Christianity 201

August 17, 2021

A Post-Truth World

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:27 pm
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This is our third time highlighting the thoughts of Geno Pyse, who writes at Geno Pyse and the Proclamation. He is the author of 16 books (!) including Christian Reflections in a Deflecting World. Click the header which follows to read this there, and also note the links at the end of this article to a recent two-part series.

Whatever Happened to Truth?

There was a time when truth was more valued. This isn’t to say people didn’t ever lie, but is was a shameful thing to be considered a liar. There was a time when, for many, a handshake was a good as one’s word. Today, many people’s word is as useless as a flimsy handshake.

The Bible says a lot about truth. We are told in Proverbs 23:23, “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.” To buy, here, does not mean to purchase but to acquire, to obtain. Just as in the case when Jesus tells the church in Laodicea, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen” (Rev. 3:18). The Lord was not telling them to purchase what only He can give, but to receive, to trade in, to obtain what He is graciously willing to give.

But do we see much desire for truth today? Is not our day much like Isaiah’s, a time when, “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter” (Isa. 59:14)?

Deception is considered a valuable tool and virtue to many politicians, the press, and education system. Oh, they will not necessarily openly declare this, but they don’t need to. Many have built their entire careers on lying and “bending the truth.” The press has, for many years now, been propagating instead of journaling. The education system feels no shame in “reconstructing” history, and very few are compelled to examine the actual writings of our forefathers to glean truth.

Even much of the populace is fine with being lied to, as many applaud those doing the lying . Lies, deception, and twisting truth is acceptable if these will accomplish the desired goal. I’ve observed such behaviors even among some who profess to be followers of Christ. Underhanded tactics and turning a blind eye, acting as if Christ condones such deceptive polity done in His Holy name.

Jesus declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and of the Father’s word, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Yet, how many who profess His name so easily chuck the truth, lest it offends or makes one feel uncomfortable. Sadly, very few pastors are willing to preach the whole counsel of God (truth), lest they lose popularity or members of their congregation. So many parishioners simply want to be encouraged and patted on the back, not to be convicted and challenged so that they might become better persons. And many churches are endorsing ideologies that are grounded in falsehood, but again, the compromise of truth is deemed acceptable if it supports their desired goal.

The jettisoning of truth, however, comes with a cost. We are left with only cargo containing falsehood, and God is not to be found in what is false or deceptive. The Bible warns, “Let no one deceive you in any way. For [the day of the Lord] will not come, unless the rebellion [i.e., the apostasy] comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed” (2 Thes. 2:3).

Before the Antichrist ever comes onto the scene, there will first be a great apostasy—a departure from solid, orthodox faith.  This must be so, for there must be a populace ready to embrace this false, deceptive, evil messiah. This great deception will come as a consequence, and judgement, of people’s trampling of truth for the embracing of falsehood and unrighteousness.

“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thes. 2:9-12).

We must not think unrighteousness merely includes rapists and murderers. No, but it includes religious people—even those who call themselves “Christian”—but who do not love the truth but believe and take pleasure in what is contrary to the truth.

So, what has happened to the truth? It has not gone anywhere. People can choose to abandon truth, but it can never truly be escaped. It might be beneath people’s feet and trampled with the dust, but no further. But make no mistake, when God comes for this priceless jewel and takes it away from a world that’s unworthy of it, how dreadful when all that’s left for the world is the fool’s gold it had so loved, embraced, and cherished.


Here are the links I promised you in the introduction:

Also here’s an article you might find helpful:


Ed. Note: One line from today’s devotional that really jumped out at me was “The press has, for many years now, been propagating instead of journaling.” In other words, manufacturing the news instead of reporting it. We need to be especially discerning in terms of where we get our “truth.”

August 1, 2021

Is There a Connection Between Illness and Demon Possession?

A friend asked this question on Friday afternoon. He had some good, scripture-based reasons why we might see a link, but I decided to dig into the topic on my own. I picked a search engine that I don’t use as often, selected six page-one results that seemed on-topic, and chose two of them for my response. I decided to share them here with you. One was apologist J. Warner Wallace, whose books I have excerpted here before. (There’s a new one coming soon!) The other was a more Charismatic/Pentecostal perspective from Eric Hill.

■ Wallace stated:

Although there are several examples of demon possession in the Bible, the Scripture does not attribute all illness to demons. Skeptics often characterize Christians as superstitious people who attribute all physical ailments to the existence and influence of demons. But this is neither the Biblical record, nor what Christians believe. There are several New Testament passages describing the demon possessed and the sick as two different groups (joined by the word “and”):

Luke 13:31-32
Just at that time some Pharisees came up, saying to Him, “Go away and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.

Luke 9:1-2
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

Acts 5:15-16
Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.

In addition, Jesus healed many people who were sick and the Scriptures describe these healings clearly. None of the following illnesses were attributed to demons:

The Healing of the Centurion’s Servant (Matthew 8:5-13)
The Healing of the Woman Bleeding (Matthew 9:19-20)
The Healing of the Blind Men (Matthew 9:27-30)
The Healing of the Man with the Withered Hand (Matthew 12:9-14)
The Healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law (Luke 4:38, 39)
The Healing of the Leper (Luke 5:12-16)
The Healing of the Paralyzed Man (Luke 5:17-26)
The Healing of the Immobile Man (John 5:1-16)
The Healing of Daughter of the Phoenician Woman (Mark 7:24-30)
The Healing of the Ten Lepers (Luke 17:11-19)
The Healing of the Woman with the Spirit of Infirmity (Luke 13:10-17)

Christians do not attribute all illnesses to demon possession, but it is clear demons are continually doing what they can to keep God’s chosen from a relationship with Him, and this often takes the form of some sort of bodily attack. Demons are focused. They are trying to stop God’s work, stop the growth of the Kingdom, and stop men and women from hearing the Good News. One thing is certain, however. Those of us who have already placed our trust in Christ (and have been filled with God’s Spirit) cannot be demon possessed. Demons are mere creations of God, and as such, they do not possess His power. God is strong enough to reach us, transform us and keep us:

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

1 Peter 1:18–19
knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

2 Corinthians 6:15-16
What harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people”

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Are demons the cause of all human illness? No. we live in a fallen, imperfect world suffering the consequence of sin and rebellion. We experience moral evil, natural evil and pain for a variety of reasons. The influence of angelic beings is certainly a part of the equation, but we cannot attribute all evil (nor all illnesses) to the activity of demons.

■ Eric Hill wrote,

Demons Cause Some Sickness, But Not All Sickness

The Bible is explicit in its examples of Satan or his demons directly causing sickness and disease. But I think it is also clear in Scripture and human experience that not all sickness and disease is caused by Satan.

We are presently in the Covid-19 pandemic. There is nothing necessarily demonic about one person being infected by another with the virus. I could say the same of the flu, a sexually transmitted disease, or smoking one’s self into lung cancer.

These physical bodies are born dying and susceptible to degraded physical and mental conditions. Of course, there are many variables that may make one more susceptible than another to any particular condition.

So, we have a coin with two different sides. One side is the reality that demons can and do cause sickness and disease. The other is the reality that demons do not cause all sickness and disease.

This means we must see sickness and disease as possible attacks by Satan. Consequently, we should vigorously resist him in faith with the word of God. Perhaps our earliest response in prayer should be to command the attack on our body or mind to stop.

Commanding a condition to leave our body, however, is not an admission that all sickness is caused by Satan. It is not even certain that when we rebuke a “demon of sickness” from our body that a demon is even present. I know how this sounds. So let me explain.

The Scripture says, we know in part and we prophesy in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9). This truth can be applied to our lives across the board to include our prayers and warfare against Satan.

None of us knows everything. Unless the Holy Spirit reveals to us the deepest source of our trouble, we can only respond to it with the knowledge we have.

One fact we know is demons can cause sickness. Knowing this, it would be wise to initially and routinely resist the sickness as though it were a demon even though we know it may not be one.

This is not dissimilar to what is often done when we employ the services of an automotive mechanic or a doctor.

You hear an odd sound from your car. You take it to a mechanic and he tries this and that until, hopefully, he finds the source of the odd sound.

You feel something odd in your body. You go to a doctor and explain what happened. The doctor asks a bunch of questions, poke and prod here and there, draws blood, and has tests done.

Why doesn’t the mechanic or doctor simply perform or prescribe a fix after thirty seconds? It’s because they “know in part.” So they use their experience to track down the source of the problem.

This is the same process I use when I’m ministering deliverance and healing to people. It often produces startling answers to prayer as demons are exposed as the problem and cast out.


Links to article excerpts in opening paragraph.

As I researched this further, I realized that in the Body of Christ, opinions on this topic vary greatly; scriptures are interpreted through the particular lens of the other doctrines to which a person might hold.

If you find yourself in a related situation, the gift you need in the moment is not the gift of healing (though that may come into play shortly) but rather the gift of discernment to know what’s really taking place in the physical body.

June 10, 2021

Test the Spirits… Wait, What Spirits?

Thinking Through 1st John 4:1-3

by Clarke Dixon

Have you ever been in conversation with a spirit and asked “spirit, do you confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh?”

No, neither have I. What is John talking about then when he says “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,” then goes on to give us the test?:

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.

1 John 4:1-3 (NRSV)

At first glance we might think we are to be asking spirit beings to clarify their theological positions for us. Perhaps in thinking through these verses we may hope to learn more about angels and demons. While I believe such exist, we won’t be talking about them here. Why? Because John is not talking about them here.

What is John talking about?

John is continuing to talk about what he has already been talking about in this letter, namely, the false teachers who were trying to influence the early Christian communities. Let us read what John has written again, and as we do so, let us recognize that he is not changing topics when he moves from ‘spirits’ to ‘prophets’:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.

1 John 4:1-3 (NRSV emphasis added)

John was giving the recipients of his letter a simple test, a question they could ask to discern if a someone was one of those false teachers who had hijacked Jesus to promote a more Gnostic way of thinking. In this way of thinking, anything spiritual is good, anything material is bad. Therefore the false teachers would have claimed that Jesus is from God, yes, but he just seemed to be in the flesh. Surely God would not become flesh and dwell among us, right? From a Gnostic way of thinking, God certainly would not. But John knew better.

John knew better because John knew Jesus. He spent time with him, and knew he was no phantom ghost, no mere spirit being. John saw Jesus die, in the flesh. John knew Jesus raised from the dead with a resurrection body. That resurrection body seemed to be a different kind of body, but was no mere spirit. John knew Jesus and could say,

. . . the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14 (NRSV)

Therefore in telling the early Christians to test the spirits, John was encouraging them to stick with what they had learned from the apostles who were with Jesus, including John himself. They should stay away from the false teachers who had the “spirit of error” (1 John 4:6).

So, what does this have to do with us now?

I can think of three things.

First, it gives us a foundation stone which is part of a robust foundation for our Christian thinking and belief.

If you think that Jesus was a spirit, and not a man, as many false teachers in John’s day thought, then you are lacking a key foundation stone for Christian thinking and belief. You are missing what John, and the other apostles who spent time with Jesus, knew about him. They knew that in Jesus “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

However, if you think, as is more common in our day, that Jesus was just a moral teacher, and nothing more, then you are lacking a key foundation stone for Christian thinking and belief. You are missing what John, and the other apostles who spent time with Jesus, knew about him. They knew that in Jesus “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

We are reminded of this foundation stone when we participate in The Lord’s Table. His flesh was broken for us, his blood shed for the forgiveness of our sins. He was no mere spirit being as the Gnostic teachers were claiming. But neither was he a mere teacher of morality as is more commonly held in our day, but rather Saviour, and Lord. The bread and the cup remind us of these things.

Second, it helps us sort out the foundation stones from the wallpaper, it helps us understand how to read the Bible.

As you read through 1st John 4:1-3 and following, you may hope to learn something about angels and demons, or even the antichrist. John mentions these, but not to satisfy our curiosity about them. Rather he mentions them to make a point. John is not really talking about spirits and demons here. He is speaking about Jesus, and an important fact about Jesus the false teachers were getting wrong.

As we read the Bible, let us not attempt to force it to answer our questions, to satisfy our curiosity. Let us allow the Bible writers to speak what needed to be said in their day. Let us wrestle with what it means for us in ours.

Third, we remember the importance of reading more than just a few verses of the Bible.

When we read 1st John 4:1-3 in the context of the entire letter of First John, the entire New Testament, and the entire Bible, we will realize that it just gives us just one foundation stone for Christian thinking and belief. Immediately before, and immediately after, we have another foundation stone, the life of love patterned after God’s love.

Recently the bodies of 215 children have been discovered in a residential school set up to educate indigenous children. These are not just unmarked graves, these have been unknown graves. How many others are there? What happened, and how? Who could have allowed this to happen? As we ask these questions, let us remember that this was not just a Canadian school, but a school representing Christianity.

If we could go back and ask those who were responsible if they believed that Jesus is the Messiah come in the flesh, they would likely have passed that test. That foundation stone was probably in place. But was the foundation stone of love in place? From where we stand, it sounds like “love” was not the word of the day, but “colonialism.”

Would we have done better if we were there at that time?

We must do better now. Being able to pass a theological exam from a few verses of the Bible is not enough.


Clarke Dixon is a Canadian pastor who appears here most Thursdays. You can read more devotions like this by clicking the header which appears just above his name. Video of the full sermon on which this devotional is based can be seen on its own, or as part of this “online worship expression

May 1, 2021

The Day the Grade Five Sunday School Teacher Taught Reincarnation

We begin with two scriptures:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we will be judged more strictly. ~James 3:1 NET

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! ~Matthew 18:6-7 NIV

I am reminded of a something that happened many years ago. The church secretary’s ten-year-old son announced at lunch that his Sunday School teacher believed in reincarnation. True story. There’s a family mealtime conversation for which I would love to have been a fly on the wall.

Needless to say, an investigation ensued, the child’s report was accurate, and the teacher was relieved of responsibilities.

I’ve probably shared this story about a dozen times in the twenty years since it happened, but only today did I ask myself, “I wonder if anybody ever set the woman straight?” Obviously, removing the teacher from the classroom was the first thing that needed to happen, but someone also needed to set her straight on why Christians don’t see themselves as having existed before in another form and then, at the end of this life, returning to earth in another life-form.

I would suspect that at the most elementary level, correction would entail some notion of the teaching that “It is appointed onto man once to die, and after that the judgement” Hebrews 9:27 KJV, italics added. A Christian theological understanding of man would assert that we don’t come back in some other form as taught in Spiritism or Hinduism.

About a year ago, I discovered something I had previously overlooked; namely, that in the various doctrines which join together to form a systematic theology (or as I prefer, a cohesive theology) there is a doctrine of man and for that the term used is anthropology, the same term we normally use to describe a particular discipline in the social sciences alongside things like psychology or sociology or philosophy. Perhaps you took ‘anthro’ in school but never thought of it in a doctrinal sense.In the list of branches of theology at Wikipedia, it’s listed as “Theological Anthropology”

  • Bible – the nature and means of its inspiration, etc.; including hermeneutics (the development and study of theories of the interpretation and understanding of texts and the topic of Biblical law in Christianity)
  • Eschatology – the study of the last things, or end times. Covers subjects such as death and the afterlife, the end of history, the end of the world, the last judgment, the nature of hope and progress, etc.
  • Christology – the study of Jesus Christ, of his nature(s), and of the relationship between his divinity and humanity;
  • Creation myths
  • Divine providence – the study of sovereignty, superintendence, or agency of God over events in people’s lives and throughout history.
  • Ecclesiology (sometimes a subsection of missiology)—the study of the Christian Church, including the institutional structure, sacraments and practices (especially the worship of God) thereof
  • Mariology – area of theology concerned with Mary…
  • Missiology (sometimes a subsection of ecclesiology)—God’s will in the world, missions, evangelism, etc.
  • Pneumatology – the study of the Holy Spirit, sometimes also ‘geist’ as in Hegelianism and other philosophico-theological systems
  • Soteriology – the study of the nature and means of salvation. May include Hamartiology (the study of sin), Law and Gospel (the study of the relationship between Divine Law and Divine Grace, justification, sanctification
  • Theological anthropology – the study of humanity, especially as it relates to the divine
  • Theology Proper – the study of God’s attributes, nature, and relation to the world. May include:
    • Theodicy – attempts at reconciling the existence of evil and suffering in the world with the nature and justice of God
    • Apophatic theology – negative theology which seeks to describe God by negation (e.g., immutable, impassible ). It is the discussion of what God is not, or the investigation of how language about God breaks down (see the nature of God in Western theology). Apophatic theology often is contrasted with “Cataphatic theology.”

The Bible’s truth and Christianity’s orthodoxy is not comprised solely of doctrines about God, but also teachings about the nature of man and the world.

But we’re digressing from our Sunday School teacher.

For the record, I have however in my limited contact with this person over the years encouraged them along the lines of deeper Bible study. It grieves me to think that someone could be in church for so many years and hold to views that are so far from orthodox. However, there are times when spiritual confrontation is appropriate.

I’m not sure at this point that it would be helpful to revisit a 25-year old discussion, nor to reveal I was party to something that might have been considered confidential at the time. But I am reminded of this verse:

My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness… (Galatians 6:1 NRSV)

Brothers and sisters, if someone in your group does something wrong, you who are spiritual should go to that person and gently help make him right again. (same vs. NCV)

The context is more overt sin and wrongdoing, but the principle is the same: To gently guide that person to the right path, using scripture. In a very, very early post here on Christianity 201, I looked at 2 Timothy 3:16 (the one that begins, “All scripture is inspired…”) and suggested the following paraphrase:

All scripture has its point of origin in God’s mind, and

■ shows us the path God would have us walk
■ highlights when and where we’ve gotten off the path
■ points the way back to the path
■ gives us the advice we need to keep from wandering off the path in future

The second point is most applicable here, but some remediation along the lines of the last point is important as well. Over the years I’ve seen that some people are simply “prone to wander.”

The chorus of the old hymn, “Brighten the Corner” describes this. While you might not fully understand all the nautical imagery, it’s easy to see the gist of the sentiment:

Brighten the corner where you are!
Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;
Brighten the corner where you are!

Our responsibility is threefold:

  1. To identify (discern) false teaching
  2. To remove the person caught in error from public ministry
  3. To try to restore that person to sound doctrine

As to point #2: This is for their benefit (to avoid being under judgement, as in today’s opening verses) and to prevent them from causing “little ones”(which can be literal in terms of children, or figurative in terms of people new to the faith) to stumble

We brighten the corner by shining light where light is needed.


The person in the story still attends the same church and still serves in a somewhat lesser capacity. They are in regular contact with people who are well-versed on the truths of Christianity and I believe are able to hold unorthodox beliefs in check.\


Previously on Christianity 201:

February 18, 2021

With So Many Saying So Much With Such Confidence…

My Mum often used an expression when playing the piano: “I’m playing the wrong notes with confidence!” Hearing so many Christian leaders say so many different, even contradictory, things, is it possible that many of us are “saying the wrong things with confidence”? Speaking with confidence doesn’t make things so.

Of course the internet is only making things worse. You don’t need too many clicks to hear differing voices on so many issues; do this, don’t do that, vote this way, vote that way, think this, thank that, and on it goes.

With so many confident, competing, and often less than complimentary voices, how do we know to whom we can listen with confidence?

In the days of Jesus there was no shortage of voices clamoring for people’s attention, leaders speaking with great confidence. There were the Pharisees, “listen to us, and let us become better than everybody else.” There were the Zealots, “listen to us, we are better than the Romans so help us kick these Romans out.” There were the Saducees, “listen to us, life is better with the Romans, so lets just get along with them.” There were the Romans, “listen to us, our Caesar is divine, we build great roads, and besides, if you don’t listen to us, we will crucify you.”

Among all these voices, another speaks up, it is the voice of Jesus:

Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it. . . . I myself am the shepherd.

John 10:1-5,11 (MSG)

There is one true shepherd we can follow with great confidence; Jesus.

In this passage Jesus is not just speaking about himself as the good shepherd, he is also speaking about the other leaders of the people. They were saying the wrong things with confidence. Even though they thought they had it right, they were so far off that Jesus called them sheep stealers and hired-men. We should note here that all these religious leaders thought that they were honouring God, and that by following them people would be honouring God. Even people who think they are honouring God may say the wrong things with confidence. Perhaps that sometimes includes you and me?

In fact, let us consider the Christian teacher, living or dead, that we hold in the highest regard, for whom we have the greatest respect. You likely have someone in mind, it’s probably not me. We have great confidence in what they tell us. Yet they likely got some things wrong and at some point have said the wrong things with confidence. Every Christian leader will stand before our Lord someday and have their theology corrected. That includes me, of course.

There is one true voice for the sheep to listen to, and that is the true shepherd. Am I as a pastor helping people hear his voice, or are people under my care only ever hearing my voice? I sometimes say the wrong things with confidence. We can always have confidence in Jesus.

We can listen to Jesus with confidence because he is the true shepherd, but also because he is the good shepherd:

“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He’s only in it for the money. The sheep don’t matter to him.

John 10:11-13 (MSG)

Even good religious leaders will try to protect themselves. We can imagine many pastors who, if they were pastors today, would be highly revered, yet in Germany in their day did not raise a voice against the Nazi regime. Perhaps some were blind to what was going on. No doubt some were quiet out of fear. Or we can imagine those who today would be known as great pastors and leaders, yet in their day they did not speak out against slavery. Perhaps some were blind to the sin of it, but we can be sure some kept quiet out of fear.

Jesus is the fearless shepherd, willing to lay down his life for the sheep. Jesus is the fearless shepherd, willing to speak the true things that would get himself killed. He did put our well being before his own, he did lay down his life for us, for the forgiveness of sin and our reconciliation to God. He did fearlessly speak the truth and he did get killed for it. He is the Good Shepherd. We can listen to his voice with confidence.

Jesus is the true shepherd, Jesus is the good shepherd, Jesus is also the God-shepherd. What do we mean by that?

Let us consider these words from the prophet Ezekiel:

Then this message came to me from the LORD: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: What sorrow awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep? You drink the milk, wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty.

Ezekiel 34:1-4 (NLT)

The leaders, both religious and political, had done an awful job. They were supposed to be taking care of the people, but were taking care of themselves. Perhaps, sadly, that sounds like some religious or political leaders we can think of today?

Let us go on to consider the promise of God:

For thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD

Ezekiel 34:11-15 (NRSV emphasis added)

It is in Jesus that the prophecy of Ezekiel 34 finds its greatest fulfillment. God has come to us, in Jesus. The LORD is our Shepherd and Jesus is the Shepherd. God, Who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, takes care of the sheep like no one else can.

Since Jesus is the true shepherd, the good shepherd, and the God-shepherd, are we tuned into His voice? Or have we become too dependent on certain voices claiming to speak for him? There are many who help us hear the voice of Jesus, but there are none who can take his place.

The best way to learn someone’s voice is to spend a lot of time listening to them. Therefore we can seek to grow in prayerfulness. We can commit to attentive and thoughtful reading of the Scriptures, especially spending time with Jesus in the Gospels, paying attention to his teaching, but also the example of his life.

With so many saying the wrong things with confidence, let us tune in to the voice of Jesus.


Clarke Dixon is a pastor in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada. The full sermon video for today’s devotional can be seen as part of this longer “online worship expression”)

August 19, 2020

Putting Spin on Scripture to Mean What We Want it to Mean

It’s been our custom to twice a year visit Christ Almighty, the blog of K.W. Leslie and again today I got totally absorbed in reading a number of excellent articles. He has done his own translation which he uses and in recent articles has explained the purpose in doing so. But because his articles are quite long, today we’re going to just use a small portion from the middle of a larger article. I’ll explain more in italics below. So needless to say, you’re especially encouraged today to click the title below.

Christianism

[He begins by explaining that the article is about “Christianists,” people whose spiritual life is not informed by the teaching of Jesus, but rather, “they take whatever they’re doing, slap a Christian label on it, and claim it’s legitimately Christian.” For the first section of the article, he discusses, “Christianists who are honestly mistaken. I give most people the benefit of the doubt.” But then…]

…Then there’s the other group: The people who actually know what Jesus teaches, but go out of their way to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate his words till they mean what they want. They figure their views are more important than Jesus’s. These would be legitimately deceptive people. Liars. Antichrists. Leading the crowd astray for their own gain.

Other than the devil, certain cult leaders, certain politicians, false prophets, and their flunkies, there aren’t many in this category. But they do exist. They’re a much smaller group. They’re not wandering sheep; they’re wolves. Jesus described ’em like yea:

John 10.7-10 KWL
7B “Amen amen! I promise you I’m the sheep-gate.
8 Everybody who climbs in past me is a thief and predator—but the flock won’t listen to them.
9 I’m the gate. When anyone enters through me, they’ll be saved.
They’ll enter, they’ll exit, they’ll find pasture.
10 The thief doesn’t enter other than to steal, murder, and destroy.
I came so they can have life—and have more than they ever expected.”

The flock, Jesus’s real followers, recognize these particular Christianists are con artists, and won’t follow. But others, those who aren’t really following Jesus, don’t know what he teaches, don’t notice any of the Holy Spirit’s red flags, easily fall for their false teachings. And off they go together.

We can debate (and we have) about whether wayward Christianists are real Christians, or whether they ever were. I’d like to think a lot of ’em are Christian; just wrong in some areas. Sometimes a lot of areas.

’Cause I grew up among Christianists. In high school I attended a politically conservative church who regularly mixed up our party’s teachings with Jesus’s. Didn’t know any better. All the Christians we knew were good conservatives. And if they weren’t conservative, we’d doubt their salvation.

Round election time we’d get “voter guides,” produced by party members, which included a little checklist to show whether each candidate was “Christian” enough. What they thought of abortion, or capital punishment, or drugs, or taxes, or government expansion. One of the checkboxes, fr’instance, told us whether the candidates were for or against gun control.

Now, what’s Jesus’s position on gun control? Well there were no guns back then. But we know what Jesus said about other arms. Namely the μάχαιρα/máhaira, a long work knife which is properly a machete, but the KJV calls it a “sword.” There’s pro:

Luke 22.36-38 KWL
36 Jesus told them, “But now you who have a coin purse: Pick it, and your wallet, up.
You who don’t: Sell your robe. Buy a machete.
37 For I tell you this scripture must be fulfilled by me: ‘He was figured among the lawless.’ Is 53.12
It’s about me; it has a purpose.”
38 They said, “Master look: Two machetes here.”
He told them, “That’ll do.”

And there’s con.

Matthew 26.51-52 KWL
51 Look, one of Jesus’s followers stretched out his hand, drew his machete,
struck the head priest’s slave, and cut off his ear.
52 Then Jesus told him, “Put your machete back where it goes!
Everybody who takes up arms will be destroyed by them.”

We can debate the interpretation of these passages… and no doubt most of our interpretations will fall in line with our already-existing politics. If you love guns, you’re all in favor of selling your robe to buy one. If you don’t, it’s all “live by the sword, die by the sword.”

I myself would argue there’s not enough in either passage to come up with Jesus’s gun policy. He has no position. It’s wholly a partisan issue. I think both sides make reasonable arguments. Even so, conservatives assume Jesus is against gun control; progressives assume he’s for it; both pick the sides they’d already choose without any input from Jesus. And both commit the Christianist sin of claiming it was all Jesus’s idea.

Tell ’em they’re wrong, and they’ll object. But their main objection isn’t just politics. It’s something much deeper, and more corrupt, in human nature: We humans don’t wanna be wrong! We don’t want to think of ourselves that way. Nor be publicly corrected for wrongdoing. Wrongness is bad. And we’re not bad people—we’re good Christians. All our fellow Christians say so, and believe the very same things we do. We can’t all be wrong.

But we are. And aren’t gonna grow in Christ till we realize it…

[…continue reading here…]

August 4, 2020

The Enemy’s Lies Often Sound Quite Practical

NIV.Matt.4.1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

When I go looking for new authors to introduce here, I often end up with a short list of three or four. Then in choosing which article to run, I’ll again narrow it down to two or three. But this time, I took one look at this and said, ‘That’s the one.’

Willie Riggs describes himself as an artist, writer, and entrepreneur. And a Christian. Some of the things on his site are done as short stories and others are more devotional, like the one below. Again, don’t just read the articles here, but click through and enjoy them at their source. Click the header which follows.

The Promises of Satan

Remember when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness? The story is usually portrayed as a great battle; as two sworn enemies locked in cosmic combat. Except, from the casual observer’s standpoint at least, Satan didn’t come at Jesus hurling attacks. He came at Jesus with… solutions.

Jesus was hungry. Why not turn these stones to bread?

Jesus was going to face danger. Why not test the limits of God’s protection now?

Jesus came to save the world. I will give the world to you, and you can bypass the suffering of the cross entirely.

Satan promised Jesus the entire world if Jesus would just bow down and worship him. It wasn’t the first time Satan made a promise. Remember Adam and Eve in the garden? “If you eat this fruit, you will not die! You will be like God!

Satan Makes Us Promises Every Day

We hear a lot of sermons about the promises of God, but it isn’t just God who makes promises. Satan makes us promises every day.

If you only do it once or twice, it won’t really affect you.

If you want it, it’s up to you to make it happen. You can’t just rely on God.

If you vote the right way, the government can keep you safe and secure.

If you worry enough, eventually you will figure it out.

If you compromise your beliefs, you’ll achieve your goals. This is a special circumstance.

If you want to, you should be able to. You deserve this.

If you put on a facade, everyone will like you more.

If you don’t do it today it’s no big deal. You’ll have plenty of time tomorrow.

The Difference Between God and Satan’s Promises

On the surface, the promises of Satan don’t seem all that dangerous. The things Satan promises make sense to us. The way Satan goes about doing things feels natural to us, at least in the beginning. His promises produce quick, often instantaneous, perceivable results.

In contrast, the promises of God often go against common sense. They make no sense to us whatsoever. Nor do they seek to appeal to our natural inclinations. How is giving away money supposed to increase our wealth? How is focusing on the needs of others supposed to make our lives fulfilling? God’s promises challenge our assumptions about life at every level. They go against everything we see and believe to be true. They require faith to pursue. And unlike Satan’s promises for instant gratification, God’s promises often require long periods of faithfulness and consistency before they are shown to be true. Some will never be proven true this side of heaven.

But probably the most significant difference between the promises of God and the promises of Satan is that every single promise of God is true, while every single promise of Satan is a lie.

The Truth about Satan’s Promises

Satan promises that dabbling in drugs and alcohol will bring you happiness. It won’t. He promises that watching porn together will improve your marriage. It won’t. He promises that if you find the right person, make enough money, or enjoy enough of life’s pleasures, you will feel fulfilled. But you won’t. And perhaps Satan’s biggest promise of all, the promise he makes to each and every one of us, is that even though every other person in the history of the world has been destroyed by following his path, that we are the exception. We will be the one that finally makes it work. We will come out the other side unscathed.

Only we won’t.

All of us are faced with decisions each and every day. Promises come at us from every direction. Some will make sense, and others will go against everything our senses are screaming at us. But when it comes down to it, you really only have one decision you have to make.

Who are you going to believe?


  1. The Greek for tempted can also mean tested.
  2. Deut. 8:3
  3. Psalm 91:11,12
  4. Deut. 6:16
  5. Deut. 6:13

July 15, 2020

Should Christians Use Diving Rods (Witching a Well)

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Two weeks ago some Christian leaders surprised me by posting a Facebook meme wherein a person was holding a forked tree branch, and you were to leave a comment if you knew what it was the person was doing.

The practice is called ‘dowsing’ — it is sometimes called ‘witching a well,’ which should cause lots of red lights to appear on your dashboard — the branch is called a ‘divining rod.’ (More info at Wikipedia.)

Anyway, I truly wondered why they were playing at that practice and determined to be informative, I started assembling some internet citations together which you see below. I never really finished the project, but as it was already over 1,300 words, I thought I’d share it here as is

(I do need to add that some Christian farmers have used this tool and there is divided opinion among some believers on the nature of so doing.)

Got Questions:

While anyone can walk around with a forked stick, dedicated dowsers believe they are using a sixth sense to channel the earth’s energy. They believe the “universe” is speaking to them and revealing buried truths. Using a dowsing rod is similar to using a Ouija board. It is an attempt to gain information through “positive or negative energy” that is supposedly controlling an inanimate object. While some argue that the earth is water-rich enough that almost anyone can predict a water source if they drill deeply enough, others point out that the accuracy of dowsers seems to be significantly higher than that of random guesses.

The Bible addresses practices such as dowsing in Hosea 4:12: “My people consult a wooden idol, and a diviner’s rod speaks to them. A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God.” The “diviner’s rod” has been variously interpreted as a magic wand, an Asherah pole, or some type of wooden staff used to predict the future or guide seekers into “wisdom.” The occult diviner’s rod condemned in Hosea sounds similar to a dowsing rod—in fact, another name for a dowsing rod is “divining rod,” because the purpose of dowsing is to divine the location of water or precious metal. According to Hosea, the Lord places divining rods, idolatry, and prostitution in the same category. But why would God be opposed to a harmless means of discovering a water source?

The bottom line is that dowsing is a form of divination, a practice strictly forbidden by God…

The Berean Call:

So what happens is you begin to believe that there’s some kind of a power in your subconscious mind. They have all kinds of explanations. Some “universal mind” out there, and you can tune into this. This is how religious science, science of the mind, and so forth, these things work, and the next thing you know, you have begun to believe that there is some force, or some power, some spirit. It doesn’t matter what you want to call it. Some higher power.

It’s not the God of the Bible, but something that you want now to commit yourself to, and you want to become in tune with this thing so that you can use it to your own ends. That’s the lie of the serpent in the Garden. And then next thing you know, I’m a regular little god! I can use what I think are supernatural powers.

So it’s very easily—a person is very easily drawn into this. Now, how would they protect themselves from this? Well, of course, if they know the Bible, they would know that it’s not biblical and they’re warned against it. But even if you don’t know the Bible, you would realize, “Wait a minute! This isn’t normal. There’s something going on here.”

All About Spirituality:

Dowsing is a form of divination — attempts to know hidden knowledge or the future through a supernatural means, apart from the God of the Bible. An biblical example is in Acts 16:16: “One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon-possessed slave girl. She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters.” You will notice that this girl was demon possessed. She was practicing a form of divination, similar to dowsing.

Women of Grace:

[M]any Christians also believe in dowsing as a divine gift and attempt to justify the practice by appealing to the Bible. Unfortunately, the scripture passages they cite refer only to digging wells or searching for water – never dowsing – which they claim is because the verses were mistranslated. If they were correctly translated, they would supposedly mention dowsing.

However, there is only one direct reference to dowsing in Scripture and it’s hardly an endorsement. “My people consult their wooden idol, and their diviner’s wand informs them; for a spirit of harlotry has led them astray, and they have played the harlot, departing from their God” (Hos. 4:12).

►► Condemnation is not limited to conservative Evangelicals. For example, The Eternal Church of God, an offshoot of the Worldwide Church of God, has this to say:

…Nanay Selda says SHE IS GUIDED BY A ‘FORCE’ WHEN SHE EXTENDS HER ARMS USING THE GUAVA BRANCHES… After she’s used the branches, one can see red welts on her palm, evidence of struggle WITH A FORCE, which shows UNUSUAL STRENGTH in such small frail arms. When I asked how she did it, she snapped like a bitch warning her pups, ‘I don’t know so don’t ask me.’ One water expert… had this to say…’ There is no empirical basis for water divining, yet it works. Water witches have not studied hydro-geology academically, but they know it intuitively.’”

The fact that water divining sometimes “works,” does not justify us to reach the conclusion that Christians can use this method. We read, for example, in Deuteronomy 13:1-4:

If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams and he gives you a SIGN or a WONDER, and the sign or the wonder COMES TO PASS, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’ — which you have not known — ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is TESTING you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church:

The Bible gives a most positive answer to this. The references may easily be found in both Testaments. They are described, and the inference is clear that they have been a commonplace occurrence in the life of mankind since Adam disobeyed. They are positively identified. There is clear warning that the spirits must be tested to prove their origin before having anything to do with them. The manner of testing them is made plain. The deceiving spirits are identified as evil angels—those who chose to be on the side of Lucifer who became Satan, and whose one and only intention is to deceive mankind and to lead away from the one true God. These deceiving spirit entities, benevolent, seemingly honest, sincere and wise, historically and presently lead mankind away from God by being truthful just enough to establish acceptance, and then the completely destroying lie is slipped in as innocently as if it were a continuation of the preceding truths. These lies are anti-God, every one of them.

So, there are spirit entities. There are two classes. Only one of them is amoral, lying, and hurtful. They are among us, and have been since Eden. They can materialize at will and convince us of reality that is not so. They are masters of the hoax. Eve, our first mother, and presumably the most intelligent woman ever to have lived was taken in by the first hoax lie, “. . . ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” without the least hint of the terrible consequences that accompanied the risk. They have been successfully hoaxing the intelligent among us ever since. According to the Bible, they were created as a higher classification of beings than man. Since their rebellion they have used this higher condition (which all of us know well) to defraud us. They fit every known need in an understanding of the occult. We submit that dowsing is an occult act, and has been known as such from ancient times.

The fact that dowsing has an undeniable physical element does not detract from an understanding of its occult aspects. There need not be any confusion over this.

…So…had you heard of this before now? What are your thoughts?

June 18, 2020

One Credible Voice

by Clarke Dixon

With so many voices claiming to sound out the truth about spiritual and religious matters, how do we ever know to whom we should listen? This has always been a good question, but is especially important in the internet age. Anyone can speak up on the internet, even me!

To make matters worse all kinds of people say all kinds of different things, even when speaking about the same things! So how do we cut through all the noise? How do we find those voices worth listening to?

Jesus said something which helps us cut through the noise:

Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.

Matthew 7:15-16 (NLT)

Beware of false prophets, you will know them by their fruit.

Perhaps anytime a prophet is mentioned, we automatically think of people who predict the future. Sometimes they do, however prophets are not primarily people who predict the future, rather they are people who speak on behalf of God.

If we loosely apply “prophet” to anyone claiming to teach on spiritual truths today, do the people claiming to speak spiritual truths into our lives have any credibility? Do I have any credibility as a teacher of spiritual matters? Do I show good fruit?

What do we mean by fruit in the first place? We might be tempted to think that a religious leader has good fruit if they have a big church, or many followers. In these times pastors can be judged by how many followers they have on Twitter. I don’t have many, but then it does not help that my descriptor says something like, “you may follow me on Twitter, but I never really go far.”

Sometimes, we who speak on spiritual matters can have great leadership skills, we can help build great organizations, and have many followers. However, we can be lacking in what Jesus is referring to here as good fruit.

In the context of the Sermon on the Mount, the fruit Jesus mentions is a godly character. If you are asking about my character, don’t ask those who primarily see me preach, teach or visit the sick. If you want to know about my character, don’t ask my fans, ask my family.

How much do we really know about the character of the people we let speak into our hearts and minds? This is one advantage the local church has over television and internet ministries. Not only do I as a pastor get to know the people of my church, importantly, they get to know me. They know my wife and children. They know my character.

Do you know the character of those who speak into your life, especially those who would claim to speak on behalf of God?

Jesus is teaching a much more important lesson here that is easily missed when we make it all about evaluating a spiritual teacher’s credibility.

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of someone who was there while Jesus was teaching what has become known as the Sermon on the Mount. We heard him say “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” In other words there is something flawed about their righteousness. We heard Jesus say several times “You have heard it said, [by the scribes and Pharisees], but I say,” then go on to teach about good character. We have heard Jesus teach on how we should love like God loves, which means loving even our enemies. We have heard Jesus say “in all things do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We will soon hear Jesus teach about the importance of listening to him, that by doing so we are like builders building a house upon a rock.

One day we hear that the Romans have crucified Jesus at the instigation of the religious leaders. We remember that time Jesus said “beware of the false prophets, by their fruit you will know them.”

We look at the fruit of the religious leaders. They had an innocent man killed. All kinds of sins are evident through their actions; pride, arrogance, jealousy, and hatred. They strut around like shepherds, they look like sheep, they have been helpful to many people, but in the end we can see their true colours. They are vicious wolves.

Now we look at the fruit of Jesus. His life and teaching has already brought life to many. Now his death and resurrection will bring eternal life to so many more. The evidence is clear.

With so many voices speaking up on religious and spiritual matters today, how do we know to whom we should listen? There is one voice that cuts through, a voice we can trust, the voice of Someone with good fruit. It is the voice of Jesus. Are we listening?


Pastor Clarke Dixon is now a confirmed YouTuber, but still can’t get the thumbnail images he seeks! His wife and family (and dogs and cats) are currently riding out the pandemic in a small town east of Toronto. This reflection comes from an “online worship expression” which has replaced their regular church service. (Warning: May contain organ music. Briefly.) Read more at clarkedixon.wordpress.com.

June 7, 2020

Not Everyone Sees the Cross as an Object of Affection

Going back to early 2016, we’ve included material from StudyLight.org approximately every six months. A subsection of the site is called Live As If, which features recurring writers such as Jim Bullington whose column is called Today’s Little Lift. (At least I think I got that right!) Clicking any of the above links or the article header below will get you there, where you’ll find an abundance of material.

The Offense of the Cross (Galatians 5)

Sad realities are nonetheless true and must be faced. One sad reality is the fact that false teachers, some of them, will stop at nothing to achieve their objectives. There is no clearer proof of this than the fact that Jesus, the sinless Son of God was unmercifully ushered to the Cross at the insistence of false teachers.

Paul, a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ , faced the sad reality of false teachers everyday of his Christian life (2 Corinthians 11.26). Peter warned about false teachers in the Christian era just as surely as there had been false prophets in the Old Testament age (2 Peter 2.1). Even John, the disciple of love, warned of the necessity of “testing the spirits” due to the fact that “many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4.1). Surely these references should be enough to convince the believer of the sad reality of false teachers and false prophets.

Consider the following statement in view of this reality: “And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.” (Galatians 5:11; emphasis mine above and below, jb). Paul wrote these words to a group of churches who were in the crosshairs of false teachers. The region of Galatia was under attack by those who taught that circumcision was a rite that was obligatory upon all men, even Christians. Neither Paul nor any of the apostles taught such a doctrine; in fact, they explicitly and forcefully repudiated the doctrine (see the entirety of Acts 15). Yet, in spite of evidence to the contrary, unscrupulous men claimed that Paul was teaching that circumcision was binding upon Christians; this is implied by our focus text. Paul’s defense was simple! Effectively he wrote, “If their charge is true, if I indeed preach the necessity of circumcision, then why am I persecuted everywhere I go by those who demand circumcision?” The facts simply did not add up; they did not pass the common sense test!

Further, Paul would argue that if what the false teachers were saying was true, then “…the offense of the cross has ceased.” As much as we might like to believe otherwise, the cross is not an object of affection in everyone’s view; there are enemies of the cross. Paul stated it this way: “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame——who set their mind on earthly things.” (Philippians 3.18-19). The specific ones of whom Paul warned the Philippians professed themselves to be Christians and walked among the flock even as sheep. In reality, they were wolves in sheep’s clothing even as Jesus had spoken during His earthly ministry (Matthew 7.15).

Enemies of the cross do not necessarily raise a standard under which they march, and certainly not a standard which declares, “We are enemies of the cross!” Rather, they walk and work under whatever cover works for them. Their goal is destruction and they will stop at nothing to achieve their ends! While the Christian strives to be loving and kind, there is no kind way to deal with willful purveyors of error. Dealing with such tactics might also make it appear that we are not “playing nice.” Such is the harsh reality of the wold in which we live! We cannot allow the false charges of the enemies of the cross to deter us from our responsibility to uphold and defend truth any more than Paul could allow men of like character to destroy his effectiveness as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Looking at it from that angle we can also be assured that if the enemies of the cross would falsely accuse a true apostle of Jesus, surely they will stop at no less when dealing with believers like you and me!

Jesus commissioned His disciples to “…be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10.16).

Questions:

1. Why do we say that the existence of false teachers is a “sad reality?”

2. What did John say to do because many false prophets had gone out into the world? Is it possible that these very false prophets are the ones who repeat the chant, “Judge not that you be not judged?”

3. Should it be surprising that many false prophets are in fact “false brethren?” Why or why not?

4. Is the believer required to “play nice” when it comes to willful error? If not, what is required?

Today’s Little Lift‘ Copyright 2020 © Jim Bullington

About the author: Jim Bullington is a Christian writer whose insight into the scriptures is reflected in practical application lessons in every article. The reader will find that the Bible speaks directly to him/her through these articles. God is always exalted and His word is treated with the utmost respect in this column.

November 14, 2019

Being a Go-to Person When Someone Needs to Talk About God

(This devotional is from a series on The Book of Daniel called “Outnumbered. The Book of Daniel and Living As Christians In A Not-So-Christian Society.” The series begins here)

by Clarke Dixon

Will you and I come to mind as a go-to person when someone feels the need to talk about God? We Canadians are always talking hockey and weather. We don’t tend to talk religion. It is far too personal and private a topic for reserved and apologetic Canadians. However, sometimes people hit a wall, there is a crisis point, and they feel a great need to have a spiritual conversation, a conversation about the most important things in life, like God. When they do, will we come to mind?

Daniel was a go-to person when a crisis hit the king of Babylon in Daniel, chapter 5. Twenty-three years or so have passed since we last heard from Daniel in chapter four. He had a good relationship with King Nebuchadnezzar at that point. However, there was a new king, and Daniel seemed to have been forgotten. One day the king threw a big party and, in a scene reminiscent of a horror movie, a hand appeared, the hand wrote a message on the wall, and the king was terrified:

9 Then King Belshazzar became greatly terrified and his face turned pale, and his lords were perplexed.
10 The queen, when she heard the discussion of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall. The queen said, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts terrify you or your face grow pale. 11 There is a man in your kingdom who is endowed with a spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father he was found to have enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners, 12 because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.” Daniel 5:9-12 (NRSV)

Daniel was remembered. The queen, or perhaps the “queen mum,” for we don’t really know her identity, knew that Daniel could help, that he was the best go-to person in this crisis. Will you and I come to mind as a go-to person when someone wants to talk about God and spirituality? There are some reasons Daniel came to mind as the go-to guy. We can ask if those same reasons are found in us.

❶ First, The queen mum spoke of Daniel as having “a spirit of the holy gods.” Daniel had a divine spark. Being a Babylonian, the queen mum probably does not have a good knowledge of the Holy Spirit here, but she does recognize a divine spark in Daniel. Do people see a divine spark in us? Is there evidence that we rub shoulders with the divine? The Bible tells us what the evidence would be:

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 (NRSV)

If we are growing in our relationship with God, if our lives are increasingly marked by the fruit of the Spirit, we will have a divine spark. People may therefore seek us out when they feel the need to talk about God and spirituality. They will know that our spirituality is genuine. If we are lacking the “fruit of the Spirit,” we may come across as hypocrites. No one will want to talk with us, for we obviously don’t know what we are talking about.

❷ Second, Daniel was “found to have enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. . . an excellent spirit, knowledge.” To give a summary, Daniel was a man of great depth. There was excellence in all he knew and said. Are we known as people of great depth in all we know and say?

The internet can be a very shallow pool of ignorance. Yes, the internet can offer us a wonderful way to connect with people and resources. However, it would seem that many people build their knowledge base, including their thoughts on religion, not on the vast resources available, but on memes and sound bites. There is a lack of depth. Are we as Christians diving deep?

Let us consider one example where diving deep would be helpful. Imagine a scene where a teenager, an occasional attendee at church, but a regular attendee of a school in the public system, asks how she should reconcile creation, as taught in church, with evolution, as taught in school. A well meaning Christian might use the cliché, “the Bible said it, I believe it, that settles it.” Unfortunately, that does settle it. The young person will not seek out that Christian for a spiritual conversation in the future, for while there is great conviction, there is evidently not much thought.

When people are thinking things through, they want thinking people to help them. Consider an alternative response: “Some Christians handle science and the creation account this way, others handle it that way, as for me, here is the solution I find convincing and this is why . . . ” There is evidence of depth in that kind of response, even if the speaker has the same position as the one who used the cliché. There is knowledge and understanding. There is thought. Are we demonstrating depth when people ask about evolution, racism, mental health, perspectives on LGBTQ+, and all manner of things that are important to them? To demonstrate depth on such matters, we need to dive deep ourselves. Do we have excellence in our knowledge, or do we latch onto the first thing that sounds right to our Christian ears and stop digging?

Being human, we feel the need to always be right. People don’t seek out people for spiritual conversations who are known to have the need to always be right. But people will seek out people who are known to be always deep, even if they are sometimes wrong.

❸ Third, “understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel.” Daniel was helpful. He solved problems. Are we helpful? Do we help people, and society, solve problems? If we are hurtful in our relationships, don’t expect to come to anyone’s mind when they feel the need for a spiritual conversation. But if you are helpful, don’t be surprised if someone seeks you out when they need help! If we are Christ-like in our relationships, people will seek us out.

How did Daniel become a go-to person? Daniel had a divine spark, great depth, and was helpful. These things because true of Daniel through a good relationship with both God and the former king, Nebuchadnezzar. Is our relationship with God and with others such that we have a divine spark, are deep, and are helpful? Will we will come to mind when someone feels the need to talk about God?

 

September 9, 2019

Restraint and Self Control

Six months ago, on our nine year anniversary weekend, we introduced you to the writing of Tonia Slimm at the site Growing with God. Let me say that I really like what’s being presented on this site. She’s in the middle of a series from Proverbs, and while I considered one of the introductory posts, this one was too good to pass up.

Use Caution and Restraint–Proverbs 23:1-3

Proverbs 23:1-3 (NIV)
When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.

Proverbs 23:1-3 (MSG)
When you go out to dinner with an influential person, mind your manners:
Don’t gobble your food, don’t talk with your mouth full. And don’t stuff yourself; bridle your appetite.

Proverbs 23:1-3 (AMPLIFIED)
“When you sit down to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is [set] before you; for you will put a knife to your throat if you are a man of great appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for it is deceptive food [offered to you with questionable motives].”


“Self-control is the exercise of inner strength under the direction of sound judgement that enables us to do, think, and say the things that are pleasing to God.” ~Jerry Bridges

Restraint and self-control are synonymous. They both imply the need to control, hold back, or check oneself. They involve harnessing one’s body, emotions, and appetites.

In principle six we find Solomon giving warning for the need to be cautious and using restraint. We will find in life that there may be times in a relationship or situation that the other party involved may have an ulterior motive in “wining and dining” us.

BEWARE OF THE FLATTERER!

Solomon admonishes us that not everyone can be taken at face value. Be cautious and use restraint.

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” ~Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism

Principle 6:

“When sitting down to eat with a ruler, take a moment to think about who you are with and what you are doing. If you are the type who eats too much too fast, do whatever is necessary to curb your enthusiasm for food. Also, do not eye the ruler’s delicacies, for the food may not be what it seems.” -(VOICE)

Solomon tells us that when we are invited to the home of a ruler, leader, or influential person that we need to be cautious. Consider what is before you and why. Consider the moral, ethical and spiritual precepts that might be affected by your proximity to this person in authority. Ask yourself a few questions:
1.) Why am I here?
2.) What is the motivation of the person who invited me?
3.) What are my boundary lines?
4.) Will I remain true to God’s standards?

The first two questions will need to be answered as you sit in the presence of this person. The last two questions should have already been decided before you arrived to sit at their table.

“When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, with a person of influence and power, consider diligently what is before thee, keeping in mind throughout the dinner that it is a mightier and loftier one at whose invitation one is present, and put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite, keeping the usual gluttonous appetite in leash by the strongest warnings and threats, restraining the least sign of self-indulgence. Be not desirous of his dainties, craving the finest food on the table; for they are deceitful meat, literally, “bread of deception,” it is a deceptive meal, the object of the powerful person not being to dispense free hospitality, but to make use of his guest in some manner.” ~ Paul E. Kretzmann (The Popular Commentary)

We need to notice Solomon’s warning against gluttony as well. Do not go into this situation blindly, focused only on what is immediately before you, food, and making a pig of yourself. The tasty morsels before you may in fact be a way to compel you to become obligated to this crooked leader. BEWARE! Take Caution! Use restraint.

“Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people], making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil.” -Paul Ephesians 5:15-16 (AMP)

There is wisdom in using caution and restrain. This does not mean that we should be questioning everyone’s motives. But it does mean that we need to be careful to in tune with the Holy Spirit’s leading. It does mean that we need to know where we stand, at all times, and why. It does mean that we need to be in the Word and know what God’s standards and boundaries are so that we are not over stepping them.

“If we know that the aim of the Holy Spirit is to lead man to the place of self-control, we shall not fall into passivity but shall make good progress in spiritual life. “The fruit of the Spirit is self-control” ~Watchman Nee

My Prayer:
Lord, I have fallen victim to those smooth talkers before. I have ignored the still, small voice within and rushed in to areas that angels fear to tread. Forgive me, please. Help me to learn self-control and caution. Help me to constantly listening to the promptings of your Holy Spirit and being obedient too. Give me your wisdom in all situations, so that I can stay within your boundaries, I pray.

May 13, 2019

Signs and Wonders: A Note of Caution

If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder,  and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,”you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you. – Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NIV

I was really struck by this passage last week listening to a podcast.

So how could this happen?

What follows is from Matthew Henry. I’ve modernized the text in some places, and items in square brackets and lighter typeface are added by myself.

A Strange Premise

How is it possible that any who had so much knowledge of the methods of divine revelation as to be able to impersonate a prophet should yet have so little knowledge of the divine nature and will as to go himself and entice his neighbours after other gods? Could an Israelite ever be guilty of such impiety? Could a man of sense ever be guilty of such absurdity?

We see it in our own day, and therefore may think it the less strange; multitudes that profess both learning and religion yet exciting both themselves and others, not only to worship God by images, but to give divine honor to saints and angels, which is no better than going after other gods to serve them; such is the power of strong delusions.

It is yet more strange that the sign or wonder given for the confirmation of this false doctrine should come to pass. [i.e. that the prayer is answered, or the miracle takes place.] Can it be thought that God himself should give any countenance to such a vile proceeding? Did ever a false prophet work a true miracle?

It is only supposed here for two reasons:

1. To strengthen [could he mean exaggerate?] the warning here given against following such a person. “Though it were possible that he should work a true miracle, yet you must not believe him if he tell you that you must serve other gods, for the divine law against that is certainly perpetual and unalterable.’’ The supposition is like that in Gal. 1:8 , If we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you —which does not prove it possible that an angel should preach another gospel, but strongly expresses the certainty and perpetuity of that which we have received.

 2. It is to fortify them against the danger of impostures and lying wonders (2 Th. 2:9 ): “Suppose the credentials he produces be so artfully counterfeited that you cannot discern the cheat, nor disprove them, yet, if they are intended to draw you to the service of other gods, that alone is sufficient to disprove them; no evidence can be admitted against so clear a truth as that of the unity of the Godhead, and so plain a law as that of worshipping the one only living and true God.’’ We cannot suppose that the God of truth should set his seal of miracles to a lie, to so gross a lie as is supposed in that temptation, Let us go after other gods.

But if it be asked [and it must be asked]: Why is this false prophet permitted to counterfeit this sign/wonder? [why did the miracle work?] then it is answered here (v. 3): The Lord you God is testing you. He allows you to be faced by such a temptation to test the quality of  your faith, that both those that are perfect and those that are false and corrupt may be made made obvious. It is to test [and shape] you; therefore see that you pass the test, and stand your ground.’’

A Necessary Warning

1. Not to yield to the temptation: you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer.

Not only must you not do the thing he [or she] tempts you to, but you should not so much as patiently hear the temptation, but reject it with the utmost disdain and detestation. [i.e. walk away before they are finished talking!] Such a suggestion as this is not open to negotiation, but you should cover your ears! “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Some temptations are so grossly vile that they will not bear a debate, nor may we so much as give them the hearing. What follows (v. 4),

Some temptations are so grossly vile that a discussion isn’t necessary, nor may we so much as give them the time of day. What follows (v. 4), You shall walk after the Lord, may be looked upon,

(a) As prescribing a preservative from the temptation: “Stay focused on your work [sacred and secular], and you keep out of harm’s way. God never leaves us till we leave him.’’ Or,

(b) As providing us with answer to the temptation; by responding, “It is written, Thou shalt walk after the Lord, and cleave unto him; and therefore what have I to do with idols?’’

2. Not to spare the tempter, v. 5. That prophet shall be put to death, both to punish him for the attempt he has made (the seducer must die, though none were seduced by him—a design upon the crown is treason) and to prevent them from doing further mischief. This is called putting away the evil. There is no way of removing the guilt but by removing the guilty; if such a criminal be not punished, those that should punish him make themselves responsible. And you must purge the evil from among you [KJV: “mischief must be put away”] the infection must be kept from spreading by cutting off the gangrened limb, and putting away the mischief-makers. Such dangerous diseases as these must be taken in time.


Matthew Henry as sourced at BibleStudyTools.com

January 12, 2019

Frequently False Prophets

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in
sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves…” – Matthew 7:15 WEB

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.  – 1 John 4:1 NLT

Just as false prophets rose up in the past among God’s people, false teachers will rise up in the future among you. They will slip in with their destructive opinions, denying the very Master who bought their freedom and dooming themselves to destruction swiftly, but not before they attract others by their unbridled and immoral behavior. Because of them and their ways, others will criticize and condemn the path of truth we walk as seedy and disreputable. These false teachers will follow their greed and exploit you with their fabrications, but be assured that their judgment was pronounced long ago and their destruction does not sleep. – 2 Peter 2: 1-3 The VOICE

This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says to his people: “Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the LORD!
 – Jeremiah 23:16 NLT

I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me. Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophet Noadiah and how she and the rest of the prophets have been trying to intimidate me. – Nehemiah 6: 12-14 NIV

We were due for a return to look at the many writers at Charisma Blogs, and when I clicked the top article was from an author whose name I have been seeing quite frequently, Jennifer Leclaire. This article reflects some experiences that may seem unusual to you if you don’t have contact with Charismatic or Pentecostal people, but trust me, this sort of thing goes on all the time! (I would expect even more so in places like South America and Africa.) We desperately need discernment. Jennifer isn’t being dismissive of the gift — she moves in that circle of people — but of words given as prophetic coming from a person with a religious spirit.

When Religious Spirits Masquerade as Prophets

If you could look at my e-mail inbox, some of what you read would make you cry out in travail for the trauma good people in the body of Christ are suffering. Other messages would make you shout for joy as testimonies of breakthrough roll in. Still others would make you scratch your head and ask, “How can anyone who calls themselves a Christian behave this way?”

I got an email last week that ranks in the top 10 ridiculous category. I’ve left off this person’s last name so he doesn’t get flooded with rebukes. Take a read and judge the spirit thereof and let’s learn some lessons about prophecy along the way.

A Long False Prophecy That Carries a Curse

My name is Robert and I am a Prophet here in McKinney, Texas. I moved here about 7 months ago with my wife and children from Miramar, there in South Florida. Holy Spirit led me to one of your YouTube videos and told me to contact you and give you this word.

For the past 9 months the Lord Jesus has been using me to give words to many of the saints about moving. Many of these saints are Apostles, Prophets, and Pastors with large ministries. As you may or may not know, judgment is here for America. Catastrophic events are going to start happening soon so God is moving his saints into specific safe areas and assignments.

The word that I have been told to give you is that Jesus is calling you to move your family and ministry to the Dallas, Texas area as soon as possible. 1 Peter 4:17 says judgment must begin at the house of God. Every believers [sic] obedience is being tested right now. Jesus says to whom much is given, much is required.

Let me pause on the prophecy right there. This is your textbook doom-and-gloom judgment prophet. Most doom-and-gloom judgment prophets have a religious spirit. There are true words of warning and God is a God of judgment, but this is not one of them. The Lord is not speaking to me to move.

I have had prophetic words from well-known, credible prophets about laboring for a great revival in my region. This religious doomsayer was sent by the devil in a feeble attempt to get me off the wall, just as false prophets were sent to Nehemiah to get him off the wall (Neh. 6:12-14).

Prophetic Presumption Exemplified

The false prophecy continues: “God is up to something big here in the Dallas area and I believe part of it has to do with TV because a lot of the saints that he told me to contact are or have been on television. I have also received a few prophetic words myself last year about being on TV which is not something I ever even thought about or wanted.”

Here’s a great example of prophetic presumption. We don’t need to have opinions about prophetic words. We need to have God’s mind on what God is saying. Presumption can be deadly, as I’ve said many times before. Notice also the emphasis on self here. If he’s supposed to be delivering a life-saving word to me, why does he talk about how God wants to put him on TV?

When the Religious Spirit Manifests

The false prophecy continues:

Also The Lord is bringing true biblical holiness back to the church. Jesus says he wants you to stop cutting your hair short. 1 Corinthians 11:15, “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

Jesus is also saying to all his women no more fake hair, painted or fake nails, and no more makeup which as we read in the Bible was used by wicked women. Also no more earrings or jewelry, which were associated with idolatry in the Bible. A watch and wedding ring are all Jesus wants his women and men to wear. We have to be the example of what holiness looks and acts like. 1 Timothy 2:9, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.”

Also read 1 Peter 3:1-5. Jesus says he is coming for a church without spot or wrinkle and he made women perfect without these foolish things … Will be praying for you sister and God bless!

I don’t have room in this column to teach about the religious spirit. I believe in holiness, but holiness is a matter of the heart, not the hairstyle. Esther was a godly woman, and she wore jewelry, makeup and expensive clothing. I agree with the modesty message and have championed it. But I don’t agree with this prophetic word came from the Lord because neither the message nor the messenger is lining up with the character of God.

January 24, 2018

Watch Out: There Are Wolves Online

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
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Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

Hebrews 5:13-14 ““For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the Word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” 

This article replaces another which appears previously in this space.

Without a thorough indoctrination into the publishing industry, it’s easy for people shopping for a Christian resource to find something through a search engine, or scrolling categories at Amazon which appears to fit the bill but does not actually line up with scripture as they have always understood it and as their church teaches.

We wrote about this in August, 2017 in an article titled, Shopping for Church Resources on Google and Amazon Involves Risk.

…[T]the group leader, capitulating to an internet shopping world goes online and discovers a particular resource for their small group that seems to fit the bill.

  1. It’s on the book of Philippians, which is exactly what they want.
  2. It’s a fill-in-the-blanks format, which is exactly what they want.
  3. It runs ten weeks, which is exactly what they want.
  4. It’s under $10 US per book, which is exactly what they want.

What could possibly go wrong?

We then offered a number of things that could blow up, the last of which was,

The search process lands someone on a website not realizing it belongs to a marginal or fringe group such as LDS/Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness and is impressed enough to delve further into their writings, never returning to their place of origin.

Heck, if you’re ordering quantities of things, let’s face it, many people could be deceived.

There are several ways this can happen:

  1. The product they followed up on when they typed their criteria into a search engine belonged to a commercial publisher or distributor who was paying for search engine optimization (SEO) or even a paid ad itself.
  2. The internet isn’t very discerning; it follows an algorithm to obtain results depending on what you type. But too many search terms can also send it off the rails.
  3. The person searching isn’t very discerning; they are not trained in terms of knowledge of who it is behind the website or the publisher.

 

From there the article discussed a number of issues all related to publishing.

But there is a much broader issue begging for discussion here, and that’s discernment, as in spiritual discernment. It’s more than just a “spidey sense” but sometimes it presents that way. Something just feels off, or not right.

Because we’ve covered discernment here already many, many times — it’s the spiritual gift I believe people desperately  need in an internet age — I would encourage you to track some of those articles at this link.

What are we supposed to do?

Writing at Before the Cross, Erica Boutwell notes,

…Paul says in Romans 16 to “watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”

Maybe you’re feeling some reservations about someone but you don’t think you have enough Biblical knowledge to really tell if what they’re teaching is legit. Ask your pastor or someone you believe knows the Word well. Trust that the stirring in your gut is not just that late night bowl of ice cream talking. There’s a good chance it’s the Holy Spirit prompting you to research something a little more – either to further your own knowledge of scripture or to help you point out false teaching.

I believe the biggest thing believers need to learn from the tricky spot we find ourselves in today is to never take something at face value. The enemy is cunning and he is patient enough to creep in just a little at a time, even through someone you feel like you’ve been able to trust up until now. We have to stop blindly following the teachings of 3rd party resources, and start holding up the information we’re being handed against the lens of scripture. When all is said and done, we don’t get to use the excuse of “but he said . . .” or “but she told me . . .” Rest assured, the day will come when they will be held accountable, but not for your choices.

As we continue growing in our faith, we are to become more and more responsible for who we let teach us and what teachings we trust. So as the different teachers in our faith increase in number and influence, especially outside of the church, let’s make it a priority to know the Word of God well enough to be aware when we are being fed real meat and when we are having the wool pulled over our eyes…


Click this link for other articles by Erica at Before the Cross.

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