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The Harlot Church System, Part 4
8 September 2014
 
 
This is the fourth in a six-part series of articles presenting excerpts from Charles E. Newbold’s book The Harlot Church System, taken from chapters 9 through 11.

In this book, the author’s thoughts and arguments build from one chapter to the next. Therefore, if you have not read the previous parts yet, I strongly encourage you to do so now before you read today’s article. This is especially important because throughout the book, Mr. Newbold uses words like church, “it,” “Self” and “Thing,” with very precise and special meanings. In order to understand what he means by these words, you will want to read his introduction in Chapter 1 of Part 1 very carefully.

As I shared previously, Entire sentences highlighted in this color are MY emphasis — thoughts which struck me as especially important. All other emphasis is the author’s, or implied by the author. If the flow of thought from paragraph to paragraph feels disjointed at times, that’s because it is! Except for the three articles in which I share entire chapters, I’ve taken paragraphs which were spread throughout each chapter, so there can be large chunks of text missing in between the paragraphs I’ve included here. That’s why you need to buy your own copy and read the whole thing!
Chapter 9 — The Nicolaitans
Consider these three virtues of God’s true ministers: they will say what God says, do what God says do, and be what God wants them to be. They cannot do otherwise.... it takes all three virtues to be a true minister of God: say what God says to say, do what God says to do, and be what God would have one to be.

Balaam was a false prophet. He was bound to say what God wanted him to say. He was forced even by his jackass (donkey) to do what God wanted, but it was not in him to be what God would have him to be. He was greedy and sought to increase himself in power, position, riches, and domination. He put Himself above the concerns of God and God’s people. We are much like Balaam when we ask God to bless our flesh rather than denying our flesh to obey God.

After twelve years behind the pulpit, I turned away from God and left the ministry. Following my conversion years later, God pinned me down in what I call my wilderness experience. It lasted for many years. God put me through His school of the Holy Spirit. This was a time of learning the word of God for myself, of receiving revelations, and of being purged of many spots and wrinkles.
The Rise of Bishops
This Nicolaitan spirit is deceptive and deadly. It is deeply entrenched in most of the men and women who have been trained and nurtured to minister in the church system. Nicolaitan personalities have ruled in the churches since the first century A.D.

According to New Testament records, elders were appointed in every city and they existed in plurality. No man was given that responsibility alone. Elders were not called bishop nor pastor. They were elders who shepherded the flock of God among whom the Holy Spirit had made them overseers (which is the Greek word episkopos, also translated “bishop”) — Acts 20:28.

The terms elder, shepherd, and overseer refer to the same person. Elder has to do with who they were. Shepherd has to do with what they did. Overseer has to do with how they did what they did. An elder is one who is called of God to perform a function in the body of Christ and was never intended to be a position, office, title, or institution in the Kingdom of God.

This unscriptural “office” of bishop was the seedbed in which the hierarchical system of clergymen took root and flourished in the eventual rise of the Roman Catholic Church. The power of the office of bishop was such that simony became an issue in the church. Simony is the buying and selling of ecclesiastical (church) positions. Similarly, nobles, kings, and emperors were known to have appointed and investitured bishops and abbots in order to have political control of the church.

Jesus exhorted His followers regarding this need for veneration: “But you are not to be called Rabbi: for one is your Teacher, Christ; and all you are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither are you to be called masters: for one is your Master, Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12).

I boldly declare that the Nicolaitans today are all those who promote the clergy system, which separates the so-called “professional” ministry from the so-called laity. They are those who seek to increase themselves in power, position, riches, and domination and generally do so at the expense of the saints. This “clergy system” is the work of the harlot spirit in the churches.

The Nicolaitans are those shepherds of Ezekiel 34 whom God prophesied against for feeding themselves when they should have fed the flock. They ate the fat and clothed themselves with wool, killed those who were fed, did not strengthen the diseased, did not heal those who were sick, did not bind up those who were broken, did not bring back those who had been driven away, did not seek those who were lost, and ruled over the ones they did have with force and with cruelty. Their flocks were scattered and became meat to all the beasts of the field.
Chapter 10 — The Marks of the Pharisees
The association between Satan and the Pharisees is without dispute. Why did Jesus call the Pharisees snakes? What objection did He have to them? After all, they were devoutly religious and zealous to keep the law.... Jesus hated the way the Pharisees misused and abused authority.... Only Jesus is the head of His body, the ekklesia (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 1:22,5:23; Colossians 1:18).

Jesus hated the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.... Hypocrisy is pretending something on the outside that does not exist on the inside.... The whole climate of church is clouded with hypocrisy. The church should be the one place we can go and feel safe enough to be ourselves, but it is not. We put on our masks and hide behind our Sunday morning smiles long enough to fulfill our obligations to God, feel good about doing it, and get to the restaurant before the other churches let out. Sunday morning church has little to do with how we live the rest of the week.
Legalism
Jesus hated the mean legalism of the Pharisees.... Legalists in churches still bind people to church systems and orders, church buildings, church services and rituals, church giving, and church work — things that have nothing to do with Jesus or the Kingdom of God. People are made to feel guilty and unspiritual if they do not go to church.

We do not keep the Sabbath by going to church on Sunday or by napping all day Sunday. We keep God’s law by entering into Jesus through faith. Jesus is our Sabbath rest (Hebrews 4:1-10). He is our righteousness. Jesus is not looking for a people who will keep the Sabbath day holy. He is looking for a people who will keep themselves holy (separated). Keeping the Sabbath day is not how we keep ourselves holy. Holiness is the work of God’s Holy Spirit in us, separating us from the love of the world.

Holiness is a change of nature from within us as the result of God’s work in us. It is not what we do outwardly, but who we are inwardly that matters to God. We are as phony as the Pharisees if we think our righteousness could ever depend upon what we do outwardly — the clothes we wear, the way we fix our hair, the food we eat or don’t eat, the way we worship, or going to church. We live, move, and have our being in Jesus every moment of every day.
Recognition and Position
Jesus hated the ’ desire for recognition and how they pursued admiration for themselves.... Jesus hated the self-inflated desire of the Pharisees to be above others.... Many are preoccupied with building a kingdom for Self rather than building the Kingdom of God. They build church systems and church buildings rather than people. Worse yet, they confuse the one for the other.

Jesus hated their desire for position.... Insecure people in ministry get their strokes from being in the ministry. There they gain power, position, recognition, security, financial income, and their sense of significance. Mature believers find that Jesus alone is their all in all.... True leaders do not exalt themselves.
Rebellion and Stubbornness
Jesus hated the rebellion and stubbornness of the Pharisees.... Many of the Pharisees had to have known from their thorough knowledge of the scriptures that Jesus was Messiah. Too many coincidences existed between Old Testament prophecies and the events of Jesus’ life and death for those to be ignored. They knew! But did not want to believe (John 9:39-41).

Many leaders in the church system today should know that “their” membership is held hostage by the rigidity of their belief systems and governmental systems, but they refuse to set them free. They teach and preach church, church works, and church membership as “the way.” They need commitment from their membership in order to build a kingdom for themselves.

People are stuck in those places. Those who run the churches invite us to stay put in their place forever and shame us for going from place to place. Those who remain in these places are served up the same day-old, worm-infested manna. Spiritual growth is minimal, if at all. Any growth one might experience is most likely experienced outside of and in spite of that place.

Spiritual growth is, in reality, a spiritual journey. It is a journey that answers the call of Jesus, “Come, follow Me.” “But Lord, let me first go bury my father.” To which He still replies, “Let the dead bury the dead” (Luke 9:59-60). If you find yourself in a dead place, get up and follow the Way, Jesus. Jesus is the Way, not a place. If we are to follow Jesus, we must not get stuck in a place. Church as we know it today is a roadblock to Jesus.
Devouring Others
Jesus hated the way the Pharisees took advantage of widows.... Pharisees are takers, not givers, though they pretend to be giving something in return for offerings and donations.

This practice occurs everyday on so-called “Christian” television and radio. Great promises are made by televangelists to their fleeceable viewers who send them contributions. “Send me a donation of $50 and I will send you this anointing oil from Israel.” The “Jesus” junk they offer is ridiculous. Bracelets, special study Bibles, books, healing cloths. Some will promise to pray for you or send you a book if you send them a donation. What if you do not? Are they still willing to pray for you and send the book? These gimmicks are used to increase their data and support base.
Proselytizing
Rather than bringing others to a faith in and relationship with Yahweh (God), the Pharisees brought them to their religious observances of traditions, days, and rituals; thus implying, “This is the way, walk in it.” In so doing, they put others under bondage to their law. Their motivation was to increase their own sphere of influence.

As with the Pharisees in Jesus’ time, present-day Nicolaitans lead their converts to believe that salvation is assured by being associated with their form of religion. In so doing, they preach “another Jesus” and make their converts twice the children of hell as themselves (Matthew 23:15). Jesus came to set men free. Binding others to our religious practices is an offense to Him. We are to join people to Jesus in order to set them free.
Self-Righteous
Jesus hated the snobbish self-righteousness of the Pharisees.... Self-righteousness is thinking that our righteousness has something to do with how well we perform. It suggests that we can appease God by being good or doing good works, by keeping the law, or such foolish things as fulfilling our Sunday morning obligation. The Pharisees kept the law in order to be saved by the law. Paul expressly stated that “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). They knew the law, but did not know the Spirit of the law.

We are the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). It does not say we “will be,” “we should be,” or “we almost are,” it says “we are.” It has to do with being and not with doing. We are because Jesus made us to be who we are in Him through His own finished work on the cross. There is nothing in fallen, sinful man that has the potential to save himself or to be good enough for God to put His saving stamp of approval upon him.

Nicolaitans today spiritually slaughter the sheep of God when they use them for their personal and sordid gain.... These present-day Nicolaitans, who bear the marks of the Pharisees, are the doorkeepers in spiritual Babylon. Babylon is the Great Mother of Harlots (Revelation 17:5).
Chapter 11 — Jezebel
Spiritual harlotry is seeking anything for Self. It is the flesh hungering to enhance itself. We all have harlot hearts and are easily deceived. When this idolatrous harlotry is brought into our assembly life as the body of Christ, we have the Jezebel spirit in operation. Our idolatry and spiritual harlotry may not be so blatant as hers, but is just as much a hindrance to having an intimate relationship with our Lord.
The Jezebel Spirit Defined
The Jezebel-harlot spirit is seeking anything for Self. It is the idolatry of Self — self-love. Philippians 2:21 reads, “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” Whoever seeks his own is into self-love... self-love is idolatry, and all idolatry is spiritual harlotry. Our sin nature is prone to self-love and his condition is made worse by the enticement of demonic spirits.

The harlot spirit is present anytime we try to build something in the flesh for Self. In contrast, the Holy Spirit is present when we set our hearts to build only for Him and by Him. We deceive ourselves when we think that our great church building programs are for Him. They are not. They are for Self. Many well-meaning, but ill-informed Christians try to exploit the Holy Spirit to advance themselves. Many fake the presence of the Holy Spirit to make their church or their services look good. This is wrong. We have not been given the Holy Spirit to make the harlot look good.
She Leads God’s Servants Astray
Eating things sacrificed to idols is what we do when we allow the old, arrogant, self-centered, self-promoting man of flesh and sin to rule rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to rule. It is the lordship of the harlot instead of the lordship of Jesus Christ.... Those in the churches today who violate God’s sheep in order to increase themselves in power, position, and domination are, likewise, causing the sheep to eat things sacrificed to idols — the idols of self-glorification.

If the Jezebel spirit can succeed in getting God’s bond-servants to worship other gods, to get their eyes off of Jesus and onto themselves, she will have caused them to commit spiritual fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols. She will have caused them to commit sins that are an abomination to God. When we lift up this Thing we call church and join people to it, we turn their hearts away from the one who should be their first and only love, Jesus Christ.
False and True Prophets
The “Ahabs” in the churches today surround themselves with “yes” men. They will continue to bow down to their own Baals and consult with their own prophets of Baal as long as they are addicted to bigger, better, and more. Bigger, better, and more of anything. Bigger, better, and more of everything. Bigger church buildings. Better salaries. More members. Greater offerings. Increased honor, recognition, and reputation. Even when they know this is leading to their destruction, their insatiable appetite for increase drives them on. They do it anyway.

The Jezebel spirit kills the prophets of God. Ahab’s Jezebel is noted for having killed the prophets of the Lord (1 Kings 18:4,13).... If Jezebel cannot kill the prophet of God outright, she will try to seduce him into some immoral, illegal, or unscrupulous act in order to derail him.

The Jezebel spirit in the churches today is no less a threat to the servants of God. Many true and godly servants of Christ have been spiritually and emotionally damaged and disfellowshipped from the churches because they sought to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit against the interest of their rigid denominational traditions.

The Jezebel spirit attempts to destroy the spirit of Sonship when it is preached, perverts the revelation when it comes forth, and holds many people hostage to the religious systems of men.... The Jezebel spirit seeks to position herself as queen.... The Jezebel spirit wants more than anything to rule in the churches and to rule over God’s elect. She targets the leadership when she can.

This idolatrous system of men’s traditions, bundled in this Thing we call church and typified by the Jezebel spirit is destined to be destroyed.
Other articles in this series: Shop for The Harlot Church System book on Amazon.com
This article is 45th a series of articles on this Web site related to Modern Christianity and the Church which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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The Harlot Church System, Part 4
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