Strongholds And Stumblingblocks

   
In the course of seeking to understand why so many Christians that are
seemingly productive citizens of the Kingdom of God can
have so many diverse views, some time ago the LORD provided me
with an answer. Not wanting to dismiss so many apparently Godly people
as brazenly dishonest in their statements concerning the
understandings they stated they had received from the LORD, I
was bewildered as to how so many ostensibly faithful men could be so
far off the mark in crucial matters of the faith.

   
I could not understand how someone could tell me he intently sought
the Lord on an issue of critical importance, and that the LORD
showed him thus and thus. In most of these cases, the 'finding' the
person received was in direct opposition to what I had learned from
the LORD. The issues at stake are enormous as they are
related to salvation, our identity and standing in Christ, and
the immediate future of all believers.

   
While I came to the conclusion long ago that the "truth" the LORD
showed me was mutually exclusive to the "truth" others had come
to, I was having difficulty in seeing how men that I had previously
admired could actually be intentionally lying when they said that they
sought the LORD, and 'God showed me this...' In seeking my
answer, God led me to a wonderful discovery in the writings of the
prophet Ezekiel.

   
In chapter 14, we see that the LORD says to the prophet:

"Son
of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the
stumbling block of their iniquity before their face. Every man
of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and
putteth the stumbling block of his iniquity before his
face, and cometh to the prophet, I, the Lord, will answer him that
cometh according to the multitude of his idols. That I may take
the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged
from me through their idols." - Ezekiel 14:3,4

   
This passage was like a ray of bright light shining in my heart, for
it provided me with Scriptures that are directly on the point of my
question. When God says this applies to "every man of the house of
Israel," He is speaking of His people. Ironically, the prophetic
perception as to the identity of the party to whom the
prophecy is addressed is itself part of the "stumbling block" that
is referred to in the passage!

T   
he New Testament tells us that the "chosen" of the LORD are
the Christians - as opposed to the Rapture Cult
position that tells us the Jews are God's people, and the Church is
a separate entity. Thus, Cult teachers immediately dismiss this
prophecy as not being applicable to them because they do not
believe they are "of the house of Israel." This tradition
of men
is a Stumblingblock to their ability to hear and
learn what God is telling them in this very passage. The truth is, Jesus
Christ
plainly taught against the concept of two
groups of believers.

   
So while the Cult teaches that Israel is one group and the Church is
another group, the Gospels say otherwise. Before the Gentiles were
called into the salvation offered by JESUS CHRIST, He said "And
other sheep I have, that are not of this fold; them also I must bring,
and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one
shepherd." (John 10:16)

   
When Ezekiel says that when the people "cometh to the
prophet" to seek the will of the Lord," they are inquiring of God
through the authority of "the prophet" - who the New Testament
tells us is JESUS CHRIST. For example, in the book of John
we learn that when Jesus preached, the people said "Of
a truth, this is the prophet." (John 7:40) Peter also said
that Jesus fulfilled the prediction of a great prophet that would
arise in Israel when he stated "A prophet shall the Lord God raise
up unto you...." (Acts 7:37) There are many Scriptural texts proving
the Jesus is "the prophet."

   
Ezekiel is told by the Lord that
when "every man" comes to Him to seek His will and they "setteth
up idols" in their hearts, God will answer them "according
to
the multitude of his idols" (Ezekiel 14:3,4) First we
need to see that an "idol" that is in the heart can be anything
that comes between the believer and God. Because idolatry
is a concept (as opposed to a statue that one worships), we
must realize that an idol can be any thought, belief, or even
doctrine that we want to believe.

   
When God says He will answer the inquirer "according to" the idol,
He is saying He will not tear down the false beliefs that exist in
the hearts of the believers. Remember, the text says the believers
are the ones that have "set up their idols in their heart"
(Ezekiel 14:3) Thus, the Lord plainly states that He will give you the
answer you've already decided you want!

   
This is a gigantic truth, and it is another area concerning God's
attributes that is commonly distorted by the false teachers. Pastors
and Christian writers commonly tell us that God never deceives
people - yet the Scriptures tell us that God allows us to continue
in the deceptions that we've ensnared ourselves in. The Bible says
"the Lord knoweth how to...reserve the unjust unto the day of
judgment to be punished" (II Peter 2:9)

   
In fact, the Apostle Paul plainly says that God will actually
initiate deception when He writes that "God shall send
them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie...because they
received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (II
Thessalonians 2:11,10)

   
What we're seeing here should be frightening, because it is a
scriptural proof text that indicates if we are not completely
sold out to hearing the truth - regardless of how unsavory the truth
may be - we are subject to be deceived. Furthermore, the very
fact that this principle exists is tantamount to a prediction that
there will be believers that think they are truly seeking the truth,
but in actuality they have placed their idolatrous doctrines in their
hearts, and are going before the LORD to ask Him to validate
the "idol" that is their false interpretation.

   
In the passage in Ezekiel, the Lord also refers to "the
stumblingblock of their iniquity" as another obstacle to receiving
the truth when seeking God. The text indicates that when the believer
"putteth the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face" when
He seeks the Lord on a matter, this too will cause the Lord to "set
my face against that man...." (Ezekiel 14:8)

   
This aspect of the prophecy informs us that our iniquity produces a
"stumblingblock." Although we see variations on the term with the
Scriptures sometimes calling it a "stumblingstone," the idiom is
not used much in the modern English vernacular. It might be useful to
state that if we think of walking forward and tripping over a large
stone that we did not see, we have a valid picture of what is
being said. For example, I live out in the country where it is
completely pitch black at night. If I am walking around in total
darkness and can't see a significant stone in my path, I'm likely
to fall over it and be injured.

   
A stumblingblock is not intrinsically evil as the
Scriptures state that Christ was to "the Jews a stumblingblock,
and a rock of offense...." (I Corinthians 1:23) What we see in this
amazing prophecy from Ezekiel is that it is our sin
that keeps us from seeing things that we need to see. To put it
another way, our iniquity is directly proportional to our spiritual
blindness, and God will not just override that sin and force us to
hear His truth. In order to get past this vulnerable condition, we
must consistently demonstrate our willingness to receive the truth -
in short, we must LOVE the TRUTH.

   
JESUS CHRIST told us that HE is
the truth - "I am the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6)
If we genuinely love the truth, then we will find it. Indeed,
the very fact that there exists a multiplicity of "Christian
traditions" is an indicator that something is dreadfully wrong.
Thus, the idea that 'we can agree to disagree' is completely
unscriptural on any matter concerning the faith. There
is only one truth, and everything else is a lie.


   
This is an extraordinary perspective and it cuts like the proverbial
two-edged sword. The idea of stumblingblocks is
essentially synonymous with the New Testament concept of Strongholds.
This is another way of describing a stumblingblock. A "Stronghold"
is a place where someone or something may be defended. This term is
commonly used as a military concept in the context of warfare -
and the Bible frequently speaks of the war that is continuously
occurring in the realm of the Spirit. In I Corinthians, we see,

"For
though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the
weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the
pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every
high thing [read idol] that exalteth itself against the knowledge
of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of
Christ...." (II Corinthians 10:3-5)

   
What this verse is so eloquently teaching us is that we are the
ones
that pull down the "Strongholds." We are the ones
that seek out the "Stumblingblocks" in order achieve the victory
in Christ. And we do these things, not in our power, but
"through God" as we become "sanctified through the truth"
(John 17:19). To be sanctified means to be set apart for glory, but
for those that are not sanctified of God, "...the wrath of God is
revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of
men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness...." (Romans 1:18)

   
To put this into perspective, whenever we fail to fully embrace the
truth, we allow the Devil to establish a Spiritual Stronghold
that enters into our lives - and this is something that can
eventually destroy us. When we refuse to see the truth that God
wants us to see, that Stronghold becomes a Stumblingblock
that causes us to stumble and fall further and further away from the
will of the LORD. As this process continues, we are not
abiding in the truth, and we then become subject to the wrath of God
which is directed to all that "hold the truth in unrighteousness."
(Romans 1:18). Essentially, when we say that we love
Him, and do not love the truth, we have become liars
because He IS the truth.

   
Through Ezekiel, God says that He has allowed this situation to
progress because "they are all estranged from me
through their idols" (Ezekiel 14:5). God desires our fellowship -
a fellowship that is true and unfeigned - not simply words, but
deeds. God will hold all accountable, and the only way to ensure that
we know Him is to be found in Him - in righteousness and in
truth
. "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the
ungodly and the sinner appear? For the time is come that the judgment
must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what
shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God?" (I Peter
4:18,17)

March 31, 2003 - James Lloyd

Copyright © 2003 Christian Media Network

See Also

Strongholds And Stumblingblocks

The Reckoning

Too Long In The Sun

The Six Pointed Star

Itching Ears: The Death Of Sound Doctrine

The Mingling

Article Source: 
CMC
Article Number: 
63