James 3:1-5a ESV
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
There are many purported teachers of the Word of God these days who are teaching and proclaiming a mixed bag of truth and lies, of righteousness and wickedness, of what is of God and what is of man, and of Christianity and false religions. And, what many of them are proclaiming as truth is not the pure word of God, but it is that which blocks the passage of the true Light of the gospel from getting into the hearts of the people.
Instead of it being the pure Word of God that they teach – which is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12) – what they teach is muddy, obscure, and artificial, with many variations of darkness and deceptive and destructive influences mixed in to the pot.
So they are gambling, not only with their own lives, but with your lives, and with your destiny, that if you follow after their lies, instead of after the truth, that you will still win out in the end. But, it is a “crapshoot,” for you are betting that they are right. But, what if they are wrong? For what they are telling you is not pure truth but a deception and a manipulation of truth, and you will not win out in the end, but you will lose BIG TIME!
For, they are allowing for your sins to continue on in your life habitually, to continue to accumulate, until they are piled high to heaven, and then God will judge you for them most certainly.
For, these teachers require no death to sin, no living to righteousness, and no submission to Christ and to his cross, as necessary to your salvation from sin and eternal life with God. For, they pick and choose the scriptures that fit their purposes, and they twist and manipulate truth to their advantage so that it appeases the flesh of man instead of honoring God as the holy and righteous God that He is.
So, instead of just listening to what humans are telling you – not that you should just automatically disregard everything people say, of course, unless it is blatantly false – you need to be studying the scriptures to see what they are teaching, but in context, and you need to test what humans are saying.
For, many false doctrines are built from scriptures taken out of context. And, don’t just read a few verses around the verses in question, but read them in the context of the whole book in which they are written. And, then compare them with other scriptures, too, always in light of the New Covenant Relationship God now has with his people. And, do this prayerfully, honestly seeking truth, and asking for God’s guidance and discernment as you read.
For, there are many false teachers out there who are knocking at our hearts’ doors, who are trying to get us to desert our faith, to deny the Lordship of Christ over our lives, and who are trying to get us to compromise truth and to blend in with the world. So, they are pressing hard against those they are now calling “extremists,” i.e. those who still hold to the tenets of the faith, and those who are still proclaiming the pure Word of God in its fullness.
For, their ultimate goal and purpose is to bring the whole world under one head, that of the beast, and under a one-world religion. So, we need to pray for much discernment so that we don’t get caught in their web of deceit, and so we don’t end up deserting the faith to follow after their lies.
James 3:5b-12 ESV
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
So, the Lord put this old song (below) in my head to illustrate this scriptural truth here, so I am going to share it with you as he gave it to me. For, as it unfolded, it was a perfect description of what this is talking about.
There was an old lady who swallowed a fly;
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – perhaps she’ll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a spider;
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her!
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!…
There was an old lady who swallowed a horse;
She died, of course (Lyrics by Rose Bonne).
The Old lady I saw as Babylon, i.e. the Great Prostitute mentioned in the book of Revelation, who I believe represents the false church, i.e. the state-church, which is an organization of men, not of God, and which combines Christianity in with the world and with human philosophy and marketing schemes (tricks, manipulations and twisting of truth) in order to win the world to a Christianized version of what the world is already offering.
She believes these false teachers (the spider) who spin their webs of deceit, who preach false gospels, and who lie to and manipulate the people. She swallows their lies into her mind and heart, which is then reflected in her attitudes and in her behaviors. For, their lies tickle her itching ears. Thus, she is “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph. 4:14).
Because she believed the deceptions, and not the truth, she became entangled in their web of deceit, and she applied their lies to her life instead of applying the truth. So, she began to live a lie, as well, often putting on a show of righteousness, while hiding all her secret sins inside where no one else could see them but God. And, she began to then make excuses for her sins, and to justify them, and then to cover them up with more lies until they all accumulated inside of her into a mass that eventually killed her.
Because she knew she was now following after what she knew was wrong, she became resistant to the truth, and she became bitter of spirit, especially against anyone who was proclaiming and who was living the truth. And, that bitterness inside her began to consume her. But no matter what else she took inside her mind and heart, it could not kill the pain that was eating her up inside because of the sin she refused to let go of. And so she became even more bitter, and she took out her bitterness on others, especially on those who were trying to lead her to the truth.
So, what began as swallowing (accepting, believing) a small lie grew inside of her, because to kill that lie she had to accept another, and to try to kill that lie, or to cover it up, I should say, she had to accept an even bigger lie, and the lies and the cover-ups just continued to accumulate until she finally swallowed the biggest lie, which was the beast, and that did kill her.
The Lies that Kill
For, the lies she was accepting did not deliver her from her sinful condition, but they only increased it. For, the lies told her that God was ok if she crossed over his boundary lines into what is vulgar, obscene and lewd, because he loves her, and because of his grace to her. But, that is a cheap grace which tells you that. It is a cheap grace which removes God’s boundary lines for us, which are meant for our protection, and that gives permission to keep on willfully in sinful practices which will kill us.
So, instead of listening to God, she closed her mind’s eye to the truth, and she refused to face the reality of her sins, which she did not want to admit, and she refused to face the truth of what they would do to her if she continued in them (in practice). So, she put on airs, and she pretended that she was righteous, and that she was walking with the Lord, because she didn’t want to have to admit her sins and to forsake them.
Thus, she accepted (swallowed) a gospel message which is worthless and devoid of anything which can save her soul from hell. And so she died, of course.
Yet, the truth of all of this is that many professing Christians have wandered off from their pure devotion to Christ to follow after these “spiders” who spin their “webs of deceit,” and they have been caught, too, in their traps. And so they are now following after what is false, rather than after what is truth. And so they are now living a lie, and are covering up the lies with more lies, so unless they turn from their sin, they will die in their sins.
The truth, though, is that Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 6:1-23). He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us on that cross (2 Co. 5:15).
For, the Word of God teaches that we are all going to reap what we sow. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we are going to reap destruction (decay, death). But, if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. So, know the truth, believe the truth, and live the truth, for your life and your eternity depend on it (Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 8:1-17).
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
Lyrics by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1887
Music by A. J. Showalter, 1887
What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
*Copyright status is public domain