Friday, May 24, 2019

Jessie Penn-Lewis: Conversion (?) and Higher Life (part 2 of 22)

In addition to Quaker and Freemason meetings, Jessie Penn-Lewis also attended Anglican services.  For instance, after marrying William (neither Jessie nor William even professed conversion to Christ before their marriage),[1] the Penn-Lewis family attended “the Church of the Annunciation . . . [where Mr. Penn-Lewis had been] attending [before their marriage],” an Anglican congregation where the “Vicar was an extreme High Churchman” who believed in a damnable sacramental salvation, the Papist confessional, and other “strong Anglo-Catholic views.”[2]  During the second year of her marriage, Jessie “began to feel very ill at ease about the Lord’s Return” and she was allegedly converted to Christ,[3] although she did not breathe a word to anyone about this professed salvation until a year and a half later, when, having moved to the Anglican parish where Evan Hopkins was the minister, she was simply “asked if she were ‘a Christian,’ and her . . . answer ‘Yes’ was her first open confession of Christ,”[4] this response allegedly proving not merely her religiosity, but her supernatural true conversion and regeneration.

Describing her professed conversion, Penn-Lewis testified: “[I had] a deep inward desire to know that I was a child of God[.] . . . [T]aking . . . my (too little read) Bible from the shelf, [I] turne[d] over the leaves, and [my] eye f[ell] [upon] the words, ‘The Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all’:  again a casual turn of the sacred pages, and [I read] the words, ‘He that believeth hath Eternal Life.’ . . . [I considered] whether I did believe that God had laid my sins upon the Lamb of God on the Cross:  a pause of wonderment that it really said that I had Eternal Life if I simply believed God’s Word:  a quick cry of ‘Lord, I do believe’—and [I] passed from death unto life.”  One would wish to hope that Mrs. Penn-Lewis was actually saved, although the facts that she wished to know that she “was” a child of God, befitting her Quaker background, rather than desiring to “become” one (cf. Luke 5:31-32; 19:10), that her description of her professed conversion sounds dangerously like an affirmation that the new birth is a matter of a “believe that,” a mental assent to certain facts (James 2:19), rather than a supernaturally wrought and spiritual coming to the Person of Christ in repentant faith and trusting in His death and shed blood (cf. John 6:37), and that she entirely omits any mention of repentance (cf. Luke 13:3), including repentance of the false gospels taught in Quakerism, Masonry, and Anglo-Catholicism (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1), make the genuineness of her new birth a matter of severe doubt, especially as she continued to associate with Quakerism and other false religions that taught a false gospel (Galatians 1:8-9) the rest of her life, and she certainly was never immersed into the membership of a Bible-believing and practicing church upon profession of faith as did regenerate people in the Bible (cf. Acts 2:41-47; Mark 16:16).

Perhaps Penn-Lewis’s weak view of conversion and regeneration contributed to her passing beyond the more typical Keswick division of Christians into those who are spiritual and those who are perpetually carnal into her own four-fold division, a division in which she was followed by Watchman Nee.  She taught in her Four Planes of the Spiritual Life that “[b]elievers in Christ . . . all lived on one of four planes:  the evangelistic plane, the revival or Pentecost plane, the path of the Cross plane, or the spiritual warfare plane.  Each of these had a commencement, a continuation, and a consummation before you went on to the next.”[5] That is:

There are four planes—broadly speaking—in the spiritual life of the believer, and of the Christian worker: The first plane we may call the “evangelistic” plane; that is, the plane where the soul knows the new birth; knows that he has eternal life in Christ; where he becomes a soul winner, preaches salvation from the penalty of sin, and is used to lead others to Christ; where the entire objective is winning souls for Christ; where he is faithful in proclaiming the gospel of salvation in Christ.

Then there is the second plane, which may be called the “revival” plane; or the stage in personal experience where the believer receives the fulness of the Holy Spirit, learns to know Him and to obey Him; to rely upon Him and to look to Him to work as he co-operates with Him, and is used to lead others into the experience of the fulness of the Spirit.

Then there is the third plane, which we may call the plane of the “path of the cross,” where the believer experimentally apprehends his position in Romans 6 in fellowship with Christ's death; is brought into “conformity” to His death (Philippians 3:10); he learns the fellowship of His sufferings, and is led to walk in the path of the Cross in every detail of practical life. Here the believer is able to interpret to others the way of the Cross, and to lead others to know Romans 6 and 2 Corinthians 4:10-12 in experience.

The fourth plane is the plane of spiritual warfare. It is really the “ascension” plane, where the believer knows his union with Christ, seated with Him “far above all principality and power”; and where, in service, he is in aggressive warfare against the powers of darkness; learns to have spiritual discernment to detect the working of the devil; and learns the authority of Christ over all the power of the enemy. (Luke 10:19)

Or to put it concisely—the first is the plane of salvation, or the new life; the second is the plane of the Spirit; the third is the plane of victory over sin; the fourth is the plane of victory over the powers of darkness. The individual believer, if he goes forward in the Christian life with God, is generally—not always—led just in this order also. First, he receives salvation; second, he receives the Holy Ghost; third he is led along the path of the Cross; fourth, he walks in the path of conflict and victory, resulting in “power” over all the power of the enemy. The individual worker, also, finds he is used in these four planes of service. First, he is used to lead others to Christ; second, he is used to lead them into the fulness of the Spirit; third, he is used to interpret to them the path of the Cross; and fourth, to discern the devices and workings of the devil, and to have power over “all the power of the enemy,” through union with Christ on the throne.

Madame Guyon truly says that in every plane of the spiritual life there is a beginning, working out, and a consummation of the life in that degree, followed by a passage into the next plane, where there is again a beginning, a working out, a consummation. . . . Further, it is true that, speaking generally, it often takes years to get through each plane!  (“Four Planes of the Spiritual Life,” Watchman Nee, reprinting “an excerpt from Life Out of Death, a book by Jessie Penn-Lewis. It was originally published by The Overcomer Literature Trust, Parkston, Poole, Dorset, England.”  Elec. acc. http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/article_pdf.php?aid=18101)

Penn-Lewis’s four-fold division of Christians into a lower class, higher class, even higher elite class, and highest and most elite class, will be convincing to those who accept the inspiration of her writings, and her reference to Madame Guyon will perhaps impress those who receive the Romanist mystic’s writings as a spiritual authority, but for those who love sola Scriptura, the total absence of Biblical evidence for Penn-Lewis’s four-fold partition of the people of God will lead them to reject her doctrine out of hand.  However, while Mrs. Penn-Lewis had no support for her ideas in the Bible, she did find some in the stages in the Higher Life expounded at the Broadlands Conference.[6]

Mrs. Penn-Lewis, while she had no support in Scripture for her four-fold division of Christians, did, however, find some support in the teaching of her Quaker predecessor, Hannah W. Smith, and the Broadlands Conference, where, e. g., Mrs. Smith did not speak of the Higher Life alone, but also of “the bird life . . . of sunshine and song.”  Perhaps one had the Lower Life lived by the body of non-Keswick Christians, the Higher Life lived by the elite few, and the Bird Life lived by those whose sense of Biblical teaching had completely gone to the birds.[7]


-TDR


The following are the parts of this series:

Jessie Penn-Lewis: Keswick and Welsh Revivalist, Quaker and Freemason (part 1 of 22) 
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Conversion (?) and Higher Life (part 2 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Spirit-Baptized Woman Preacher (part 3 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Keswick Faith Healer (part 4 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: the Christ-Life and Quietism (part 5 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Her Inspired Writings (part 6 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Inspired Woman Preacher (part 7 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: her mystical false god (part 8 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Worldwide Keswick Impact  (part 9 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Welsh Revival and Pentecostal Preparation (part 10 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: War on the Saints (part 11 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Christians Demon Possessed (part 12 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Warfare Prayer and the 1914 partial Rapture (part 13 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Binding Satan (part 14 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Binding and Loosing (part 15 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: “My Demon Possession Key to My Keswick Teaching” (part 16 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Inspired “Truth” on Demon Possession (part 17 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Throne Life / Power and the Higher Life (part 18 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Soul Force, Only the Human Spirit Regenerated, And Other Bizarre Foolishness (part 19)
Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts: Applications From Their Lives and Doctrines, I (part 20 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts: Applications From Their Lives and Doctrines, II (part 21 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts: Applications From Their Lives and Doctrines, III (part 22 of 22)


 [1]            cf. pgs. 8-10, Jessie Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Garrard.


[2]           Pgs. 6-7, Jessie Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Garrard.


[3]           Pgs. 6-7, Garrard; cf. pg. 9, Jones.


[4]           Pg. 8, Jessie Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Garrard.  Any soul-winner with even a modicum of discernment knows that in a “Christian” culture like 19th century Britain the fact that someone, when asked if he is a Christian, will respond with the word “yes,” by no means proves his regeneration.  A large majority of 21st century Americans would say “yes” to the same question, yet they are no more the true children of God than were the majority of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.


            Hopkins himself professed to be converted after reading 1 John 1:9.  He testified:  “I saw that there was a covenant . . . and if I was among those who confessed their sins, I was in the agreement, and that He was faithful to the Son, and just to the promise made to the Son, to forgive me then and there.  I saw, at once, that I had pardon” (pgs. 27-28, Evan Henry Hopkins:  A Memoir, Alexander Smellie).  One hopes that Hopkins was truly converted, although 1 John 1:9 is not about how one is born again, and justification is granted to those who come to a particular point where, as lost sinners, they come to Jesus Christ in repentant faith (Mark 1:15; John 3:16; 6:37), while there is no promise in the Bible that says that as long as one is “among those who confessed their sins” one will enter the kingdom of God.  Whatever one may conclude from Evan Hopkins own testimony of conversion—one can be happy that, unlike so many Anglican priests, he at least had something he could say, and he never adopted Anglo-Catholicism—the rampant confusion within Anglicanism about the way of salvation helps to explain why Jessie Penn-Lewis could be accepted as a true believer, rather than as simply a religious but very possibly unconverted person, simply because she said “Yes” when asked if she were a Christian.


[5]           pg. 224, cf. pg. 233, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.


[6]           pgs. 191-193, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.


[7]           pg. 196, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Most Common Paradigm for Apostasy As Also Related to Making Decisions and Having Discernment

"Apostate" and "apostasy" are technical terms not found in the Bible, but they are in common use through church history to describe turning from the faith to various degrees.  In general, it is viewed as complete turning from the faith, as done by an unsaved person and proving that he is not saved (1 John 2:19).  Jesus said that those who are His disciples will continue in His Word (John 8:31) and that His sheep will hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:27).

Turning away completely is apostasy, which means someone isn't saved, never was saved in the first place, so didn't continue in the faith.  When I say "various degrees" of apostasy, I mean that someone can turn from something he once believed for whatever reason, but is still saved.  This is a more difficult concept, because the question arises, "Does an actual true, genuine Christian turn away from anything that God says?"  And perhaps another, "Isn't a person who lives in perpetual sin unsaved?"  Any unrepentant sin merits church discipline in the New Testament, where someone is regarded as a heathen man and a publican (Matthew 18:17).

A lot is changing in professing Christianity today in whatever realm someone might want to characterize genuine Christianity, evangelicalism or fundamentalism.  Do these changes represent the changes of saved people, where now they aren't obeying scripture as they once were, or these are just unbelievers?  This is a tough call, but also a common question.  We're not saved by doing good works, but by grace, and yet on the other hand, grace isn't a means of disobeying what God said.

For the sake of this post, I'm going to say that there are saved people, who are just not practicing like they once did.  The biggest crowd of these are millennials or perhaps we could call them younger people.  They still believe in Jesus Christ for salvation.  They would still say they want to live for the Lord.  They still believe the Bible is the Word of God. However, they don't practice the same way as the previous generation and this is happening all over the place.  To put this into the above discussion, are these saved people?  I'm going to say, yes, for the sake of this post, but I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.  The Bible doesn't change, God doesn't change, so the change could be apostasy.  Perhaps someone just needs to wait and see.

I'm making room for a partial apostasy still being saved, because of the churches in the New Testament, where they were not practicing like Paul wanted according to his epistles and Jesus expected according to His letters delivered to seven churches in Asia.  Did the changes at Corinth, ones of which Paul did not approve, constitute not being saved?  Did the changes at Ephesus or Pergamos or Thyatira mean a departure from the faith totally?  It did at Laodicea, we know (Revelation 3:14-22), but it's tough to know to what extent the people were unsaved in the other six, where Jesus disapproved.

Again, salvation is not something to mess around with, so we shouldn't give people a false sense of security about salvation, if they have departed from some orthodox belief and practice, while holding on to a profession of faith.  Today, I think, that millennials are banking on the notion that they still have reached the low bar, a minimal threshold, to count as salvation without having to live all the stuff that they don't like.  They are changing Christianity very often to the degree that it isn't even Christianity any more, and they don't care, as long as they're happy with it.  Does that sound like saved people?  It's difficult for me to say, yes, that sounds like Christianity to me.

This has all been introduction so far, but the way I believe the apostasy is occurring, saved or not saved, has taken on the following steps, which I'm calling the most common paradigm for apostasy.  I'm going to write them in the second person for someone reading to apply to himself.
  1. You want to live like you want.
  2. You want acceptance of that lifestyle.
  3. You recruit validation from like-minded people.
  4. You destroy or scorched-earth the source of the former belief and practice to justify your leaving for the new.
This paradigm fits 2 Peter, an epistle with apostasy as its theme, as Peter describes lust as the impetus for the apostasy (2:10, 18; 3:3).  You can't say "no" to what you want, so you look for those who will accept the lifestyle.  Those churches and people are available.  They have already conformed Christianity to their lusts, just like Darwinism conformed science to lust, eliminating a Creator.  You can find people will approve of what you are doing, but it doesn't stop there.  If you can't get acceptance from your former church or authority, you destroy it.  You might find enough to discredit it with the approval of your new belief and practice.

You should notice that the paradigm doesn't start with God's Word.  It doesn't begin with revealed truth.  It doesn't look to historical faith and practice, already established among the saints.  Jesus said, "Thy Word is truth" (John 17:17).  Scripture is the basis for truth, not feelings or lust.  Feelings or lust should be doubted in favor of scripture.  Any legitimate, biblical change, what is sanctification, will start with the preaching or study of the Word of God.  This doesn't happen with the most common paradigm of apostasy.

Since scripture isn't the authority, decisions are made based upon lust.  Scripture conforms to the lust.  If you read 2 Peter 2, you can see this as the pattern.  I'd ask you to read that whole chapter.  Feelings and lust take the preeminence, not God or His Word.  Paul describes this as "the course of this world" (Eph 2:2).  Since decisions and lifestyle are not proven based upon scripture, you lack discernment or wisdom.  You make regular decisions that look no different than an unsaved person, so you are making decisions like unsaved people make them.

The reason you think decision-making based on lust is fine is because you have gathered around you a group (a community) of people who validate you and that way of making decisions.  You've joined a group like that and then recruited others.  Many professing Christians are prey to usefulness toward apostasy.  They don't want to hurt someone's feelings and their silence reads like acceptance.  They might think they are helping because they themselves get approval for their acceptance.  This is a form of lust itself or related pride.

A common advocate for lust perverts the grace of God, what Peter and Jude call turning grace into lasciviousness.  You think that's the grace of God.  It isn't.  It's the apostatizing of biblical doctrine or practice or just the general apostasy of an unsaved person.

I've written recently how that uncertainty and doubt are crucial in the most common paradigm of apostasy (here).  The critics of your lust are classified as proud because of their total certainty, which means they don't allow liberty to practice Christianity in the preferred areas of doubt.  What was once certain in Christianity has been shifted to uncertain to make room for lust.

The lust shapes one's view of God.  He conforms to lust.  The lust can't but help do that.  God becomes like a goody-meister, there to fulfill your wishes.  He requires very little but fills your stocking with what you desire.  That's who he is.  This is a kind of blasphemy of God, but acceptable to both give you what you want and also give you eternal salvation.  You've got a new "god" in your mind who allows you to live like you want, but he isn't really "God," but "god."  It is the apostasy of the truth of genuine Christianity.  At what point has this dipped below a threshold of salvation?  I'm not sure, but I don't want it.  Even if it doesn't damn someone, it results in regular bad decision making and diminishing discernment.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Former Pharisee, the Apostle Paul, the Theologian of Separation

"Pharisee" means "separatist."  BDAG, the foremost lexicon of the Greek New Testament, says right at the beginning of the definition:
The Semitic words mean ‘the separated ones, separatists'.
The Pharisees were separatists.  Paul had been a Pharisee.  Upon conversion, Paul was no longer a Pharisee.  He left Pharisaism.  So does that mean he wasn't a separatist?  Wrong.  After he was saved, Paul still taught separation.  He could rightly be called the theologian of separation, the face of scriptural separation.

The modern evangelical calls separation Pharisaism and separatists, Pharisees.  When Paul gave up Pharisaism, he didn't give up separation.  One could say he doubled down on actual separation, godly separation, because no one represents it more in the New Testament than the Apostle Paul.

Separation isn't Pharisaical. No, separation is scriptural.  Pharisaism is what is unscriptural.  "Pharisee" means "separation" and the lineage or legacy that led to Pharisees was legitimate.  If we went back into the history, there was good reason to participate in separation.

The legitimate forefathers of the Pharisees were the separatists from Greek culture, when Antiochus Epiphanes offered the pig on the altar of the temple.  They led the Maccabean revolt, which is was a legitimate expression of disgust with impurity.  Daniel represents this by separating himself from the sinful aspects of Babylonian culture, despite living in the midst of it.  By the time, we get to Christ, the Pharisees were a mere caricature of that group of separatists.

The Apostle Paul didn't give up separation.  He gave up the self-righteous separation of the Pharisees.  They separated to show others how much better they were than others, comparing themselves with men (see this post).  What set the Pharisees apart was not biblical practice, but traditions that were not required by scripture.  They were showy traditions that emphasized the easiest ways to manifest a faux righteous behavior.  They weren't even obeying scripture.

In recent days, and this isn't unusual, I was called a Pharisee by someone, and it included the label, whitened sepulcher, a designation Jesus used for the Pharisees.  From what I could gather, I was being called these things for three main reasons:  one, the standards I hold, two, the practice of separation to which I adhere, and three, my lack of sinless perfection.  None of those three made a Pharisee to be a Pharisee in the pejorative use of the term.

No one is a Pharisee for interpreting, believing, and applying scripture.  The Pharisees weren't doing that, which is why Jesus asked them continually in the gospels, "Have ye not read?" (Matthew 12:3, 5, etc.).  Because it seemed like they hadn't even read the book, they were so far off in their understanding of it.  When He corrected their perversion of the Old Testament in the Sermon on the Mount, He started by saying, "It hath been said."  What was said in scripture was true; it was their corruptions that were not true.

In general, the Pharisees conformed God's Word to their own attempts on keeping all of the law.  That was impossible, so they turned it into mere ritual that they thought they could keep.  They wouldn't even do that, but it was an attempt to minimize the Old Testament to what was possible for them, which is salvation by works.  The people attempting to be saved by works don't respect the scripture, because they are impossible to keep by one's self.

The idea of separation itself, subsisting within the carcass of Pharisaism, was correct and the Apostle Paul taught it in nearly every one of his epistles and implied it in all.  In Romans he said, mark and avoid (Rom 16:17-18).  In 1 Corinthians he said, not to keep company with someone who calls himself a brother, but is still continuing in sin (1 Cor 5:11).  In 2 Corinthians 6:17, he said, come out from among them and be ye separate.  In Galatians he said, if any many preach any other gospel, let him be accursed (Gal 1:6-9).  In Ephesians, he said, have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them (Eph 5:11).  He implied separation in Philippians 3:18-19:
(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose] glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
In 2 Thessalonians 3:14, the theologian of separation said:
And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him,, that he may be ashamed.
In 1 Timothy 6, he said to withdraw your self from those who do certain things.  In 2 Timothy 2, he said to purge yourself from vessels of dishonor.

God will separate every unbeliever from Himself into the lake of fire along with the devil and His angels.  He had separated Noah and his family by water and the ark from every other soul on the entire planet.

Just because you believe something and separate over it doesn't mean that you will live it with sinless perfection.  You're not a hypocrite or deceive just because you don't keep it one hundred percent.  No one keeps the standards with perfection.  I'm not saying I'm better than someone else.  I do break the laws that I believe are right.  I don't separate from anyone else for breaking them.  That isn't biblical separation.  A Pharisee might separate after one violation, but a biblical separatist will first get the beam out of his own eye, so he can remove the mote out of his brother's eye.  He still tries to help his brother, and if his brother, after three tries, won't repent, then he separates from him.   He doesn't want to, but God tells him to, so he does.  That's not Pharisaism.

Pharisaism proclaims what he is not willing himself to keep.  He acts like he believes it, when he really doesn't.   He just wants others to think he does.  He judges other people harshly to make himself look better in front of them.  That would fit with what Jesus said about the Pharisees in Matthew 23 with His woes to the Pharisees.

Paul was a former Pharisee, and He knew and taught Christians to separate.  Separation isn't Pharisaical.  If you are saying that, please stop.  If you are not separating, then you are disobeying scripture.  If you disobey scripture, and then act like you do obey it, you're being a Pharisee.  Don't say you're obeying scripture, when you won't practice biblical separation.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Info

Mainly because I said I was preparing to do something, and I'm not going to do it, I want to give some information here.  I would think I'm going to finish in my lifetime a couple series I've started, if the Lord tarries and I live, but for now I'm discontinuing them.  Those series are, one, the adult children series, and, two, the relationship series.  I've put a lot into them, and I think you get my drift.  I'm done for now.  I think they are scriptural and practical, so helpful and good, but they're enough for now.  I'm announcing that because I said I was going to finish them, and I'm not now.  Everything else I said I'd keep doing, I'm planning on continuing.  Thanks.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Navigating Faithsaves.net

A while ago, the faithsaves.net website was updated to a new format.  While the new format had a variety of advantages, including being mobile friendly, some people thought that the old format was easier to navigate.  It is now possible to look for articles in both the old and new formats.  To find something the new way, you can:

1.) Use the "topics" menu at the top to search for topics

2.) Use the search feature on the top of the home page

If you liked the old way better, it is now easier to find.  In the old way, articles were (and they still are) divided into a variety of topics.  If you:

1.) Click on the new "Theological Compositions" button on the right side of the page, you will be taken to a page where the articles are divided into the following topics:

Apologetics and False Religions

Bibliology

Theology Proper, Christology, and Pneumatology

Soteriology

Ecclesiology

Eschatology

The Christian Family

Historical Studies

Politics

Commentaries

Biblical Financial Stewardship

Miscellaneous

Literary Compositions

You can then pick the topic you would like to look at.

2.) There is a new "All Content" button on the homepage as well. Here you can search for the titles of pretty much all articles that are out there on the site. The All Content page also has links where Microsoft Word files of various gospel tracts and pamphlets can be downloaded. 

3.) For unconverted people reaching the site, the "God's Gift to You" and "Bible Studies" buttons provide information on the gospel, with links to other pages useful for the unconverted, including the "Different Religions" page, and, for those that doubt the truthfulness of Scripture, the "Is the Bible God's Word?" page and "Science and the God of the Bible" pages.  These might be useful links for separated Baptist churches to include on their church websites, unless they already have resources available on Christian evidences in a Bible-believing, historic Baptist perspective.

4.) Another way to find material is to search in Google for "faithsaves" as one word and then whatever topic you want; the search engine should search specifically for that topic at faithsaves.net.  

5.) For college classes, the large college classes button at the bottom of the homepage is an easy way to gain access.

I rejoice that there have been over 300,000 page views at FaithSaves.net from visitors in the large majority of countries in the world. If you find bad links or pages with other problems, please let me know so they can be fixed--pointing out these problems is much appreciated. You can also employ material on the website provided that you comply with the terms of use policy, and if you want your car to be evangelistic, you can get FaithSaves.net bumper stickers as well.  Adding links and sharing articles by email, social media, etc. is also appreciated.

--TDR

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Apostatizing of Humility for Proud Reasons

Before I get to this post, I want to give some updates.  A few of you wrote me about my hint at going to Israel.  I'm sorry, but I've postponed that at this time because of some personal reasons.  It might still happen in the future and I'll keep you informed.  I've got a few series going on here, and I'm going to keep all of them going hopefully.  I will, Lord-willing come back with the second part of the review of Van Bruggen's booklet.  I am continuing the adult children series, relationship series, the weekend Europe trip travelogue, the Frank Turk debate, and anything else.  I plan on putting everything onto the index that isn't there yet, what has been written since I completed it.  I want to write a post on the Jordan Peterson speech I heard in San Francisco, as well as a bit of take on his book, which I've read.  Thanks for sticking with it.

*******************

Any one of us need to be open to the reality of personal pride.  Are we proud people?  How could a humble person say, "No"?  The meaning of humility has changed though.  Being humble no longer means what it once did.  Neither does love and other biblical words, but humility has now morphed into something that doesn't mean humility.  The word "humility" is used as a weapon by unbelievers and by those who call themselves Christians, but it's not actual humility, and I'm going to explain.

First though, humility itself is good.  Scripture teaches humility.  We should encourage it.  In the King James Version, "humble" is used 25 times, "humbled," 28, "humility," 7, and all the other forms of the word in English combined, 11.  The Greek word translated "humble" is also translated "lowly," so there are all those instances as well.   The concept is described also in different other ways, like "poor in spirit" in Matthew 5:3 and then what Paul writes in Philippians 2:3, esteeming others better than ourselves.

Humility is required for salvation.  God gives grace to the humble, not the proud.  Someone must humble himself before God to be saved.  This is the idea of 'humble yourself and you'll be exalted and exalt yourself and you'll be abased.'  You can't come to God on your own terms.  You've got to subject yourself to Him in humility.  This is the thought behind Jesus saying that if you are to come to Him, you've got to deny yourself.  Self-denial is humility.

So how is humility being perverted?  A common idea today -- it isn't true -- about humility is that it is some degree of doubt, uncertainty, capitulation, or tolerance.  This has become the new humility.  What is ironic about the perversion of humility is how certain the new humble are that you are proud if you are not their new kind of humble.  They were never more sure that you are proud.  Why?  Because you are so certain that someone is wrong.

Doubt becomes a necessity for someone who wants to live like he wants to live.  He can't be judged as wrong anymore, so he's at liberty to do what he wants to do.  He doesn't want the one judging him to be sure.  If that person is sure, it's because that person is unreasonable, not open, or he is proud.  He isn't being humble or gracious, that is, to see it in more than one way.  Any one who doesn't allow for more than one way is being proud, and this is how humility takes on a new definition.

In reality, humility is submitting to what God says, living by faith.  God says He is clear, so He is.  What He says is plain, because He says it is plain.  Doubt is actually a proud excuse.  This confidence isn't focusing inward, but upward.  God says it, so I'm going to do it.  If someone else isn't doing it, I'm going to say what God wants me to say.

What I've read about this apostatizing of humility has been called "espistemological humility."  It is another form of calling good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20).  Epistemology is basically how one knows what he knows.  How do we know what we know?  Faith is attacked.  Certainty is opposed.  This is bad, but it is called good in a kind of counterfeit fashion.  The real humility is replaced by this faux humility, which is actually pride.

God resists the proud, gives grace to the humble.  He doesn't give grace to the counterfeit humble or the faux humble.  That's actually pride.  It's somebody who doesn't want to do what God wants him to do and he doesn't want to hear about it.  That's pride.

In Ephesians 5:11, God says through the Apostle Paul, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."  Reprove what?  How can anyone know with certainty what is an unfruitful work of darkness?  That sounds too ambiguous.  Who would be so proud to reprove someone?  Humility would leave it alone -- too much doubt.  Don't be fooled by this.  This is apostatizing humility.

Somebody wants to do what he wants to do.  The person who tells him to change -- that is the proud person.  Why?  He can't know it's wrong.  He's got to be more humble about not knowing what's wrong.  He's got to have doubt, because that would be humble.  The pride is someone not wanting to change, not humbling himself under the teaching of scripture, but that is absolutely switched around.

Earlier in Ephesians 5, Paul mentions stuff that he wants reproved:  fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, and jesting.  What are those?  Can we be sure?  If Paul wants those to be reproved, of course we can be certain what they are.  I know that people behave like they don't know and they want their critics not to know either.  It makes it easier for them.  And then they get angry if someone comes at them with certainty.  They call it pride.  It's actually humility.  The pride is calling it pride.  It is humility to obey God when he says something.

Epistemological humility is not humility.  It is unbelief.  Without faith it is impossible to please God.  God is not being pleased by this faithlessness.  It should not be expected from either party -- the one criticizing or the one being criticized.  God wants us living like we know and can apply what He said -- because we can.

Monday, May 13, 2019

An Attempted Shell Game with God: Classifying Scriptural Issues of Practice as Non-Scriptural

God has given mankind a lot of liberty.  A list of non-scriptural issues is a much longer one than a list of scriptural ones.  Given enough time, I might be able to write a list in length past the distance to the moon of non-scriptural activities.

What kind of furniture polish do you use?  Do you hang landscape art instead of portrait?  What fruit variety do you add to your oatmeal?  What is the thread count of your sheets?  What type of allergy medication do you use?  Where do you take a walk?  What variety of pet do you own? What brand of car do you drive?  Is your yard grass or turf?  Do you like Target or Walmart more?  You get what I’m talking about.  However, when we either on purpose or incidentally veer into a scriptural issue, it must be what and how God says.  We don’t have options there.  We’ve got to do what God says.  We don't have liberty on scriptural issues.

What has happened today is that scriptural issues have been shoved over into the non-scriptural category to give liberty to do what people want in scriptural issues.  This is actually sinning.  People are sinning, but they aren’t calling it sinning because they have shifted scriptural issues into non-scriptural ones.  This is the shell game being played with God.

A shell game is a lie.  It says something is there that is not.  It's a con.  A shell game can fool people, but it can't fool God.  It doesn't and it won't.  When I say it won't, I mean at the final judgment.  God will announce in essence that it didn't work, and there won't be anything to say.  Living by faith requires projecting one's self to that moment and understanding that God already makes that judgment.  The scriptural issue stays a scriptural issue, even when the shell game is being played.  God knows.

What's the point of this shell game?  Someone doesn't like Christianity, the one and only Christianity -- in other words, what's taught in scripture and so the practice of historical Christianity.   He's got to move the shells around and replace the real thing with something different.  Scriptural issues are turned into non-scriptural issues.  To do this, you've also got to pervert the meaning of scripture.  You get a new Christianity, but not really, because it's just playing a shell game.

Why not leave Christianity, rather than invent a new one, that's just an empty shell?  I understand how that someone could try to bridge Christianity to something incompatible with it.  They know Christianity is true, that it is the right explanation for the world, but they also want fleshly lust and the world system.

Fleshly Lust

When someone is saved, he still possesses the flesh, an aspect of human fallenness that will be eliminated in the future when he is glorified.  Paul refers to this as the presence of sin or the law of sin in his members or body parts.  The Apostle Peter refers to "fleshly lusts" in 1 Peter 2:11, when he writes:
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.
"Fleshly lusts" war against the soul.  They contradict the soul of a person.  They are desires of someone that war against what God ordains.  These include all forms of rock music, lewd entertainment, immodest dress, alcohol, and foul language.  These are what are shifted like a shell game to the non-scriptural to form an acceptable Christianity to conform to the fleshly lust.  It's not true, but it is the goal of this game.

The World

John says, whoever loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him.  There is not a Christianity that conforms to the world, but the shell game Christianity does.  It's a pop Christianity that accepts worldliness.  Unscriptural issues are classified as non-scriptural ones to keep the world -- worldly entertainment, worldly music, worldly activities, worldly friends, an essentially worldly life.

A new Christianity that corresponds to fleshly lust and conforms to the world isn't Christianity.  It's just a shell.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Jessie Penn-Lewis: Keswick & Welsh Revivalist, Quaker and Freemason (part 1 of 22)

Jessie Penn-Lewis was, in her day, “Keswick’s leading female speaker . . . the woman destined to make the most impression at Keswick.”[1]  “Only those who . . . kn[ew] her longest and most closely can fully appreciate how strongly [she] influenced . . . Evangelical life and thought of her time.”[2]  A summary of her book The Warfare with Satan and the Way of Victory was even found in the series The Fundamentals.[3]  She came from a Quaker family, had significant “Quaker linkages,”[4] and, among other events in her limited education, went, as she affirmed, to “a school . . . opened by a Quaker lady,” along with receiving training from a “Quaker gentleman.”[5]  Her husband William Penn-Lewis had a strong Quaker background as “a follower of George Fox,[6] a professed Quaker and descendent of . . . William Penn,”[7] so that Jessie’s married name of Penn-Lewis[8] pointed back to that extremely influential early anti-Trinitarian Quaker who founded the state of Pennsylvania.  Through their  married life, “every Sunday, [Mr. Penn-Lewis] and his wife went to . . . a Society of Friends Meeting,” except on certain occasions when they attended “an Anglican service” or, “sometimes, a lively evangelical meeting.”[9]  Mrs. Penn-Lewis could justify the disorder and confusion of the revivalism led by Evan Roberts through an appeal to  Quaker worship:  “By the immediate operations of the Holy spirit, [Christ] as the Head of the church, alone selects and qualifies those who are to present His messages or engage in other service for Him; and, hence, we cannot commit any formal arrangement to any one in our regular meetings for worship.”[10]  Mrs. Penn-Lewis would, on various occasions, give the “message” at “the Friends’ Meeting House” up to the very end of her life.[11]   Both Mr. and Mrs. Penn-Lewis were buried in a Quaker graveyard, “the Friends Burial Field at Reigate,”[12] their funerals being held in Quaker meeting houses, thus identifying with the Quaker movement and its heresies in the choice of their final resting place.[13]  Furthermore, Mrs. Penn-Lewis’ “mother was one of the first to join . . . the Good Templar Movement” in her town, and Jessie “was keenly eager to be a Templar too,” so she followed her mother as a “Templar” in the demonic cult of Freemasonry.[14]  The “very first Lodge night after [her] twelfth birthday . . . [she was] initiated into the coveted circle.”  She soon became “Chief Presiding Officer of the juveniles . . . [in the Minor] Lodge,” while her husband-to-be was “Treasurer of [that same] Lodge at th[at] time.”[15]  She “continued as secretary of the Lodge by re-election quarter after quarter until . . . compelled to give it up”[16] because of her father’s death.  Her Quaker and Masonic influences were connected, as a “Quaker . . . undertook to teach [her] the secretarial work [of the Lodge].”[17]  However, Mrs. Penn-Lewis’ parents and she did not stick exclusively to Quaker and Freemason meetings;  she had Calvinistic Methodism in her background also, since, for example, her grandfather was a minister in the “C. M. Connection,” and, what is more, was “said to be the most metaphysical preacher of his day” in that movement.[18]  Jessie’s devout mother consequently “had ideas that children could be brought up without the knowledge of sin.”[19]  

-TDR


The following are the parts of this series:

Jessie Penn-Lewis: Keswick and Welsh Revivalist, Quaker and Freemason (part 1 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Conversion (?) and Higher Life (part 2 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Spirit-Baptized Woman Preacher (part 3 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Keswick Faith Healer (part 4 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: the Christ-Life and Quietism (part 5 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Her Inspired Writings (part 6 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Inspired Woman Preacher (part 7 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: her mystical false god (part 8 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Worldwide Keswick Impact  (part 9 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Welsh Revival and Pentecostal Preparation (part 10 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: War on the Saints (part 11 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Christians Demon Possessed (part 12 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Warfare Prayer and the 1914 partial Rapture (part 13 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Binding Satan (part 14 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Binding and Loosing (part 15 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: “My Demon Possession Key to My Keswick Teaching” (part 16 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Inspired “Truth” on Demon Possession (part 17 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Throne Life / Power and the Higher Life (part 18 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Soul Force, Only the Human Spirit Regenerated, And Other Bizarre Foolishness (part 19)
Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts: Applications From Their Lives and Doctrines, I (part 20 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts: Applications From Their Lives and Doctrines, II (part 21 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts: Applications From Their Lives and Doctrines, III (part 22 of 22)


 

[1]           Pgs. 120, 155, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall.
[2]           Pg. iii, Jessie Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard, 2nd ed. preface by Bernard W. Matthews, 1930.
[3]           “Thankfully, too, may be placed on record the fact that a concise summary of ‘The Warfare with Satan and the Way of Victory’ was selected as one of the papers for insertion in Vol. X of ‘The Fundamentals,’ a series of volumes re-stating the Fundamental Truths of the Christian Faith, issued free by the generosity of ‘Two Christian Laymen’ to workers throughout the world” (“The Overcomer Literature Trust Fund,” pg. 203, The Overcomer, December 1914; cf. Chapter 13, “Satan and His Kingdom,” Jessie Penn-Lewis, pgs. 183-199, The Fundamentals, Vol. 4, ed. Torrey).
[4]           Pg. 274, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[5]           Pg. 5, Jessie Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard; cf. pg. 6, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Brynmor Pierce Jones.
[6]           George Fox (1624-1691) was the “Founder of the Society of Friends, otherwise known as Quakers. . . . In 1646 he announced his reliance on the ‘Inner Light of the Living Christ.’ . . . [H]e taught that truth is to be found primarily not in Scripture or in creed but in God’s voice speaking to the soul. . . . his colleagues . . . included William Penn” (pg. 425, “Fox, George,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell).
[7]           Pg. 139, I Saw The Welsh Revival, David Matthews.  Chicago, IL:  Moody, 1951.  After his marriage to Jessie, Mr. Penn-Lewis’ Quaker background still showed itself (pg. 11, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones).  At Mr. Penn-Lewis’ funeral, preached by F. B. Meyer, “Dr. Meyer remarked that [the] quiet garden attached to the Friends [Quaker] Meeting House was peculiarly appropriate as the last resting place of William Penn-Lewis, as he was a descendant of William Penn, one of the Pilgrim Fathers, the founder of Pennsylvania” (pg. 290, Mrs. Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary Garrard).  Mrs. Penn-Lewis, buried by her husband in this Quaker graveyard, would also refer to what one or another “old Quaker” or “old Quakers” had said in her writings (cf. her letter from Coonoor, S. India, March 3, 1903, reprinted in “The Life of Faith” of March 25th 1903; Chapter 3, Soul and Spirit, by Jessie Penn-Lewis, etc.).
[8]           Before her marriage she was “Jessie Jones” (pg. 7, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones).  More details about her early life and marriage are contained in her diaries and her booklet The Leading of the Lord.
[9]           Pg. 155, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[10]         “Public Worship” in the Orthodox Quaker Declaration of Faith Issued by the Richmond Conference in 1887 (http://www.quakerinfo.com/rdf.shtml).
[11]         Pgs. 300-301, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[12]         Pg. 295, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[13]         Pgs. 290, 306, Mrs. Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard.
[14]         Compare “Freemasonry and the Christian,” Eddy D. Field II & Eddy D. Field III. Master’s Seminary Journal, 5:2 (Fall 94) 141-158; also The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge, John Ankerberg & John Weldon (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1990).
[15]         Pg. 4, Jessie Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard.  Garrard was Mrs. Penn-Lewis’ secretary and confidant for decades, and after Penn-Lewis’ death Garrard “serve[d] as general secretary and magazine editor” of The Overcomer “for sixteen years” (pgs. 305ff. The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones; cf. pgs. 10, 86, 156, 250, 297).
[16]         Pg. 6, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[17]         Pg. 6, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[18]         Pg. 1, Jessie Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard.
[19]         Pg. 2, Jessie Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard; cf. pg. 4, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Brynmor Pierce Jones.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Adult Children, pt. 5

Part OnePart TwoPart Three, Part Four

According to God, relationship on earth is hierarchical, which is why all the teaching in Ephesians 5 and 6 on relationship corresponds to submitting to the Holy Spirit.  Peter said, obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).  If submission in a relationship means disobedience to God, then we shouldn't do it.  That severs relationships.  The relationship with God is the one that must be maintained.  Every other relationship is subservient to that one, which is where enters the following teaching of the Lord Jesus in the gospels:
Matthew 10:34-37, "34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." 
Luke 14:26, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."
Scripture doesn't mean nothing.  It is God's Word.  These preceding verses mean something.  What is this "variance against" someone's own family members?  What sets parents in variance against one or more of his children?

When the above verses of scripture say son and daughter, those are not sons and daughters that are still in the home.  While a parent's children are still in the home, the tools exist to bring them into line, at least in appearance or on the outside.  This is variance with adult children.

What is the variance with the adult children?  Jesus wouldn't be saying that the variance is a non-scriptural issue or a personal preference.  It isn't, a child missed a birthday card, so there is variance.  No.  A child decides he wants to go completely plant based with his food.  That's not a scriptural basis of separation.  What sets variance is a violation of God's Word.  It is Jesus saying that He, Jesus, is or has come to set variance between adult family members, including parents and their children.  Variance doesn't have to exist, but Jesus came to cause some of it to happen, even a lot if it is what Jesus has come to do.

What is variance caused by?  The Greek word for "variance" in Matthew 10:34 is dichazo, which means, "to divide in two."  BDAG says, "to cause someone to turn against someone else."  Would Jesus turn two adult family members against each other for just arbitrary reasons, or is it scriptural reason?

Notice that Jesus doesn't turn to friendships or acquaintances or members of some organization, but goes straight for the most intimate relationships between people on earth that He came with His sword to divide.  These are the most painful divisions on earth, when adult family members turn against the other.  Jesus came to cause this, to do this.  People are going to have to be ready to comply to what is most difficult, making anything less than these more feasible to accomplish.

Sin separates from God, either doctrinal or moral sin.  If a family member sins and then won't repent, that causes the division.  An adult child won't repent and the parent warns, pleads, begs, and uses every scriptural tool in his toolbox, including mediation if it is available, and the adult child goes on his way, that is what causes variance between parents and an adult child.  The separation according to the verses is the will of God.  Jesus came to see this done.

The overarching message is that no human relationship surpasses the relationship with God.  The lack of division or separation from the adult child affects the relationship with God.  God doesn't permit acquiescence to some unscriptural belief or practice, just to keep the relationship going, what might be considered a faux relationship.  It's just a relationship of appearances, playing a game, one of which God doesn't approve.

During the colonial period, parents of congregational or Puritan churches in New England overlooked the unbelief and false practice of children to include them in the church with what was called a "halfway covenant."  The practice was designed to keep unconverted children in the church.  Conservatives see this as the decline of those churches.  They had other problems, but the decline of those churches proceeding from the halfway covenant created the need for a great awakening.

The sentimentalism of parents toward adult children doesn't help their children.  It will also result in more apostasy among other children.  Jesus called for separation.  He came to bring it.  Parents must be willing to take what might seem to be a harsh action out of love for God.  Children must anticipate that this will occur.

Any counsel or advice I hear in contradiction to the teaching of scripture very often I will call psychobabble.  I have other names, such as seat-of-the-pants theology or conventional wisdom.  I hear a lot of psychobabble regarding the relationship of parents to disobedient adult children.  It's not based on what scripture says, but based on the longing for an adult child to turn it around.  What God says in His Word is the best opportunity for the best outcome.  Part of trusting God is also trusting the process God expects to see it occur.  If it doesn't happen, the obedience to God's methods is not the reason.

As you are reading this, you might be thinking, I love my children too much to do what I'm reading here.  This is a common corrupt viewpoint of love.  It isn't even love.  I call it sentimentalism.  God is love.  If something is love, it must correspond to God.  The separation itself is an act of love.  It is a more difficult act than just getting along.  Getting along is easy to do, but that can't be love, because it clashes with God.

Today the social justice warriors see "love your neighbor" very often as an acceptance of sins of various kinds.  They really do think that they love more than others or that the others aren't even loving, because they are willing to ignore what God said to treat sin with favor.  This is the outcome of the kind of deceit that accepts the sinful behavior of adult children.  It isn't love.  It is love to do what God says, at least love for God, which isn't contradictory to love for an adult child.  The one not loving, and I repeat not loving, is the adult child.

If someone divides the ten commandments into two parts, the two tables of the law, he gets love God and love neighbor.  The second table of the law starts with "honor thy father and thy mother."  Someone doesn't love his neighbor if he is dishonoring his parents and violating the very second table of the law that the second great commandment represents.

More to Come

Monday, May 06, 2019

The Pharisaical Practice of Comparing People, Especially Yourself, to Other People

In the Sermon on the Mount, in part as an antidote for a heinous, diseased practice of the Pharisees to compare themselves with others, Jesus said (Matthew 5:48):
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
The Apostle Paul later wrote (2 Corinthians 10:12):
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
People aren't the standard, so what is it, that people want to compare themselves with people?  It's never good to compare one's self or someone else with another person, whether it is someone apparently either worse or better.  Both ways, there are pitfalls.  I want to focus one direction, because the Pharisees thought they were better than other people.  There is a common tendency to compare to people "worse."

One of the ways of comparison to "worse people" related to suffering.  Someone suffered because he was worse than me, and whatever blessings I'm getting are because I'm better than that other person.  In Luke 13, Jesus said, no, everyone is going to suffer if they don't repent.  Job wasn't suffering because he was worse.  The message of the rich man and Lazarus was, look, the worse one is in heaven and the better one opens his eyes in Hell.  We could keep going.

As a whole, the Jews developed the idea that they were better than other people, so they were entitled to some special blessing.  The Gentiles were uncircumcised, unlike them.  They were chosen people and the others were not.  Dietary restrictions didn't make Israel better than other nations, but they acted like it did.  Peter didn't want to be seen eating what Gentiles ate, even though it was permitted by God.

"Legalism" comes up as a subject against others by evangelicals all the time.  Legalism is salvation by works.  Evangelicals use the term legalism in a broader sense, where if someone practices in a different or more strict way than them, they claim the standard or scruple is being added to scripture.  Usually it relates to application of scripture.  The Pharisees, however, were the prototypical legalists.  Their face should be next to legalism in the dictionary, and what did the Pharisees do?

The Pharisees would add to the law their own traditions, it's true.  They also would rank laws and keep only the ones that they ranked the highest.  Usually the harder things were eliminated.  They did this because they couldn't keep the law on their own.  Okay.  What I'm focusing on with this post is that the Pharisees compared themselves with others.  A classic explanation of a Pharisee comes from Luke 18:11:
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
This is why Jesus said what He did in the Sermon on the Mount, to be perfect as the Father in heaven is perfect.  The comparison should be with God.  God and His Word are the standard.

No one is good because he is better than someone else.  No one else is the standard.  You can say that you know this, but it is still used on a regular basis by professing Christians, just like the Pharisees.  This is a chief Pharisee behavior.  It is Pharisaical.  In that sense, it is legalistic.  The Pharisees were legalists.  It is another form of left-winged legalism.

People who want to do what they want to do will compare themselves with others.  People who want to justify themselves will do it by saying that they aren't as bad as someone else.  Twice in the last month, separate conversations with two different evangelicals, and I was talking to each about the disobedience of someone I love.  They weren't so concerned, because this person was not as bad as each of them were when they were his age.  Someone can be good if he's not as bad as someone else.

God is good.  We judge goodness by God.  He's the standard.  We can't reach that standard, but that doesn't change the standard.  The standard is enabled by the gospel.  The new covenant is that God changes a person so that he can keep the standard.  Even when he doesn't keep it, he's justified by faith, but he's also sanctified, saved from the power of sin.

Someone can't find out if he has the power to live the Christian life if the standards for the Christian life are lowered to the standard of someone else's example.  You can always be better than someone else, even if you're not better than someone else.

With the two men with whom I spoke, they were accepting bad behavior because it was better than their bad behavior.  Instead of keeping the standard under the grace of God with the power of God, the standard is changed, conformed to comparison with someone else.  This isn't the power of God.  This isn't grace.  This isn't the gospel.  This is man's ability.  Man gets the glory.  God isn't honored.

A lot of long term damage occurs through the Pharisaical comparison that I'm describing.  A new wrong practice is established as the new standard with the elevation of a comparison.  Something that isn't God's will is accepted.  With it being accepted, even though it isn't scriptural, it is then compared to another even worse example, to lower the standard even further.

This path is the trajectory of apostasy.  Rather than the Bible being the authority, it becomes conventional thinking or a societal norm.  None of it pleases God, because His standard didn't change.  And it isn't the grace of God.  God isn't empowering or enabling any of this.  It is a false system set up for the pleasure of man, and yet it is called Christian and "of God."  Scripture is rejected in this system.  If it is offered, it is rejected for "I'm better than this other guy."  He continues in his disobedience, but getting the credit of the "righteousness that is better than someone else."  Christianity is shaped into this monstrosity.