:25).
"Be not drunk with wine" (Ephesians 5:18).
"Pay taxes to whom taxes are due" (Romans 13:6-7).
100. Beware denial that Grace has its commands just as truly as Law does
What is the difference between law and grace?" The difference is claimed to be that the law commands without supplying a motive to obey and that it creates a feeling of rebellion within. Those who are in rebellion against God's laws and cannot keep them out of utter love for the One who died for them go so far as to make this kind of analogy: 'Whenever I see a sign that says "Keep Off The Grass," I have an urge to walk across it. The sign creates an immediate sense of rebellion: "Why should I keep off the grass?" I resent being told not to walk on it. I do not do it, because I know I will get into trouble, but I want to.' This is simply the 'Old Adam' at work. If we recognize the true sinful nature we are leaving behind we will recognize the truth of Genesis 6:5:
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
The inspiration of the Holy Spirit caused Paul to make this clear (Romans 1:28-32):
28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Romans 8:1-14 makes clear those who are 'in Christ Jesus' are no longer under condemnation, and goes so far as to say that 'if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live . . . For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God'.
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you. 12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
Ephesians 4:17-19 gives similar warning:
17 This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
Titus 1:15-16 speaks to those who claim to know God:
15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.
When you live like a Rasputin you are no better than his cult which re-hashed the old heresy which Paul addressed in Romans 6:1:
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Rasputin's cult claimed that they were becoming more holy by wilfully sinning. Today, those who abuse grace try to say, as Wheelhouse did, that that is law - a command without creating a desire to comply. They claim that grace commands a 'higher thing' than Law, and also creates an ability and desire to comply with the demand. The Antinomian claims that grace has its commands, rules, and regulations - exactly as the Law does - but grace alone has the ability to create a desire to comply. How come so many living 'under grace' are living no better than king David 'under law' then? Because he also lived under grace? Because in David's day they were also married to Mr Grace rather than Mr Law? David's lament psalms make it clear that he knew he was not justified by keeping the law of the commandments alone and required a work of pure grace from God to be rescued from his sins.
It is a very serious thing that the standards of grace today are so often much lower than the standards of legalism. Those who claim they are living under grace, but are really living under licentiousness, complain about the inward, vicious sins of the spirit, that 'legalists' supposedly permit in their own lives. Galatian-type legal standards may concern themselves mainly with outward acts, keeping the outward aspect of their lives adjusted to a particular rule or standard so they can consider themselves spiritual. Grace should not stop there but go beyond the outward act into the heart because the heart must be right as well. The standards of grace are concerned with those inward attitudes that create the outward act. They attempt to put the emphasis where it belongs, not primarily on outward acts, but on inward attitudes and the signs of the Spirit at work. The New Testament makes it clear that gossip, evil talk and a bitter spirit are 'worse' sins in God's sight than any of the outward acts that are clearly evil as well. Antinomians declare that the Ten Commandments represent only the minimum standard for moral living and say little about life or the walk in the Spirit, and that there is no Fatherhood of God, no union with Christ, no fellowship with saints, and no hope of salvation or hope of heaven in the Ten Commandments. The Antinomian/'Once Saved Always Saved' groups emphasise that all those things are brought in under grace and insist that the standards under grace are far, far higher than those under Law and quote Ephesians 4:31-2:
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice, and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
They attack the law, saying it can never rise to that level. It is only concerned with a few outward things, visible to others, but leaves the heart rank and evil with slander, malice, bitterness, gossip, and all the other works of the flesh.
101. Beware Antinomian imbalance which creates the same 'gnat straining' as Pharisaical legalism
Our Lord Jesus gave a perfect picture of a legalist when he said to the Pharisees of his day (Matthew 23:24):
"Ye strain at a gnat but swallow a camel,". "You are so concerned with these minor, outward things, but you let the great and weighty matters of the spirit go by without a thought."
This is legalism at its worst, but is equalled by Antinomianism which behaves in the same manner through contempt for the Word of God. Some pick up the idea that it is quite optional whether a Christian lives by Law or grace and that, if grace is found too difficult or demanding, the Lord will accept sincere legalism. Nothing could be further from the truth for legalism is sin! If you want to observe it closely observe the Christadelphians who are proud of their handling of the Word and disdainful of the true gospel of salvation. Legalism blinds their hearts to the truth and corrupts their view of God's grace, producing the works of the flesh so loved by the Pharisees. It is impossible to please God by legality. He can be pleased only by grace. We are called to grace. Paul wrote: "Sin shall not have dominion over you, because you are not under law but under grace," (cf. Romans 6:14) and Peter wrote: "Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," (2 Peter 3:18).
But when grace is turned to licentiousness is it any better than legalism? Certainly not in the eyes of God or in the destructive works it brings about in the church, as Wheelhouse's ministry proved. This is one of the main reasons people join cults - in such legalistic cults as the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and Christadelphians we see people living under law outwardly behaving much better than people claiming to be living under grace. People join the cults because they are ignorant about the true gospel - but then, they've probably never seen it fully lived out in the church in Britain in the state to which it has degenerated in this generation. Men like J. C. Ryle and C. H. Spurgeon saw this trait advancing in their day and spoke out about it then (read 'Holiness' by Ryle or 'Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism - the Battle for Gospel Preaching'). Today it is with us and yet the denominations try and deny this is true. We saw it in this meeting as the Word of God was denigrated, God was dishonoured, and the body ministry controlled by the Holy Spirit was mocked.
Anyone belonging to one of the cults named here, or of another persuasion, should beware of reading into this exposure that they are alright where they are now. It has already been made clear that legalism or nomianism - which is the constant of every other religion outside of orthodox Christianity - leads only to Hell! We all need to recognise the supreme illustration of grace which is the only means of arriving safely in heaven. There are many illustrations that could be used, but the greatest illustration of grace is found before us at the Lord's Table which speaks of nothing but grace:
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
The Lord's table proclaims that grace has already given all for us: 'while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly' (Romans 5:6). We are invited to come just as we are. God does not ask us to clean up our lives, or to improve ourselves, for we are incapable of this. He asks us to come just as we are. Guilty and filthy and stained with sin (Isaiah 64:6), we may appear righteous externally through the 'good works' we do, but we are proud and rebellious of heart within (Romans 3:23). Every human being outside of life in Christ (Romans 8:2), and especially every cult member, struggles on with their bag of good works 'working, working, working' to try and be right with God, to try and be 'good enough' to get into heaven. But it is never going to work for them. 'All your righteousnesses are as filthy rags' (Isaiah 64:6), said God of the Israelites who tried to please him with their methods, their sacrifices and their good works. It doesn't matter whether you are sweating carrying the 'Watchtower' or 'Awake!' magazine door-to-door, striving to keep up the sacraments of the Roman Catholic mass, temple endowments at a Mormon temple, or the staid good works of the Christadelphian life. You will never arrive at eternal life in heaven by these methods! Not in all of eternity!
God urges you to come and receive the free gift of love and righteousness he desires to impart (Ephesians 2:8-10). That is grace. There is no need to struggle to be accepted before God today. When you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour it is written over against your name in heaven: Accepted in the Beloved! Welcomed in Christ! Already cleansed, already righteous in his sight! The appeal of grace once God has made you saints is to live saintly lives. Once He has accepted you and made you fellow-heirs with Christ, joint heirs with the Son of God, we are to live the Christian life. The heart that receives such a gift is constrained by love to honour it. We need to emphasise the real life to counteract the filth that is being thrown at God when licentious men like Wheelhouse trample on the grace that God has bestowed upon them. It is stated in this way in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, where Paul wrote:
What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price? Therefore [because all this is true] glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are His. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
The cults, and other people working to be saved by the Law, think this reads: "Glorify God in your body and in your spirit and someday you will become the temples of God." But it is never going to happen to you - give up the struggle now and read the Bible without the blinkers of religions books and magazines that keep you in darkness. God's grace turns it all around and says, by grace, without merit, without any claim, without any reason why, God has made you a temple of the living God. Now, if you realize that, live accordingly. Glorify God in your body and in your spirit. We could never do it the other way; we could never glorify God apart from the indwelling Spirit, but grace says it's done, it's already accomplished. Believers are the temples of the living God. The man or woman who grasps this great fact in its living splendour will never be the same again. But what of those who deny the evidence before them?]