Spiritual High Horses and Sacred Cows

sacred cow barbeque

Let’s have a Sacred Cow Barbeque!

Christians riding on a high horse of pride are religious narcissists. And you know what the bible says about pride. Falling off such a prideful high horse is going to be mighty painful in the end if not dealt with. I would venture to say that the Christian leadership of “Big Box Preachers” in today’s mainstream church is the most obvious example of ego’s on steroids, having exalted themselves far above, and too often apart from the common folks sitting in the pews hanging on their every word.

I remember a few years ago, when a certain rock star preacher had come into town and was hyping his latest best selling block buster book at a local church, a neighbor of mine who followed all the latest preachers du jour told me that she and a friend had gotten a front row seat at this meeting. All starry eyed, she excitedly exclaimed, “Just imagine…there we were, sitting just THAT CLOSE to Mr. Super Saint, (not his real name of course). OK, so….here we have a woman holding a sacred cow, “Mr. Super Saint, in total mind boggling adoration. Hey, this was just a MAN.  And so, he had written a best selling “Christian” book, not the Ten Commandments. In any case, from what I was able to discern, Mr.Super Saint himself was riding high on his own high horse, getting lots of attention and speaking engagements, TV time, and of course….lots of money. And by the way, although his book was a best seller in popular Christian circles, it was loaded with false teachings. just as many of the latest Christian fads seem to be….and Christians do seem to develop fads for some mysterious reason…following after the latest self help book or doctrine. This seems to be a pretty common tell tale sign of having the “itching ears”syndrome. Can’t sit still until some new doctrine or teaching comes along. The only cure for this disease is repentance and getting back into Bible study, prayer and walking the walk. 

Oh, and Mr.Super Saint’s books and doctrines are now being denounced by the very AOG and Southern Baptist denominations that promoted them, and him, in the first place. Don’t Christians read their bibles anymore? Enough to stop following these Sacred Cows on high horses? OH, maybe if we barbequed our own Sacred Cows and spiritual idolatry, pride, ego and self, we would be able to have eyes that see and ears that hear more clearly. At least, we should deal with any spiritual pride that clouds our judgment to the extent that we begin to feel we can’t be led astray and deceived by those who seem to be somebody in the Christian realm. Just because someone is a big shot preacher with a lot of followers means very little. We need to “let them decrease, and allow Christ to increase”. There is no bigger, grander, more powerful or truthful, greater or more magnificent teacher than Christ.

A little teaching on the spiritual narcissism of pride:

Undetected Spiritual Pride
One Cause of Failure in Times of Great Revival

by Jonathan Edwards
The first and worst cause of errors that abound in our day and age is spiritual pride.  This is the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of Christ.  It is the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit to darken the mind and mislead the judgement.

Pride is the main handle by which he has hold of Christian persons and the chief source of all the mischief that he introduces to clog and hinder a work of God.  Spiritual pride is the main spring or at least the main support of all other errors.  Until this disease is cured, medicines are applied in vain to heal all other diseases.

It is by spiritual pride that the mind defends and justifies itself in other errors and defends itself against light by which it might be corrected and reclaimed.  The spiritually proud man thinks he is full of light already and feels that he does not need instruction, so he is ready to ignore the offer of it.

On the other hand, the humble person is like a little child who easily receives instruction.  He is cautious in his estimate of himself, sensitive as to how liable he is to go astray.  If it is suggested to him that he is going astray, he is most ready to check into the matter.

Nothing sets a Christian so much out of the devil s reach than humility and so prepares the mind for divine light without darkness.  Humility clears the eye to look at things as they truly are.  Psalm 25:9—He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way.

If spiritual pride is healed, other things are easily corrected.  Our first care should be to correct the heart and pull the beam of pride out of our eye and then we shall see clearly.

Growing Christians Beware!

Those who are most zealous in the cause of God are the most likely to be targeted as being filled with pride.  When any person appears, in any respect, to be noticeably excelling others in his Christian walk, odds are ten to one that it will immediately awaken the jealousy of those about him.

They will suspect (whether they have good reason or not) that he is very proud of his goodness and that he probably thinks no one as good as he is, so that everything he says and does is observed with this prejudice.

Those who are themselves cold and dead, and especially those who have never had any experience of the power of godliness on their own hearts, will easily entertain such thoughts of the best Christians.  This arises from nothing less than a secret hostility against essential and fervent holiness.

But the zealous Christian should take heed that this does not prove a snare to him, and the devil take advantage of it to blind his eyes from beholding the true nature of his heart and to think that because he is charged with pride wrongfully and with an unkind spirit, that such charges are not sometimes valid.

Alas, how much pride the best have in their hearts!  It is the worst part of the body of sin and death; the first sin that ever entered into the universe and the last that is rooted out.  It is God s most stubborn enemy!

Pride: a Secret Enemy

Pride is much more difficult to be discerned than any other corruption because of its very nature.  That is, pride is a person having too high an opinion of himself.  Is it any surprise, then, that a person who has too high an opinion of himself is unaware of it?  His thinking is that he thinks that the opinion he has of himself has just grounds and therefore is not too high.  If the grounds of the opinion of himself crumbled, he would cease to have such an opinion.

But, because of the nature of spiritual pride, it is the most secret of all sins.  There is no other matter in which the heart is more deceitful and unsearchable and there is no other sin in the world that men are so confident in. The very nature of it is to work self-confidence and drive away any suspicion of any evil of that kind.  There is no sin so much like the devil as this for secrecy and subtlety, and appearing in great many shapes that are undetected and unsuspected.

Spiritual pride takes many forms and shapes, one under another, and encompasses the heart like the layers of an onion: when you pull off one, there is another underneath.  Therefore, we have need to have the greatest watch imaginable over our hearts with respect to this matter and to cry most earnestly to the great Searcher of hearts for His help.  He that trusts his own heart is a fool.

Since spiritual pride in its own nature is so secret, it cannot be so well discerned by immediate intuition on the thing itself.  It is best identified by its fruits and effects, some of which I will make mention of below together with the contrary fruits of Christian humility.

Pride: the Great Fault-finder

Spiritual pride causes one to speak of other persons  sins, their enmity against God and His people, or with laughter and levity and an air of contempt, while pure Christian humility disposes either to be silent about them or to speak of them with grief or pity.

The spiritually proud person shows it in his finding fault with other saints, that they are low in grace and how cold and dead they are, and are quick to discern and take notice of their deficiencies.  The eminently humble Christian has so much to do at home and sees so much evil in his own that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts.

He complains most of himself and complains most of his own coldness and lowness in grace.  He is apt to esteem others as better than himself and is ready to hope that most everybody has more love and thankfulness to God than he, and cannot bear to think that others should bring forth no more fruit to God s honor than he.

Some who have spiritual pride mixed with great learning and joy, earnestly speaking to others about them, are likely to be calling upon other Christians to emulate them and sharply reprove them for their being so cold and lifeless.

There are others who are overwhelmed with their own vileness, and when they have extraordinary discoveries of God’s glory, they are taken up by their own sinfulness.  Though they are disposed to speak much and very earnestly, yet it is very much in blaming themselves and exhorting fellow Christians, but in a loving and humble manner.

Pure Christian humility causes a person to take notice of everything that is good in others, to make the best of it and to diminish their failings; however, he turns his eye chiefly on those things that are bad in himself and to take much notice of everything that aggravates them.

Pride: Ministering in a Harsh Spirit

It has been the manner of spiritually proud persons to speak of almost everything they see in others in the most harsh, severe language.  It is frequent with them to say of other’s opinion, conduct, advice, coldness, silence, caution, moderation, prudence, etc. that they are from the devil or from hell.

Such kind of language they will commonly use, not only towards wicked men, but towards those who are true children of God and also towards ministers of the gospel and others who are very much their superiors.  Christians who are but fellow-worms ought at least to treat one another with as much humility and gentleness as Christ treats them.

Pride: Putting on Pretenses

Spiritual pride often causes persons to act different in external appearance, to effect a different way of speaking, to use a different sort of dialect from others, or to be different in voice, countenance or behavior.  But he that is an eminently humble Christian, though he will be firm in his duty, however different — going the way of heaven alone, though all the world forsake him — yet he does not delight in being different for difference s sake.

He does not try to set himself up to be viewed and observed as one distinguished, as desiring to be accounted better than others — despising their company or conformity to them — but on the contrary, desires to become all things to all men, to yield to others and conform to them and please them in all but sin.

Pride: Takes Offense Easily

Spiritual pride takes great notice of opposition and injuries that are received and is prone to be often speaking of them and to be much in taking notice of their aggravation, either with an air of bitterness or contempt.

Pure and unmixed Christian humility, on the other hand, causes a person to be more like his blessed Lord when reviled: quiet, not opening his mouth, but committing himself in silence to Him who judges righteously.  For the humble Christian, the more the world is against him, the more silent and still he will be, unless it is in his prayer closet, and there he will not be still.

Pride: Presumption Before God and Man

Another effect of spiritual pride is a certain self-confident boldness before God and men.  Some, in their great rejoicing before God, have not paid sufficient regard to that rule in Psalm 2:11 — Worship the Lord with reverence, and rejoice with trembling.

They have not rejoiced with a reverential trembling, in a proper sense of the awful majesty of God and the awful distance between Him and them.  There has also been an improper boldness before men that has been encouraged and defended by a misapplication of Proverbs 29:25 — The fear of man brings a snare…  It is as though it became all persons, high and low, men, women and children in all Christian conversation to wholly abandon all manner of modesty or reverence toward man.

Not that any should refrain from Christian conversation, but with such humility as in I Peter 3:15—But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.

Pride: Hungry for Attention

Another effect of spiritual pride is to make the subject of it want attention.  People often tend to act in a special manner as though others ought to take great notice and regard of them.  It is very natural to a person that is very much under the influence of spiritual pride to take all the respect that is paid to him.

If others show a disposition to submit to him and yield in deference to him, he is open to it and freely receives it.  It becomes natural for him to expect such treatment and to take much notice if a person fails to do so, and to have an ill opinion of those who do not give him that which he feels he deserves.

One under the influence of spiritual pride is more apt to instruct others than to inquire for himself and so naturally puts on the airs of control.  The eminently humble Christian thinks he needs help from everybody, whereas he that is spiritually proud thinks everybody needs his help.  Christian humility, under a sense of other’s misery, entreats and beseeches, but spiritual pride tries to command and warn with authority.

Pride: Neglecting Others

As spiritual pride causes persons to assume much to themselves, so it treats others with neglect.   On the contrary, pure Christian humility disposes persons to honor all men as from I Peter 2:17. To enter into disputes about Christianity is sometimes unseasonable, such as in meeting for Christian conference or for exercises of worship.

Yet, we ought to be very careful that we do not refuse to converse with carnal men, as though we counted them not worthy to be regarded.  On the contrary, we should condescend to carnal men as Christ has condescended to us, to bear with our unteachableness and stupidity.

 

 

http://grace-abounding.com/Articles/Sin/Pride_Edwards.htm

 

 

Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh was not Sickness!

I believe the following link expounds on a pretty good explanation of what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was actually all about. It had nothing to do with sickness or disease, per se, as has been commonly taught in the church. The purpose, of  this “messenger of Satan sent to buffet him”,  as Paul explained himself was to keep him humble, to keep him out of the sin of pride, by causing him to realize that in his own strength, in his own flesh, he could do nothing without the grace and power of Jesus Christ to enable him. Pride is something we all must battle against. God will resist those who do not turn to Jesus for strength in their lives, for without him, we can do nothing.

http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/bible/the_thorn_in_the_flesh.html

In part:

I. What is the Biblical Definition of a Thorn?    Many of the theologians of our day have made the assumption that the thorn in the flesh that Paul testified of in 2nd Corinthians, was likely some physical ailment. But what was Paul’s thorn in the flesh? The theories are that it was probably stammering speech, arthritis, bad eye sight or some other physical illness or malignity. Many others believe that we can’t really know from the scriptures what the thorn in the flesh was. One would wonder if biblical hermeneutics has digressed so far that “comparing scripture with scripture” is now not even considered an option? Even the use of the common concordance would reveal much of the truth here. One of the first principles of sound biblical hermeneutics is that the scripture is it’s own interpreter. i.e., the Bible is not subject to personal opinion or private interpretation. And therefore, before we can assign a meaning to any passage, we must search both the context of the passage in question, as well as the whole Bible, to see how the word is used throughout scripture. We are careful in this system of study to note if there are any other related verses or references. In this way, we have God, via His infallible harmonic word, interpret His word. We cannot arbitrarily assume anything in discerning difficult passages. In the case of discerning what was Paul’s thorn in the flesh, simply looking up the word thorn throughout scripture and examining how “God” uses it, what it represents, and the context in which the word is found, I believe would reveal what this thorn represented. For the scriptures (both the Old and the New Testament), are replete with examples. The “thorn” in scripture is a common word that is frequently used figuratively. And Paul was very familiar with the Old Testament scriptures, so I believe that he surely used this term in the same way that it is used throughout scripture. Indeed, God is the true author of these scriptures, and so we would “expect” there to be harmony and consistency in the use of the word in similar situations. For example:

Joshua 23:13

  • “Know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you”.

God is not using this language of a scourge (piercing or pricks) in their sides and thorns in their eyesto denote some bodily disorder as we might assume today. Rather, God is using these terms to signify the people of these other nations will be entanglements for the Lord’s people to vex them or cause spiritual affliction. They are typed as “scourges or thorns” to signify they will trouble them and cause them not to see clearly. In other words, they will be their nemesis to frustrate them in their serving the Lord. Likewise, in the book of Numbers, God uses this same type language, but switches the use of the thorn to the side, and the scourges to the eyes.

Numbers 33:55

  • “But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.”

The thorns in their sides is the same as the thorn in the flesh that vexed the Apostle Paul. It is not illustrating these people literally would have thorns in their sides anymore than Paul would have them in his flesh. It was illustrating these are people, whom God declares if they are left among the Children of God, would be thorns to vex or trouble them. the thorns are not physical ailments, but rather spiritual ailments. This is what the thorn in the side signifies in God’s word. Paul, being a man of knowledge of scripture, would be very familiar with these terms and God’s use of them. He is indeed inspired by God to use this term to signify people who trouble the children of God. These were the Judaizers, enemies of God, who were the thorn in the flesh of the Apostle Paul in his day. they vexed him because they hated that he was teaching against their doctrines, the doctrines of Christ. The thorn is illustrative of the people who detest and frustrate (to a certain degree) and cause spiritual problems for the Children of God. Another example:

Judges 2:3

  • “Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you”.

These were the unsaved ungodly people who fight against the law of God and are a snare unto the Lord’s people. They would be as a trap and a trouble to God’s Covenant people. In fact, we use very similar language to describe those who vex us today. For example, have you ever heard anyone say a person was, “a burr in his saddle?” Or have you ever heard someone say that a person was, “a pain in the neck?” These colloquial phrases convey the exact same meanings as Paul’s thorn in the flesh. They don’t mean we have some physical sickness, and they don’t convey that we have literal pains in our necks or even have a saddle. Likewise, Paul isn’t talking about a literal thorn sticking out of his flesh, rather he was using a common expression of those days, just as they are used in our day.

It is a common practice of some Christians to assume that the thorn in the flesh was disease or an ailment that Satan gave him. But what Satan gave him was not physical disease, but people to vex him in his ministry. There is obviously symbolism involved here (since no one to my knowledge considers this a literal thorn), and sound hermeneutics dictates that when symbolism is involved, we have to let God’s word itself interpret the symbolism. We cannot privately interpret it, make assumptions, or guess at what the symbolism might mean. We compare scripture with scripture to discern God’s truth.

Ezekiel 2:6

  • “And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among SCORPIONS: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house”.

The briers, thorns and scorpions are all “symbolic” of the people of Satan which come against the Lord’s Children to vex them. These are the adversaries of God’s servants who come to revile, persecute and trouble them. And this symbolism holds true consistently in the New Testament scriptures as well as the Old. And why not, since it is all God’s wholly divinely inspired consistent word. We can see this as Jesus talks about those who call themselves of God, yet are revealed by their fruits to be false messengers. In other words, by their fruits ye shall know them.

Luke 6:44

  • “For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes”.

Figs and grapes symbolic of the works of the children of God, while thorns and bramble are symbolic of the works of the children of Satan. And so we see that consistently throughout scripture, the symbolism of what the thorns represent is clear. Here they are false teachers who are the enemies of God’s people and come bearing no fruit. Their defining characteristic is that they are thorns and bramble (brier) bushes, not a tree from which to get the fruit of figs or grapes. Here we see the same consistent “signification” and contrasts of thorns and scourges (pricks, bramble) as those contrasted with the Lord’s people. Christ says they were those of Satan bearing no fruit, not messengers of God. Likewise, these thorns which were sent to buffet Paul were not of God, but messengers of Satan. Again, in the book of Hebrews, God speaks of those fallen away from Him..

Hebrews 6:8-9

  • “But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.
  • But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany Salvation, though we thus speak”.

Here again we see the contrast between the messengers of God, and the messengers of Satan. One planting signified as thorns and briers (thorn bush), and the other planting, God says brings forth better things that accompany Salvation. The clear illustration of thorns as the fruit of the wicked who are under God’s judgment. And it’s very important to note that though many noted theologians may claim that the thorn could represent an illness, not once does the Holy Canon use this term “thorn” to represent any physical illness or sicknesses. And in Biblical hermeneutics where scriptural validation or biblically based interpretation is paramount, that is most certainly not an insignificant fact. So what was Paul’s thorn in the flesh? It would seem to be the unsaved people, the messengers of Satan, who constantly impeded, harassed and persecuted him.”