#S3-037: Yet More of How to Overcome Racism in the Church [Podcast]

Overcoming the Spirit of Division

Once the Devil was walking along with one of his cohorts. They saw a man ahead of them pick up something shiny. What did he find? asked the cohort. A piece of the truth, the Devil replied. Doesn’t it bother you that he found a piece of the truth? asked the cohort. No, said the Devil, I will see to it that he makes a religion out of it. 1 There has always been religion on the world. A shiny piece of the truth, not the whole truth just a piece of it. A piece of a truth can lead to a whole lie. Israel had descended from the truth of God’s Word into a miry pit of ‘piece religion.’ They had pieces of the truth but not the whole truth.

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Accept the Challenge

Each week’s podcast contains a call to action. The Word of God will not produce in your life unless you put into operation.
This week’s call is:

Racism, strife and division are evil works of the enemy which have no place in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Recognizing the enemy, pulling him out of the shadows into the light is one key to overcoming it.

Join the Conversation

Each week’s podcast also contains a question designed to encourage testimony. Testimony is vital to a believer’s life. We overcome by it (Rev. 12:11).
This week’s question is:

Question: How has the spirit of division impacted you or those around you? Did you recognize it? How did you overcome it? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Episode Resources:

You can find additional information on Racism in the Church in the resources listed below.

  1. #S3:034:  How to Overcome Racism in the Church [Podcast]
  2. #S3:035: More of How to Overcome Racism in the Church [Podcast]
  3. #S3:036: Even More of How to Overcome Racism in the Church [Podcast]

About Emery

Emery committed his life to the Lord Jesus Christ over 40 years ago and has served as both a full-time pastor and an itinerant minister. Both he and his wife Sharon of 35 years emphasize personal growth and development through the Word of God. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is both the focus and the hallmark of their mission. Read more about them here.

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If you enjoyed the podcast, please rate it on Stitcher Radio and leave a review. If you have a suggestion for a Bible topic you would like to see taught, or if you have a question, please e-mail me at emery@emeryhorvath.com

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Podcast Notes

  • As we have already noted, there was religious racism in the first century.
  • It mattered to the Jews if you were a Gentile.
  • It mattered to them because they didn’t have all the pieces in order.
  • The pieces were available to them in the Word.
  • They were looking right at them but didn’t see it.
  • It’s not uncommon. Jesus referenced this phenomenon.

Jewish Attitudes Towards Samaritans

John 12:39-40 (NKJV) 39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: 40 He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.

  • Samaritans (see the photo above) were considered polluted people by the religious elite.
  • Israel didn’t think that their actions constituted racism but that’s exactly what it was.
  • Why were the Samaritans so looked down upon?
  • Just who were the Samaritans?
    • For years I thought Samaritans were Israelites who had intermarried with the people of Samaria.
    • And so because they were only half Israeli, they were looked down upon by the genetically pure tribes.
  • The problem with this theory is that the earliest dated information we have on the Samaritans was recorded by a Jewish historian named Josephus.
  • His account is no doubt slanted by his own ‘Jewish’ feelings concerning the Samaritan people.
  • Though their name is similar to the city of Samaria, the Samaritans took their name from the phrase keeper of the law. 2
  • The Samaritans claim descendancy from the northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh following the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.3
  • So, what we have is two different accounts of who the Samaritan people were.
  • We have the Jewish version.
  • We have the Samaritan version.
  • If the Samaritan version is right, then the Samaritans weren’t from Samaria at all.
  • They were actually Israelites from the northern kingdom.
  • In either case, the racism was plain to see.
  • Jesus alluded to it in his parable about the Good Samaritan.

Luke 10:25-28 (NKJV) 25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said to him, What is written in the law? What is your reading of it? 27 So he answered and said, You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. 28 And He said to him, You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.

  • The word ‘lawyer’ identifies a person who was a legal scholar especially versed in the law of Moses.
  • The lawyer correctly cites two verses of scripture in response to Jesus question on eternal life.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (NKJV) 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

  • This verse, in Deuteronomy six, is called the Shema by Israelites.
  • The word Shema means to hear.
  • The lawyer then quotes a passage in Leviticus.

Leviticus 19:18 (NKJV) 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

  • The ‘lawyer’, got everything right except for his definition of who a neighbor is.
  • To the lawyer and to the Jews in general, a neighbor was an Israelite neighbor only.
  • Foreigners were not neighbors.
  • Gentiles were not neighbors.
  • And if you were a Samaritan, forget about it.
  • No way Samaritans could qualify for neighbor status.
  • A fact that Jesus quickly straightened with His parable.
  • According to the actions of the priest in the parable, this person who was robbed and beaten was not considered a neighbor.
  • According to the actions of the Levite, this person who was robbed and beaten was not considered a neighbor either.
  • According to the actions of the Samaritan, this person who was robbed and beaten was considered a neighbor.
  • Jesus did not buy into the whole Jewish-Samaritan racism behavior because in this parable He framed the Samaritan as the good person who loved his neighbor, something a racist would never do.
  • Israel justified their actions on the treatment of foreigners or perceived foreigners on religious terms.
  • They were separatists.
  • They were elitists.
  • They totally missed the plan of God.
  • They completely got it wrong.
  • They still don’t have it right, to this day.
  • What we need to understand is that the spirit of division exists in the world.
  • It’s a hating and nasty spirit.
  • It was in Jesus day,
  • It’s in Gentile culture.
  • It’s in Jewish culture.
  • It’s in the United States.
  • It’s everywhere.
  • And it’s found its way even into the church.
  • Why?
  • Because everything that’s in the world eventually finds it’s way into the church because people bring their non-renewed into the church.

Israel Totally Missed the Plan of God

  • What was the plan of God?

Exodus 19:6 (NKJV) 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.

  • The New Testament has it this way.

1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV) 9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

  • Who are we to proclaim the praises of God to?
  • Who is supposed to hear that?
  • The unsaved in this world are supposed to be the recipients of the good news of Jesus.
  • So you see when Israel failed to do their job, God took it away from them and moved on to the New Creation man, the man who is born again, as a replacement for Israel as a light to the nations.

Hosea 4:6 (NKJV) 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

  • Israel was commanded by the Lord in His law to love God with their entire being.
  • But, let’s talk about this idea they had about the Samaritan people for a moment.
  • They didn’t realize that there’s no such thing as a pure Jewish person.
  • Everyone says that Abraham was the first Jew.
  • In one sense that’s absolutely the truth, in another sense, it isn’t.
  • Yes, Abraham is the father of Israel and the father of believers in Jesus.

Romans 4:16 (NKJV) 16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all

  • But, Abraham was and is a descendant of Adam.
  • When Abraham became the ‘father of a multitude’ by the hand of God, he had Adam in him.
  • He was whatever Adam was.
  • There are only two people that anyone needs to be concerned with along these lines, the first Adam and the second Adam.

1 Corinthians 15:45-47 (KJV) 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

  • The Greek word quickening’ used in the King James version of the Bible means a life-giving spirit.
  • It means to make alive, to cause to have life or cause to have life a second time.
  • Adam was alive unto God once but when he sinned, he died.
  • He died spiritually first and then physically.
  • And so, Adam was a living soul. He came first.
  • Jesus the quickening spirit or ‘spirit that makes alive a second time’ came afterward.
  • Spirit life is always vastly superior to mere flesh and bone existence.
  • Your genetic background is nowhere near as important as your spiritual heritage.
  • Your identity in Christ lifts you up above the boundaries of racial divide.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV) 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

  • The word ‘creature’ means a ‘divine creation.’
  • Don’t forget the word ‘new’.
  • In Christ, you’re not just a divine creation.
  • You’re a new divine creation.
  • ‘New’ means a creation or a species of being who has never existed before.
  • That’s why there’s not just Jew and Gentile in the world.
  • There is another race of men.
  • There’s the New Creation man.
  • The born again, righteousness of God man.
  • On the planet today, there is Jew, there is Gentile, and there is the New Creation.
  • So far, we’ve looked at social and religious racism in the time of Jesus.
  • But, there were other kinds of racism.
  • There was ethnic racism in the first century.
  • It’s not a new phenomenon.

Ethnic Racism in Jesus Day

Colossians 3:9-11 (KJV) 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

  • Note some of the divisions among men which were highlighted in this verse.
  • This verse states some of the divisions which existed among men during this time.
  • J.B. Lightfoot’s comment on this is revealing.
  • He says: To the Jew, the whole world was divided into Jews and Greeks, the privileged and unprivileged portions of mankind, religious prerogative being taken as a line of demarcation.”
  • What does this statement mean?
  • It means racial divisions were based on peoples own perspective.
  • From the Jewish point of view, it was either Jew or Greek, that is Gentile.
  • From the Roman perspective, life was divided into Greeks and Barbarians.
  • From the Barbarian viewpoint, life was divided into Barbarians and Scythians.
  • Isn’t this the picture of racism and doesn’t this sound familiar?
  • Like some stuff which has happened in our own country?
  • You see it’ all the same spirit.
  • It’s been around for like ‘forever’.
  • So, there was Greek, there was Jew, there was circumcision, uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, slave and free.
  • Who were the Barbarians?
  • The Barbarians were foreigners.
  • They were people who did not speak the Greek language.
  • Much of the known world spoke Greek after Alexander the Great’s conquest.
  • If you didn’t speak Greek, you were considered a foreigner or a Barbarian.
  • Then there were the Scythians.
  • The Scythians were a nomadic, Indo-European people, who spoke an Iranian dialect.
  • They migrated from central Asia into southern Russia between 800 and 600 B.C.
  • Scythians were skilled horsemen who excelled in barbaric attack and plunder.
  • You could say Scythians were Barbarians on steroids, like double Barbarians.
  • Then, of course, the last three groups the Romans, the Greeks, and the Jews were all well known.
  • So, we see that the world of the New Testament was one where social, religious and ethnic racism was common.
  • The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what color you are.
  • It doesn’t matter what social distinctions, you may or may not have.
  • The only thing that matters is that Jesus came.
  • Every human person is an aristocrat.
  • Every human person is noble and of royal blood.
  • For from one blood, God made all men to dwell on the face of the earth.

Hebrews 2:14 (NKJV) 14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

  • We need to think differently about race.
  • We need to think about race the way God thinks about race.
  • Believers in Jesus are under new, management.
  • We are children of the King.
  • And the King’s kids need to think about race just like the King does.

Ethnic Racism In Our Day

  • We’ve already talked about skin color in an earlier podcast as a genetic difference that the enemy magnifies with a spirit of hatred.
  • What about other differences like eye shape, the shape of a person’s eyes.
  • Like what’s the difference between an Asian person and a Caucasian person or an African-American person?
  • The difference is that Asian people have an extra layer of fat above their eye.
  • Everybody has the same fat above their eyes just some cultures have more of it.
  • It’s just like the melanin gene.
  • Eye shape is not a different gene it’s a little more of the same gene.
  • If you take away the skin color, and you take away the eye shape what else is there that makes a people a different race?
  • Nothing, everything else is culture.
  • People say well Asian people are thinner, that’s genetics.
  • Well, it’s amazing when you get them to America how that changes.
  • Other people say well Asian people are shorter.
  • Not all of them.
  • The NBA Houston Rockets at one point signed a 7′ 6 center from China.

The Effect of the Tower of Babel

  • After the Tower of Babel people did section off into groups.
  • They didn’t section off according to genetics. The short people didn’t huddle up with the short people.
  • The people of color didn’t section of with those of color.
  • The people with a different eye shape didn’t form a group based on that physical trait.
  • No, they sectioned off according to language not according to genetics.
  • They divided according to their ability to understand one another.
  • In closing, let’s reiterate again.
  • God made of one blood all men to dwell on the face of the earth.
  • Since there is one blood there is only one sacrifice for man, the Blood of Jesus.
  • The blood of Christ makes us safe; the Word of God makes us sure.
  • Education can polish men, but only the blood of Christ can cleanse them.
  • Next week we are going to talk about diversity, why God believes in it and why you should believe in it.

__________
References:

  1. Between Two Truths – Living with Biblical Tensions, Klyne Snodgrass, 1990, Zondervan , Publishing House, p. 35.
  2. Brian Maiers, Samaritans, ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
  3. R. T. Anderson, Samaritans, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979-1988), 303.

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