Religious Extremists

This is a transcript of a sermon I preached in 2008

Bro. David Spivey
Religious Extremists
August 1, 2008, PM Service
Church of Revelation
Quitman, Georgia

John 16:1-3, These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time comes, that whoever kills you will think that he does God service. And these things will they do to you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

Let’s go to the Lord in prayer. Jesus, I ask you tonight to let your words flow freely from my mouth. Lord, when I’m here in this place, in this pulpit, I know I’m not my own, and I know that you are guiding me and leading me, and that you are just using my vessel, my temple to speak your words to these people. I ask you, Lord, that my failures and my own flesh, that the failure to speak words correctly, Lord, will not be a part of this service, but Lord, that you will let my faculties be used for you without failing. Jesus, I ask you to open the hearts of the people tonight. Lord, there is much that you would have to speak to them. I ask that you will give them understanding. Give them wisdom in the word to understand these scriptures. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I’m talking tonight about religious extremists. The phrase “religious extremists” has been used on the news media and in newspapers and by individuals to explain an example of people who kill others thinking that they are doing God a service, but more commonly, it’s beginning to be used for anyone who has a belief outside the norm. Any individual or any church that believes strongly in something are beginning to be labeled as religious extremists. In our case, we could easily be considered religious extremists because we feel strongly enough about our beliefs that we feel that it’s necessary to let the world see what we believe, and we take the time to go out to the world and try to change the world. So they consider us extreme for doing that. They consider us outside the norm. We also don’t go by the traditions that men have in these other churches, in the worldly churches, where they have relaxed their rules.

Many of the things people consider extreme these days were just simple facts in older times, things like spanking your children when they do wrong. Everyone who has ever had a parent who loved them enough to show them the rod of correction when they were not doing right knows that it was a wonderful thing that they loved you that much that they would spank you when you did something wrong, and you are much happier for it in the end. I am. My Mom, My Dad, both spanked me, and I’m as happy as I can be, just as pleased as I can be that they did because I know that they did it in love. I know that when I was doing wrong, that spanking I got was to show me that there was a consequence for my actions and that I would have to pay for what I did. So I didn’t do it as much. But in the case of the rest of the world, they consider that outside the boundaries of reasonable people. They consider that outside the capabilities of a church to be able to tell people they should spank their children when they do wrong. They have even made it a law [in California] that you can’t do that. They have gone that far.

It’s not wrong to be a religious extremist if what you believe is righteous and true and if you fight for it the right way. But there are different ways you can believe. You can believe incorrectly. Even this wonderful word that we have, if you don’t read it with the understanding of the Spirit, then you are liable to believe it incorrectly. And you can also fight incorrectly. When you see an evil occurring, it’s very easy for that carnal man to take over and for you to fight in the flesh against the person who is doing the thing to you or against the person’s actions without addressing the issue that it is not that person that is doing it.

I see many people who are quick to point out faults. If you are telling a person that they are doing something wrong without first telling them that Jesus Christ is the answer for their life, then you are doing the wrong thing. If you are pointing your fingers and someone and saying essentially, “I’m holier than you. You need to be doing something else because that’s wrong,” then the Bible, of course, said, “Pull out the beam that’s in your own eye before you try to pull out the toothpick that’s in somebody else’s eye.” Jesus himself, when he was faced with a situation where the Pharisees and Sadducees wanted him to accuse someone of a wrong that was written directly in the law, they thought they had him just “dead to the books,” so to speak. They said, “We have caught this woman in the very act of adultery.” We know that he is our example, so we need to do the thing that he did. And he said, “I don’t condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

That’s John 8:3, And the scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say to him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what say you? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. Now, this was the first example he gave before he even forgave the woman of her trespasses. He said, “Let the first man that is without sin cast the first stone.” He went directly to the root of the problem, which was not the fact that the people that were bringing her were evil people. He didn’t say that. He let their own heart convict them. He told them, “The first person that has no sin in their life, let them cast the stone,” and they walked away.

And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even to the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? has no man condemned you? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more. So we have the example that Jesus himself was willing to fight sin, but he fought it an entirely different way than it had been done up to that point. He said that the kingdom of God was not with observation, that you couldn’t see it coming, but that it was in the hearts of men.

Well, that’s the kind of religious extremism that these people in the world don’t understand, and in many cases, if you are going to fight against the evil in the carnal way, it’s just not going to work out. If you are walking up to somebody and telling them they are sinning, they certainly are not going to hear you, but if you tell them that Jesus Christ can take away their pain and their sickness and their diseases and that their life can be peaceful and holy and that they can enjoy life again, then suddenly they have a reason to want to get their sins out of their lives. When a minister goes to another country, he is not going to start preaching against that country’s gods and saying, “Buddha isn’t right. You need to turn to Jesus because” so and so. He’s not going to tell them about their own gods. He’s going to tell them about what Jesus can do because once their figure out that Jesus has the power and that the power is only in the name of Jesus, then they are going to automatically forsake their other gods. They are going to throw them away. “These things don’t work. I don’t need this.” It’s just like an old, beat-up, rundown car. When you get a new car, you throw your old car away, or sell it, or whatever. When they fight out that their old beat up gods don’t do anything anymore, then they go for Jesus.

We are not to judge. Jesus gave us the good example here that we are not to judge those people for what they do, either. We are to forgive them for their sins, and we are supposed to let them see what it’s like to have a life without all the sin, pain, and the upsetness. Jesus said to this woman, “I don’t condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

Matthew 7:1-3, Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you again. And why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye? Now, I don’t know about anybody else’s Bible, but my Bible has the words of Jesus in red so we know that we know this is a quote from him directly. This is a direct order to us, that we are not to judge another person, but we have to understand that everything that he told us was in two different worlds. He was talking about the natural, and he was also talking about the spiritual. He was talking about, “Don’t judge a person,” naturally, like, “Don’t be a judge or a juror to judge the actions of another person,” but he was also saying in your heart that you are not supposed to judge another person. Now, we have a lot of problems with this. This is a problem that I myself have tried to get over, where you will see a person and you know their life’s situation from what you see about them. You know, judging a book by its cover is what it’s called in most times, when you look at a person and you see them smoking. Well, you know they are a sinner, but you don’t know if that person is trying to get rid of that habit to live right and trying to stay in church and just can’t help that addiction at the time. Or a person who is drinking! Same thing! A person who beats other people, a person who is a murderer! You don’t know that person’s situation. You do not judge that person, not in your heart, not outside.

Hebrews 8:10, For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. Matthew 5:27, You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. So, this is just a confirmation that everything Jesus was talking about was not just for our communication with other people, but it was for our own selves that in our own spirits we not allow ourselves to get to that point where we are judging other people.

The other thing about being a religious extremist is to make sure that you don’t believe the wrong thing because a person who is willing to make a sacrifice of their time or their effort or, in the case of people like the disciples, their lives in order to fight for a cause, they had to be careful that they understood what was going on. Peter cut off the ear of the man who was trying to come to take Jesus away, and he said, “No, you don’t know what you are doing.” He was trying to tell him all that long time, all those 3 ½ years he was with him, “It’s not the kingdom of God here on this earth. It’s the kingdom of God inside of you. It’s in your heart. We are not coming to fight these people naturally.” So when we have a situation where a person is coming at us and doing all sorts of wrong things, we don’t fight the person. We fight against the things that have that person in peril. And we don’t do it by pointing out the wrongs that person has. We rather take it to God and say, “Lord, help this person.” If we need to, God will tell us that we need to go to that person and tell them something, if we need to show that person their sin, if they don’t know it and they want to do right. Many people, unfortunately, just haven’t been taught. If that’s the case, God will tell you to do that, not you. You are not the person to make the decision of whether or not you need to go to another person and point out what’s wrong with them. God will tell you what to do at that time.

The Pharisees and Sadducees could be considered the religious extremists of that day. I mean, look at what they did. If they weren’t extremists, they wouldn’t have killed the very son of God. They believed, and if it was just a matter of the natural, they would have been considered pure, holy, and everything else. But Jesus looked at the hearts and he saw that hypocrisy that was in them. If a person could be judged by their outside appearance and by their walk and by the way they acted and the things they did, then he would have said, “Hey, come on, you good and faithful servant,” right into the kingdom. But that is not the case. God knew what was in their hearts, and that they didn’t really enjoy it. It was just something they were doing for one reason or another. These were the very people who brought Jesus to the crucifixion.

Mark 15:10-14. This was Pilate it was talking about. For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will you then that I shall do to him whom you call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him. Then Pilate said to them, Why, what evil has he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. So, by believing the wrong thing, they could be considered one of the best examples of trying to do the right thing, and because they didn’t recognize the right thing, they did the opposite completely, altogether the wrong thing. So we have to be careful as a church, as our temple, that we do not allow the small inconsistencies in our understanding of this word to become a belief that is incorrect, that we then tell everybody else it’s correct. When we have a question about the word, then we need to ask a person who knows, and if we don’t have a question, then we need to look ourselves again and verify that what we are thinking and believe are indeed correct because if it doesn’t line up with the Scriptures, it’s not right.

And even then, you have to have the Spirit of God to show you the discernment spiritually because this word, if you don’t read it with the spiritual understanding, it’s just going to be dead words on the page. The Bible says that the letter kills but the Spirit makes alive. You could take this word and just by the word itself, as we constantly say, you could beat somebody over the head with it and kill them. That’s the difference between the spiritual and the natural in the fact that Jesus himself didn’t take this word and say, “It is written over here that you are not supposed to kill. You are not supposed to commit adultery. You are not supposed to murder. Moses said in the law that we are supposed to do this, so go ahead and stone her.” No, he didn’t say that. He said, “I don’t condemn you.” So even if we feel that there is a wrong being done, we have to be careful that we are not believing something incorrect and not knowing that what the other person is doing is right. We have to be careful of that.

I Corinthians 10:12, Wherefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall, meaning that we are constantly supposed to check ourselves spiritually and make sure that what we think we know or what we think is right or what we believe to be correct is the way the Bible says it and the way it feels right in our hearts. Also, in Proverbs 21:2, Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD ponders the hearts. Now, it’s our natural, automatic, carnal mind to think that everything we are doing is right, no matter what it is. We could be doing the worse thing in the entire world. It’s natural for us to think it’s right. It’s natural for us to go up to a person and say, “I don’t like your dress,” and think it’s okay. It’s natural for us to go to a person and anything we normally will do, if we haven’t already checked ourselves and said, “This is not a right thing. I shouldn’t go there in the first place,” then we automatically think it’s right once we have already made the decision to go do it. So we need to check ourselves in our hearts and by the word and the Spirit that we don’t allow the things we feel is right to interfere with God’s work in our lives.

Isaiah 64:6, But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. Now, what it’s saying here is that every person in their own righteousness, in their own thoughts and intentions of their heart, in their own feelings, believe they are correct, but that is so far beyond below the truth. God is saying that is just filthy, filthy rags. Everything we believe that we are self righteous in—in our own selves we are righteous to do—God says that’s just filthy, filthy.

I John 1:8, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. I Corinthians 3:18, Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He takes the wise in their own craftiness. I don’t want to belabor the point, but this is multiple, different things that are confirmations to us that we need to be very careful. My Mom would call it walking on eggshells with God to make sure we do not allow any wrong doctrine to get into our lives because the Bible does say, A little leaven leavens the whole lump, and what that means is that the small things that we allow that we think are okay is going to just pervade everything else.

I’m not a woman, so I don’t have womanly tendencies, but if I was a woman and I had hair that was beginning to bother me, and my pastor didn’t tell me that there was something wrong with cutting my hair and I didn’t, by my own consciousness recognize that was incorrect, then I would probably begin to tell other people it was not wrong either, especially if the pastor’s wife was doing it, especially then. So in the case of just a little leaven leavening the whole lump, everybody I meet would then get the idea, “Okay, it’s fine.” You know? I can do it, too. The same thing with our day to day being. If we allow just the smallest of thing, just a little different than what the Bible says, it makes such a huge impact in everybody else’s lives and your own life. If you don’t know that something is a sin, then you can’t even think to ask God for forgiveness of that. The Bible itself is the only way you can know whether something is righteous or unrighteous until you get God’s Spirit inside of you, and then He will guide you and lead you and teach you as time goes on, without having to have the literal word as well.

Job 9:20, If I justify myself, my own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. I will tell you, these are very few scriptures on this. It’s all through the Bible. I can’t tell you how many times I ran across this in different ways, saying it different kinds of ways just so we can understand. In this Bible, it’s just all over the place. The righteous way to do things, if we are going to be religious extremists, if we are going to be what everybody else considers what a religious extremist does, which is to go out and attempt to make the world a better place—That’s what we would consider a religious extremist. If we are going to do that, then we have to know how to fight as well. We can’t fight against the individual. We can’t fight the natural battle, the carnal battle. We can’t fight the person. We can only fight the evil that is in that person, the evil that has hold of them. The best way to do that is to show them compassion and love and meekness and humbleness and goodness and kindness and all those things the Bible says are fruits of the Spirit. The only way you will get a person to recognize the love of God is to show them the love of God, and the only reason they would come to that love is if Jesus draws them by you, by your actions, by your existence, by the way you look and you show the love of God to them.

When Jesus met the man who has the legion of devils, he didn’t go to him and say, “You know the reason you have this problem with all these devils getting into you is because you sinned” at so and so time, “and you did this wrong, so you need to say that was wrong and get forgiveness from God and maybe these things will go away then.” No, he didn’t say that. The first thing he did, the very first thing, was to cast that whole thing out of him. Then he said, “Don’t sin anymore.” Simple! That was easy. That man certainly wouldn’t have been capable of doing anything else. He wouldn’t have been capable of having the mind enough to think to get his sins right with God before he got those demons cast out of him. At the time when the lame man who was sitting in the temple was healed by Jesus, he went back to the temple glorifying God, and John said, Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, you are made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto you. So, what we are to do is to first do the works of God, to cast off the evil out of the person’s life, to get the problems in their hearts taken care of. Let Jesus take care of the sin. Then all those other things will be taken care of automatically. Just like I was saying about people in other countries, once they find out their gods don’t work, they throw them away. Once a person out in the world finds out that what they have been doing all along to try and make a living, trying to budget their money, trying to figure out how much is going for this and for that, and they still don’t have enough left over, when they realize that once they get Jesus in their lives things, things work out automatically, they are not going to go back to the old way. They know better.

This is a very familiar scripture. Ephesians 6:10, Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take to you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness. Now, this is the first part of what he was talking about when he spoke about the armor of God. He spoke first about truth and righteousness, making sure that what we believe is true according to the Bible and making sure that we are righteous and holy in our own hearts that we don’t cause another person to fall.

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, ready to go out there, ready to basically take the world by storm, ready to do what Peter, Paul and John did. They were good examples of religious extremists who knew what they were doing. They went out and changed the face of the entire world in their time. They had millions of people saved into the gospel when they started out. Above all, taking the shield of faith, whereby you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. So, knowing of course that we are no longer supposed to fight against the person, since we have to fight against the wickedness, the wickedness is going to fight back against us, and we have to have that faith, that shield of faith to prevent that thing from getting back to us. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Now, we know we are supposed to take the word of God with us to tell people about the good works of God, but this is a very important thing. Some people miss this when they are reading here.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. He is telling us that we have to constantly on guard. He said many times in the New Testament, “Watch always. Pray always. Always watch and pray,” meaning that we are supposed to watch ourselves. We are supposed to keep in communication with God so he can tell us if there is something wrong in our lives that might be damaging someone else because if we are not in constant communication with him, we are just, you know, another person in the world. If we are not constantly talking to God as we go along, then if he is not already in us and is not already walking inside of us, we are just like any other human being, and we can make failures very quickly.

Now, in the case of church folks, there are some differences. When we are among our members of God’s family, the Bible does say to confess your faults one to another. As a minister of the gospel, when I am talking to you, I say, “I have a problem with this. I’m trying to work on this.” He also says to go to a person in private when you see an issue, see a problem, and talk to that person privately and discuss with them what can be done about it. Help them to recognize that there is a problem in their life, and it said if they don’t listen the first time, gather two or three members of the body of Christ with you and go to that person again. If they don’t listen to you that time, go with the entire church and try to get that person one last time. If they don’t accept it that time, then they are considered an outcast, but we are supposed to give them that instruction because they have already come to the point where they are ready to accept God in their life, and we are supposed to give them the instructions as to how to keep God in their life. In the same way, when a minister is anointed by God to preach a message or to speak one on one with an individual, then when that anointing is there, God uses that person’s faculties. Just like I was praying earlier, and God has helped me not to have words that I couldn’t say.

But when we are in the Spirit, when God has anointed us to speak his word, at the time when that anointing comes on us, when we feel that in our hearts, we know that the body is the temple of the Lord, and he is using our faculties. He is using our body, and when he is there, we cannot hold back. If it is a point where I am up in a pulpit and I see someone in a congregation, you know, that doesn’t have on enough clothes, if God anoints me to tell that person their sin or to preach about that sin, then I cannot hold it back. I can’t stop and say, “I don’t want to preach that because I don’t feel comfortable saying that to them.” I can’t do that. The same thing is true individually, when we have been going out to the community. There was a time when a person was carrying along his liquor bottle and was passing by us. We said hello, told him about Jesus, and he was trying to hide his liquor bottle behind his back. God had us to talk about it, to tell him that he needed to take care of that. And he was so receptive to that because God knew when it was time. God chose that, and he anointed us. When he anoints a person to speak something, then it’s God’s intention for that to happen, and you cannot, as a minister of the gospel, shut your mouth. It’s impossible for you not to say anything.

Romans 8:4-14 explains how that we are to walk after the Spirit. It says a lot about what I just spoke about, about being one on one with God at all times, that we are not to walk among the lusts of the flesh. It also speaks about the difference between when we are doing something in the natural, that we cannot please God. When we are doing something in the spiritual, we can. And that’s something that’s very useful. We don’t have time to read it tonight, but Paul said, “I die daily.” We need to follow Paul’s same example and prepare our hearts. Fasting is one of the best ways to allow our flesh to sink below the level of spiritual things, so we can become humble to the word of God, to the Spirit of God. If we have not fasted and prayed, it is very hard for our body to become that living sacrifice Jesus said was necessary. If we fast and pray, then our flesh comes into subjection to the Spirit of God. Then we are able to become a minister of the gospel and are able to say things God shows us to, not just what we feel in the flesh. As it says in the Bible so many times, our flesh thinks we are doing right. Every man thinks they are doing the right thing. At any time of your life, your flesh thinks you are doing the right thing. But when we fast, and I want to emphasize it, when we fast, it takes something out of us. You know, when you do without food, you just feel bad. Well that bad feeling you have allows the Spirit to grow in you because you are no longer walking by yourself. You are no longer having your flesh to support you when you move around and do things. So the Spirit of God takes over, if we are fasting in accordance with the Scriptures, and he is able to use us in those situations.

Most of the writers of the New Testament—In fact, I cannot think of one that would not be—Most of the writers of the New Testament, if not all, would be considered religious extremists because they were willing to effect a change in the entire world. They were willing to die for Jesus. They were willing to do whatever was necessary, but they knew what not to do. They knew not to fight physically. They knew not to go to the judge and say, “We need to make a law that prevents homosexuals in this country.” They knew not to do that. They knew to go for the heart of the person. They knew not to fight with an individual verbally about something they were doing wrong, but rather to come to them in meekness. The Bible says, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves. That’s exactly what it means. If they are doing something wrong, they are fighting their own selves already. They don’t need you to fight them, too. If they are fighting a battle, then they don’t need you to fight over them, but if you can take ownership of the power of God and you can take that thing off of them, then their life just automatically becomes better.

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