A couple of things I saw on TV recently made
me stop and think about some things. First, I came upon a report
about young women who were considering entering a monastery for nuns.
The monastery totally isolates these women from society for the rest
of their lives. The reporter interviewed both the ladies considering
entering the monastery and those who had been there for years trying
to understand their reasons for believing in this lifestyle.
Without exception, all of these women explained their reasons for
entering the monastery as responding to the "feelings" each of them
had about God.
Not once did any of them
ever reference the Word of God as their source of instruction for
their spiritual life. None of them said anything like, "We live
like this because the Bible instructs us too." They don't reference
the Bible because the Bible doesn't say anything about living in this
manner. They do not live by the Word of God. By their
own admission, they base their entire lives on what they "feel."
So what has Lordship over their lives, God or their "feelings"?
Living like this is clearly and completely contrary to the teaching
of the Bible. Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach
the good news to all creation." Mark 16:15. "You are the light
of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither
do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they
put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see
your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16.
Sanctification is the life-long process by which every true believer
in Jesus is transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ.
This is accomplished by the Word of God revealed to the heart and
mind of the true believer by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus
said, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." John 17:17.
The truth matters! He didn't say, "Sanctify them by their feelings."
People's feelings change depending on circumstances. They can't
always be trusted. Jesus said, "But whoever lives by the truth
comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he
has done has been done through God." John 3:21. Jesus teaches
us to live by the truth, not by our "feelings." That's why we
don't base our spiritual lives on our "feelings." If we ever
want to know if a "feeling" is the leading of the Holy Spirit, we
go to the Word because as Jesus Himself declared, the Word "Is Truth."
The truth of God's Word never changes regardless of circumstances.
It is our final authority. It's what we live by! Jesus
said, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but
on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4.
The Scriptures contain every principle we need for godly living! "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness
through our knowledge of him." 2 Peter 1:3.
Everything we hear, see, think, do, even "feel" should be measured
against the Scriptures. "Test everything." 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to
see whether they are from God" 1 John 4:1. "Now the Bereans
were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received
the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every
day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11. The Holy
Spirit will never lead us in a direction contrary to the Word of God!
One of the reasons why there are so many false religions, doctrines,
and cults in the world is because so many people base what they believe
on what they "feel" with no regard whatsoever to the Word of God, no
regard for the truth. "Contrary to what many are teaching today,
there is no need for additional revelations, visions, or words of
prophecy. In contrast to the theories of men, God's Word is
true and absolutely comprehensive. Rather than seeking something
more than God's glorious revelation, Christians need only to study
and obey what they already have!" John MacArthur.
The next thing that got me thinking came when I was flipping through
the channels on the TV the other day and I came upon a most unusual
documentary. I only watched a few minutes of it. I started
watching because the program was showing a woman in a foreign country
praying to Jesus. I love programs that show the Gospel reaching
people all around the world. This show wasn't one of them.
During this woman's prayer to "Jesus," she also prayed to Allah,
the Virgin Mary and her own personal relatives! Wow! It's
amazing to me how many people want to believe "in" God, but they don't
want to "believe" God. They either don't know or don't believe
His Word. "There is a way that seems right to man, but in the
end it leads to death." Proverbs 14:12. "They have exchanged
the truth of God for a lie." Romans 1:25.
So many people mistakenly believe that all they have to do is believe
in "Jesus," or pray to "Jesus," or worship "Jesus," and they'll be
okay. What they don't understand is that it matters what "Jesus"
you believe in. For example, if a person says that he believes
in "Jesus" and that "Jesus" will save him, that's great. If
he then goes on to explain that the "Jesus" he worships is his dog
whose name is "Jesus," obviously this person is not saved and
is still under condemnation. If a person prays to a "Jesus"
who requires the assistance of Allah, the Virgin Mary, and her own
relatives to answer prayers, is she really praying to Jesus Christ
of the Bible, the Holy Lord and Creator of the Universe, the all-powerful,
one and only, True and Living, Righteous God? No, not at all.
She is praying to a "Jesus" of her own creation and that is idolatry.
God does not share his glory! "I will not yield my glory to
another." Isaiah 48:11.
Satan is misleading
so many people around the world, in and out of the church. He
will use any means necessary in his attempt to drive the truth from
the world. "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance
with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles,
signs, and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those
who are perishing. They perish because they refuse to love the
truth and so be saved." 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10. Jesus described
Satan like this, "He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding
to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he
speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."John 8:44. That's why there are so many examples where the Bible
warns true Christians about false teachers and false beliefs.
Jesus said, "For false Christs and false prophets will appear" Matthew
24:24. It is also why the Apostles warn us with verses like
these, "But there were also false prophets among the people, just
as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly
introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who
bought them" 2 Peter 2:1. "Even from your own number men will
rise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after
them. So be on your guard!" Acts 20:30-31.
Many Christians think that the only "false Christs" and "false prophets"
are those that openly and directly oppose Jesus. The Bible teaches
otherwise. Satan is the great counterfeiter. He also deceives
and misleads by appearing to be the very one he actually opposes. "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my
name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many." Matthew
24:4-5. The Apostle Paul wrote, "For such men are false apostles,
deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no
wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants
of righteousness." 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. This is why we have
so many people following false doctrines such as the Word of Faith
movement and its false gospel of health, wealth, and prosperity.
It's also why we have so many people in cults today believing them
to be "Christian." For example, Mormons believe they are Christians.
They are not. http://www.carm.org/lds/lds_christian.htm.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe they are Christians. They are not. http://www.carm.org/jw/cult.htm.
are so many other cults promoting false teachings which also claim
to be "Christian," to say nothing of the literally hundreds of false
religions in the world. Part of our responsibility as true Christians
is to love and have compassion for all lost people in the world, even
those who have been misled and are in cults and those that believe
in false religions. "I am sending you to them to open their
eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan
to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among
those who are sanctified by faith in me." Acts 26:18. As effective
witnesses for Christ, we must be able to recognize what is true and
what is not true, explain the difference and not be afraid to share
the truth of God's Word with everyone. The Scriptures assure
us that God gives us the tools we need to accomplish this. He
gives us the Holy Spirit, "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes,
he will guide you into all truth." John 16:13. He also
gives us the Bible itself, the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God. "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any
double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
"Today the Church is surrounded
by cults; these people come to your doors speaking, as they say, 'from
the Scriptures.' They say that they believe the Bible which
we teach. The moment they make a statement you feel instinctively
that there is something wrong with it, but you cannot answer them.
Now one of the purposes of studying biblical doctrines is to enable
us to discover together the error in such teachings. ...Then, having
a firm grasp and knowledge of that, we can test every other teaching
presented to us. ...But not only are there all these errors and cults
around the Church, even in the Church herself there is terrible confusion.
There is an absence of doctrine, there is a lack of clear definition
and a readiness to allow anybody to say anything they like. ...We
must know the ground on which we stand, and be able to withstand every
enemy that comes to attack us, every subtle foe, every ploy used by
the devil who comes disguised as an 'angel of light' to ruin our souls." Dr.
The government originally
trained its people to spot counterfeit money by having them look at
and study real money for 6 months. Having thoroughly educated
themselves on what the real money looked like, they were immediately
able to spot the fake currency. That's exactly the same principle
the Bible instructs us to use in order to know the truth and be able
to discern what is not true. We must know the Scriptures! "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God
may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
Jesus told the Sadducees, "You are in error because you do not know
the Scriptures or the power of God." Matthew 22:29. By
knowing specifically what God's Word says and learning the truths
it teaches (doctrines), we can easily spot false teachings.
It's our responsibility as Christians to do this. "He must hold
firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he
can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose
it." Titus 1:9.
God wants everyone to
know the truth. "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who
wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."
1 Timothy 2:3. As we stand for truth, we must not develop an
antagonistic attitude to the people that deny the truth of God's Word.
These are the very people we are called to love and have compassion
for. "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those
who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:44-45. "By this all men will know that you are my
disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35. How can we
honestly say we love the lost and misled and not be willing to show
them the error of the path they are on? That's like watching
a blind man walking towards the edge of a cliff and saying, "I love
that person but I'm not willing to tell him what he needs to know
in order to save his life." That's the entire point of being
a witness for Christ, to everyone, whether they agree with us or not!
It's an expression of our true love for others to always proclaim
the wonderful truth of God's Word! "Then you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free." John 8:32. The truth of God's
Word is the gift of freedom. It should always be shared in an
attitude of love! "Now that you have purified yourself by obeying
the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one
another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again,
not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and
enduring word of God." 1 Peter 1:22-23.
Does that mean that every lost and spiritually misled person will
like what we have to say? Probably not. Since Jesus, His
disciples, Stephen, and the Apostle Paul were all either beaten or
stoned, scourged or killed, or all of the above, it's easy to see
that not many people liked what they had to say. Some might
even accuse us of being unkind, mean, unloving, and offensive or even
"politically incorrect" and "intolerant" simply because we tell them
the truth from God's Word and explain to them why what they believe
is wrong. If this is the case, "Praise the Lord!" The
Bible says, "If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you
are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." 1 Peter
4:14. If we please Jesus it doesn't matter who we displease,
but if we displease Jesus it doesn't matter who we please. Most
people don't like to be told that what they believe is wrong.
They get defensive and respond with anger and resentment. They
do not see the truth of God's Word as a gift or as an expression of
our love for them even though in reality, that is exactly what it
is. "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth."
1 Corinthians 13:6.
As mature Christians,
we should never abandon our responsibility to speak the truth in order
to avoid being criticized or personally offended. We serve our
Lord and Savior, not our "feelings." That is why Jesus said,"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
If you belong to the world, it would love you as its own. As
it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of
the world. That is why the world hates you." John 15:18-19. "Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult
you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward
in heaven." Luke 6:22-23.
the true believer in Christ, we know that we are not alone in our
efforts. Jesus said, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom
the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will
remind you of everything I have said to you." John 14:26. We
know that Jesus is always with us. "And surely I am with you
always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20. We hold
to the promise that regardless of our circumstances, our faith in
Jesus Christ will produce joy and peace in our hearts. "Rejoice
in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and
petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And
the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your
hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7. The
Bible assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus. "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."
So we boldly proclaim
the Good News of Jesus Christ to the entire world. With gentleness
and respect, we show our love for the lost and misled when we teach,
rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness, fulfilling our responsibility
to God, all for the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ because
it is His Spirit that lives within us. "For God did not give
us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline.
So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord." 2 Timothy 1:7-8.
"To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ!
Amen." Romans 16:27.