Is It Really Possible To “Be In One Spirit, With One Mind”?


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Php 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

Introduction

At a conference in Indianapolis a few years ago, a brother asked me in front of the whole congregation if there is any way to know for certain that he and I were not just as deceived right now as we were when we thought we knew the Truth, back when we were both in the World Wide Church of God. At first I simply reminded him that we see things now that we did not see or understand back then. I told that brother that what we now see and believe answers many more of our questions and is based upon scripture, whereas what we believed in the WWCG has been proven, in large part, to be totally false. “But we thought it was based on scripture when we were in the WWCG”, was his response. “But it wasn’t was it?” I asked. “Well no, but how can we be sure that what we believe now is not just as wrong, while we think it is right, as what we believed to be right back then?” This exchange went on way too long, as some of you who were there will no doubt agree. I feel sure some of you were probably thinking, “Why is Mike letting this go on so long? Why doesn’t he just tell the brother that it is not possible to prove the Truth to someone who admits he doesn’t know the Truth?”

Well, I have never claimed to be the quickest mind in the world. I do not claim to be a great debater, nor do I want to or enjoy debating anyone. So what is the answer to that brother’s question? Can we know the Truth for certain?

The Lord finally gave me the Biblical answer to that brother’s question, and I will now share it with you. I asked him a simple question, “What are you saying, Brother? Are you saying that we cannot know for certain that we know the Truth? Is that your point? I waited until he admitted that he really did not believe that it was possible for any of us to know for certain that what we now believe is any truer than what we thought to be the Truth in the WCG. He actually admitted that he did not believe that it was possible for us to know for certain that we are not just once more being deceived. At that point I told him “Okay, out of your own mouth you will be judged, because Christ has told us this…”

Joh 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
Joh 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Luk 19:22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:

If we declare it is not possible to “know the Truth”, then we are admitting that we do not know Christ, because “the Truth” is Christ. If we do not and cannot “know the truth” then Christ lied to us, and we cannot and do not have “life eternal”. Conversely, if we do “know the Truth, then we do have “life eternal”. That is just how important it is to “know the truth”.

Joh 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

How do we know that we know the Truth? How can we possibly be certain that the doctrines we now espouse are the doctrines of Christ? Here is how that is done, and there is no other way:

Mat 16:15 He saith unto them [Christ’s disciples], But whom say ye that I am?
Mat 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Mat 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

So the answer is, No I cannot prove anything to you which has not first been given you to receive. It takes faith in the Word of God to know “the Word of God”. It takes faith, given to each of us to “know the Truth, and according to Eph 2:8, that is a gift which only God can give.

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Who is the Truth, and Who is the Word of God?

We all already know the answer to both of those questions:

Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Joh 14:7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

It is very noteworthy that the brother who asked that question asked “Is there any ‘way’ we can know for certain that we now know the Truth?” The answer is, yes, we can know for certain, that we know the Truth; if we know Christ, and Christ said “henceforth you know Him”.

Can we really have the mind of Christ?

Php 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

When Christ told His disciples “You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free”, He was not saying ‘You know all Truth at the moment of your conversion. There is no such thing as “the moment of your conversion”. There certainly is such a thing as the moment of the beginning of your conversion, but no one has ever been converted overnight, much less in a ten-second ‘sinner’s prayer’. So there is a vast difference between being ‘struck down on the road to Damascus’, being granted the ability to discern Truth when you hear it, and having all Truth at all times. If any of us possessed all Truth, then there would be no need to admonish all of us to “grow in grace and knowledge”.

2Pe 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [ be] glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Col 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

How is it possible to even hope to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, speak the truth in love, and grow up into him in all things, and walk worthy of the Lord… increasing in the knowledge of God” if we are convinced that there is no way to know for certain what is, and what is not, true in any situation? How is it possible to “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” if we do not even believe that we can have the mind of Christ?

Is it biblically sound to declare that we “have the mind of Christ”? What do the scriptures teach? Can we prove anything we believe?

1Co 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

“We have the mind of Christ”. Who is “we” who have the mind of Christ? Here is who that is, and here is the only way given in scripture whereby we can “know [for certain] the spirit of Truth, and the spirit of error”:

1Jn 4:6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

Here we have the one verse in scripture which tells us specifically how we can “know the spirit of Truth, and the spirit of error, and what are we told? We are told “he that knows God hears us; he that is not of God hears not us. Hereby know we the spirit of Truth and the spirit of error”. So we had better have “the mind of Christ” and be unashamed of claiming that mind, or else we are confessing that we do not have that mind, and in doing that we are denying ‘out of our own mouths’ that we do not know our Lord.

So I asked our beloved brother, “Can you say with the apostle John, ‘We know God, and we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error?” “No”, he said. “John was speaking under the inspiration of the holy spirit, and none of us can make that claim.” “No one here is claiming to be writing scripture under inspiration of the holy spirit”, I answered, “but what everyone here is hopefully doing, is claiming to believe the words of Christ and the words of John, who was writing under the inspiration of the holy spirit, telling us that we can and must ‘Know the truth, and the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.’ So if you say you do not know the Truth, then you will be judged out of your own mouth”.

That was the end of that conversation, and it was almost the end of that brother’s fellowship. But that doctrine simply must be dealt with wherever it raises its ugly head. Either we “know the Truth”, Christ, or we do not “know the Truth”, Christ. How are we to go about implementing these instructions if we cannot have the same mind?

1Ti 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
1Ti 5:20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
1Ti 5:21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

WE are charged, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect messengers, to observe these commandments concerning those who are elders in the body of Christ. Here is how verse 20 is worded in three other translations:

(CEV) But if any of the leaders should keep on sinning, they must be corrected in front of the whole group, as a warning to everyone else.
(GW) Reprimand those leaders who sin. Do it in front of everyone so that the other leaders will also be afraid.
(ISV) As for those who keep on sinning, rebuke them in front of everyone so that the others will also be afraid.

So do not receive an accusation against an elder “but before two or three witnesses”. But once it is established that an elder is sinning, either physically or spiritually, we who know God and who know “the spirit of Truth and the spirit of error” are to “observe these things”. We are charged before God, Christ and His elect to “observe these things…” We are to follow this course of action or we are failing God, we are failing the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are failing His elect.

Who are the ‘we’ and ‘us’ of 1Jn 4:6?

Is this just anyone who reads 1Jn 4:6, or is this verse referring to a group of people who are adhering to certain principles which qualify them to say “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error”?

Obviously the ‘we’ and the ‘us’ of this verse are not just anyone who claims to know God. If that were the case, then we would be justified in having 30,000 different and conflicting Christian denominations, all based on the misapplication of Rom 14:5:

Rom 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

The misapplication of this verse is the glue that binds the ecumenical Christian church together. This entire chapter of Romans 14 is addressed specifically to the spiritually strong brothers and sisters of any congregation, and it is informing the stronger brothers concerning how they are to deal with the spiritually immature, and therefore, spiritually weaker brothers and sisters. Here are a couple of versions which make this a little clearer. I have bracketed my comments within this first verse.

Rom 15:1 Welcome [you single minded, more spiritually mature, and stronger brothers] those who are weak in faith, but do not argue with them about their personal opinions. (GNB)
Rom 15:1 [As spiritually mature and spiritually strong Christians with the mind of Christ] Welcome people who are weak in faith, but don’t get into an argument over differences of opinion. (GW)

The Message Version helps us to get a sense of what is being said concerning these newborn babes in Christ:

Rom 15:1 [If you have the mind of Christ] Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with–even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. (MSG)

A loving parent does not spank an infant for wetting his diaper, and a mature son of God does not attack a newborn Christian who is “desiring the sincere milk of the Word” for still using Babylonian phrases in his or her conversation. But just as a loving parent wants and encourages an infant to grow and mature, so must the spiritually strong encourage a spiritual infant to grow up into a mature son of God, and not continue to stay tethered to the accoutrement of “carnal… babes in Christ”, infancy.

1Pe 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

If every man is to be fully persuaded in his own mind, then how can John say “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error”? Such a statement is simply not consistent with a doctrine which tells us we are free to decide for ourselves what is truth and what is error.

If every man is to be “fully persuaded in his own mind” concerning doctrine, what then is Paul speaking of in the very next chapter where we find this:

Rom 15:14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

If we admonish one another, then we are not following the admonition to “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind”. If on the other hand we “examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith”, then we will be admonishing one another.

2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

The ‘we’ and the ‘us’ of 1Jn 4:6 is not just anyone who reads that verse and appropriates it to themselves.

1Jn 4:6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

The phrase “hereby know we” in this 6th verse, is referring to the same thing to which the “Hereby know ye” refers to in the 2nd verse of this same chapter. Both are speaking of “the spirit”. Verse two speaks of “the spirit of God”, while verse six speaks of “the spirit of truth and the spirit of error”.
Exactly how we “know the spirit of Truth and the spirit of error is explained in the first verse of this chapter:

1Jn 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
1Jn 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
1Jn 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
1Jn 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
1Jn 4:5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

“Hereby know ye the spirit of God” is referring to those who “try the spirits to see whether they are of God”. That is the “we” and the “us” referred to as “knowing the spirit of Truth and the spirit of error in verse six.

1Jn 4:6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

So the ‘we’ and the ‘us’ of this verse are only those who are equipped by our heavenly Father to “try the spirits to see whether they are of God”. A “newborn babe desiring the sincere milk of the Word that he may grow thereby” simply is not yet equipped to fight that kind of spiritual warfare, and should not be expected to do so. “For the time… let him be fully persuaded in his own mind”.

Heb 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Heb 5:13 For every one that useth milk [is] unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
Heb 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Rom 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Rom 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard [it]. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
Rom 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
Rom 14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
Rom 14:9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
Rom 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

“We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ”. If we are granted to “esteem every day alike”, we will be judged according to Christ’s word and His example. If we, at this time, are given to “esteem one day above another”, we will still be judged according to Christ’s Words and His example. Some few are being judged and made to learn righteousness now, at this time, and are even now “standing before the judgment throne of Christ”; others will be made to learn righteousness at a later judgment.

So there is absolutely no contradiction at all between Rom 14:5, “let every man be fully persuaded in His own mind”, and…

2Jn 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
2Jn 1:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

Romans 14 is dealing with the case of a sincere babe in Christ who wants only to see for himself what is the Truth of any matter, whereas 2Jn 1:10-11 is dealing with heresies being purveyed by a false prophet who is “entangled again with the yoke of bondage”. The fact of the matter is that the very first verse of the 15th chapter of Romans is addressed to the same mature sons of God, to whom the first verse of the fourteenth chapter is addressed. Here are the first seven verses of both chapters 14 and 15 set side by side:

Rom 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye [You who are not “weak in the faith”], but not to doubtful disputations.
Rom 14:2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
Rom 14:3 Let not him that eateth despise him thateateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
Rom 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
Rom 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Rom 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth [it] unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard [it]. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
Rom 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
Rom 15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Rom 15:2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
Rom 15:3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Rom 15:5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
Rom 15:6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rom 15:7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

Notice how the holy spirit has placed the message of the first verse of chapter 14, also as the seventh verse in chapter 15. Both instruct the stronger brother to receive the weaker brother “as Christ also received us.” Christ received us as sinners. That is the least we can do for our less mature, weaker brothers.

Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

But chapter 10 is clarifying what Paul said in chapter 14. Paul is not blatantly contradicting himself. So let’s compare Rom 14:5 with Rom 15:6:

Rom 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day [alike]. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

That is Paul’s advice to a spiritually mature and stronger brother as he is receiving a spiritually immature brother who is “weak in the faith”.

Is Paul changing his mind about all the times he has urged us to stay of one mind in Christ? Absolutely not! To the contrary he makes this very clear:

Rom 15:5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
Rom 15:6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So Paul’s statements in Romans 14 concern themselves with the proper loving way spiritually strong and mature brothers ought to deal with newly begotten, spiritually immature, “weak in the faith” brothers. It has nothing to do with brothers who have been in Christ for several years who have come to the conclusion that the example of Christ is simply too hard for them to follow, and they have therefore decided that Romans 14 gives them license to ignore Christ’s example, and all the rest of scripture, which urges us “follow his steps” and “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior”.

1Pe 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

2Pe 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Col 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Romans 14 has nothing to do with the admonition of this verse:

1Jn 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

How does “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” accord with such statements? The answer is: they are dealing with two entirely different situations. Romans 14 is designed for dealing with “newborn babes in Christ, who desire the sincere milk of the word that they may grow thereby”, while other seemingly contradictory verses are designed to deal with unity and the struggle against heresy within the body of Christ. When they are seen for what they are dealing with, the apparent contradictions disappear.

It is clear that the ‘all’ of Romans 14 is addressed to the strong brothers who are told to “receive… him that is weak in the faith”.

Rom 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, [“Ye” strong in the faith] but not to doubtful disputations [against each other’s standing with God].
Rom 14:2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
Rom 14:3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

Now let’s ask this question. Who were those of Christ’s many followers who wanted to see Him dead? Was it the mature, or was it those who were “weak in the faith?” It was “those Jews who believed on Christ”, but were “weak in the faith”, who judged Christ to be worthy of death. It is the same to this day. The weak brothers are still judging Christ’s elect to be worthy of death. It is those who cannot yet “eat all things”, and who simply cannot stand up under the pressures of “obeying the Truth”, who are admonished against judging those to whom that calling is given:

Rom 14:4 Who art thou [you weak brother] that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

What does Paul tell those who “esteem every day alike” in Galatians 5? Here are Paul’s Words:

Gal 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

This admonition is not made in the context of living a moral life in the midst of an immoral world. It is rather made concerning the observance of the days, months, seasons and years, which was creeping into the Christian church in the days of the apostle Paul.

Galatians 4 is dealing with those who took Romans 14 as permission for each of us to ignore Christ’s example and “be fully persuaded in his own mind…” concerning “being entangled again with the yoke of bondage”.

The Truth is that Romans 14 tells us that the spiritually strong brother who is given to “eat all things, and esteem every day alike”, is not to expect the brother “who is weak in the faith” to eat such strong meat on his first day in the family of God. Nevertheless, many, even in the days of the apostles, twisted the words of the apostle Paul and forced them to say that doctrine is simply no longer an issue to be bothered with, as long as we either regard the day “unto the Lord”, or do not “regard the day unto the Lord”.

Rom 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

Why is Paul telling us to receive a weak brother with such patience and forbearance?

Rom 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
Rom 14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
Rom 14:9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
Rom 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Rom 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
Rom 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

“For whether we live, we live unto the Lord…” But what is life, and who has life?

Joh 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

What is death? Who is dead?

1Jn 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

So the stronger brother who considers himself as “living unto the Lord:, and “having the mind of Christ”, is always to remember what he claims he knows. He must remember that it is God who is “working all things”, including the actions of His weak, spiritually “carnal… babe in Christ” brother, “after the counsel of His own will”.

Rom 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his [weak] brother’s way.

Paul is not “weak in the faith”. Paul knows fully well he “can eat all things”, and “there is nothing unclean of itself”. But He also knows that a weak brother does not know that and can eat only herbs, all the while “doing it unto the Lord” and thinking he is pleasing God. What do we do with a brother who believes that herbs are strong meat, and strong meat is herbs? According to Hebrews five, and according to this 14th chapter of Romans, we are “for the time” to “Receive him”, and be very patient with “him that is weak in the faith” for this reason.

Rom 14:14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
Rom 14:15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

Those who first hear the gospel are quick to receive it but are not able to endure the complete strength of the full sunlight which is the truth of God’s Word. But force feeding a newborn infant a T-bone steak will choke that infant to death. While we are told to be patient and loving with the newborn “carnal… babes”, we are also told that most will not be able to “endure sound doctrine”.

2Ti 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Paul is simply varifying these words of our Lord:

Mat 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
Mat 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself [is “weak in the faith”], but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

The “sound doctrine” certainly includes the doctrine of the strong brother of Romans 14 and Galatians 4:10 and 5:1. But the “teachers having itching ears” are the false shepherds who either ignore the example of Christ, or who simply say it is too hard to follow, and instead “turn away their ears from the Truth, and are turned unto fables” like Christmas, Easter, Halloween and Valentine’s Day, along with all the rest of “the yoke of bondage” with which we are all very familiar.

Strong meat is strong meat, and it is good for food, be it physical or spiritual, if you are able to digest strong meat. But if the brother who is able to “eat all things” is not patient with his weak brother, he is admonished that he is “not walking charitably”, and He is admonished that he is “not to destroy his weaker brother with his meat”. What does that mean? How do we destroy “them that are weak in the faith” with our meat?

If we are given to “fill up the afflictions of the Christ”; if we are given to endure the “tribulations and persecutions because of the Word”; if we “have root in ourselves and can endure the scorching heat of the sun”, then more power to us (it comes from God!). But if we expect the same of a spiritual toddler who “eats only herbs”, then Paul continues to admonish the brother who is able ” to eat all things”.

Rom 14:16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
Rom 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Rom 14:18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
Rom 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Even here in Romans 14 we are admonished to “edify one another”. A diet of spiritual herbs and milk will retard the “edification” of a spiritually strong brother who can “eat all things”. Learning patience with the weak among us, however, will edify even a spiritually strong brother. So our admonition continues.

Rom 14:20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
Rom 14:21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
Rom 14:22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
Rom 14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

“Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind, Happy is he that condemns not himself in the thing which he allows, and whatever is not of faith is sin,” appears to have replaced this admonition:

1Th 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

But such is not the case. As it turns out the word “alloweth”, as in “happy is he that condemns not himself in that which he alloweth”, is the exact same Greek word translated ‘prove’ as in “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good”.

So there is no contradiction at all. The message of Romans 14 is not saying that doctrine is no longer a factor within the body of Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are to become knowledgeable, and we are expected to admonish one another in love, as the very next chapter explains.

Rom 15:14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

The clear message of Romans 14 is that this chapter is addressed to the stronger brothers in Christ who will just naturally expect too much, too soon, of “those who are weak in the faith”, This chapter does not concern itself with the teaching of heresy. It is rather concerned with how best to deal with sincere brothers and sisters who are new to the body of Christ and are simply not yet able to bear the strong meat of the Word of God or the full strength of the light and the heat of the the Word of God.

But heresy and heretics are a dimension to this entire scenario which simply is not the subject of Romans fourteen, but heresies and heretics certainly are the subject of many other chapters and verses of God’s Word.

What the scriptures teach us concerning how we are to deal with heresies and heretics is part of the strong meat of the word of God. But that strong meat is hard to deal with, and the weak will avoid dealing with it by quoting Rom 14:5, and strong meat is thereby replaced with “smooth things” and deceits” which attempt to avoid “the offense of the cross”, and “entangle us again in the [very] yoke of bondage” out of which Christ’s example has led us. Heresies have always been with us, and heretics will always will be with us as “spots in our love feasts (Jdg 1:12), growing as leaven within our midst. Like the first Adam himself, we are all first heretics, before we repent of our heresies. It is all for this purpose:

1Co 11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
1Co 11:19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

Even to this day there are those who are teaching that there is no need to stop observing the lying “traditions of men”. Since it is impossible to deny that Christ deliberately broke the sabbath, and deliberately broke the laws concerning the holy days of the Jews, and that this is the example He has left us to follow, the only thing left for the weak to do is to judge and accuse the stronger brothers of being self-righteous and Pharisaical.

So let us ask, was Christ our example being Pharisaical when He refused to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage?

Joh 5:18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Was the apostle Paul being Pharisaical when he admonished both the Corinthians and the Colossians not to touch, taste or handle the unclean things?

2Co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

Now here is a verse which those who want to stay entangled with the yoke of the traditions of men, love to quote. I will quote the King James first, and then I will quote it properly:

Col 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
Col 2:21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
Col 2:22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

The King James version here tells us that those “living in the world” will “perish with the using after the commandments and doctrines of men”, but it is translated in such a way as to indicate that the fault is in teaching that we should not touch, taste, or handle. But now let’s look at these verses as they are properly translated:

Col 2:20 If, then, you died together with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as living in the world, are you subject to decrees:
Col 2:21 You should not be touching, nor yet tasting, nor yet coming into contact,
Col 2:22 (which things are all for corruption from use), in accord with the directions and teachings of men? (CLV)

Paul tells us to “touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you”. If we touch the unclean thing, we will not be received by God. “The rudiments of the world” here are the same rudiments of the world in Galatians 4. They are the observance of days, months and seasons and years, and here in Col 2:20-22 they are called social “decrees [which] we should not be touching, tasting nor handling”, and again we are told they will perish with their use. The fault is in the touching, tasting and handling of the unclean thing. There is no fault in staying clean from those decrees of men.

Was the apostle Paul being Pharisaical when He admonished the Galatians with these verses?

Gal 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? [What are these “weak and beggarly elements”?]
Gal 4:10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
Gal 4:11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

Paul, who had been highly regarded by these brothers, now has to pose the very question to his Galatian brothers, which question we must all pose to those who “become entangled again with the yoke of bondage”.

Gal 4:16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

Then he asks this question and makes these statements:

Gal 5:7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
Gal 5:8 This persuasion [to return to the traditions and decrees of society] cometh not of him that calleth you.
Gal 5:9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

“Who did hinder you?” This seduction occurs every year, and it afflicts many babes in Christ. Paul knew very well ‘who’ was hindering the Galatians. It was for that very reason he wrote to them, and it was for that very same reason many of the epistles of Paul were written. Listen to how this apostle deals with these heresies and these heretics:

2Ti 1:15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.

Paul is not naming these men because he is seeking revenge. He is acting on scriptural principles, having already spoken with these men and having followed all the instructions given us by our Lord in Matthew 18 for dealing with this situation. It is a very distasteful work which must be done by those who are “manifest as approved among you”.
“All in Asia” included some of Paul’s dearest friends:

2Ti 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
2Ti 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:
2Ti 4:15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.
2Ti 4:16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
2Ti 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and [that] all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

Paul acknowledged the immaturity of many in Corinth, and confessed that at the first he spoke of nothing among these immature Corinthians but “Christ and Him crucified”. But He went right on to point out that he had no intention of leaving them without an admonition against remaining in such an immature condition after so long a time.

1Co 2:1 And I, brethren, when I [first] came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
1Co 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you [at first], save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
1Co 2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
1Co 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
1Co 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
1Co 2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among [Greek: en – in] them that are perfect [Greek, being perfected]: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
1Co 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

“The demonstration of the spirit and power” is remaining faithful to the Truth; remaining faithful to Christ and to His example for us. But at a certain point, it becomes essential that we admonish those in our charge and deal with those who are “becoming entangled again in the yoke of bondage… [and are] leavening the whole lump”. So in the very next chapter Paul tells these very Corinthians whom he had determined at first to “know nothing among them but Christ and Him crucified”:

1Co 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
1Co 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
1Co 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
1Co 3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I [am] of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

He did the same with the Galatians:

Gal 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
Gal 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Gal 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh [Paul is certainly referring to observing the traditions of Gal 4:10]?
Gal 3:4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. [Have I labored in vain? Gal 4:11]
Gal 3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

He does the same thing with the Hebrews:

Heb 5:11 Of whom [Melchisedec] we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
Heb 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Heb 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. [“Weak in the faith”]
Heb 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

There is schism that is in our midst. It always must be so, but if we do “look well to ourselves and to the flock over whom the Lord has made us overseers”, then we will “obey the truth.” Paul keeps telling us to “obey the Truth”.

Rom 2:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
Rom 2:9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

Gal 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
Gal 5:7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
Gal 5:8 This persuasion [cometh] not of him that calleth you.
Gal 5:9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

What is Truth? Who is the Truth? It is of course “Jesus Christ… evidently set forth among you”. He tells us that He is the Truth:

Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

If Christ is “the Truth” and He is our example that we should follow in His steps, then once again, all we ever need do when confronted with any question of how we should conduct our lives is to simply ask, ‘What did Jesus do?’ Once that question is answered, all we need do is “follow His example”.

1Pe 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

“Hereunto were we [all] called… to follow Christ’s example and His steps”. While that example is easy to see, it is not easy to follow. Doing what Christ did will certainly produce “the offense of the cross”.

If we follow Christ’s steps, we will also follow his words concerning how we are to deal with heresy and with the heretics among us. Heresy is a sin against the body of Christ. We must follow Christ’s commandments dealing with those who sin against us in Matthew 18, and we must also follow the commandments He gives us through Paul and John. If we fail to do so, the blood of our brothers and sisters will be on our hands:

Mat 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
Mat 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Mat 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Tit 3:10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
Tit 3:11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

2Jn 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
2Jn 1:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

These are all the words of our Lord. If we ignore them, we do so at our own peril.

John was dealing with the exact same spirit:

3Jn 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
3Jn 1:10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth [them] out of the church.
3Jn 1:11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

“Follow not that which is evil”. It is evil to lie to our children about Santa. It is sinful to lie to our children about the Easter bunny, ghosts and goblins, the tooth fairy and all of the other “entanglements of the yoke of bondage”. It is evil to teach them to be self-centered and to exalt their own flesh. It is very doubtful that the “evil” Diotrephes was following was overt disobedience to the ten commandments. As Alexander the coppersmith “withstood Paul’s words”, so too, did Diotrephes, “prate against” John’s words. It evident that the same thing that made Paul the enemy of the Galatians is very likely what also contributed to “everyone in Asia forsaking the apostle Paul, and for giving Diotrephes the influence he had to cast those John had sent “out of the church”. It was Paul’s warning against observing the traditions of men that made the Galatians hate him. Those traditions today are called “mystery Babylon the Great” and it is mostly through those traditions that she is given to ride upon the scarlet colored beast we all are in our own time. There is nothing which brought upon Christ “the offenses of the cross” more than His disregard for “the yoke of bondage” of the traditions of the church.

We witness “the mystery of Christ” in others by how they live their lives in accord with Christ’s life. We also know those who are in Mystery Babylon by how they live their lives in accord with the traditions of Mystery Babylon. There is nothing more entrenched in us than the life-long traditions of our families, which seem so innocent even as they are full of, and are based upon nothing more than lies and the self- centered exaltation of our flesh.

Gal 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?
Gal 4:10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
Gal 4:11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

Romans 14 has long been used to nullify all the admonitions against heresy that are written in all the rest of that epistle andnall the other epistles. Such lies are necessary and they too, are part of the “all things which God is working after the counsel of His own will”. Nevertheless we must be faithful to declare and live by “all the counsel of God”. Part of that “counsel of God includes the necessity that “there must be heresies among you”.

Act 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

1Co 11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
1Co 11:19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

So there must be heresies, and we must deal with them according to the scriptural directives. We cannot be “weak in the faith” and at the same time obey all the scriptures which tell us to “be of one mind”. To fail to maintain that “one mind” would produce what the orthodox Christian church is today.

1Co 5:6 Your glorying [in your weakness] is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

Is it really possible to be of one spirit with one mind? Yes, it is possible, through Christ. Not only is it possible, it is commanded of us over and over again:

Rom 15:6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2Co 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

Php 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

Php 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

1Pe 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

Can we honestly say “We have the mind of Christ?” We had better say so. If we say we cannot, then we have witnessed against ourselves, and we will be judged of our own mouths.

1Co 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Php 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, [being] of one accord, of one mind.

Php 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

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