We post this article, just completed, with the prayer that you will find it helpful and instructive.
I attach a headline just sent to me this morning by a friend which serves to illustrate the central point of my article – the evil changes that are abroad in the world today, especially within the camp of professing ‘Christianity’!
Agreement between diocese of Camden and plaintiffs is one of largest cash settlements involving Catholic church in US
The Lord bless you all,
THE SPIRIT OF CHANGE THAT WILL END IN UTTER CONDEMNATION
“Meddle not with them that are given to change,” Proverbs 24:21.
Something that is much contradicted by the enemies of the Bible is its character. It is a Book of enlightenment and instruction. Far from it being the source of ignorance and superstition and myth, as alleged by its detractors, the Bible was written for our “learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope,” Romans 15:4. The entrance of God’s words into the heart and mind “giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple,” Psalm 119:130. Ignorance amongst His people is no part of God’s purpose. “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant,” Romans 11:25. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant,” Corinthians 10:1.
That sentiment is expressed throughout the Holy Scriptures. It is a feature of the Saviour’s ministry. “For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes,” Matthew 7:29. Ignorance and myth has ever marked the ministry of the unholy usurpers of the office of the preacher! That is so evident today throughout the so-called ‘Christian’ world. Ignorance and blindness mark the ministry of the sham ‘doctors of the law’ who fill the air with their ungodly notions and imaginings, as they falsely claim to speak for the Lord. They bear all the accents of their father, “the devil”, “for he is a liar, and the father of it,” John 8:44.
Amongst the first references to the rebellion led by the devil and into which man was later led by the temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden, is that found in Jude 1:6. “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”
Note the term used of how that rebellion first developed. The angels “kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation.” That is, they were created as beings elevated among the thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers; were a superior rank of creatures to men, and who beheld the face, and enjoyed the presence of God; but this estate they kept not, for being mutable creatures, one of them first sinning, the rest were drawn into it by him, and so were not what they were before, but left their own habitation; by attempting to rise higher; or by quitting their station and posts of honour, being unwilling to be subject to God, and especially to the Son of God, who was to assume human nature, and in it be above them, which they could not bear; and gathering together in a body, in another place, with Satan at the head of them. (Dr John Gill)
They were driven out of their native habitation, heaven; they were turned out of it, and cast down to hell. “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment,” 2 Peter 2:4.
The essence of the spirit of that rebellion which engulfed the fallen angels and later mankind, is expressed in our text under the phrase, ‘given to change’.
I read this passage as part of my Bible reading on 6th April.
This ‘spirit of change’ is to be avoided by the child of God. In order to do that we must be acquainted with the meaning of the phrase and its pattern of development throughout the ages and recorded for our learning in God’s Word.
In Job 1:7 we read that in answer to the Lord’s question of what it was he was doing the devil said that he was busy “going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it,” Job 1:7. That is very informative for it shows the restlessness of the devil. He cannot find a place of peace and satisfaction but is ever on the move, CHANGING his position in his search for contentment and happiness.
That spirit has imbued all of the devil’s crowd since the fall into sin. On the other hand, contentment has ever marked those who are resting in Christ. That was never more evidently set forth than in the story of the conversion of the man of Gadara. His restlessness was all too obvious before he met Christ. “And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones,” Mark 5:1-5. The change the grace of God made in him was likewise very evident. “And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid,” Mark 5:15. Contentment and peace mark the man now and his restlessness is over.
It is into that quietness of heart and mind that Christians are called by the gospel. “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain,” 1 Timothy 6:3-6.
An understanding of the chaotic events on the world scene today requires us to know what the Bible says about the ongoing ‘meddling with change’ that sinful man, spurred by the devil, is ever engaged in.
FROM THE BEGINNING
Evidence of the longing for ‘change’ amongst fallen humanity is manifested in the earliest records of the Bible. The very first activities of Adam and Eve after their disobedience of God was to put forth their hands to alter and change God’s purpose for them. “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons,” Genesis 3:7. Furthermore, “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden,” Genesis 3:8. Here is a demonstration of the beginnings of man’s discontentment with God’s order and a determination to change it to his own pleasing!
That spirit of changing what God had ordained for that which they desired was seen again and again. The Lord had promised them a deliverer. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,” Genesis 3:15. He was to be the ‘seed of the woman’ and He would ‘bruise the head’ of the devil in utter triumph over him.
However, Eve could not wait God’s time and presumptuously supposed that her firstborn, Cain, was the promised seed. “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD,” Genesis 4:1. How wrong she was in her audacious and hasty declaration.
“Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother,” 1 John 3:12. Abel was a godly man, recognised as such by the devil and he was likely suspected by him of being the promised seed that would be his conqueror and so he moved Cain to kill him.
The spirit of ‘meddling with change’ continued. Man has ever tried to interfere with God’s purpose and bring in his own plans and purposes. Virtually every chapter in the Bible gives evidence of this spirit. The rebelliousness that was seen in Eden continued accelerating downward until in chapter 6 we read: “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them,” Genesis 6:5-7. Man’s desire to change God’s ways led to corruption and violence. “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth,” Genesis 6:12-13. These evils, in turn, brought about judgment.
It is hardly necessary to point out that such has been the trend throughout the ages. The Lord has, as it were, ‘kept a lid’ on man’s rebellion by ever intervening in judgment. Genesis 6 and 7, 10, 11:1-9 are early illustrations of this truth.
Other well known examples of the Lord containing man’s rebelliousness by His interventions may be seen in such chapters as Genesis 19 and the destruction of that city, the citizens of which chose to engage in an utter defiance of God and changed His ways as is displayed in Romans 1:21-32. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
This is the pattern and the outcome of man’s defiance of God throughout the ages and it is what we see at work today! This is a day of change. I have seen it in my lifetime. Indeed, it is more than evident in the last forty years that a tidal wave of change has flooded the nation.
There has been political change. Politicians were ever driven by a sense of self-aggrandisement. But that has reached new depths in recent times. Such principles as were once evident at work in public life have been utterly abandoned and that without a blush! Undertakings are abandoned wholesale, lies of the most blatant kind fall from lips without hesitation or shame. Immoral relationships are engaged in and neither the public nor the guilty show the least concern!
The abandonment of principles and of public decency are evident at Stormont and Westminster on a daily basis with the adoption of laws and expressions of support for that which is contrary to God’s truth.
There have been changes in business ethics. The interests of tycoons and merchants are taken up entirely with profit-making, and that regardless of decency, honesty and the hardship caused to others. Business conglomerates rival elected governments in the directing of national affairs. The recent developments of our national affairs in relationship to the European Union are shrouded in lies, deception and see-sawing contradictions both by the EU officials and our own political leaders. The ‘isolating’ of Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom, of which we are supposed to be an integral part, by the ‘Protocol’ agreed by the United Kingdom and the EU, is evidence of the spirit of deceit that is abroad. The attempts to rectify the situation is a glaring and shameful display of futile protest, caused largely by the lack of a united purpose amongst Unionists!
There have been changes in public morality. Lack of chastity and impurity are engaged in without the least shame or apparent awareness of evil. Marriage is abandoned, immoral relationships are common and changed and abandoned with utter shamelessness. The slaughter of the unborn and the sanctioning of the most ungodly liaisons are on the nation’s main agenda! The daily newspaper reports of the activities of the public are unreadable by anyone with a conscience and a fear of God. It all testifies to the disappearance of the Bible from the mind of the nation.
There has been especially a change in the beliefs of the professing church. Simply put, there has been an abandonment of the Creeds and Confessions of the Reformation, that time of divine visitation when the nation, under God, rediscovered Bible Christianity.
Today, on a universal basis, the ‘established’ churches set forth the lie of the devil and preach apostasy. As it was in Israel of old, so it is today.
“Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water,” Jeremiah 2:11-13.
“A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” Jeremiah 5:30-31.
“Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart,” Jeremiah 14:14.
There are but few pulpits that remain faithful to God’s truth and fewer still that obey the command, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins,” Isaiah 58:1.
This time of ‘change’ is that spoken on in many places in the Holy Scriptures and referring to the ‘last days’.
I have often quoted Psalm 2 as one of the earliest references to the apostasy of the last days.
“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us,” Psalm 2:1-3.
That this passage refers to he final days of this age is evident from the response of God to the rebellion. “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel,” verse 9. This is what the judgement in Noah’s day and again upon Sodom, prefigured. It is the final judgment of God upon the earth before He brings in the reign of righteousness under Christ.
Paul gives us a clear account of the ending of man’s rebellion and seeking after ‘change’.
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by (concerning) the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by (concerning) our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness,” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.
There we have what is at work today amongst the nations which defy God and how and when that rebellion will end.
For that day we wait and pray with patience and confidence.
One final matter. God is also engaged in a campaign of ‘change’. That is what the gospel is all about.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Such is the change the ‘new birth, of which Christ spoke (John 3:3,7) brings about.
That is followed by an ongoing spirit of change we call ’sanctification’.
“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord,” 2 Corinthians 3:17-18.
This process will, in turn, give way to that final and glorious change in the Christian wrought when Christ returns.
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:51-55.
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself,” Philippians 3:20-21.
May you, dear reader, be one that is enjoying the changing power of the gospel with its final glorious triumph on that day we long for. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is,” 1 John 3:2.
Trust the Saviour today as your own if you have not yet done so.
Sincere regards in Christ’s glorious name,
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd).
20th April 2022