There are still a few more comments to be made about the parable of the ten virgins before moving on. There is an interesting distinction between the statement made to the five foolish virgins and what was said in Matthew 7:25 where Jesus was talking about those who made a profession of having done so many wonderful works in His Name, including those having prophesied in His Name, cast out demons in His Name, and performed many miracles.
The incredible accuracy of the Scriptures are once more seen with this contrast in comments. To these “miracle workers” in Matthew 7:23, Jesus said He would tell them plainly,
“I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!” In other words, “I don’t recognize you at all! I have never known you to begin with! I never knew you at all!”
To the five foolish virgins something else entirely is said. In this instance the Greek word “oida” (Strong’s 1492) is used and it means “to know intimately, to see or to perceive.” It means, “I know you because I’ve watched you, but we have not been walking in intimacy; as a result you have not been a partaker of My life, My Power, or even My Love. We have no fellowship.”
It is important to see that even though Jesus said the things to the foolish virgins that He did, they do appear to have had the salvation experience, which affords them a place in God’s heaven. What distinguishes the foolish virgins from the wise virgins seems to be encapsulated in the knowing. We can be busy doing all kinds of things—even “spiritual” things, but unless they come from our intimate walk with God, they’ll likely miss God’s intended purpose. Church life, when God’s Spirit is doing the directing, accomplishes God’s purposes but much programming in our day is not birthed from the heart of God, but rather something we thought was a “good idea.” Many of our ideas are cute, they may attract attention, they may make us look clever and even seem great for advertisement purposes, yet still being of the flesh, and nothing more.
So, again, the key is in the knowing, more than the doing. Mary and Martha, friends of Jesus are a good example of this very thing. Mary, who was obviously a wonderful caring woman, was missing the very best available to her at the moment (Luke 10:38-42). Martha was doing all the work of preparation for the meal, etcetera, but apparently her sister Mary had become enthralled with her time available with the Master. As a result, she sat at Jesus’ feet and took in every word He uttered while her sister Martha was doing all the work. Getting into a discussion of how some people find it convenient for others to do all the work is not a place I want to go at this time, but suffice it to say that Master had a point to make that we all should pay attention to. If we are slackers and using that as an excuse in our “spirituality”, God does know the difference.
Here’s the point: We are either going to be single-minded in our walk with God or we’ll be double-minded. The double-minded person faces the struggle of whether Jesus is LORD of his life, or whether “self” is. The definition in Scripture for foolish is “double-minded.” The double-minded person lives a double life. Life (and God’s Light) is still in this believers heart but when it is quenched, “self” begins to rule, and it doesn’t let go easily. So, instead of being an overcomer, this believer is overcome, and as a result, foolish. This means that the Light of God’s Spirit becomes blocked. Luke 11:35 says:
No man, when he hath lighted a lamp, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a lampstand, that they who come in may see the light…Take heed, therefore, that the light which is in thee be not in darkness.” (KJV)
The five wise virgins represent single-minded believers who are experiencing a continuing intimate relationship with the Lord (oida), and so by participating in His life they can pass the same to others. Could this be what Mark 16:15 is saying? We’re all evangelists in a sense. The lion’s share of people who are reached with the Good News of eternal forgiveness available through Jesus Christ is through the one-on-one conversations between people, not evangelists that have been gifted to us by the Holy Spirit—not that we should take anything away from what God has them do, Billy Graham being a prime example.
There is an interesting quote found in the “Pulpit Commentary” which says,
“The parable of the Talents and the Ten Virgins emphasize only Christian people, those who are the immediate servants of the Lord and those who have gone forth to meet the heavenly Bridegroom. The first parable (the Ten Talents), represents the ‘judgment of the outer life’—and the lack of obedience and readiness; the second parable (the virgins) represents the judgment of the inner life of the soul—and a lack of faithfulness.”
Life has a way of burning us out—even the “spiritual” ones of us. In this parable which we are spending so much time with, we find that the foolish virgins may have experienced just that because even though they had kept up their vigilance, the coming of the bridegroom took a really long time. Considering the short time-spans you and I experience, Jesus doesn’t seem to come soon enough. However, we can’t afford to let this cause us to slack off. The Scripture to the Church of Philadelphia fits here once again where it says in Revelation 3, not to let anyone steal their crown—even if it is the mundane, boring wait of life. If we are busy going about fulfilling what God has us doing, it is hard to get bored. We could even get hit with an onslaught of catastrophes reminiscent a little of Job’s trials; nothing is worth allowing the theft of what God has set aside as rewards for our faithfulness. Nothing!
Oil in the Scriptures stands for the Holy Spirit, who had become quenched in the foolish virgins hearts. There was no oil to refill their lamps. As a result, they were unable to go out and meet the Bridegroom. Extra oil means preparation, spiritual preparation. They missed being able to attend the Marriage of the Lamb because they had been distracted—and not just for a short time.
In Ephesians 6:15, it tells us to have our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace. We have to put off the flesh! God requires us to be prepared with clean, white linen garments that are necessary for admittance to the Wedding Ceremony. (Revelation 19:7-8) This means we literally need to die to ourselves. John 12:24-25 says:
“Unless a corn of wheat fall to the ground and die, it will abide alone; but if it dies, it will bring forth much fruit.” Most of us find it very hard to die to ourselves, but that is the key to real life—life that only God can bring. This enables us to fulfill the command to have our lights burning brightly and set on top of a candlestick so all can see it (Luke 8:16).
At the end of this parable, I find Jesus making a thought-provoking comment. He said, “Watch, (be ready, be prepared), for you know not the hour that the Son of Man cometh” (Matthew 25:13). Most today in our world are not doing this. Not even the Church is doing this! Yet, we need to be morally and spiritually prepared for His imminent return. We should already be in a state befitting His return.
To be at a prepared state for the return of Jesus is not having arrived at a spiritual plateau. We live in a fallen world that is full of evil. No matter how careful we are in our habits of living, there are constant bombardments of things that can draw us away from our intimacy with Christ. We need to be washing ourselves with the Word of God every single day. Taking stock of ourselves often and examining how we are doing in our walk with God is essential. We are temples of the Holy Spirit. God is building us into vessels that will produce the fruit He is looking for. The things we go through here, hardships, pain, and struggles are just a tunnel toward the finish line, which is glorious! That is where we are headed. The late David Wilkerson said this in one of his newsletters:
“The battle you’re enduring now is not about this world, not about the flesh, and not about the devil. Rather, the warfare you’re facing is preparation for your eternal service in glory.”
Preparing ourselves for Kingdom life is not something we normally think about, nor are most of us taught on the subject. And yet, as already said earlier in this series, Jesus talked about it much. We today live in the age of the Church of Laodicea. The true followers of Messiah Jesus still have the characteristics of the Philadelphia Church, but most in our church world—at least in the western culture, think we’re doing quite well. In Revelation 3, towards the end of the chapter, it says we think we’re rich and in need of nothing, but in reality we are poor, blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17). Not only have our robes become defiled but are quite often not even there!
Much of the Church is experiencing the same societal collapse as in the non-church world. How can this be? There seems to be failure everywhere—in our homes, jobs, with our kids, with our marriages, our morals, and every part of our lives. This brings hopelessness. Yet, we are children of the KING of the ages. Let’s allow the power of God’s Word as well as the Power of the Holy Spirit continue to change us and turn us into imitators of our Master as it says in Ephesians 5:1.
The bottom line is the need for us to be diligent. This is the determining factor for where we will stand in the Kingdom of our Lord. This is not a popular stance to take because we would rather hear that we receive all of the blessings and rewards of the Kingdom, regardless what we have done with our lives. Who wants to hear of perceverance? Who wants to hear that there are consequences for living a sloppy, careless, Christian life? The Blood of Jesus for salvation and actually taking the step of making Him LORD of our lives is just the beginning! At this point, the penalty for sin has been paid which is justification, but we have not allowed His Lordship to help us become free of the bondage of sin—which is sanctification. Sanctification is a lifelong process, whereas justification happens in an instant.
We need to keep the Kingdom in mind. It will affect everything we do or say. It will also affect our eternal destiny. 2 Peter 3:11-14 says:
“Seeing, then, that all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness. Looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God, in which the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise look for new heavens and a new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless.”
Keeping the Kingdom in mind helps us to stay reminded that we are preparing our wedding garments now for what we are going to wear there. None of us want to hear, “You’re not prepared, you are not ready to enter this wedding.” I simply don’t know you– oida. And then He shuts the door (Matthew 25:12). Entering the Marriage ceremony and inheriting the Kingdom comes with endurance, perseverance, suffering, and personal crucifixion.
Here is what Paul the Apostle said late in his life to the Philippians:
“Not as though I had already attained, either we’re already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; behind, and reaching forth unto those things with are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
(Continued in Part 7, along with a more in-depth look at the man without his wedding garment.)