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    135
    FAMILY IDOLATRY

    The New Covenant Salt Sermon

    The following sermon, which was attended by a powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, was one of the most controversial ever given in a New Covenant Church pulpit. It had the desired effect of exposing many personal idolatries and was seized upon by the enemies of the Church in their most active period of persecution in 1995 and 1996. It has been called the "New Covenant Salt Sermon" by some and is one of the most powerful ever delivered in this Church. It remains as a testimonial of the substance of the New Covenant work.


    The True Meaning of Love

    Brethren and sisters, on this my last public address to you this ecclesiastical year, I wish to share with you some sacred thoughts on the foundational principle of the Gospel which is love. Our theme is based on the first letter of John which reads:

      "This is how we know what love is: Christ gave His life for us. We too, then, ought to give our lives for our brothers" (1 John 3:16, TEV).

    What I am not going to do today is give you a traditional discourse on love. Today I am going to get out a lens and a light which perhaps you have never seen before so that love can be magnified and seen in a totally new way.

    I take it for granted that you all accept that God's ways are not man's ways, and that God's thoughts are not man's thoughts (Isa.55:7-9). I also take it for granted that we all accept that unless the Holy Spirit illuminates the Word of God that its meaning will remain hidden, and that no amount of preaching can have any lasting affect on the soul unless the Holy Spirit illuminates the listeners. So I invite you to silently petition the Lord for the Comforter, who teaches all things, that you may know by personal revelation whether what I say is true or not, because what I wish to say today will shock some of you.

    A Challenging Scripture

    It is written in the Law:

      "If a man has two wives, and he loves one and hates the other, and both bear him sons but the firstborn is the son of the wife he hates, when he wills his property to his sons, he must not give the rights of the firstborn to the son of the wife he loves in preference to his actual firstborn, the son of the wife he hates. He must acknowledge the son of the wife he hates as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has. That son is the first sign of his father's strength. The right of the firstborn belongs to him" (Deut.21:15-17, translation based on NIV and AV).

    What is your first reaction to this passage? Shock? Perhaps anger that a man should have two wives, or hate one wife and love the other? Appalled that such a law should even exist in the scriptures? Angry that a man dare show partiality? Whatever you may be thinking, it is more than likely that you are thinking wrong, because you are judging after the flesh. How do I know that? Because I know that you do not understand the words that have been written here. Even assuming you have read them, I doubt that you have any idea what they mean.

    Before I comment further may I remind you that the God of the Old Testament, from which this passage is taken, is also the God of the New Testament. And may I also remind you that the God of the Old Testament, as the God of the New, is the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have ever doubted it, then I hope I will be able to convince you otherwise.

    The same book from which this words were taken says: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deut.6:5, NIV). The Law of Love is written everywhere across the pages of the Old Testament, and it was this Law that Jesus taught the first Christians.

    We are Being Tested

    As if to forewarn His people not to prejudge Him or to accuse Him of being unloving He has said in the same book: "The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deut.13:3, NIV).

    In everything He does, in everything He tells us to do, He is (amongst other things) testing us to see whether we love Him with all our souls or not. He wants to know -- and He especially wants us to know -- whether we love Him as we claim we do.

    In order to do this He sometimes intentionally shocks us to see just how strong our faith really is. He shocked Abraham, didn't He? And He has promised us that He will shock us too, by giving us Abrahamic tests tailor-made to our individual situations, to see if we love as we claim we do. And may I further remind you that when He tests us, logic does not necessarily apply.

    Abraham was told to murder his son which was contrary to one of the most holy of God's laws. "Thou shalt not murder." You know that murder is wrong. I know that murder is wrong. But He told Abraham to murder His son anyway. Only one in a million devoted, loving Christians would be willing to do that -- if even that many! Such a commandment would be enough to turn any devoted servant of the Lord on his head. But then Abraham wasn't just anybody. He was a son of the Firstborn.

    The New Covenant Church of God: Not Just Another "Denomination"

    This Church -- this New Covenant -- has not been called into existence to gather just "anybody" -- there are hundreds of churches called to do that. This Church has been called to gather in the firstborn sons and daughters of God. Which is why there will never be vast hordes of us.

    Well, we all know Abraham's test. And it's unlikely that God will duplicate that with us, because it would not try our faith as it did Abraham's because we know God spared Isaac. Abraham didn't know that would happen. We have been prepared for such tests. But I guarantee God has a test for you that you will never be able to mentally prepare for. And the purpose of this test is to show you how much you love, or don't. It's purpose is to show you just how close you are to the highest heaven, or how far away.

    A Shocking Gospel

    Jesus, when He was alive on the earth as a mortal, shocked alot of people. And were He here today amongst a Christian Church that has been in existence now for nearly two centuries, He would say things to shock modern Christians and knock them off their high pedestals too. That includes us and all our false perceptions of Him.

    When He was on earth He shocked pious Jews by telling them that they were to hate their nearest and dearest. You know the scripture well. He says: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters -- yes, even his own life .. he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26, NIV).

    Two Testaments, One God of Love

    Few understood Him then. Most thought Him mad. They even thought such things as: "This is completely against the Law which teaches that we are to love God and our neighbour." There are many people who do not know the Old Testament who think that Jesus was the first to teach love, that the God of the Old Testament was cruel and vindictive. The truth is that the God of the Old and New Testaments were one and the same. Yet here is Jesus supposedly teaching people to be cruel and vindictive by hating their loved ones in order to come to Him.

    Of course, we know that this is not what He meant. We all know that, don't we? We know all too well that He taught us to love not only our neighbour but our enemy too. So what are we to believe? That we are to love our enemies and neighbours, but hate our own family? Of course not.

    We can even feel a little smug about our knowledge and smile condescendingly at how others have misunderstood the scriptures. We can, with a chuckle in our voice, say that what Jesus meant is that we are to love God more than our immediate family, our nearest and dearest. And then we can go away feeling quite contented with ourselves.

    The Sin of Family Idolatry

    Unfortunately, living this commandment isn't as easy as you might think. I have served in the New Covenant in this country for seven years now and if there is one commandment I have seen not lived it is this one. From the very first day I stepped off the ship from England onto Norwegian soil I have seen the sin of family idolatry rip the Church apart once and it is doing the same thing today.

    Jesus knew that this problem of loving our nearest and dearest was so great that the only way He could convey what we to do to love God was by showing that we truly have to hate them in a relativistic sense. And I'm going to suggest to you, no matter how shocking it may sound, that until you come to hate your nearest and dearest that you will never come to love God -- not, at any rate, as Abraham and all the patriarchs did.

    Men Love the Flesh More Than God

    I will tell you a truth. Human beings love the flesh more than they love God. They love their own family more than they do God. This is the "natural" thing for them to do. By that, I mean it comes naturally. Loving God does not come naturally. Loving God, and things spiritual, must be cultivated.

    The law says -- and I repeat it for you: "If a man has two wives, and he loves one but hates the other..." Now some modern translations have "interpreted" this passage and watered it down to read: "If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other..." (NIV). But the original Hebrew reads tsane, the same word used when the Lord says He hates iniquity (e.g. Deut.12:31). So like it or not, hatred is the word the Lord intends to convey here.

    A Mystery Explained

    At this point, the fool will go off and start hating his wife or his son or his mother and find it is impossible to do it unless he is weak-minded or a fanatic. You can't hate someone when you love them! But that isn't what the scripture is saying. God isn't saying: "Right! Stop loving your husband and start hating him." No, He didn't say that. He is saying something quite different.

    The clue is to be found in the passage in Deuteronomy I have made the basis of my talk today. Here it says that a man has two wives, that he loves one and hates the other. This, brethren, is a parable containing a deep mystery. And what is it saying? It is saying: Your wife (or husband) consists of two parts -- a spiritual nature, and an unspiritual nature. You shall love the spiritual nature and hate the unspiritual nature, because if you love the unspiritual nature you are, in fact, hating God! Therefore, the Lord says, hate the unspiritual side of your dearly belovŔd for only in this way will you love God, for God hates the carnal, unspiritual side of man. And the more you love the spiritual, the more you will hate the unspiritual or carnal.

    A Higher and a Lower Nature

    When we enter into a covenant with the Lord, He figuratively marries two persons -- a higher-nature being and a lower-nature being. He illustrates this further when he compares Sarah with the Covenant and Hagar with slavery and death. If you love the higher-nature in someone, you love God. If you love the lower-nature in someone, you become an enemy to God. And if you try to love both, you still become an enemy, because you cannot both love God and the devil. If you love righteousness and sin, you are, in fact, loving sin, because the two cannot be bedfellows. Righteousness will depart.

    But this is not all. The scripture also says that if the son of the hated wife is the one born first, that is the one which shall receive the birthright. Sounds unfair? Not if you have understood the symbolism of this revelation. You see, whatever you love conceives and multiplies. If you love sin, then that sin will multiply. If you love righteousness, then that righteousness will multiply. But if you love BOTH, then it is sin that ultimately triumphs.

    Our Tragic, Natural Condition

    But why should the son of the hated wife be the firstborn? Because that is man's natural condition. Because man, the "husband", is carnal by nature, so the firstborn will always be the son of the hated flesh! When a human being is faced with loving God and his own family, his natural disposition will always be to love his family more than God. The "hated" wife is the spiritual -- God. The "loved" wife will be his nearest and dearest in the flesh -- his immediate family. But God says the firstborn -- the "son" which has the rights to eternal glory, is the spiritual, not the carnal, and that it has right to a double inheritance. But sinful, carnal human beings do the opposite -- they want to give the double portion to that which they love -- their own flesh and blood.

    This part of the Law of Moses was teaching a vital truth. If you are partial and love your husband or wife unconditionally -- both the spiritual and unspiritual nature -- then the firstborn will be the unspiritual. If you really love your spouse then you have got to learn to hate the unspiritual and love the spiritual because the spiritual is the true self.

    A Sin that Must Be Faced

    Brethren sisters, I tell you in the Name of the Lord that this has been the great sin of this people, and is the sin of all people, but because this New Covenant people is under a higher covenant, so much greater is the condemnation for living such idolatry. Because you have been partial with your nearest and dearest, compromising the spiritual and drawing attention instead to the unspiritual, you have committed the sin of idolatry. I have said this to you before, and the Lord has told it to you before in the revelations, but you have refused to believe and obey. And you have refused to believe and obey because you have loved your nearest and dearest more than Him -- because you have sought to camouflage their sinfulness whilst glorying in their righteousness.

    There is a law decreed in heaven, of which this passage I have been talking about testifies, which says that any attempt to conceal sin in our beloved or ourselves by defending them when God's servants seek to expose it, is to hate God. Therefore I adjure you, in the Name of the Living God, to hate the sin in your nearest and dearest and NOT TO SEEK TO HIDE IT. You do not aid them when you do. You condemn them and those who witness your partiality when they believe you. Worse, you undermine the authority of those who have been given the spirit of discernment whose duty is to expose and lead souls to repentance. You foster rebellion in the Church by trying to create your own interpretation of the spiritual condition of your nearest and dearest, making the weak and poor of discernment rebell against those whom God has annointed with the spirit of prophecy.

    Why do you think that Jesus said: "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death" (Matt.10:22, NIV). This passage is not just literal. Jesus is saying that we will betray each other to spiritual death by concealing one anothers' sins because of so-called love. The lower nature will rebel against the higher nature and try to put it to death. But that is not all. He goes on to say: "All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved" (v.22).

    When Hatred and Jealosy Multiply...

    Concealing sin in this way leads only to death. It breeds hatred and jealosy in the soul. It doesn't matter how much you are in love with your spouse, it doesn't matter how much you adore your children, because if you seek to hide their sin because of the pride of your eye then you are condemning them and yourself to spiritual death. But he who stands firm -- hating the unspiritual in his loved ones, and loving that which is true -- the same will be saved.

    Pride, the Great Slayer

    Pride. It is pride which is the great slayer. And what we think is love often turns out to be fleshy and of the soul, because that so-called "love" actually protects the faults and sins of those whom we are proud of and want to show off, and attacks those whose intentions are pure and loving who desire that sin depart.

    This people must repent quickly before they are cast off for the last time. They must stop rebelling against the light of truth, humble themselves inwardly in sackcloth and ashes, or be cast off! No amount of genuine love makes any difference so long as the pride of the eye is protecting sin, because the latter cancels out the former. And how can one know if it is doing this? By the way it reacts when it is upbraided. I have heard it so many times. I have witnessed defensiveness reflexly rear its ugly head when a loved one is criticized by a man of God; I have heard people complain of "too much criticism and not a lack of love" when it has been love all along pleading for the people to save themselves. I have heard it so many times over the years that I have thrown my hands up in despair, wondering if this people will ever see. I praise God, though, that others are beginning to see, and to sorrow as I have sorrowed over you.

    The New Covenant Harvest Season Has Come

    But it cannot go on. The harvest season has come and the fields are ready to be harvested. That field will either be harvested in the spirit of repentance or burned to ashes by the spirit of rebellion. I praise God that I do not have to light any fires this time as I had to three years ago, for you would only blame me for your woes. This time God will do it Himself. The wheat is about to be threshed and the weeds pulled out. Who will be left togather to Zion? Who will figuratively stay behind in Soddom and Gemorrah whilst those who repent leave the city of destruction, the world we live in which is destroying our children and numbing our own spiritual senses?

    I say these things by the authority of the Holy Spirit, nothing more, for I have no position in this Church [1]. How you choose to react is up to you. But I say this: this people must stop hiding their own sins and the sins of their loved ones for God will not have anything to do with such rebelliousness. If they will only truthfully examine themselves they will see that what I say is true, and receive testimony of the Holy Spirit.

      "This is how we know what love is: Christ gave His life for us. We too, then, ought to give our lives for our brothers" (1 John 3:16, TEV).

    The Endless Cycles of Sin

    The same cycle has painfully repeated itself, despite undoubted progress in many areas, because the former sins of the fathers, which destroyed the last Church, still have not yet been repented of. It is the sin of family idolatry -- the sin of family worship, unconditionally accepting what is wrong and declaring it to be good because it is "of the family". Trumpets have been blown about this person and that, how wonderful they are. I have heard people comparing each other with the great ones of the Bible. I have heard family members declared "Christians" or "secret Christians" when they are unrepentant and dwelling in the depths of sin, whose final end will be the lake of fire if they do not repent. I have heard so many lies that I cannot withhold my voice any longer. The truth must now triumph, no matter what the cost in terms of a loss of ego and self-esteem, and no matter what you may think of me personally.

    A Challenge

    Love is pure action. The greatest service we can now do to ourselves is to confess before one another, with open hearts, the truth, because if we do not, then this Church will just fade away into oblivion in Scandinavia [2]. It will die in this soil where it was planted. If the people confess with a great repentance, then I promise in the name of the Lord, that the Holy Spirit will sweep through it like a fire and transform it into a new and glorious creature, and take us to Zion. We will see the field of the Church alive with tongues of fire, and a spiritual endowment greater than anything this people has ever experienced before. We stand at the cross-roads of life and death as a body of saints.

    That is the challenge. And I leave it with you, with the deepest affection for you all, in supreme faith in the Lord of the Resurrection, in the love of Jesus Christ. Amen.

    Historical Endnotes

    [1] The Presiding Patriarch had resigned the from the Patriarchate and was at this time just an ordinary member. The Church was presided over by Gunnar Mj°lsvik, who was the Second Patriarch between 1998 and his death in 2006.

    [2] It was removed from Norway and transplanted in Sweden in 1997 which has since become a base for international outreach. The Presiding Patriarch was shown a vision of three fields, the first of which (Norway) was already harvested.

    This page was created on 17 April 1998
    Last updated on 17 April 1998

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