Month 3:13, Week 2:5 (Chamashee/Teruah), Year:Day 5936:072AM|
7 Sabbaths + Omer Count Day #5
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 2 June 2012
Devotion Without Regeneration
I don't expect you have ever heard of Fulk III, Count of Anjou, who lived in 10th century Catholic France. This 'noble Christian' was required by his confessor to make four long pilgrimages to the Holy land to show proper pennance for his sins. These included having his wife burned to death in her wedding dress for allegedly having sex with a goatherd. According to the chroniclers of the time he was a plunderer, murderer, robber and swearer of false oathes, a truly terrifying character of fiendish cruelty. Whenever he had the slightest difference with a neighbour he rushed upon his lands, ravaging, pillaging, raping and killing - nothing could stop him. And yet each time he was confronted with his sins by his confessor, he responded with extravagant expressions of devotion to Christ .
"According to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), whom He poured out on us abundantly through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) our Deliverer (Saviour)" (Titus 3:5-6, NKJV).
It's not my purpose today to examine the history of the crusades though I have a mind to do this at some time in the future but to rather point out how a religious person, claiming to be devoted to Christ, can also be possessed of the mind and heart of the devil himself, not because of any spot on the flawless character of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) but because religion without spiritual regeneration is deadly.
As radical Islam, with its penchant for violence, sexual abuse, and Sharia government tyranny has demonstrated in our day, a religious person is not necessarily a safe one, any more than an irreligious one as we have witnessed already in the previous century of atheistic-socialist dictators who between them claimed the lives of nearly a quarter of a billion people.
The problem is not whether you are religious or irreligious, however. Today's secular liberals are already moving in the same direction as their 20th century fascist and communist forebearers, and in the heart of the formerly enlightened West. The irreligious are more than eager to blame the religious, and vice versa, but the emet (truth) has to do with neither if these 'positions' - the emet (truth) has to do with whether you are unregenerated and therefore naturally lawless.
The knights and nobility of Catholic Christendom were very violent, very sinful, and very religious. He was savage, brutal and lustful. Yet at the same time he was religiously devout in the Name of One who represented the exact opposite of the behaviour exhibited and what he claimed to stand for. But instead of confessing their sins and making teshuvah (repentance) and seeking regeneration of their souls, the Catholic Church of those times ordained that those responsible for committing such heinous sin had to make atonement by making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and visit certain shrines. The hardships and risks of the journey were taught to be the mode of atonement - self-atonement by ones own works.
Take the Viking king of England and Denmark, Canute (Knut), for example. The Catholic-inspired laws he established over his realm, written in about 1020, included:
By the 10th century many Norse pilgrims were making pilgrimages to the Holy Land. The preferred route was a round tour, coming by sea through the Straits of Gibraltar and returning overland through Russia. And like the Franks (such as the Duke of Anjou), these Norse converts to Catholicism were very devoted to 'Christ' if not to His mitzvot (commandments).
#39. If anyone slays a minister of the altar, he is to be an outlaw before God and before men, unless he atone for it very deeply by pilgrimage...
#41. If a minister of the altar becomes a homicide or otherwise commits too grave a crime, he is then to forfeit both his ecclesiastical orders and native land, and to go on a pilgrimage .
Take Thorvald the Far-Traveled of Iceland, a renowned Viking who had converted to Catholicism and then tried to preach the new faith to his countrymen in 981. The year 990 found him undertaking a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to atone for having killed two poets who had mocked his faith and a third man who had criticised his preaching. Following his pilgrimage he devoted his missionary activities to Russia and died there, presumably without murdering any Russian pagans.
Finally, if I may give a couple more examples, another Norse pilgrim, Lagman Gulrödsson, the Viking king of the Isle of Man (now a part of the United Kingdom), sought atonement for having murdered his brother. Swein (Sven) Godwinsson, also a royal Norse pilgrim, was required to make the trip barefoot, dying in the mountains en route, in order to atone for his murders.
Man is very religious by fallen nature, be he an atheist devoted to Darwin and the fairy-godmother of evolution or a theist devoted to Allah, the Catholic Jesus, the Talmudic Jewish Adonai, the Hindu gods, or to the gods of nature. They all have one thing in common: they are not regenerated, and because they are not regenerated they think nothing of breaking the mitzvot (commandments) of Yahweh. And even though, on occasion, their conscience troubles them, they seek atonement and release in the wrong way - by trying to earn their forgiveness through their works or deeds of charity.
This is why the secularists, humanists and atheists of the political establishment (not to mention the covert satanists among them) are able to make common cause with any religion that does not require spiritual regeneration in the manner ordained by the true Elohim (God). That is why Muslims publically demanding the beheading of infidels are left untouched by the establishment and why Christians, like the pastor in Wisconsin who was recently imprisoned for two years in the USA for advocating the spanking of children . Not that I personally endorse spanking or have had recourse to do it, because I don't and haven't, but I am concerned by the total hypocrisy of the ruling Úlites. Not that I am surprised because when unregenerated men and women rule, they not only establish unequal laws but implement them unequally too.
Those early 'Christian' noblemen are really no different from our ruling Úlites today. Many, if not most, do actually believe in the claims of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) but choose not to follow Him. There's a huge difference between believing and discipleship. In fact, as I have said before, I don't think there's really such a thing as an atheist at all because the evidence for the Creator is so overwhelming that the only way to circumvent repentance is by twisting your own mind and lev (heart). Atonement for continuing to sin is made in various ways. The mediaeval Catholic nobles and others made atonement by making pilgrimages to the Holy Land much in the same way as many lawless Christians who attack Torah-obedient talmidim (disciples) today make atonement by bowing at the altar of Zionism by religiously and devotedly supporting the Israeli Republic. It's all idolatry, pure and simple. Likewise many messianics rail at Christians because of their antinomianism (lawlessness) and adherence to pagan traditions while themselves worshipping at the same altar of Zionism with its atheistic and anti-Messianic roots.
To be sure, there are genuinely regenerated Evangelicals and Messianics who continue to worship at false altars such as these because of ignorance who, upon learning the emet (truth), repent of their idolatry and forsake the schemes of the Enemy. I myself was once devoted to such falsehoods. And that's really the point I want to make today; being devoted is not a sign of being saved or of walking in Yahweh's pleasure. We are all born with the spirit of devotion! We are devotional by default - by created nature. We can't spiritually breathe without being devoted to something even if it's the ultimate idolatry of just being devoted to ourselves. DEVOTION DOES NOT EQUAL SPIRITUALITY. And neither does devotion to 'Christ' or 'Messiah' or 'Yah'shua' or 'Jesus' or 'Yeshua' or to anyone or anything else if it is not preceded by spiritual regeneration followed by obedience to the mitzvot (commandments). If you haven't been born again, you might as well be devoted to a statue of Michael Jackson as be devoted to Elohim (God), Yah'shua (Jesus), the Bible and even the Mitzvot (Commandments).
We're all like those mediaeval Catholic Crusaders or modern Jihadists or our secular, liberal and socialistic rulers if we are not properly surrendered to, and spiritually regenerated in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) and thereafter seek to obey the Torah. If you're not sure what it is to be regenarted or reborn, please get in contact with us and we'd be happy to point you in the right direction from the Scriptures. It does mean, though, that you have to abandon all false dichotomies like atheism vs. Christianity, conservatism vs. liberalism, Catholicism/Protestantism vs. Messianism, or Judaism vs. Islam, or whatever good cop/bad cop mental construct you have created in order to justify a life of sinning without surrender to Messiah. The sinful, fleshy nature will always find something to 'attack' in order to create the illusion of righteousness. Strip yourself of these deceptive labels and get down to brass tacks - to the real issues involved. For until you do, you remain, in your lev (heart), an atheist.
 Jonathan Riley-Smith, The First Crusades, 1095-1131 (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 1997), p.28
 Diana Webb, Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in the Medieval West (I.B.Tauris, London: 2001), p.35
 End of the American Dream, Pastor Sentenced To 2 Years In Prison For Teaching That Parents Should Spank Their Children
 Rodney Stark, God's Batallions: The Case for the Crusades (Harper Collins, New York: 2009)