Beware of the False Teachings

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There are few people, Christian and non-Christian alike, who don’t recognize that the world of today is filled with wickedness, hatred and evil. We can’t even watch or read the news without being made aware of it. It seems that we could foresee that some of this would creep into the church and indeed it has. There are unfortunately far too many churches that claim to be Christian that are spewing out false doctrine and are teaching things that lack the truth of God. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to true Christians, because the bible says that it would happen and has been happening. The bible also says what will happen to those who falsely teach and those who follow them.

2 Peter 2:1-3   

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

That God despises false prophets and their teaching is very plain in the bible. The reason is easy to understand, too. False teachings, even if they are from misguided but altruistic motives, cause people to be led away from the will of God. His feelings about this are mentioned several times in several ways, including in His own words.

Jer 23:30-32   “Therefore,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. Yes,.. I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,.. They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord.

The problem isn’t that people are gullible, though certainly some of them are. The issue is that a lot of the false doctrines might sound right and seem to make sense. Because of this, a lot of people might think that they are caught in a trap, since it can be so hard to tell the truth from fiction, especially with the master deceiver in charge of the misinformation. However, God provides a way to tell what is his will and what isn’t. Putting it simply, by learning more about Jesus and coming to love him at a deeper and deeper level, we can help prevent ourselves from being taken in by the false teachers, and perhaps from becoming one, unwittingly.

And how to we learn more about Jesus and come to love him more tomorrow than we do today? We can do this by reading the bible daily, reflecting on what we’ve read and praying to God for wisdom and understanding about it. God is quite happy to give us the wisdom and understanding, though not always in our time frame and not always in ways that we expect.

John 7:16-18

16“My teaching is not,” My own Jesus replied. “It comes from Him who sent Me. 17 If anyone desires to do His will, he will know whether My teaching is from God or whether I speak on My own. 18 He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is a man of truth; in Him there is no falsehood.…

Notice that it was Jesus who spoke these words, so we know that we are being given the truth about it. If the belief, doctrine or teaching isn’t fully supported by the Bible, it isn’t from God and isn’t His will. If it isn’t His will, it is false teaching. By getting to know Jesus better and by having him as a best friend, we can get our first insights into when we need to check the bible to see what the scriptures say. We should be reading the bible anyway, but this is just one way that we can apply the knowledge in the bible to our lives.

If I was to ask you who your very best friend is, the first thing that should instantly pop out of your mouth is, “Jesus!” If it isn’t, it means that you don’t know Him well enough and don’t love Him enough yet. This is something we can all work on to a greater degree.

Who is your very best friend?


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Humility is Much More Than Just a Word

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The bible teaches us that we should be humble and there are many passages that encourage humility. Still, it isn’t surprising that many people don’t live a humble life. This world is dominated by arrogance and pride and many people may not even understand that these are exactly the opposite of humility. I’ll confess that I often act in ways that are not humble, as they should be.

We all succumb to pride occasionally, so it is something that we need to continually work on; being humble. Mind you, some kinds of pride are good if your attitude is right and if thanks is given to God. Personally, I’m proud to have such a loving, understanding and forgiving Father. That is justified pride. I’m proud to have a healthy garden, though I acknowledge and give thanks to God for making it that way. My efforts would be nothing without his blessing.

What does the word ‘humble’ mean, anyway? According to Dictionary.com, the word comes from the Latin word “humilis”, which means “lowly, insignificant, on the ground.” Thus, when we kneel in prayer to God, we are humbling ourselves before Him, although in a very minor way. Again, this is the opposite of arrogance. An arrogant person tends not to bow down, though the time will come when they will.

Humility is important enough that it is mentioned many times in the bible and the bible gives strong indications of the advantages of being humble. Here are only a few examples:

Psalms 18:27 You [God] save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

 

Psalms 25:9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

 

Psalms 147:6 The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.

 

Psalms 149:4 For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.

 

Matthew 23:12 and Luke 14:11 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

 

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

This is all well and good, but many people who honestly try to be humble may not realize when they are being prideful. Here is a very common example; suppose a person tells another, “I’ll meet you there tomorrow at 10 o’clock.”

How does that person know that God doesn’t have other plans for the next day? God’s will comes first, so it is arrogant to presume that our plans will take precedent. They will not and cannot take precedence over the will of God.

Chances are good that a Christian wouldn’t mean to be arrogant. To be humble, though, the statement should be more along the lines of: “I’ll meet you there tomorrow at 10 o’clock, God willing.” Notice that the inclusion of just those two words puts the decision in the hands that it belongs in; God’s. Thus, this is a humble statement.

This is a minor example. There are many common examples of a lack of humility that are stronger and more pointed. Anytime you look at someone and think that they should be wearing something nicer or different, you are elevating yourself and are being arrogant rather than humble.

“You should learn how to drive!” is also an arrogant statement, presuming that the person making it is in a superior position that makes them qualified to judge. Bzzz…wrong! Only God is superior enough to be able to judge.

It is easy to see that many things that we say and do are not humble. This can then be considered as a work in progress. We have an excellent example of humility. The actions and words of Jesus were humble, though Jesus was the one person who would be justified in being somewhat less than humble. He taught as much by his actions as his words.

It would be very valid to put this down on our daily prayer request list; asking God to help us to be more humble than we are and to be mindful of our acts of arrogance and pride when they occur. With a greater awareness, perhaps we can walk the path of humility. I am guilty of not being humble like I should be and continually pray that my actions can show more humility. After all, everything that a Christian does is a direct reflection upon our Lord. Would we not want to be more like him, that the reflection would be an accurate one?

How often do you catch yourself lacking in humility? Do you even think about it during your day to day life?


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Gaining a Better Understanding of the Judgment

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There tends to be a great deal of confusion surrounding judgment day and the time we are judged. Even many long-time Christians are sometimes confused by it, though the bible isn’t at all unclear about the time of judgment. Part of the lack of understanding is probably due to the fact that many people don’t like to think about the day they will be judged and the world as we know it will end, to make way for something infinitely better. It is an uncomfortable topic, even though it will usher in a new, glorious time.

One point of confusion is about the judgment itself. Jesus will be the judge, which is only right since He lived a physical life as a man, with all the temptations and tribulations that all men face. He conquered death and was without sin. In fact, He was the only man who didn’t sin against God, which makes Him supremely proper for the position of judge for humanity.

A large part of the lack of understanding about judgment is because there is actually more than one judgment. Jesus will judge all people, regardless of who they are or where they live (2 Corinthians 5:9-11) and it is important to understand that the judgment will be a full evaluation of the works each person has done for God. Note that the bible is explicit in that this is a judgment of our good works, not of our bad ones.

This being the case, a person who does many good things for God and very few sinful ones may be judged favorably, even if they don’t know about God or have a personal relationship with him. This isn’t a contradiction. Every one of us was blessed by the holy spirit when we were born, and even when a person doesn’t know why they know the difference between good and evil, the spirit gives them that power. Thus, it is possible for them to do good works without ever learning about Jesus or God.

A sticking point, though, is that no person can enter the kingdom of God except through Jesus. Jesus was beaten, humiliated and died for all people, that they might be forgiven for their sins. He conquered death and arose, defeating Satan for the second time in the process, and it is only through his sacrifice that we have any hope of entering the kingdom. What about those people who don’t know Jesus?

Over-simplifying only a little, there are two groups of people and this includes those who’ve already perished, physically. One group has asked Jesus for forgiveness of their sins. They acknowledge that Jesus is their salvation and that He alone has conquered death. They have pledged their lives to Him. These are the true Christians and they are sometimes referred to as the born-again Christians, because they’ve asked for forgiveness, have truly repented and have become followers of Jesus, in their hearts, born again in his name.

The other group is comprised of everyone else. Again, remember that this doesn’t mean that only those from the first group will receive salvation, only that those of the second group have a much harder time ahead.

Their’s will be a separate judgment, though. Those in the first group must also be judged, however that judgment will be done before the Bema Seat of Christ. What is a Bema Seat?

The ancient Greeks gave awards to their athletes after athletic competitions, from a bema seat. This was also where charges were brought against people. The apostle Paul stood before a bema seat when he was charged. (Acts 18:12)

And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat

It is important to understand that in the context of being judged for the purpose of being allowed to live for eternity in the kingdom of God as heirs to the kingdom, the bema seat becomes a place where the greatest awards and rewards are given to the faithful, who’ve had works that support God.

This is why it is so important for every one of us to spread the wonderful news that is contained in the bible, that more people might have the same opportunity to be ‘awarded’ passage. The bible is extremely clear in the point that we are to love our neighbor as ourself and if that is true, we must try to explain to our neighbor, that is all people, who God and Jesus are. This gives them the opportunity we, as true Christians, have been given. If we show an honest Christ-like love for everyone, as we are instructed to do, we would want nothing less and would still feel that it is the least that we can do.

The hardest part is that we must especially focus on those people we are at odds with. This will reflect upon you when you stand before the bema seat, as an important part of your works on behalf of God. It isn’t always easy to do this with someone who rubs you the wrong way and whom you don’t especially like. You must do your best to love them and forgive them for their transgressions. Through Jesus, the Father has forgiven you despite the sins and evil you’ve done against God and now it is your turn to forgive those who have transgressed against you.

The question is, are you ready to do this? Each person must decide this for themselves.


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Church Endorsed Manifestations of Sin

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What is meant by the title: Church endorsed manifestations of sin? This is something that is happening far too often in Christian churches today. Few Christians have any doubts about the wickedness that is so profound in the world and surrounds us like a blanket, yet they often give little thought to the fact that many churches are actually condoning many sinful actions. The bible makes it plain that this is not all right.

In some churches, this is somewhat mild but never-the-less wrong. For instance, with some churches, you must dress in a certain way or display certain signs of affluence before you are even accepted into the particular church. This is quite hypocritical. That is certainly not Godly or Christ-like. Jesus ministered more to the poor than he did to the wealthy, more to the lame than the healthy and more to the common man than to those of power.

James put it in a very understandable way. In James 2:1-13, James is quite clear about how sinful this is and what the results will be:

1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 2:10 holds a key, too: For whoever keeps the whole law and stumbles at one point is guilty of breaking all of it. Thus, a church that demands a certain type of clothing or signs of affluence, which we know are of this world and are thus against God, are sinning, condoning sin and teaching their congregation to sin.

This scripture also shows that many other things that some churches embrace go directly against what Jesus taught and which the bible explains is the will of God. They often try to reinterpret the bible to support their position, but they are ignoring the fact that the bible is written in such a way that when they try to do this, it creates apparent contradictions. The bible is meant to be followed in its entirety and one biblical point supports another. A reinterpretation creates the contradictions because other scriptures are clearly in opposition to the new interpretation.

Since the entire bible is our guideline and is the word of God, this also means that it isn’t right to follow one part of it and not another. This is prevalent in many churches, but it is still wrong. Our goal is to be as much like Jesus as possible and he simply didn’t choose just certain parts of the word of God to follow. Again, He showed in His words and actions that He was in total agreement with James; a person following the law (the bible) and not following even one biblical principle, makes a person guilty of sinning and violating all. That also means that while there are some parts of the bible that might be uncomfortable for us to follow, we aren’t given the option to pick and choose.

Does that mean that we won’t occasionally stumble? Absolutely not; we were born into sin and will make mistakes. We must continually ask for forgiveness and try our best not to make the mistakes. We must also ask for guidance, that we can keep from doing those things God has told us not to do and to do the things He has commanded.

This doesn’t mean that we will always be successful in avoiding the transgressions, but one of the worst things we can do is follow the false teachings of so many churches. How can we know that they are false teachings? Prayer is only one part of it, though it is an exceptionally important part. Another is to actually spend time reading the bible.

I advocate reading a chapter or more every day. “I don’t have time,” is a lame excuse that is meaningless. God put 1440 minutes into every day and if you take 10 minutes per day to read a chapter of the bible, you will still have 1430 minutes left. This isn’t too much to ask. After all, how can you hope to follow the word of God if you don’t know what the word of God says? A funny thing about reading the bible daily is that there comes a time when you actually start looking forward to reading the word of God.

Put in another way, though, you aren’t responsible for the false teachings of some churches, nor are you responsible for church leadership that is misguided in those churches and apparently is leading people astray. You are responsible, however, for the path you walk, which means that it is your responsibility to know what the bible actually says.

In no way do you need to find yourself following the church endorsed manifestations of sin that are so common. Every one of us will be judged one day. Please make a conscious effort to follow the path of righteousness. It pays dividends that no man can fully fathom.

Thankfully, many more churches do follow the word of God and encourage both reading the bible and praying. This creates a loving atmosphere, which is to say that God is in attendance. After all, as we learn from 1 John 4:8, God is love.


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