Perhaps you too have a childhood memory the Lord Jesus Christ uses to teach you a valuable spiritual lesson.
As a young boy growing up in the Midwest USA on the northwest side of the city of Chicago, I distinctly remember the huge maple tree in the parkway almost in front of the Bush family home next door to us on Keokuk Avenue.
It stood as a silent sentinel and central meeting place for the neighborhood kids both during the warm, sunny summers, after school play time, and during the fall even as the thousands of then-brown leaves were gathered into heaped piles safely beyond its branches and gleefully lit on fire.
I can still remember the aroma…and my mother’s warning to stop inhaling the smoke on purpose!
It was at the foot of that old maple that I captured the sunlight of October Indian summer with an old, light gray magnifying glass. With this, I burned patterns, letters, and images into the fallen and curled leaves.
Notice the large shadows under the maple tree in every direction. And how it effectively crowds out the sunlight on that bright day.
It would be another 25+ years until I surrendered to the Carpenter of Nazareth.
Years later, too, the Lord used that example to help explain the Trinity to me as the single ray of light entering the magnifying glass became three rays of the primary colors emanating from the glass as the leave burned…
The beloved tree was “base” for any chase or tag game we played, and the initial spot for ‘kick the can’ usually after supper, and before dusk.
I wonder now just how many hours over those young years I spent in its influence by leaning against its wide truck, looking up at the expansive canopy, and enjoying the shadow of its shade when the temperatures soared mid-summer.
I do recall with emotional pain the day it was finally cut down, chopped up into pieces, and hauled away…due to disease and a slow death from an arbor invader.
An old friend had died…there was a literal gap of tremendous size in the sky that now existed in my world. When I left the house and looked where the tree had been, I felt a bit scared, as if a protector had suddenly vanished.
And now, looking back, the shadow, and untimely death, of that stately tree beckons me to consider the Lord’s warning to His body of “the sin that so easily entangles us.” This passage joins the dozens of other solemn admonitions in the book of Hebrews to stay saved…and not be erased from the Book of Life.
If we ever remain ignorant or rebelliously refuse the Spirit and become comfortable in a sin that overshadows our walk with God and our other good works, we are in deep, deep weeds…
At Walk Worthy here, we call it spiritual ‘no-man’s land.” It’s the place all apostates traverse before they are cut off without remedy. And most who end up in this demonic playground aren’t even aware of this fact…they have begun to quench the Holy Spirit with routine frequency. In my life thus far, I’ve has two extremely close Christian friends get caught there and eventually disavowed the faith. One divorced his wife, left the area, and moved in with his girlfriend, never to be heard of again. The second committed suicide after embezzling a huge sum of money in a Ponzi scheme.
This is real and verifiable strategy of the devil himself. For our God desires none to perish but all to be saved. “All” (not “many”) are called, is the right translation, but few are chosen.
Here’s what we predominantly hear these days if you live in the affluent west or are under the spell of its doctrine around the world:
“Your just a Romans 7 sinner, and can’t help it. You’re under grace so God understands. Don’t let the legalists steal your freedom in Christ to express yourself. Besides, all sin is the same, and there’s no difference. And remember, everything is under the blood.”
It’s all false teaching. Every bit of it.
Some is from unsuspecting believers who misunderstand God’s holy Word and His identity. Some are actually false teachers…wolves in sheep’s clothing who have crept in unnoticed and prey on the populace that has actually accumulated them to tickle their ears.
We live in times of antinomianism. ‘Anti’ meaning ‘against.’ And ‘nomos’ meaning ‘law’ or obedience. Anti-obedience rules the waves in this present time in the western body of Christ.
To combat the “quoted” example of false teaching I gave above, here’s what the Word of God reveals: you’re a Romans 6 and 8 saint for Romans 7 was Paul’s past life; God’s grace is given to deny ungodliness declares Titus 2; Paul admonished in 1 Cor. 8-10 to never use your freedom to cause anyone to stumble; sins have different consequences with Judas Iscariot receiving greater eternal punishment stated in John 19, Christian teachers receiving greater condemnation in James 3, a sin leading to spiritual death in 1 John 5; finally, we can insult the Spirit of grace to the point there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin as recorded in Hebrews 10.
Why is it vital to distinguish between the types of sin?
For one, because God does, and it’s how He lovingly keeps score on our lives and metes out blessings, rewards, punishment, and curses (woes) for all humans.
For another, each one of us as a ‘little Christ’ must live in the full faced reality that some sins can and do “overshadow” the other good works and the resulting fruit that we accomplish that God has prepared beforehand (Ephesians 2.10).
Overshadowing sin…it’s seductive, usually ignored, and grows progressively darker if not kept under wraps by the Spirit’s power.
We all have one, or more, sins that can or will fall into the overshadowing category. It’s best to identify them currently as having potential or actually being practiced.
It’s a good rule to remember that our weaknesses are nothing more than our strengths out of control.
I’ll go first with examples from my own life.
Since I’m a prophet, sometimes house church planter, leader, and entrepreneur, and even with the Spirit’s help, I can have the tendency to expect a lot of myself (and other saints), be a quick study, moving steadily and quickly, praying expecting immediate results, and always advancing to storm the gates of hell with God. These are all Godly traits for the way the Lord has created me. I thank Him for this!
This can and has resulted in my being: 1) too impatient, 2) harsh with highly distracted-excuse making-amused-joking-cover things up-patriot-kill your enemy-stonewaller types, and 3) can shake the dust off my feet the first time when the Spirit may want to give them a second opportunity.
Any of these three if practiced consistently will be overshadowing sin that leads me to ‘no man’s land.’ I do stumble on occasion and exhibit these sins still after all these years.
Just so you know, I personally have rising opposition all the time these days from preaching and discipling what we see as the whole counsel of God. And in this opposing crowd, which includes a fair amount of church goers, some see me as practicing all three of the sins mentioned above on a regular basis. And, by my own definition, they exclaim I too am in ‘no man’s land’ and in deep weeds with God.
Not wanting to be a hypocrite and to practice what I preach, I ask them for their evidence and their definition of what actually defines these sins. If I can be persuaded by their evidence and the Spirit, I quickly repent, ask their forgiveness, and if need be, find help to disengage from that sin.
In the overwhelming number of cases, their evidence is weak or non-existent and their definitions flawed according to the doctrines of God. And they steadfastly refuse to look at my evidence that contradicts or outright refutes their accusation.
They just want me to be nice. When they irritatingly say I’m not listening, they really mean I don’t agree.
Does this also happen to you, dear one?
This is classic stonewalling. And that, friends, is a large, obnoxious overshadowing sin.
You can pray for me please that I’ll never be blind to the exhortations and admonitions of others, both brethren and lost, if indeed the substance for repentance really, really exists.
Let’s briefly look at several other overshadowing sins. A complete list of these would surprise us all I fear. Remember an overshadowing sin can ‘overshadow’ all the other good works and fruit that has been accomplished.
Sexual starvation of the Christian husband
Wives: we begin with you since the NT Bible almost always addresses women first. God knows the 400% influence of the woman with a man.
The most respectful action a wife can use to serve (service) her husband (whether saved or lost) is proactive, interesting, and ultra-frequent sexual celebration. Spending a main focus on the children, church activities, Christian friends, cooking-cleaning, etc (as helpful as these can be) and sexually starving the husband is nothing more than an overshadowing sin.
“Quota sex” just doesn’t cut it, ladies. Sexual celebration with an interested heart is the way he knows things are still OK with you, God, and the world. And the Earth is still on its axis.
For him, this is his greatest need…not a want. Much of it too is physiologically created by God Himself. If you can’t see it, you really need to take it up with Jesus…holy sex is His wonder-full idea!
As a popular Christian wife and author states, “I’m a minister to my husband sexually. He tells me I’m a mighty fine minister!…I keep him drained.” When this happens, the husband has little, if any, interest in another woman or pornography. Of course, constantly correcting him or ignoring all his hard labor and good points for you works well to drive him away…and into the waiting clutches of the demonic angels and demons with their myriad of schemes.
What if the wife just won’t deliver on this Godly, respectful command, dear husband? Fasting, begging and beseeching God, changing what you need to change, Christian advice, and eventually if needed, church discipline…
Emotional starvation of the Christian wife
Husbands: one of the most loving actions a husband can use to serve (service) his wife is to pay close attention to her. Spend time getting to know her as the Word commands. Be a student of her desires. Stop all the a-muse-ment, sports, etc. Turn the blasted TV and internet off. Police yourself with work. Limit the church activities. Free up the schedule. Subtract…then add her in as the top priority.
Listen to her challenges, and don’t try to fix things right away. Help with the kids. Take her on a date night weekly. Ask her what help she could use and listen very carefully, then be careful before you promise something you may not be able to deliver.
What if the husband just won’t deliver on this Godly, respectful command, dear wife? Fasting, begging and beseeching God, changing what you need to change, Christian advice, and eventually if needed, church discipline…
Stonewalling the other person
A stonewaller is one who practices 1) advocating their opinion only to get others to agree, 2) refuses to listen carefully, attentively, and honorably to others, 3) refuses contrary evidence, 4) accuses others of not listening if not agreed, 5) never thinks they practice stonewalling, and 6) attacks those who reprove and point this error out!
For example, the well known Bible teacher John MacArthur has repeatedly stonewalled those brothers who have attempted on many occasions to talk-meet regrading his unbiblical stand on gift cessation. He also holds to the heresy that all ‘Spirit-filled’ tongues and the miraculous are works of the devil.
I kid you not. Last time we checked, that borders dangerously close to the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. I’ll step out and say that, yes, brother John is doing exactly that.
We’ve written much on stonewalling, this heinous practice.
Factions and sects of disunity
Jesus Christ’s parting prayer in John 17 is for His body to be one…in unity. The Greek root word for heresy is one who wrongly draws people away unto himself and creates another group. It’s the party spirit of disunity.
This overshadowing sin works hand-in-hand with that of stonewalling.
There are times when we must leave a group, a setting, etc. for the sake of His body and holiness. The Spirit will guide us to make the right decision, timing…and minister to us through the ensuing grief.
God’s Word is replete with admonitions that greed is serving mammon and the hoarding of things past food and clothing. It amounts to idolatry. And all idol worshipers end up in the lake of fire. Scary.
In the western culture, mammon is the score card for life…and is a deadly virus that many, many have caught. Even with all the good works, overshadowing sins like this can cancel all others out.
And the list could go on and on…
Our beloved tree in Chicago eventually died a slow painful death in the 1960’s due to untreated disease. No one ever gave it a thought that the mighty maple would succumb…let alone at a relatively middle age.
Most persons that find themselves in ‘spiritual no man’s land’ never give it a thought that their wrong way is spiritually and eternally fatal. That’s where the body of Christ must shine their light and not hide it under a bushel.
We still live under the Genesis curse until the completion of the kingdom by Christ. We’re commanded by Jesus Christ our Lord to strive to enter into the narrow gate.
We put to death the needs of the flesh. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the highly organized, extremely focused, demonic angels and demons ‘dead set’ for the destruction of every human being.
That includes you…and me.
They want to kill us…and our family…and our church body. But not until they tempt and cajole us into ‘no man’s land.’ In that place, they are masters of leading others to apostate their faith. Of course, they just want to kill unbelievers right now before they can repent and begin any sort of walk with God.
There’s almost nothing, beloved, nothing…that’s any more serious and sobering than this.
So, the question is: what is your overshadowing sin?
Is it fully under your control by the power of the Holy Spirit?
Have you house-broken it?
Are you at this very moment headed for, or in, ‘no man’s land?’
Ask the Lord Jesus Christ. His Spirit will reveal it. Ask some of the brethren you can trust. Church discipline is virtually non-existent for the offender.
Choose, again, this day who you will serve.
1 John 5:16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.
Please comment on this post right below. Feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion.
Your friend and brother in fighting the good fight,
Saints, we’re one day closer to Home, and Him! Love Him wholeheartedly!
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THE DEVIL’S SCHEMES: Wisely knowing our arch adversary, and living accordingly; by Marc White, Director, Walk Worthy, Central Florida, USA
“(Obey God’s commands including forgiveness)…so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 2 Cor. 2:11; “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8; The Devil’s Schemes, Copyright, a Walk Worthy ministry; permission granted to repost in full.
Please comment on this post right below. Feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion.
Marc White, Director, Walk Worthy Ministries, www.WalkWorthy.org