A Charlatan is an impostor, a fake, a fraud, a swindler and a con artist; “one making usually showy pretenses to knowledge or ability” (M-W Dictionary).
And, a fraud is one who deceives, schemes and tricks others with his lies; with his pretenses and his clever stories he makes up. And fraud, itself, is “deceit, trickery specifically: intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right” (M-W).
The Lord put this word “Charlatan” in my mind this morning as I was praying for his direction with this passage of scripture. So, I believe his intention here is not only that I look at the truth of these scriptures, but that I also look at how these truths are being perverted today by these Charlatans.
Matthew 18:1-4 ESV
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
So many of these Charlatans today are saying that all we have to do is repeat some words after someone in a prayer, and then they congratulate us that we are now part of the family of God, if we meant those words, and that heaven is now guaranteed us, and that nothing can take that away from us.
Or, they teach that all we have to do is acknowledge Jesus’ existence or that he died on a cross for our sins, and all we have to do is accept his grace, i.e. his forgiveness for our sins, and now eternal life in heaven is guaranteed us no matter what we do from that moment forward, i.e. no matter how much or how often we sin against God, because God’s grace covers it all.
But, this is nothing new. This goes way back to teaching that says all we have to do is to “receive Jesus Christ into our hearts” and now heaven is our eternal destiny. And, once we are saved we are always saved, no matter, again, what we do, for all our sins have been forgiven, past, present and future, so we are no longer under condemnation, and so we’re good to go.
But, Jesus says that, unless we turn, and humble ourselves, and become like children, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And, to “turn” means to change direction, to go the other way, to do an “about face.” Another word for this is to repent, to turn away from our lives of sin and to turn to follow Jesus Christ with our lives in obedience to his will for our lives.
And, to humble ourselves has to do with what Jesus said is required of us if we want to come after him. We must deny self, take up our cross daily, and follow (obey) him. We must lose our lives for his sake, he says, if we want to have eternal life in him, for if we hold on to our old lives of sin, we don’t have eternal life with him, he says (See: Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:7-8).
And, to be like a child is part of being “born again,” i.e. we start over, we turn, we humble ourselves, we aren’t who we were before. Now we have gone through a metamorphosis of the Holy Spirit of God, and we have been brought from death to life, from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God so that we can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Acts 26:16-18).
Matthew 18:5-6 ESV
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
These Charlatans who are teaching a false gospel, or a cheap grace, or a half-truth gospel, which is a lie, are causing many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ to continue in their sin and to remain in bondage, never free from their addiction to sin, but always “struggling.” They are leading them into sin just as much as if they served to tempt them to sin themselves.
And, this is because they are telling their listeners what we talked about in the section above as to what little they say is required of us to have genuine faith in Jesus Christ, and to be guaranteed eternal life with God. For, they are either willfully leaving out the true gospel from their messages or they are very directly telling their adherents that God requires no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to the Lordship of Christ.
Some of them even go so far as to tell their adherents that, once they “believe” in Jesus, they can sin as much as they want and it doesn’t matter because God no longer sees their sin and it is all forgiven. So, they say, their sin no longer matters to God because Jesus took the punishment for their sin, so now they are scott free and can live how they want guilt free.
So, many professing Christians today have not humbled themselves, they have not turned (repented and gone the opposite direction), and they have not become like children, newly born in Christ Jesus, in submission to his Lordship over their lives.
But, they are still going their own stubborn way, living no differently from those who make no profession to faith in Jesus Christ. And, so we have church congregations filled with people who are living spiritually defeated lives, still living in addiction to sin, but with a false hope of heaven as their eternal destiny, and with shepherds leading the way, i.e. the charge. So, someone needs to be telling them the truth which will set them free!
Matthew 18:7-9 ESV
“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.”
God created Lucifer as was one of his angels, but Lucifer, who wanted to be God, rebelled with a third of the angels, so God cast them out of his heaven. Yet, he allowed Lucifer (the devil, Satan) to continue to exist, along with his demons (fallen angels), even knowing Satan was going to tempt humans to sin against God. And, God created humans, too, even knowing that we would sin against him, because this was all part of his plan.
God could have made us puppets (marionettes) controlled by his strings, but he didn’t want puppets. He wanted us to choose him, to desire him of our own free will, and to want to follow him. So, he allowed sin and temptation to exist, because it forces us, I believe, to have to make that choice between God and sin (our flesh). It also moves us and motivates us to draw near to God, and to realize that our dependency needs to be in the Lord, and not in our flesh, for our flesh will fail us, but God will never fail us.
So, although temptations to sin against God are a normal course of human existence, it is not God’s will that we give in to those temptations or that we lead others into temptation. In fact, the reason Jesus Christ died on that cross was to make the way of escape for us out from underneath those temptations, which is the way of the cross, i.e. of death to sin and living to righteousness in the power and strength of our Lord within us.
So, when we are tempted to sin, we are not only to cut out of our lives that sin, but we are also to cut out of our lives what is leading us into sin. And, that should certainly mean that we should cut out of our lives these Charlatans, i.e. these false shepherds of the people who are leading their people into sin by their lies, and by their false grace gospel.
For, note with me here that Jesus is making a direct correlation between us actively giving in to temptations to sin with us being bound for hell and not heaven, because we are being led into sin by some external forces, whether it be these Charlatans or movies, or the internet, or friends or family, etc.
So, he is saying that if we want heaven to be our eternal destiny, and not hell, that we need to cut these things out of our lives which are leading us into sin, and we need to then cut those sins out of our lives so that we can walk in purity of devotion with him. For, Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).
An Original Work / September 14, 2012
Based off Romans 12:1-2; 6:11-14 NIV
Oh, holy ones, I counsel you,
In view of God’s mercy,
To give yourselves to God in love
As living offerings,
Pleasing to God, holy in love.
This is your true worship.
Do not conform to worldly lives.
Let God transform you today.
Then you’ll be able to
Test and approve of what
God’s will is – His pleasing
And perfect will. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Offer yourselves unto God.
Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Do not be conceited.
Humble yourselves before your God.
Do not be self-righteous.
The strength you have to live in love
Comes from your Lord God, so
Live your new lives in pow’r of God.
Be changed in heart, mind and will.
Do this because of what
Christ did for you when
He died on the cross to save
The world from sin. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Humble yourselves before God.
Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Count yourselves dead to sin,
But be alive to God in Christ.
Do not let sin reign in
Your earthly lives so you
Obey its evil desires.
Offer yourselves unto your God
As those who’ve been born again.
For sin shall no longer be
Your lord and master.
Give of yourselves to God
For righteousness. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Be alive to God in Christ.
Friday, May 10, 2019