Sunday, 15 May 2016

All that glitters……….

Let us fear God and give glory to Him and to not allow ourselves to be led astray, neither to the left nor right.
Matthew 24:4 ‘Take heed that no one deceives you’ is a powerful warning given by our Saviour which is reinforced in Matthew 24:11 and Matthew 24:24 and given extra weight by the ‘watch and be ready’ stated in Matthew 24:42 & Matthew 24:44, and the expectation of obedience in Matthew 24:46. A clue to the dynamic of deception can be found in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 ‘For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables’. Here both sides of the coin are highlighted. We want to hear what appeals to us, and such is the nature of the marketplace, there are a selection of Isaiah 30:10 teachers and prophets on hand, happy to oblige.

In the media we often come across financial scams that can trap the unwary. Health is another battleground rarely out of the news. Despite the advice, initiatives and statistics many pursue eating habits which compromise their health. The food sector seems to offer products that are tempting, convenient and almost thrust under our noses, which makes a wise choice all the more difficult. Our spiritual walk would appear to be no less hazardous. There are roaring lions; 1 Peter 5:8, savage wolves Acts 20:29; false prophets 1 John 4:1; and a dragon; Revelation 12:17, to say nothing of the broad road leading to destruction in Matthew 7:13. Can’t I just enjoy my Christian life without all this hassle, listen to my favourite teachers and sing along to the lively praise, keep eating the cakes and investing in that nice Nigerian boiler room scheme that found me on-line, offering to double my investment in two years?

There is an interesting little verse in Exodus 20:20 in which God seems to hint that He will test His people; ‘And Moses said to the people, Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin’. This is further supported in Psalm 11:4 ‘The LORD is in His holy temple, The LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men’. A look at Revelation 13:14 provides us with further illumination, showing us that the wild beast, in misleading or deceiving, is undertaking work given or granted to it, (inferred – by God). My simple take on this keeps intact the absolute sovereignty of God who is not thwarted by the working of evil, but rather uses it to judge, test and refine. Other verses such as Amos 5:6 ‘seek Me and live’; Luke 13:24 ‘strive to enter through the narrow gate’ and Revelation 22:14 ‘Blessed are those who ‘do’ His commandments’ would seem to imply that our Christian life is neither a cakewalk nor a blab and grab prosperity scheme.

God has created us hoping that we would enter into a relationship with Him based on our walking before Him in fear, and giving to Him, glory (Revelation 14:7), thanksgiving (Psalm 50:14), praise (Psalm 148:1), obedience (Deuteronomy 4:30), and trusting in Him (Psalm 37:3). Furthermore, holding to sound doctrine (2 John 9), enduring to the end (Matthew 10:22) and walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), that we might avoid falling away (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

Am I trying to make the reader feel uncomfortable? Absolutely! The Bible is full of typology, the exile of the nation of Israel for idolatry and syncretism being one such example. If they were so punished perhaps we should give due heed, less we have to endure the mother of all exiles. In fact, 24 out of 27 New Testament books carry some form of warning against deception. The Greek word ‘prosecho’ translated to ‘beware’ or ‘take heed’, found for example in Matthew 7:15, carries the weight not only of warning, but also command. C. H. Spurgeon warned of a time coming when, instead of shepherds feeding sheep there would be clowns entertaining goats. He also said deception is not a matter of right from wrong, but of right from nearly right. In other words, it wouldn’t be deception if it was obvious. This is a time to wake up and pray, to seek wisdom by the Holy Spirit so that in the midst of our abundance of conferences, worship concerts, prophetic workshops, teaching series, TV ministries and the like, we would not find ourselves wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked (Revelation 3:18).

The Biblical imperative to the righteous has always been to come out from that which is corrupted and so escape destruction (Genesis 19:17, Jeremiah 51:45 and Revelation 18:4). Today I see the modern western church happily following the pied piper down a broad road. The average Christian happy to accept any teaching that takes their fancy, and without question. Often defending it without any sound Scriptural basis.

Two further Scriptures need prayerful consideration in this admittedly superficial introduction to the working of deception within the professing church. Matthew 13:33 gives us a picture of a woman, here a symbol of false religion, concealing leaven, (always a symbol of sin in the Bible - Exodus 12:8, Exodus 15:20 & Luke 16:5), into the measured meal, representing our fellowship with God (Genesis 18:6-7). The second is Revelation 17:1-6 which I will pass without comment save to say, that if somebody is after our blood and aiming to destroy our precious salvation, then we really ought to do our best to find out who they are, and stay well out of their way. As Matthew 24:24 points out, even the chosen ones might be misled. Interestingly, in the Complutensian edition as well as two of Stephen’s editions, Revelation 13:14 says ‘and he misleads the ones of mine dwelling…’.

Read and study the Bible often and with an open heart to the Holy Spirit and with a true hunger for God’s righteousness, willing to abandon prejudices collected along the way and questioning everything. Truth can stand honest scrutiny. We are called to test the spirits in 1 John 4:1, but cannot do that successfully if we are Biblically illiterate and rely mainly on the teachings of man for our standard or plumb line.

Psalm 37:5 ‘Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him’

Picture 1: Ezekiel 33:6                    Picture 2: Luke 13:34

Author: Rick Watson

May God bless and enrich your life

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  1. Thank you SO much for taking the time to Bless many with this Blog. The Blog answers many of the questions that I have been asking God recently. I look forward to looking up the scriptures and learning some more. ALL the Glory to God ALWAYS Amen. Sister Tina

  2. A reminder for us to keep our eyes focused on the cross and to be watchful at all times. Thank you and God bless

  3. God Bless. Lots of scriptural backing too!

  4. A refreshing and honest account of the dangers not studying our bible enough (which is gods letter to us). We must all be very careful in these days. Well done.

  5. We thank God for encouraging words and to commit ourselves to him always