"Then those who feared Yahweh spoke to one another,
The common cry coming up to me from especially women - but also a good number of men - in the polygamy community is how to tell who is genuine and who is not. One sister recently wrote to me saying:
And Yahweh listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear Yahweh
And who meditate on His name.
'They shall be Mine,' says Yahweh of hosts,
'On the day that I make them My jewels.
And I will spare them
As a man spares his own son who serves him.'
Then you shall again discern
Between the righteous and the wicked,
Between one who serves Elohim (God)
And one who does not serve Him"
(Malachi 3:16-18, NKJV).
The spring of 2003 saw an unprecedented amount of gossipping and rumour-mongering about myself that reached a crescendo at the time this letter was written to me. Friends suddenly turned cold without my ever knowing the reason. Finally I traced the souce to a very embittered woman claiming to be in possession of certain incontrovertible 'facts' about my lack of integrity. As we all know (or should know), however, 'facts' about people and their personalities can vary from one person to another, one person 'seeing' another in one way and another 'seeing' in a completely different way. Though we can be scientifically accurate up to a point by observing certain things (like domestic violence or a person's hobbies) and be definitive about what we see, other things like a person's soul are not so easily or readily discernable. I have been married five times - once for 7 years, 3 for over a decade, and another for 4 months (2003). Two of my wives never knew me at all even though they were around me all the time. Another partly knows me but has enormous blind spots. And two know me thoroughly. All five of them would give you different stories - two would agree 99%, one would agree 50% with the first two, and the others wouldn't have a clue. And the funny thing is, the same kind of disparity of discernment of people exists in all of life's situations, and especially in the Church (Messianic Community).
"I am finding it very difficult to find a purity of true Faith and followers of our heavenly father in this world and also in the polygyny world ... What I am finding is that everyone condemns everyone in this polygyny area instead of being united and forming a community and laying aside differences. I don’t know what to believe anymore and who to trust for everyone play games and everyone is cutting everyone’s throat ... I had hopes of living the life you are living someday but I don’t think I want any part of a world where no one is united"
So how do you discern whether someone is genuine or not? How do you discern the core of a soul? There are really only two ways you can do that. The first is to be around them a very, very long time which though a good method is by no means infallible. I have been around my parents for over 40 years but they know me far less than some of my wives. I knew a woman who was married to a man for 30 years who never knew him. Finally one day he told her he was a homosexual. She had no idea. And you can imagine the shock. And the other method - the only one that is potentially infallible is through discernment of the Holy Spirit. But the trouble even with this is: how do you know you have the Spirit? How do you know it isn't your own 'feelings', 'common sense', or other 'sense'? Indeed, how do you know you are not being deceived by demons even?
There are some people who know me almost as well as two of my wives. To give an example, one of them I've known about two years and another about two months. They truly know me and I truly know them. I have very little eyewitness 'factual' information about them, or they of me. We know one another's minds and hearts and can discern what is happening without so much as opening our mouths because what we have is an echad relationship in the Spirit. The one whom I've known for about two years I'd trust with my very life and my family even though I've only ever met him in the flesh once.
And so I ask myself: what is it about these two men and my two wives which enables us to discern one another so deeply and clearly? It would be easy and trite to say that we 'discern by the Spirit' and whilst I maintain this to be absolutely true, discernment is not the mere bandiment of words. And that's why I quoted the passage from Malachi above. Those who are able to discern are truly those who fear Yahweh, our Father in Heaven. That is what I would like to develop a little further today.
I have noticed consistently throughout my walk as a disciple of the Lord Yah'shua (Jesus) that those people who are able to understand and discern me, and I them, are those who love Yahweh and people with all their souls and who prove it by walking faithfully and to the best of their ability in obedience to His commandments. The passage from Malachi was a revelation from Yahweh given during the Old Covenant dispensation and speaks of those who have rejected hypocrisy and lawlessness. If you read the preceeding verses you will see what I mean. Others claiming to be believers were behaving in a manner which may perhaps remind us of the behaviour of many modern-day believers:
Is this not a fitting description of your average 21st century believer? The proud are exalted and the wicked escape judgment and are left to roam free to carry on their wickedness. We've seen it in the polygamy community to a grotesque extent. Domestic violence, for one thing, is unchecked and unpunished because many of the judges are as guilty as their flock. Lies are everywhere, because the pastors are very often themselves liars. And how has this terrible situation arisen?
"So now we call the proud blessed,
For those who do wickedness are raised up;
They even tempt Elohim (God) and go free'"
(Malachi 3:15, NKJV).
"'These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honour Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'"
(Matthew 15:8-9, NKJV)
"Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit";
'The poison of asps is under their lips;
Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Destruction and misery are in their ways;
And the way of peace they have not known.
There is no fear of Elohim (God) before their eyes'"
(Romans 3:13-18, NKJV).
There are many nominal Christians/Messianics wearing only the label of Christ. Increasing numbers of people are what I call 'solo-Christians/Messianics'. Theirs is a 'private gospel'. They never go to church (assembly) so nobody ever really knows them and they have no real accountability. Whenever I get to know someone - particularly on the internet - I always ask about their local church (assembly) and their involvement. People who are not intimately involved with other Christians/Messianics on a face-to-face basis consistently, I have noticed, become detached from reality and increasingly define their worlds in terms of themselves. It's a law of spiritual physics - the more you are alone the more divorced you become from reality and the greater the personal delusions. There was a time in my life when the only church (assembly) within reach of my home was a Lutheran one (everything else was Catholic) and even though I had major problems with many Lutheran doctrines and practices I always made it a point to attend it regularly because I realised that I was in need of fellowship so as:
My first wife refused to come because she disagreed with some of their doctrines which I consider a great loss for her and which subsequently contributed to our alienation. I took our daughter to Sunday School there.
- (1) To remain properly human;
- (2) To get other people's intellectual perspectives to give me some decent intellectual contrast;
- (3) To interact with other people's spirits so that I could discern where I was coming from and finally - and not least;
- (4) Eye-to-eye (and therefore soul-to-soul) contact with others so that I might not deceive myself into believing I was something I was not.
The internet has become a major medium of communication these days and for many - especially the polygamy community - has come to be a dominating substitute for real person-to-person contact. It is all too easy to create your own illusion of reality and who you are on the web. No one can see you in the flesh. And because people find this 'comfortable' and 'unthreatening' they often prefer it to live contact with others. The Internet is a wonderful place to meet people one might never otherwise meet on this huge globe but it is also a place where illusions are spun consciously and unconsciously. Discerning through the Spirit therefore becomes essential. I have to say this, and I have to say it loud and clearly: the Internet is no substitute for a face-to-face fellowship of Yahweh's people.
So my first line of counsel to anyone meeting others on the internet is to determine whether those who claim to be believers are actively involved in a local fellowship. If they are not, watch out! That is not to say this is an infallible test of genuinenes but it is certainly a clue as to whether a person is walking in Yahweh or not. (I know some people where there are no churches or believers at all). For both Israel and the Church (Messianic Community) are an assembly or gathering. And you will read in the New Testament that the love and Spirit in the first believers were so strong that they met together every day and shared meals with one another. Messianic Israel/the Church is an intensely 'family thing' - you simply want to be around each other all the time. And very often the reason people stay away from such gathering is that they do not want to be seen for who they really are. Most of the men are polywolves, and those women who like to slander and gossip, are of this category. They are loners.
It is possible to create - with a little ingenuity - an entirely false persona on the internet. I have known people who have, for the fun of it, made up a false idenity, and come to like it so much that they have believed the lie that this is who they really are. The light of day does, of course, reveal otherwise. Whether it's on the internet or by means of written letters, we do tend to project different aspects of ourselves. It is interesting to read what the apostle Paul says about himself in his epistles for we learn that when he is writing that he comes across as very harsh, but when he is physically present amongst the saints he was always soft and mild. The internet brings out certain aspects of us and that is why I always recommend that prospective spouses who meet on the internet make a special effort to meet each other in the flesh, on their home turf interacting with friends and relatives, without a committment to marry so that they can 'see' and 'interact' in a way that is not possible in cyberspace. I believe that one of the reasons one of my marriages was such a disaster because the person I met online turned out to be very different from the one I came to briefly know in the flesh. And no doubt the reverse was true also. (My seventh wife and I met on the internet but fellowshipped for 10 years before marrying in the flesh and this opportunity to really get to know one another paid handsome dividends.)
Though these are by no means substitutes, chatting using voice and observing using a webcam are helpful. The printed word reveals very little about a person, some people being craftsmen and -women at writing and others who are hopeless. Both can unintentionally give false impressions. And finally, if you use voice and webcam, try to do so with other people of your family, friends, or fellow Christians sometimes so you can be seen interacting with others. It's the way we are with other people that reveals the most about us. Some people can have great confidence when they are alone but when they are around others either reveal a completely different persona or just fall to pieces. It's when we are around others that we reveal hidden aspects of ourselves. Thus with one of my wives I can talk freely but when she is around strangers she just clams up because of childhood insecurities. One of my two ex-wives talked so much and so loudly and with such a doimineering spirit that frequently no one could a get a word in edgeways and in time everyone felt intimidated into silence. When she was around others who did not agree with her it provoked deep-seated insecurities which she compensated for by aggressive speech, unrealistic appraisals of others, and frequently scathing criticisms. People who are alone a lot are different when they are with others.
Many reading my writings assume, quite wrongly, that I am a very dominating, thick-skinned and loud-mouthed person, presumably because I write so much and with such passion and conviction. Those who have met me will know that I am usually a very quiet, sensitive, and retiring person. I flourish best when I am around people who love Elohim (God) with all their hearts and in such circumstances I am very communicative, but with the carnal, the aggressive, the emotionally cold, and with those who do not have such sentiments of love towards Yahweh, I almost never small talk and tend only to open my mouth to witness or to befriend as a prelude to witness. Thus I can address a conference of believers consisting of thousands of people with the greatest of ease but clam up when I am around the wicked. But these things you would never know from reading my articles or from just being around me for a few weeks or months in a fixed environment. I, you, and everyone else are far more complex that we usually realise, and it is so terribly easy to misjugde people on the basis of limited information. It's then that those who are not content with what they know are tempted to switch into gosspip mode and to start inventing stories about others that are untruthful and spiritually injurous.
People are quick to judge. It is a fatal human flaw. Moreover, once we have been hurt by someone, we have a tendency to recoil and bottle ourselves up. The women do this more than the men for by nature they are often (though not always) the more sensitive - some women are so destroyed inside that they come across as hardened men, and some men are so cowered by feminism that they come across a soft women.
TheSpirit of God changes both men and women, giving men warmer hearts and women greater stability and balance. When people ask me how they can know whether they, or someone else, has the Holy Spirit, then I without fail will tell them to look for the fruits of the Spirit over a long period of time in terms of human responsiveness, and externally in terms of obedience to the commandments. These are some of my favourite passages of Scripture which I use as markers in identifying those who fear Yahweh and those who do not:
"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another" (Galatians 5:16-26, NKJV)
"We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of Elohim (God): in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of Elohim (God), by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (2 Corinthians 6:3-10, NKJV).
"For I, Yahweh-Elohim, am a jealous Elohim (God), visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Exodus 20:5-6, NKJV).
"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love" (John 15:10, NKJV).
"This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:12-15, NKJV).
"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled (obeyed) the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:8-10, NKJV).
"By this we know that we love the children of Elohim (God), when we love Elohim (God) and keep His commandments. For this is the love of Elohim (God), that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of Elohim (God) overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith" (1 John 5:2-5, NKJV).
"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one Elohim (God) and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:1-6, NKJV).
The other day I went into a polygamy chatroom incognito where I saw the person who has been spreading all the rumours about me. I just sat and observed. I also recognised others from our clubs there and I wondered to myself: 'What are these people doing here?' For in the space of ½ hour I heard spoken: "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like". Those who were believers said nothing when these things were expressed because that particular polygamy room requires that all other beliefs and practices be respected and only polygamy be discussed. Can you see that trap such a place can become? In the end people become passive to wickedness because its tolerance must be respected. Such places are not supposed to be frequented by true believes except to witness.
SO many Christians/Messianics forget that Yahweh, our Father in Heaven, expects us to be a separate people. The word we use is "holy" which means 'set apart' or 'different'. We are not supposed to behave like the heathen and certainly not passively swim in their filth, whether it be their speech or their wider lifestyle. We are supposed to actively speak against and expose it (Ephesians 5:11). I know that some men and women go to such places in search of wives and husbands, but honestly, if you think about it, would you expect to find the pure, the good, and honourable frequenting such places without a dynamic witness of truth, light, and purity? Like is attracted by like. Birds of a feather flock together.
As a Christian/Messianic polygamy ministry we do not attract swarms of people because we insist that the bottom line of discipleship be purity in love. And purity is always defined by the commandments. Typically those who do not obey the commandments demand that everyone parade their innermost secrets and depths for all to gloat at or trample upon. We, however, are warned not to cast our pearls before swine, and certainly never other people's pearls (Matthew 7:6). The idiosyncracies of spouses, for example, which are expressed only between spouses, should remain private. And certainly sexual matters - which are the sole province of the married - should never be discussed except in general terms and within the boundaries affixed by Scripture:
Now there are some important principles tied up in this passage which we need to examine closely. The first point is that Christians/Messianics should not dwell on the evils that their lives are exposing in others. Notice the mode of exposition - it is the conduct of our lives. We expose BY CONTRAST because discussing these things brings "shame". The way we are, exposes what others are, NOT OUR WORDS. What is the "light" which exposes? Scripture tells us that this light is Yahweh Himself, through His Son through the Holy Spirit. It is our holiness (set-apartness, differentness) that so agitates the invisible world of men' and women's souls.
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says:
"Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light"
(Ephesians 5:10-14, NKJV)
Notice also that the carnal and unregenerate are described as "sleepers". Though they may be physically awake their spiritual self is unconscious and unaware. And this is something I have also consistently noticed in the spiritually dead: they are simply oblivious to the way preople actually are. The things they say are so divorced from reality that when you listen to them it sounds fantastic ... like something from a fiction novel. They may be able to see you with their eyes, read your writings, and yet completely misread everything. Such people lack what I call conscious-awareness of others because they are so wrapped up in their own inner illusion. And one way to expose them is to watch them in a situation where they are counselling someone else. So typically they have no personal interaction with the counsellee and are interpreting everything through the lenses of their own experiences but which they believe is the Holy Spirit. And whilst personal experience is by no means unimportant, it is never enough to counsel spiritually, and will always ultimately fail and result in false directions. In the same way that "no prophecy of Scripture is by private interpretation" (2 Peter 1:20), so no human being is by "private interpretation" either but must be by the Holy Spirit! The reason that people are so often misgudged and wronged is because this spiritual discernment is lacking. And if it is lacking, then the cause is invariably a cloud of sin within, whose origin is usually lies about what we believe about the outside world, and which always end up misreading people. And though it may wax eloquent in words and apparent understanding in the human mind, in the spirit it is groping in the dark.
When two people have the Holy Spirit there is this 'inner knowing' which no words can explain. Others may try to 'explain' it but they will always fail. That is why Christ is not understood by sinners or by unbelievers. The whole doctrine of the cross is foolishness to them (1 Corinthians 1:18). Indeed, the whole concept of sacrificial ahavah/agapé love might as well be a language of an alien species from another planet. When I am talking with Scandinavian friends I often jokingly remind them how, before the Vikings were converted to Christianity, that no concept of 'mercy' (nåde) was known to them. And it wasn't. It simply wasn't in their vocabulary. And we are now witnessing a generation of people in the West who have grown up without Christianity in whose experience vital aspects of Christian grace are incomprehensible because they have been fed a diet of self-serving materialism.
The end-time Church (Messianic Community) is, we are told, infected with tares coming to maturity. It is only as the tares ripen, however, that the difference between them and the wheat can be seen, because outwardly they look identical. It is by the fruit that ultimate discernment comes. We are to look at their lives to see (and remember, it is by our lives that we expose darkness). What are they doing with their lives? How are they conducting themselves? "Be very careful, then, how you live" (Ephesians 5:15, NIV), Paul said, "because the days are evil". Whether we like it or not, the Christian/Messianic polygamy community is thoroughly infiltrated by unbelievers, satanists, pagans, nominal Christians, damaged Christians, and lawless Christians. It may be unpleasant to say so, and perhaps some will say it is 'unloving', but it is a fact and we dare not ignore reality. "Therefore do not be foolish," the apostle continues, "but understand what the Lord's will is" (v.17), and the only way you're going to know that is by walking in obedience, purity and love. "Be filled with the Spirit", he insists (v.18) - not sprinkled, but filled. "Sing and make music in your heart to Yahweh, always giving thanks to Elohim (God) the Father for everything, in the Name of our Lord Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)" (v.20). And "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ".
Some important things to note. The "filling" by the Spirit is the Greek present tense - it is a not a 'once-for-all' experience. Repeatedly, as required, the Spirit empowers us for worship, service and testimony. And the contrast between being filled with wine and being filled with the Spirit is obvious - there is a complete change in personality. But there is also a warning: we can come under the influence of other 'spirits' that seem like the true Spirit but which more resemble the effects of drunkeness. And that we have to watch out for. Many people can get heady and drunk in their own emotions and think it is the Spirit. It isn't, for we know what the fruits of the Spirit are (Galatians 5:16-26).
One thing I have recently taken to doing is always having a Christian/Messianic songbook next to me when I am talking to people on-line. Something guaranteed to drive away most false Christians/Messianics is an invitation to praise, sing and worship with them on-line. And it's a pretty good measure of the Spirit ... to see whether you're operating on a 'full tank' on just on drops. If people are gossipping and tale-bearing, invite them to prayer and praise, things which Satan (the Adversary) hates. The Spirit unites those who love Yahweh but causes those to flee who do not.
The polygamy community as a whole - and even the 'Christian' Polygamy Community generally - can never be united but those within it who love Yahweh their Elohim (God) with all their mind, might and strength, can, should, and must be united. This will take time but is worth the effort. We hope that in this ministry we can play our part.