1. Great Things Madness
- Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. (Mark 10:43–44)
Churches today often chant a mantra to prospective individuals invited to become Christians: “God has great plans for your life!” Churches full of insanity, and those touched by the illness, preach that great things await new believers.
Unfortunately, without the cross, such promises become temptations or bribes luring people into a false hope. When we offer God without the message of the cross, we make men demons. Demons use the things of God to en-rich themselves. We tell others that God wants to fulfill their dreams because we no longer really believe man is totally wicked. And since we do not feel our wickedness, we believe our dreams, plans, prayers, and hopes are worthy. But the message of the cross tells us that man deserves punishment, and that is why Jesus died. Only those who admit, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that they “deserve” the cross in their life will escape the Powerful Delusion.
- Take for example the two thieves crucified with Jesus. Both desired salvation, but their hearts were as different as light and darkness.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:39–42)
The key difference between the two thieves is that one wanted salvation from the cross while the other took up his cross freely admitting that he deserved it. Only those who admit, accept, and fully endure the pain of the cross in their lives will be in paradise with Jesus. Any other kind of preaching insults the glorious gospel of Jesus and mocks the reason for His death. Until the preaching returns to a complete acceptance that man is “worthless,” there is no chance of escaping the Powerful Delusion. For at the heart of the Powerful Delusion lies the belief that something good resides in man.
2. God’s Grief
Preaching today exclaims the fact that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It tells us we are made in God’s image and of value in His sight. Messages often proclaim that Jesus died for us because of our value to God. When we remove the message of the cross, such truths become twisted and abused to a selfish and prideful end.
Consider carefully that you hold no value in God’s sight. God regretted ever making you, or in the words of Genesis 6:6, “The Lord was grieved that he had made man.”
When the Lord looks at Timothy Williams, He is “grieved” and “filled with pain” that He made me. While it is true that God “wonderfully” made me, equally true is that mankind ruined itself. We were perfectly made, but have perfectly ruined ourselves. From the cutest of babies to the kindest of grandmas, we fill God with “pain.” We have gone off in search of many schemes and made ourselves utterly contemptible in His sight.
- This only have I found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes. (Ecclesiastes 7:29)
We have made ourselves “worthless” and of no value to God by embracing sin. We need to meditate on the passage below until God gives us insight into our true nature. Read this to yourself, then read it to those you love until all fall prostrate before the Lord. Read it to your pastor until each and every sermon he preaches reflects and rings of this truth. The more we know this truth, the richer God’s mercy and love will flow in our lives. Indeed, those who feel forgiven of much will love much. However, if we deny our worthlessness, how can we be forgiven? For if a man thinks he is correct on something, he will think God falsely accuses him. When we feel worthless, we will let Jesus crucify us. We will understand for certain that the only good in us is Jesus, for we “no longer live” and His goodness dwells in us. Look at what Paul says about himself and us.
- As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10–18 emphasis added)
Our very lives, thoughts, actions, and worship of God rise as a stench in His nostrils. Until we are convinced of this by the Holy Spirit, and not just paying lip service to the concept, we remain prime targets for the Powerful Delusion. Self always wants to think it possesses something good, and that is exactly what the anti-Christ will say. He will tell us there is something good in man. Until we realize that Jesus did not die for us because of our value, but because of who He is, we will not have the humility to accept the cross in our lives. Every time the cross seeks to crucify us, we will object that we do not deserve such treatment from God. Until we can fully rejoice in the fact that “nothing good” resides in our “sinful nature,” we will never experience the freedom and deliverance from sin. Until the church repents of the insanity of desiring great things, the preaching of the cross will remain full of human wisdom and powerless to deliver anyone from hell.
- I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. (Romans 7:18)
When Jesus speaks of us being more valuable than birds, He means in relationship to God’s attributes in us, not man’s worthiness. As when someone speaks of something of value to them because of invested time and memories, but not in terms of actual worth. This understanding gives us the correct interpretation of Luke 12:24 and Romans 3:12.
3. False Promises
We can promise only one great thing to a new Christian—God will make them a “servant of all.” The cross will empty them of selfish pride, self-glorification, self-exaltation, and self-serving attitudes. The church must tell new converts that the abundant life is found in losing one’s life. But the Delusion twists the abundant life to mean success and fulfillment in this world. Demons confirm the lie by whispering that to lose your life means you will receive blessings from God. This hellish lie seeks the living God for what it can get. Satan twists the truth by saying if you give up the things of this world, you will get it all back.
Every new Christian or future disciple, should be told the great thing God will do for them is to make them “last.” Not only because they deserve this, but it is what heaven in like—everyone becoming the slave of others. Everything about the church, the preaching, the songs, the ministry work, and the books should work toward this goal. It should encourage, bless, and point the way to the cross so that every person claiming to be a Christian becomes the “very last.”
- Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)
When we promise individuals great things in God, we stand with Satan. For Satan tells us we can be “like God” with others serving us, but Jesus tells us to become a slave to others. The church today talks about being “gods,” powerful like God, and even seeks to find self-esteem in Jesus’ name. True enough, as stated before, we are “wonderfully made,” but so was Satan. And when Satan noticed how wonderfully God made him, he wanted to use that truth for his own selfish ends, and became the Devil. Like the Devil, millions are taught in every church to be proud of their beauty in God. Satan whispers in the church’s ear that it is the “model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” He whispers and the false prophets shout that they are “anointed,” “ordained,” and “blameless,” but have not heard from God.
This “wisdom,” however, is “corrupted” because the demon of self has not been crucified and the “splendor” of our works, projects, and noble ministries has blinded us to our true condition. It has blinded us to the time period in which we live. It is not time to be lifted up, but to fall to the ground and die to self. Either we fall to the ground or God will throw us down to hell. Just as God threw Satan “to the earth,” so will He cast out the unrepentant believers.
- “Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “‘You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. (Ezekiel 28:12–17)
4. The Cross Removed
Our “wisdom” has become “corrupted” because the cross is no longer lifted up in order to crucify self. Indeed, most people have no need for such a cross. They reason that since Jesus paid the price, men should not have to die to self. Just as selfish desires corrupted Satan’s beauty, so has sin perverted man’s. Both worship self, and only by returning to the suffering of the cross can we become free from the judgment that Satan received. Peter tells us just as Jesus had to suffer on the cross to be finished with sin, so must we suffer. Only those “who have suffered in” their bodies are “done with sin.”
- Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. (1 Peter 4:1)
Only after we suffer with Christ can we speak of a “result” of righteousness in someone’s life. We like to quote with Paul “I have been crucified with Christ.” However, unlike Paul there is no proof in our lives that the Holy Spirit has done the crucifixion work.
When the church, however, promises great things and all that is required is “faith,” there is no need for the cross. It is a false human faith as when the world speaks of having faith in themselves or someone. Unless we return to same “attitude” as Christ, God will send a delusion in our life so that when the anti-Christ arrives we will gladly take the mark. It will seem like the most reasonable, logical, and godly thing to take the mark of the beast to those who have refused to suffer with Christ against sin in their life.
5. Feel Good Gospels
Because the Powerful Delusion has worked its insanity so well, the church hardly notices that the cost of being a disciple of Jesus has almost disappeared. Whenever the cost is mentioned, it is quickly diluted with vain promises of self-glory. The contest rages between feel-good gospel calls and the bad-feeling gospel calls. People often say, “I get a bad feeling about your message.” Feelings have become the measurement because we worship the feelings of our flesh rather than a living God. The gospel calls in most churches today, which you can find printed on the back cover of many Bibles, all reflect the Powerful Delusion. The just ask-Jesus-in-your-heart, “Romans Road” programmed prayers we teach men to recite re-flect not the gospel call of Jesus, but the wide road that leads to hell. We tell hungry, searching people to expect great things for themselves and to selfishly call upon the name of Jesus. No wonder the gospel call reduces down to a selfish prayer of just asking Jesus in your heart to accept Him as your own little personal Lord and Savior. After the prayer, the person goes out to find their blessing. No one tells new converts that they must pass through “many” hardships in order to enter heaven. The “good news” of the Bible tells us to preach that men must “go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who know they deserve a cross in their life receive this as good news. But to those ripe for the Powerful Delusion, such gospels are anything but good news. Notice what the Apostle Paul preached as the “good news” of the cross every where he went.
- They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. (Acts 14:21–22)
Paul said we “must” (note well the word “must”) go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” In other words, no one can enter heaven without having gone through many hardships, struggles, and refinement. This was no simple wide-road gospel call, this was the real thing. It was the way Jesus walked and the way we must all walk.⁷ We should not preach that great things await Christians except the “pure joy” of facing trials.
If you took a survey among Christians today and asked them, “What gives you joy in Jesus?” The answer would be all His blessings, maybe even homes and a well put together life and family. Rarely would anyone say, “Oh, the pure joy I find in Jesus is facing hardships. That is the highest and purest joy in the Lord.” Very few would answer according to James 1:2, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
The feel good gospel call promises great things for everyone, helping them to discover their potential in Christ, while the bad-feeling gospel call scares people. Many who listen to our sermons often comment that they get a “bad feeling” even though everything sounds correct. Indeed, they wish they could find something wrong to ease their bruised consciences and provide an excuse not to obey. That bad feeling comes from the cross trying to do its work, but the Powerful Delusion and its preachers claim it is from the devil. What a twist to view the cross of Jesus as something so hellish. But what can you expect when the church teaches that any conviction is condemnation, quoting “There is no condemnation in Jesus.” They confuse conviction with condemnation because they have hard hearts and do not want to give up their sins. The response results from the teaching that we can be free in Christ apart from being crucified with Christ. When crucifixion with Christ is twisted to mean you get your blessing, fear naturally occurs because conviction is surpressed. The result ends in rebellion against what God only meant as a blessing of conviction. Like spoiled children we scream, “con-demnation.” Just like a child that yells, “You don’t love me!” when a good parent attempts to discipline him.
A good example of this twisting took place at a conference where a keynote speaker took the message of the cross, which had been presented to him, and preached it very logically. He twisted the message to say, “You will get what you want when you give up what you want.” So the botPaul line of his message was that we deny ourselves so that self might get its desires—the Powerful Delusion in its best form.
Long gone is the message of John the Baptist that calls the “crowds” who come to hear his sermons a “brood of vipers!” John asked seekers why they came to his church and who qualified them to “flee from the coming wrath?” The cross disappeared and we never tell individuals who have served God that they only did their “duty” and do not deserved to be blessed. The Powerful Delusion takes people to Jesus and instructs them on how to ask for great things. Like the Apostles they come in false humility saying, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
- Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” (Mark 10:35–37)
The Powerful Delusion preaches that insanity is holy before the Lord, so go ahead—ask, claim, and walk in whatever great thing you desire. God must react like King Achish, “Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?” How mad the church has become as it requests and promises one great thing after another. Like the Apostles, we have no idea what we are asking.
- “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” (Mark 10:38–40)
As individuals ask for “glory,” the Powerful Delusion tells them to glory in their self-seeking prayers instead of instructing them to prepare for the “cup” of the Lord. The same cup that Jesus drank, which produced prayers so intense that he sweated “drops of blood.” A “cup” so painful that even Jesus asked if it could pass by Him. We can no longer point people to a Christianity that has an offensive cross13, but instead tell them to ask and claim what great thing they want, and God will give it to them.
6. Holy Fear
The feel-good gospel is man’s attempt to avoid the cross of Christ that crucifies the flesh, and instead makes the flesh feel spiritual. For example, when Jesus called Peter, James, and John, He promised them a great work and commission in God, yet they experienced the cross, not a worldly kind of promotion or favor.
- Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” (Luke 5:10)
Also note that they felt “afraid.” Jesus did not flatter them into the kingdom but humbled and convicted them of their unworthiness to follow Him. When the Holy Spirit first calls someone to Jesus, He often terrifies them. Just back up a few verses and see how Peter first reacted to the call of God in his life.
- So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:7–8)
As God’s blessings flowed into Peter’s life, he cried out to Jesus to leave him. Indeed the cross bids us to leave our blessings behind in order to follow Jesus to Jerusalem to die. We are called to be like Jesus, who set out to make himself poor that others might be rich.
Peter’s pride was shattered and he felt deeply his unworthiness to follow Jesus. Jesus first presented Peter, James, and John with the offense of the cross before speaking of great things. They had to drink from the cup of the cross for years before the “blessings” would become a reality. But when those blessings came, they were for the sake of others. For they had learned the truth that it is “better to give, than to receive.”
Today when we lead others to Jesus, we look at their talents, likes, and dislikes and tell them what areas would make them a good Christian. There is even a test that rates what spiritual gifts a person has in the Lord. We have forgotten the cross that tells us nothing good lives in our flesh. Think about it, if we are dead to self in Christ, how can a dead man have talents? Believers are not taught that all their dislikes, desires, and talents must be utterly and completely put to death in order to be used by God. Jesus spent three years teaching Peter this lesson. At the end of Peter’s lessons in the way of the cross he wanted nothing to do with the calling and blessing that God had for him. This is ever the way of the cross. When God finally crucifies a man, the self-confidence and vainglory die, and therefore fleshly motivation no longer remains in the work God calls us to.
7. Godly Motivation
Jesus had to urge Peter on to fulfill the calling God had for his life after the cross had been clearly presented. He had to ask Peter three times, “Do you love me?” in order to remove the excuses. The first time Jesus wants to know if Peter loves him more than things, “more than these.” With all the prosperity around us, we can ask ourselves no greater question than if we love Jesus more than “these” things. Do we love Jesus more than the things of Jesus? The Powerful Delusion will put that question to the test.
Jesus asked Peter two more times, “Do you love me?” Jesus wanted to urge Peter to willingly “feed” and “take care” of God’s sheep. Jesus comes to each of us with the call to follow Him. He asks, “Do you love me?” over and over to some of us. But we love our grand plans, our ministries, our work, and our lives more than Him. For all our bravado, we are not slaves of all, but promoting our ministries and lives.
- When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:15–19)
We never become indignant like Peter screaming, “Yes, Lord!” and then go out to become the “slave of all.” Instead, we go out in the name of the Lord to get all the blessings we possibly can and motivate others do the same. The Powerful Delusion uses others for its own gain and comfort. If you answer “yes” to Jesus, rest assured you will be led like Peter, “where you do not want to go.”
- I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (John 21:18)
Gone is the Peter who in human zeal would die for Jesus. The man who proclaimed at the Last Supper that he would die with Him, yet in the end did not even want to work for his Lord. He went off fishing when he should have been preaching. He rightly felt unqualified and unfaithful for such work. Self, with all of its pride, had been broken. This is the wonder of the cross in a man’s life. But it is a slow, painful, and hard process that few are willing to endure. Everyone wants their quick, enormous blessing and a whole host of false churches of all styles offer such messages. Everyone wants to expand their ministries, but it is all for self.
Even as Jesus restored and admonished Peter to come out of himself enough to “feed” and “take care” of God’s sheep, Peter still would be led where he did “not want to go.” The cross does not stop until we are fully and completely dead. Those who serve God go where they “do not want to go” and must go all the way.
We need to remember that the sum of the Christian Spirit-led life is that we do not do what we want to do. The Powerful Delusion blesses what we want to do, but the cross of Christ crucifies our desires. Each and every day we are in the middle of a “conflict” and our surrender determines the outcome. The false prophets like to preach that God’s way is whatever we want. Their attempt at preaching is to make this sound holy and to scratch itching ears. The true gospel puts us in the middle of a conflict.
- For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (Galatians 5:17)
To preach a Jesus that demands we go His way rather than our own is totally contrary to the insanity message. The insane message encourages the glorification of man’s will and does not tolerate a true cross. Whenever God promises a commission to any man, self and flesh must be crucified. The insane preachers remove this part of the message of the cross. The attempt is to try and get man’s will to appear like God’s will, or as Jesus put it, “whitewash Paulbs” that only appear clean. “On the outside” it may “appear” we perform “righteous” works for God, but our “inside” has not been put to death by the cross.
- “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed Paulbs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27–28)
Think about Moses. By the time it was God’s will for Moses to fulfill his calling he wanted nothing to do with it. God had so deeply removed self, with all of its zeal that Moses didn’t want anything to do with his blessing.
- But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. (Exodus 4:13–14)
Indeed, Moses resisted to the point of angering the Lord. The cross does this to a man. It burns self out to the point of disobedience and stubbornness. The insanity message lifts men up in self-importance and offers them the blessings of God without the cross and they run in pride to do the work. Just notice how so many love to talk of their ministries and labor. Pride and self ooze out from every pore. It is easy to see the cross has not been allowed to work. One can only weep as new converts are promised ministries, gifts, and positions of authority, causing them to fall under the same condemnation as Satan.
- He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. (1 Timothy 3:6)
8. Comfortable Leadership
Over the years, churches have placed many young men in high positions who now preach and lead in churches. Because these vast multitudes of men and women never experienced the sufferings of the cross, today prideful, self-centered people lead the church. It is not hard to see why so many embrace insanity and reject the sanity of the cross. For when they are confronted with their long-standing sins of self and pride, they use all their authority and power to silence the one rebuking them.
So much insanity fills the halls of the churches that we consider a little appearance of self-denial in Jesus enough to qualify people for work in Christ. We have forgotten the lesson of Gideon. Though humble and used mightily by God, Gideon ended his life ensnaring Israel in sin, all because he grabbed a little bit for self when doing God’s work. Gideon had “one” little request—only one “earring.” How often we are hindered and ensnared over “one” small request to please self. Of course the people gladly “give” this blessing of self to Gideon. After all, they had been blessed and wanted a leader who was willing to allow them to have blessings for themselves as well.
We can relate to this kind of leader. We hire teachers with whom we can find fault, because that makes us comfortable around them. We don’t want them to be totally wicked, but want them to feed just enough of self to make us relax about our sins. Indeed, for all the moaning and groaning about bad leadership in the church, in reality, most people would not last ten minutes under godly leadership that is “aiming for perfection.”
- And he said, “I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” (It was the cusPaul of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.) They answered, “We’ll be glad to give them.” So they spread out a garment, and each man threw a ring from his plunder onto it. The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels’ necks. Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family. (Judges 8:24–27)
Today these “snares” are not small, or few or far between. In fact, we view them not as snares but as blessings sent from God. No wonder it is called a Powerful Delusion. Pastor after pastor, church after church and ministry after ministry exchange “gold rings” with one another in order to set up shrines to themselves and their ministries. Pastors encourage individuals to look for their gifts, blessings, and promises that will enshrine self in their lives.
9. The Highest Blessing
Truly God has great plans for our lives, but they do not include the blessing of self. He plans to transform us into His holiness. In order for God to achieve His goal of sharing His holiness with us, we must be disciplined. Disciplined with a painful cross in our lives.
- Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:9–11)
For sure this discipline is not “pleasant at the time, but painful.” We lie when we tell young converts that God has great plans for their lives, if we do not warn them that much discipline and pain awaits them first. Of course, “later on” it will produce “a harvest of righteousness,” but they need to persevere before they can talk about holiness. But only those “trained by it” can honestly claim this holiness. Most just endure the time of discipline without learning anything from it. They are not “trained” by the cross but endure the pain because they know they must. They do not submit to the pain of the cross for righteousness sake, but only so they can go to heaven or obtain a blessing. When we endure with this selfish motive, we are not ready for heaven, because we have not been “trained” by God’s righteousness. We remain wicked individuals without transformation. Sure some people might hang on the cross, but refuse to die. They hang to get blessings from God, not to give up their lives.
How amazing that so many people know for certain how God will bless someone when they come to Christ. Before them stands sin-soaked individuals, loaded with vile motivations, corrupted characters, defiled consciences and the church tells them God has great plans for them. How does the person telling them know God’s plans? Yes, they are great plans if you consider the way of the cross to be God’s highest blessing for a man’s life. For God to make a Job out of someone is a tremendous blessing. Does anyone ever declare to a new convert, “God has great plans for your life. He is going to make a Job out of you.”? Or that they may be like a Stephen who will not live long? Such thoughts are abhorrent to the church today and we see no glory in such statements. The only type of insight shared is worldly blessing and comfort in order to attract people to church. The insanity in the church will not speak of being “sawed in two” or living in “holes in the ground.”
- They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. (Hebrews 11:37–39)
Hebrews commended these Christians “for their faith.” They remained, however, “destitute” and “none of them received what had been promised.” Until a church feels comfortable telling someone that God’s plan might include being “destitute,” they are infected with the sinful illness called insanity. In order to become sane in Jesus, we must return to His gospel that drives a man in very serious contemplation to “sit down and estimate the cost.” Instead, like worldly game shows where self wins prizes, we tell people to “come on down” and get Jesus. Or like a form in a catalog to order goodies, we sign the back form in a Bible to order Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. Jesus did not say “come on down,” He said “sit down.”
- “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? (Luke 14:28)
10. Losing Our Lives
As Jesus declared the great blessings of God, He also revealed that those blessings come only through the cross. Like criminals, we use anyone, even God to get what we want. The church reflects the world and the distinction is almost non-existent anymore. No real cost is counted, therefore we have no need to “sit down” and measure the cost of the cross. Jesus warned them to “sit down” and think about what this powerful and dynamic cross would do in their lives. The feel-good-promise-anything-gospel-calls certainly do not drive anyone to “sit down” and “estimate the cost.” Indeed many who read this will wonder what cost to even consider.
I discuss how to count the cost in my book entitled, Even The Demons Believe, but let me touch upon it here. The only thing we should promise when leading someone to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, is that God will take their life and crucify it. All their hopes, dreams, pleasures, pains, ideas, thoughts, opinions, time—everything will slowly be taken and crucified. The great thing God has called all men to do is to “hate” their own life, to become nothing. Without this hatred for one’s life no one, I repeat, no one has the eternal life of Jesus in them.
- The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:25)
Hating our life in this world is the greatest call God has for anyone calling themselves a Christian. Whether our calling resembles Job, David, Paul, or Stephen, the cross will take all of a man and put him to death. After all, no greater blessing awaits us than to be emptied of ourselves and filled with God’s holiness. He who has a noble heart considers it a blessing to get rid of such a vile thing as oneself.
The abundant life has been twisted to mean a successful life in this world. The blessed life without the cross becomes a demon’s best weapon to blind someone toward Jesus. For the words about losing one’s life have been robbed of all power and saltiness. Men can then agree with the words and state that they live it, but the meaning and power is lost and they are deluded to the truth. Under the influence of the Powerful Delusion, losing your life becomes something twisted and perverted. One only loses his life to get something. Self is not killed but goes underground so that it can seize its life in the name of Jesus. Self wraps itself in the gar-ments of self-righteousness—but underneath lies a raging wolf.
11. A Servant
At the fall in the garden, we wanted to grab onto our blessing. In the last days God will allow the Powerful Delusion to give us power to grasp and bless ourselves. However, the cross is the opposite of this, as you might expect if you have read this far. Jesus’ life showed us the way to death of self and the road we must all walk if we desire salvation. Our “attitude” should be like Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not grasp onto or claim equality with God and His blessings.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5–11)
Jesus “made himself nothing” and became in “very nature” a “servant.” He did not wear a mask mixed with false humility. In heart and spirit He literally made Himself a servant, a slave—nothing. A slave does not claim great things. Nor does a slave feel he should; he has no rights. He knows he is a slave and will not be in charge of anything until Jesus’ second coming. Slave means you do not do what you want or enjoy. Even more than that, being the slave of all means you spend all your energy blessing others. No time, comfort, or fun is yours, rather you live to make others comfortable.
Jesus died having never sought a personal blessing. Everything He sought after, prayed about, and worked toward benefited others. Jesus is the example we must follow of losing our life to find life in God. Few are those who have the attitudes of humility in their heart that “we are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”
- “Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (Luke 17:7–10)
This nothingness was a lifelong matter while Jesus remained in this world. Not until after He died on the cross, could Jesus talk of being “exalted.” For He certainly was never exalted here on earth. Likewise, now is the time for us to be humbled and broken and to suffer against the sin in our lives. We will not fully live the resurrected life until Jesus returns. Now is our time to “fall to the ground” so that when Jesus returns, He will find something to resurrect. It is the greatest folly to claim forgiveness, or to be told to “forgive yourself” when God has not declared it. What we claim does not save us, but whether God has forgiven us. A man can claim salvation all day long yet be hell bent for destruction. When Jesus returns He will only save those who “die” in Him right now. If you have not died to self there will be nothing for Jesus to make alive.
- I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)
The Powerful Delusion claims its blessing in this world and seeks to avoid the cross at all costs. For the true Christian the world offers no reward. Like Abraham you might die with only a congregation of four; like Noah you might only win your family; like Jeremiah you might not win a single repentant sinner; or finally, like Jesus, you might die on a cross with everyone thinking you failed. Like Abraham, you die knowing the world is yours, but not possessing a single inch of land. Only those “obedient unto death,” death on a “cross,” will find themselves exalted in God’s kingdom. For this reason Jesus proclaimed that many who appear to be first in the Lord in this world are really last in heaven. Think of it, ministries well known and popular today, if they were of God at all, will mostly likely be last.
- But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:31)
Finally the good news, the great thing to promise someone just beginning to follow Jesus is that God will make them “nothing.” So tell them not to even strive to “grasp” great things for themselves in the name of Jesus. To promise more only allows the Powerful Delusion to work its deadly lie. We must remember that Jesus “made himself nothing,” (Philippians 2:7). This is the goal of the cross that God places on a man’s back. It hangs over his life everyday, every hour of every day, and yet is the easy yoke of God.
Think about Jesus. He left the treasures in heaven, gave up all comfort, did not settle in here, died to make others happy, and made Himself poor and suffered while on earth. We must emulate Jesus without grumbling that the message is too hard. Like Jesus we will be used by others but must keep loving to the very end. The footsteps we follow lead us to become “nothing,” not become great
- “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26–28)
We are to lose all for Jesus, just as Jesus lost all for us.
- Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39)
In this world we will be the lowest of losers. The world will view us as losers and, in all reality, we are losers by the world’s standards. In fact, we become the “scum” of the earth. The great thing God has in mind for you is to let you become the “scum of the earth.” God rejoices and angels sing when you are willing to become the “refuse” of the world, and that when the world comes to take your property, you will accept it with all joy. You will help them carry your things out, because you have found it a joy to be a loser for Jesus.
- You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. (Hebrews 10:34)
When you seek to make a new disciple for Jesus, point them to Him and then to one of the great saints of old like Paul. Pray with them that they too will be blessed of God to become losers, trash, refuse, and the scum of the world.
- Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world. (1 Corinthians 4:13)
Think of those who followed Jesus. They lost families, occupations, money, homes, reputations, careers, fun, pleasure, rest, sleep, influence, power, educations, retirement, lands, and even health. “I die every day—I mean that, brothers . . .” Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 15:31. In fact, it was because of an “illness” that Paul preached the message of the cross. How many treat the foolishness of the message of the cross with “contempt” and “scorn.” Such individuals are easy pickings for the Powerful Delusion.
- As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. (Galatians 4:13–14)
If you hear it preached we are to be winners in Jesus right now, know that you are staring straight into the face of the Powerful Delusion. True Christians will become losers increasingly with each passing day. Great things do not face the true disciple of Jesus. That is the bribe of the Powerful Delusion to pull multitudes away from the living God. Just as Jesus died having lost all the world, so too we win only by becoming losers in the world. Our “reward” and any positions of authority will not happen until Jesus returns.
- “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” (Revelation 22:12)
The more we lose now, the greater our reward will be when Jesus returns.23 We need to pray with David that God deliver us from false Christians whose “reward is in this world.” (Psalm 17:14) For it is the man who finds his life, even though it be in the name of Jesus, that will lose it for all eternity. The richness of our blessings are with Jesus in heaven right now and we must await His return before they will fully be ours. We are “blessed” “in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing,” not blessed with the things of this world.
- Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)
True enough we will “inherit the earth,” but not until Jesus creates a new heaven and earth. It is not great things that await Christians, but a cross that will cause us to lose all. Christians, praise God, are the greatest losers of all in this world. This is the way of the “daily” cross.
- Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. (Luke 9:23–24)
4. Great Things Madness
- Luke 7:47
- Galatians 2:20
- Jeremiah 23:21–22
- John 12:24
- Galatians 6:17
- The common belief based on Scriptures from Romans, taken out of context, that turns salvation into simple, easy steps of just accepting, believing, and confessing.
- 1 John 2:6
- Luke 3:7
- Luke 17:10
- 1 Samuel 21:14–15
- Luke 22:44
- Luke 22:42
- John 6:65
- 2 Corinthians 8:9
- Acts 20:35
- 2 Timothy 4:3
- 2 Corinthians 13:11
- Even The Demons Believe
- Mark 8:35
- 2 Corinthians 10:18
- Matthew 11:30
- Psalm 106:25
- Hebrews 11:35
- Matthew 5:5, new heaven