I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Romans 16:17-20 ESV
All throughout the New Testament, the church – the professed followers of Jesus Christ – are warned against being deceived (Rom. 16:18; 1 Co. 3:18; 1 Co. 6:9-10; 1 Co. 15:33; 2 Co. 11:2-4; Gal. 6:3; Gal. 6:7-8; Eph. 5:3-6; 2 Thess. 2:3; Jas. 1:16, 26; 1 Jn. 1:8; 1 Jn. 2:26; 1 Jn. 3:7).
And, we are told to watch, to watch out, to beware, etc. (Matt. 16:6; Matt. 25:13; Matt. 26:38-41; Mk. 8:15; Mk. 14:38; Lu. 21:34; Rom. 16:17; 1 Co. 16:13; Gal. 5:15; Gal. 6:1; Col. 4:2; 1 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet. 5:8; 2 Jn. 1:8).
Thus, since the church has received so many warnings about things we are to watch out for, and since we are cautioned so often in scripture against being deceived, I believe it behooves us to be watchful, and to be discerning, and to be wise, and to not have our heads “in the sand,” so to speak (1).
Yet, far too many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ don’t take these warnings seriously. They don’t watch out, because they don’t think they have to. They don’t worry about being deceived, because they don’t believe that is something that will impact their lives or their eternal destiny.
And, the result is that we have many professers of faith in Jesus Christ who are not heeding these warnings, and who are not being watchful, and thus they are being deceived by the thousands, or perhaps millions, by master manipulators and deceivers whose goal it is to destroy the church and the gospel of our salvation.
This is one of the big areas where many are being deceived by these master manipulators. For, deception involves using the truth of scripture, but using it in such a way so as to twist it to mean something other than its intended meaning. And, its aim is always to destroy the gospel and Jesus Christ and his messengers, and to lead people away from pure devotion to Jesus Christ.
So, the deception I have seen take place in the church in recent years, with regard to “those who cause divisions,” has been to accuse those who are teaching the true gospel of being those who cause divisions.
For, so many people today are teaching “unity” as unity with business marketing schemes, and not as unity with the mind of Christ and the teachings of his word. So, if you are united with Christ in mind and heart, but you are not united with business marketing schemes, then you are considered a “disunifier” that needs to be “watched out for.”
But, the ones we are to “watch out for” are those who are taking scripture out of context to build doctrines around those “cherry picked” scriptures, and who are diluting the gospel of our salvation in order to cheapen God’s grace so that it will be more acceptable to human flesh and to the world.
We are to watch out for those who tell you that you can “believe” in Jesus, have heaven guaranteed you when you die, but that you don’t have to surrender your life to Jesus, you don’t have to turn from your sins, and you don’t have to obey Jesus Christ in order to have eternal life with God. For, scripture teaches we do have to repent of our sins, surrender to Christ, and walk in obedience to his commands if we want to have eternal life with God.
[Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Eph. 4:17-24; Eph. 5:3-6; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Jn. 14:23-24; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Jn. 8:31-32; 1 Co. 15:2]
Their Own Appetites
Now, this really nails it on the head, doesn’t it? These people who are truly those who cause divisions, and who create obstacles contrary to the doctrine taught by Jesus, by Paul, and by the other NT apostles, do so because they aren’t serving Jesus Christ but their own sinful appetites. And, this really is the bottom line that is behind the cheap grace gospel message.
I mean, pure logic would dictate that alone. For, if you are teaching a gospel of salvation absent of repentance, absent of submission to God, and absent of obedience to Christ, then it gives you carte blanche to continue in your sinful practices without guilt and without punishment. And, who does that serve? It serves the flesh, not God, for Jesus saved us that we might be for his glory and praise, not so we could keep our sinful addictions.
Yet, these who teach this cheap grace gospel are smooth talkers, charmers, actors and entertainers, and they know how to twist the scriptures to their advantage, and they know how to get people to like them and to follow them, in place of becoming true followers (disciples) of Jesus Christ.
They are very manipulative, and they are smooth, and they are very deceptive. And, what they say sounds right and it sounds good on a surface level to those who are not skilled in the scriptures and who don’t know what to watch out for. For, they appeal to human flesh. They appeal to our emotions and to what feels good. So, they play on our emotions, and they charm, and they manipulate, and people eat this stuff up.
So, this is why we have to be students of the Word of God, and this is why we need to study the Word of God in context, and this is why we need to be walking in obedience to our Lord, too, so that we can discern error, and so that we can see manipulation and trickery for what it is.
An example that comes to mind is how some people will put scriptures on a page, but they won’t actually refer to them. But, they will then proceed to teach whatever it is they are teaching. The presence of the scripture alone gives the impression that what is being taught is biblical, and it also gives the impression of a connection between the scripture and what is being taught. So, it is a subliminal message that gets conveyed which is that what is being taught is related to that scripture, and this is mind control.
Wise and Innocent
So, we need to be wise regarding what is good, and we need to be innocent with regard to what is evil. And, the only way we are going to do this is if we surrender our hearts to Jesus Christ, we turn away from our sinful lifestyles, and we follow our Lord in obedience to his commands, by the Spirit of God.
Then, we need to cut out of our lives all forms of input into our minds which are distracting us from the truth, and which are filling our minds with the garbage of this world. For, if our minds are cluttered with the garbage of this world, there is no way we are going to be able to discern truth from error and good from evil, because the world cleverly blends good and evil together so that it is hard to know where one begins and the other leaves off.
And, just let me say this. The media (all sorts) can be very hypnotic and mind controlling. I have found that people who watch a lot of TV tend to regurgitate whatever it is they see and hear on TV. And, this can go for YouTube videos, video gaming, and social media, too, et al. They think they are intelligent people, but they are just spewing forth what they hear in the media, especially if it leans to the left or to the right politically speaking.
So, I would challenge you to put your TVs and your video games and your social media and YouTube, or whatever it is you do to entertain yourselves, off to the side. And, the time you would normally spend on those, spend that time, instead, in prayer, and in studying the scriptures, and in watching and listening to what is wholesome and of God, and in sharing the gospel with others. And, then just watch how your thinking changes, and how your attitudes change, and how your behaviors change, too.
The Spirit Calling
An Original Work / November 12, 2019
Hear the Spirit calling.
He’ll keep you from falling.
Tenderly He’s calling,
“Come and follow Him.”
Walk with Jesus daily.
Don’t give in to lazy.
Folks may call you crazy.
Fellowship with Him.
Follow where He leads you.
Eat what Jesus feeds you.
His love will renew you
If you follow Him.
Do what Jesus tells you.
Don’t let your faith fail you.
His love will avail you
If you walk with Him.
Jesus, Lord and Savior,
Reigneth now forever.
He gave us His favor
So we’d live with Him.
Turning now from our sin,
Holy Spirit live-in.
Holiness we walk in,
Purified by Him.
Monday, November 18, 2019