5th KEY : WATCH OUT FOR SATAN IN THE PEWS AND THE PULPIT
by Dr. Henderson Ward
Not For Sale
Author requests article critique
Not For Sale
Author requests article critique
In the previous chapter when we dealt with the fourth key: Discern truth from error and reject error with passion, we looked at imposters who taught and preached falsehoods, people who would be regarded as part of the leadership, but in this chapter we are going beyond the leadership to include all of those in the assembly, i.e. all those in the pulpit as well as those in the pews for the Devil and his demons will, as occasion affords, use anyone to further their godless agenda. In one sense it is really sad, but it is a reflection and commentary on our present age, that in the Assembly of God one has to be fully alert at all times because the wolves are on the prowl and the attack can come from any quarter and may do so from the most unexpected direction. In the other sense this is fully rewarding, and even delightful for the believer for it shows us that prophesy is being fulfilled and the Bible’s declaration is panning out just as God has said.
Every student of the Bible will be in no doubt that we are approaching the end of time as we know it and the Bible gives us several indications, things that will happen, so that we can identify when the last days are upon us. Looking at prophesy from both the Old and New Testaments the events which will occur are summarized as follows:
a. Israel will rebuild its Temple, it’s fourth.
b. The Anti-Christ, false prophet, Beast will emerge
c. Pre-Tribulation strife will take place in greater desperation
d. The rapture will occur
e. The Tribulation will commence
f. An abominable act of desecration will occur in the Temple
g. Tribulation horrors will intensify
h. Jesus will return
i. Armageddon will take place
j. Satan will be restrained for a 1000 years
k. The Millennium will occur
l. Satan unrestrained and finally defeated and confined in hell.
m. The great white throne judgment takes place
n. The wicked turned into hell to be with Satan
o. The kingdom restored that God may be all in all.
People may add to these categories, but they would merely be adding details rather than individual categories, as for example the events referred to in Revelations 16 as “Vials of Wrath” are part of Tribulation horrors, category (g) above.
God does not leave his people in darkness at any time, and he has not done so now, for he has given us his word so that we might be guided in the paths of righteousness for his name’ sake. One of the most powerful guides we have, as it throws light on what is happening now, is the words of Jesus as he told the parable of the wheat and the tares. You will recall in the parable that wheat was planted by the Master in the field but after the wheat sprang up and began to blossom, behold, tares were seen to be among the wheat and blossoming also. Then the workers enquired if they should pull up the wheat and dispose of them. Jesus replied, “But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” – Matthew 13: 29-30
You will note the enormous significance of what Jesus said, “Let both grow together until the harvest” because that is where we are right now, when in God’s church there are as much tares as wheat, and each declaring itself to be representing the truth and declaring God’s message. You see, the wheat represents the genuine article, the real faith, and the true believers who worship God in spirit and in truth and the tares are the imposters, the wolves among the sheep, the ones that want to bring to naught God’s wonderful plan of redemption for mankind. They will fail, have no doubts about that, for God has a way of preserving his people throughout all generations and will bring them safely to heaven’s shore but believers are given the responsibility to see the tares for what they are and in particular who they represent and what they are offering. And what they are offering are not of the true vine but grapes of wrath, water that quenches no thirst, food that makes you malnourished and medicine that mocks you and leaves you worse off because that is what fakes do. The list of fakes is long but the main fakes are as follows:
1. Fake love
Love is the greatest of all virtues and Paul was right when he said, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV). Love has the capacity to give warmth and comfort and unite and is a powerful attraction, so if the love offered or that is on display is fake then it can be deadly and this is the kind of love offered by the tares who we can describe as nominal Christians. The Apostle Paul was aware of this false love and its consequences and warned the Church at Rome, “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” – Romans 12:9. Nominal Christians trade in fake love because their whole life is bogus and the Bible says that an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit. Fake love sooner or later will show its true intent as was the case with Samson and Delilah when she prevailed upon him to reveal the secret of his great strength. The Bible puts it like this, “And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.” – Judges 16:19. After this Delilah called the Philistines and they plucked out Samson’s eyes and threw him bound into a dungeon. As we know Samson had the last laugh when his hair grew back and he demolished the whole building, brought it tumbling down upon their ungodly heads when they were in full celebration.
Nominal Christians are extremely good in peddling fake love and should the believer be taken in, for example to the extent of contracting a marriage, then sooner or later the truth will come out and devastation will occur. In any case fake love is empty, pretentious, fickle, has no depth and when closely examined shows itself to consist of words only. The Apostle John drew this to the attention of believers when he said, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18. Every true believer needs to identify this fake love emanating from nominal Christians and guard against it, not letting it suck you into its embrace, not being greedy for its comforts and not being blinded to its consequences. Remember the Devil’s web is everywhere, and you are to exercise due diligence if you are to avoid falling, as a helpless victim, into his deadly trap.
2. Fake gospel.
It is here, perhaps more than any other, where the Devil and his demons, and all his earthly accomplices, put up the greatest fight for they hate and deride the true gospel of Jesus Christ and for over two thousand years have been trying to kill it. There have been mighty attempts, at the highest levels of human endeavour, to pollute and compromise the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When the Roman Empire adopted Christianity under Emperor Constantine in the fourth century he compromised it and polluted it with his paganism and rampant idolatry. When the Roman Catholic Church some years later, following the precedents set by the Emperors and practiced Christianity they compromised it with layers and layers of man-made and self serving rituals, litanies and dogmatic theology which continued through The Reformation turbulence right up to the present day. Over the years believers have suffered enormously by threats, beatings, persecution, imprisonment and death for standing up and defending the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One time Paul had to stand up and assert, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation.” – Romans 1:16a and this was a time when believers were ashamed and getting killed for believing the good news of salvation.
Today we do not have beatings, persecution, imprisonment and death in quite the same manner as before, but the hate and derision of the true gospel of Jesus Christ is as fierce as ever, and new groups like the communist, atheist, rockers and their like are joining the fray. All of these people along with their demonic accomplices have a two-prong strategy; one is to aggressively attack the gospel of Christ from without, and this includes their puerile, self-serving, opportunistic publications and the other strategy is to come into the church and do a “Trojan-horse” thing among believers. But this is no new strategy and it has been tried from earliest times as Paul noted, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” – Galatians 1:6-7. Modern-day nominal Christians know that to destroy the gospel of Christ is a task way beyond them so they seek to dilute its efficacy and undermine its doctrine and create doubt and distrust in the minds of believers by a systematic campaign of corruption and man-made additions to the scriptures. Paul gave a forewarning of this to the church at Corinth, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” – 2 Corinthians 11:3-4.
However it is done, falsification of the gospel is a clever ruse, because it allows those detractors from outside the church to point their accursed fingers at those in the church, and heap scorn upon their heads and draw to the attention of the world the misdeeds of the believers and at the same time perpetuating those very misdeeds by their cohorts masquerading as true believers. This has the potential to distract earnest seekers after truth, for they are baffled as to who is trustworthy, and may decide to forego the whole exercise, trusting nobody. Never mind what they think, their day of reckoning is coming, for the Bible leaves us in no doubt that God is taking account of everything, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” – Proverbs 15:3. Because there is going to be an accounting true believers must clearly identify and guard against the activities of these nominal Christians and, like the tares in the parable, leave them in the hands of Almighty God, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” – Ecclesiastes 12:14.
3. Fake manner of life
The way you live is often a reflection of your beliefs, aspirations, yearnings and circumstances and to live a life that is untrue to yourself must be to die many times while you are still living. All nominal Christians subscribe to a fake manner of life and keep up the pretence, no matter how unconscionable, to achieve their aims which are but part of the Devil’s agenda. All believers encounter these nominal Christians on a daily basis and it is imperative that you are able to cope with what ever they throw at you and still keep your focus and dedication. Not even Jesus was immune from these imposters as we see here in the garden of Gethsemane when Judas betrayed him, “Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.” – Matthew 26:48-49. Jesus was not caught napping, for he knew very well that Judas was living a fake manner of life, for he was a thief as well as a liar, but Jesus tolerated him because he was to fulfill an important prophetic role, just as, like now, nominal Christians are fulfilling their destiny as the tares among the wheat. The big danger for true believers is that they may look at the lifestyle of these nominal Christians and somehow envy them and end up copying them. Jesus warned against this because the Pharisees were astute teachers of The Law but their lifestyle was appalling as Jesus pointed out, “All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.” – Matthew 23:3-5.
A fake manner of life, as lived by nominal Christians, ends up doing two things. First it enslaves them and makes them stooges of the Devil and restricts their freedom of choice and actions for they are slaves to sin and do that which manifestly plays well with their cohorts. Secondly it diminishes and demeans them for human beings were not put here to be manipulated and used as part of someone else’s agenda. We are fully aware of the dread and horror people feel when they find out that someone is using them as part of their agenda to achieve some unacceptable objective. Nominal Christians are duped in this way and, if you allow them, they will recruit you to their cause and destroy any prospect you have of standing up to the Devil and his demons, repelling them with divine authority and taking full control of your life. Identify those believers whose manner of life is fake and passionately guard against them for the Bible put you on warning, “…for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” – 2 Corinthians 6:14b-17.
4. Fake comfort
The ability and desire to take comfort and respite from the storm is one thing but the propensity to avoid the storms of life by compromise and unprincipled accommodation is quite another and speaks to a fake comfort beloved of nominal Christians. The believer’s walk of faith in Christ is not a journey without pain and if you find yourself without a care in the world, with an adoring world at your feet and never a threatening cloud on your horizon then you must seriously ask yourself if you are still serving the Lord Jesus Christ. God does not expect and circumstances will never allow you to serve the Lord without your full share of challenges, and the Bible says as much, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” - 2 Timothy 3:12. You might think that if you live right, and make the fullest commitment to God and without deviation worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth, then God will see to it that your way is smooth and clear but God promises no such thing. The Apostle Paul was one of the most committed and dedicated believers in the history of Christianity and yet he suffered enormously, as recorded here in when writing to Timothy, “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of the all the Lord delivered me.” – 2 Timothy 3:10-11.
Anytime anyone offers the believer a life free from the normal slings and arrows of the Devil and seeks to instill a sense of immunity from the turbulence of life then he is offering a fake comfort which cannot be sustained. When put to the test it will be shown to be futile as asserted by the Word of God, “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:3. This is where nominal Christians compound and deepen their slide away from God because, in seeking ease and comfort, they go the way of least resistance, travel with the crowd and swim with the evil currents of the day and end up being comforted on the broad way leading to destruction. The peace and true comfort which believers seek are not found with evildoers, “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” – Isaiah 48:22, but rather by careful attention to the inspired Scripture, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” – Psalm 119:165. It is therefore necessary to be on your guard against this fake comfort and to do as Paul advised, “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:6.
5. Fake doctrine
Fake doctrine has the same effect as giving a placebo to seriously sick people in that the people receiving the placebo medicine think that it is healing medicine and will restore them to full health, which of course it will not; this is deception that leads to spiritual death. Nominal Christians take this fake doctrine and give it a major twist, for this fake doctrine, flowing among believers, come about as a result of nominal Christians demanding and choosing for themselves a medicine they know cannot heal, and feel comfortable taking it, because it is compatible with their unregenerate nature. That true believers are to be ever watchful and stand ready to recognize and combat fake doctrine is urged by the Apostle Paul as he admonished Timothy, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” – 2 Timothy 4:3-4.
As mentioned earlier if you can identify imposters, fakes, nominal Christians and the like then you are in an excellent position to identify fake doctrine on the basis that, “a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” – Matthew 7:17b but if you, for whatever reason, are unable to spot the imposters you should not be clueless like the disciples, “How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” – Matthew 16:11-12. God has given every true believer resources which he can use with complete certainty that they will detect false doctrine and ring the alarm bells so that the believer is fully aware of the situation. The two most precious resources God has given believers are:
1. The Holy Spirit. Where all else fails the abiding, comforting, illuminating presence of the Holy Spirit is our ultimate guarantee that we will never be left in darkness not knowing which direction we are to go or being unable to detect truth from error. We are given the Holy Spirit when we are converted and become a child of God, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” – Romans 8:16 and the main tasks of the Holy Spirit are to comfort the believer in times of uncertainty and danger and to give light to enable truth to be identified amongst the multitude of error, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.” – John 16:13. It is vital therefore that you do not quench the Holy Spirit by ignoring its promptings, urges, influence, calls, warnings and directions for he is always working to implement the will of God in your life.
2. The Holy Bible. Many people are still not aware that the Bible is the will of God, referred to as God’s declarative will, and contains all that God wants us to have that is necessary and sufficient for our complete salvation including our guide when seeking truth. Many times when the Holy Spirit is directing you he will do so by referring you to Scripture, which, when read and understood, give you the answers to your enquiries. It makes no difference what the subject is, or the nature of the enquiry, the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible between them have everything under the sun completely covered. There are many false doctrines circulating which you need to look out for and guard against and remember what Paul said, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” – Galatians 1: 8.
6. Fake leaders
True leaders are like genuine shepherds of ordinary sheep whose sole concern is for the safety, health and welfare of each and every sheep of that fold. It is for good reason that Jesus referred to himself as the good shepherd for he is the quintessential example of peerless leadership, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” – John 10:11-14. In exercising this care the true shepherd will leave the ninety and nine safely in the fold and, braving all weathers and dangers, will boldly seek out that one sheep that has got into difficulty and needs assistance. The Bible puts it like this, “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.” – Luke 15:4-6. Now look around you today and see how many leaders qualify under the criteria specified by Jesus Christ and you will see why religion is in this perilous state. We have leaders who are full of themselves, egocentric, self-serving, self-seeking whose sole objective is to elevate themselves and lord it over the flock, whose aim is to look after themselves rather than the flock, feather their own nest and set themselves up as intermediary between the people and God. These modern-day Nicolaitans not only prevent people from coming to God and making a commitment, but worse they become a stumbling block to those already committed to the Lord and they cause some of them to turn away from the faith just as happened in Jeremiah’s time, “My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.” – Jeremiah 50:6
It is true that the world has a dearth of good leadership right now and the consequences for the world is being felt as we witness unnecessary wars, inept economic management, clumsy social policies and out of control lawlessness among other maladies but it is the situation in religion where the dearth is most acutely felt. Leaders of the church are called out of the world, set as watchmen over the flock and purged of the motivations, ambitions and carnality of the fallen world so that they may freely, fervently and fully serve God and his people. What we have are fake leaders who do not represent God, do not know and therefore cannot articulate the vision and will of Almighty God, have no sincere love for the flock and are woefully lacking in their responsibility to warn the people of error. Ezekiel put it like this, “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the words at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Again, when a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; but thou hast delivered thy soul.” – Ezekiel 3: 17-21.
You are to watch out most carefully for fake leaders and not be fooled or be taken in by them even when they have great charisma and appear so enlightened and progressive, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” - 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. One of the bizarre consequences of fake leadership is that in your efforts to stand up to the Devil and his demons, you will find the fake leader, instead of being your ally and asset to bolster your valiant stand, turns out to be the Devil’s agent working to undermine and destroy you. The moment you recognize him as a fake, and therefore fully on the Devil’s side with all the nominal Christians, is the moment you advance another step towards victory.
7. Fake righteousness
Righteousness is the currency in which God deals and all believers trade in this currency and no other. That the believer is made righteous in God through Jesus Christ is attested to by many scriptures, and Paul says this, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” – Philippians 3:9. This is true righteousness, which is both the character of God’ sinless perfection as well as the derivative of God’s provision through Christ, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the redemption of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” – Romans 3:24-25. This is the righteousness the believers seek in their pursuit of the things of God as they elevate their gaze from the earthly to the heavenly, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33. This then is true righteousness which is not of ourselves but is of God and flows from that divine relationship and impacts everything we do and identifies who we are.
Righteousness is so vital to both individuals as well as whole countries that the Bible elevates it to a level where it becomes a necessary characteristic for wholesome development, “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” – Proverbs 14:34. This is the very reason it is so fervently commended and the prophets of old highly recommended it to God’s people, “But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” – Amos 5:24.
Most things in life can be faked and righteousness is not exempted and Jesus was very well aware of this since all around him in ancient Palestine there were those who pretended they were righteous and were not. People were being duped with faked righteousness, taken advantage of and were being misled and among those being most guilty of fake righteousness were the Scribes and the Pharisees and Jesus highlighted this to his disciples, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:20
The Pharisees offered fake righteousness, just like many of those in the pews and the pulpit offer today, which can be identified by its concentration on self and is often void of the selfless commitment to doing God’s will rather than to man’s desire. Jesus gave us a powerful example of this, “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Matthew 19:16-22. This unfortunate man was hopelessly self righteousness because he was quite happy to do a lot of things from his youth up, things he thought were fine for everlasting life, but the one thing Christ told him to do, which was in accordance with God’s will, he point blank refused. So here in summary is fake righteousness; doing what we like rather than doing that which God has instructed. This is the basis of much false doctrine throughout Christianity because God says something and we rush ahead with doing the opposite indicating that we know better than God and that our righteousness is to be preferred over God’s righteousness. Study your Bible and live in the Spirit, which will guide you day by day, and you will be able to identify fake righteousness whenever you meet it.
8. Fake Lord’s table
The communion table is an ordinance instituted by Jesus Christ himself and is for the purpose of believers remembering the death of the Lord, and participation is for those in good standing with the Lord and in fellowship with each other. It is therefore holy and is sometimes called Holy Communion but like most rituals and sacraments it can be rendered meaningless and futile if the prerequisites are not met. Some in the early church abused the Lord’s Table by their excesses and showmanship and were not worthy of participation and Paul pointed this out to them, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 11:26-27.
Some churches have forgotten the rich symbolism of the Lord’s Table and the sanctified and gracious significance of the bread and wine by allowing all sorts of unsuitable people to participate. With the advent of homosexual priests [hic] homosexual bishops [hic] and the un-saved officiating and non-Christians partaking of the bread and the wine, the whole exercise can become an empty ritual, a charade of vanity, an occasion for the will of Almighty God to be relegated below the traditions and folly of man. The Lord’s Table is one of those occasions when it is necessary to separate the clean from the unclean and failure to do so renders it a fake, “Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.” – Ezekiel 22:26. Much of this profanity is because of imposters in the pews and the pulpit doing their own thing and desecrating the Lord’s Table, “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s Table, and of the table of devils.” – 1 Corinthians 10:21, but this very thing they do having no reverence of God and no love and respect for the hallowed sacraments and traditions of the apostles which were handed down to believers.
Anytime you participate in a fake Lord’s Table instead of getting the blessings and means of grace from God that were intended, you could be doing yourself harm by imbibing damnation to yourself, because in situations like these God has laid upon you the responsibility to distinguish between the clean and the unclean and to act appropriately, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 6:17a
9. Fake prosperity
Prosperity is a good thing and God wants all people to be prosperous but there are some in the pews and the pulpit who push prosperity as the sole reason for one’s existence and for them prosperity means one thing; materialism. They make the serious error that man’s highest and noblest aspiration is fulfilled when he has acquired an over abundance of material goods. This is fake prosperity and Jesus pointed this out, “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” – Luke 12:15. A poor, healthy person with a loving family, who has the respect of his peers and neighbours and is living in harmony with God and his fellow man, is far more prosperous than a billionaire suffering from Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) hiding from the tax authorities in some jungle hideout and fearing the drug cartel that he has ripped off to acquire his billionaire’s status. All his wealth cannot buy him peace of mind or an untroubled night’s sleep or the riddance of his debilitating ailment. This is fake prosperity at its starkest because, among other things, it is ill gained and in particular it excludes God.
Jesus gave an example of such fake prosperity, which is a prosperity that diminishes God to the role of your servant; giving you an abundance of things on demand to satisfy your carnal lust. It excludes God entirely as you, without reference to the Almighty, determine your future as if the future is yours to command. “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12:16-21.
In spite of the false prosperity offered from the pews and the pulpit, the true believer never looses focus on what is important and that is to seek God’s kingdom first and, if it is God’s will, and he sees fit to add prosperity to your other blessings then so be it, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33. A fake prosperity is a reversal of divine priority and puts the cart before the horse and has the potential to convert a blessing into a curse.
10. Fake power
Pontius Pilot who condemned Jesus to be crucified thought he had great power because he was the governor of Judea with power of life and death in his hands. When questioning Jesus, Pilate made this bold statement, “…Speaketh thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” – John 19:10b and Jesus replied, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” – John 19:11b. Jesus had a power so superior to that of Pilate’s that to compare them would be an exercise in futility as Jesus asserted earlier, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” – Matthew 26:53. Pilate thought that his power could enable him to do whatever he wanted, but that was false, because his power could be set aside or overwhelmed by the power of Jesus Christ, therefore his power was illusory.
This demonstration of fake power is not limited to those in high positions in the secular world but is very much a part of religious life and believers can be duped into accepting the fake as if it is the real article. Through trickery, deception and dabbling in the occult some of those in the pews and the pulpit will perform miraculous things and by learning and using tried and tested ritual may be able to cast out demons or give the impression that they have power and thereby deceive many. Jesus commented on this fake power and showed that these nominal Christians were fakes, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” – Matthew 7:22-23. You will note the very strong condemnation of these fakes by Jesus, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” which confirmed that all they had done was iniquitous and false and the power to do them was fake power and not from God.
True believers should be aware that demons are capable of allowing imposters to perform magic, and do things that seem to come from Almighty God, and if believers are not fully in sync with the Holy Spirit they too can be fooled. There are many deceptions and magic being practiced today, but as time goes by they will accelerate, and get much more diverse and awesome leading in to the last days on earth. “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10. Notice well how the Bible describes the fake power of this agent of Satan, “with all power and signs and lying wonders” because this is the very same fake power present now in the pews and the pulpit and you need to identify it and be on your guard against it.
This is the penultimate chapter from my book STAND UP TO THE DEVIL - Volume 4 and you can, without obligation, examine this and the other volumes at Amazon.com and see if they are helpful to you.
Books by this author you may wish to read.
THINGS EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD KNOW (e-book)
Volume 1 – Five tough facts to be faced
STAND UP TO THE DEVIL (e-book)
Volume 1 – You must first identify him
BASTARD: A STORY OF REDEMPTION(e-book fiction)
ONE MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT ON GOD’S CLOCK (Hard copy)
ONE MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT ON GOD’S CLOCK (e-book)
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