Beware of Processed Spiritual Food
by Fred London
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Beware of Processed Spiritual Food
"like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation" - I Peter 2:2
In Peter’s letter, he uses the term, “the pure milk of the word.” What does he mean by this? Let us begin by eliminating what he does not mean. He is not referring to the early stages of spiritual maturity as it relates to the context of I Cor. 3:1-2 and Heb. 5:13. Rather, he is speaking of the quality of what they spiritually consume. The familiar adage, ‘You are what you eat,” has been a biblical principle long before its more modern popular usage. And yet, in today’s society, we hear so much about the negative impact of processed foods to our bodies. Depending upon your personal persuasion, those claims can be justified or extreme.
But, in the spiritual realm, and more specifically, as it relates to biblical teaching, the negative impact of processed spiritual food cannot be over emphasized. With what goes for much of this so-called “biblical” teaching so popular these days should be accompanied by a warning label: “Beware: This is Processed Spiritual Food.” The problem is certainly not with the God-given processing ministry of the Holy Spirit, but rather of the man-made process which lends itself to corrupting the word of God.
The word “pure” as defined in Peter’s letter means, “pure from defilement, not contaminated, unadulterated.” The intended meaning becomes even more clear when defining the word, “adulterate,” which means, “to make impure, illegitimate, false or inferior by adding extraneous or improper ingredients.” The psalmist says, “The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times” (Ps. 12:6). Herein lies the key to understanding how God’s word can be turned from “pure milk” into sour milk, from a source of nourishment into a source of disease, from a source of growth into a source of retardation, from a source of life into a source of death, from a pure representation of Christ and His Kingdom into a source of a perverted gospel
The key of which we speak is all in the process, and this process is all about the vessel through which the word of God is filtered. Will the vessel employ his natural mind and fleshly nature as that filter and thereby become guilty of “adding extraneous or improper ingredients” to his teaching? Or, will that vessel endeavor to lay his mind and nature down at the Cross with the hope that nothing but the Holy Spirit might function as the Divine Filter. It is this spiritual process which seeks to remove the human ingredients which inhibits our ability and desire “to rightly divide the word of truth.” And, in this way, through such a prepared “earthen vessel,” God and His purposes might be more accurately presented in spirit and truth.
This malady in the church should not surprise us in the least, and not just because of the many prophetic words concerning false teachers in the “last days.” Since the beginning of time, the enemy has sought to corrupt the word of God. It was in the Garden of Eden where the serpent perverted God’s words to Eve which opened the door to sin entering the world. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, Satan again, perverted the word of God by taking Scripture out of context and misappropriating its meaning to somehow, if it were possible, get the Son of God to throw himself down from the pinnacle of The Temple.
Paul, all too often, was compelled to address this issue, and found it to be an embarrassment having to defend his apostleship when being compared to others. He writes, “but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (II Cor. 4:2). Peter referred to these false teachers as “having eyes full of adultery.” Those “adulterating the word of God” were problematic in the early church, and so it has been to this very day.
It is worth noting that “craftiness” and “adulterating” seem to go hand in hand when exposing this issue. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming...’ (Eph. 4:14). In other words, we are not merely speaking of honest differences in scriptural interpretation. What we are dealing with is the willful perversion of God’s word, coupled with the deceit and exploitation of God’s people.
One of the most predominant, and not surprisingly, most popular teachings in the church today is that of the “Prosperity” gospel. Have you ever noticed that those who promulgate and peddle this teaching normally are the most prosperous beneficiaries of this doctrine? There is “the law of supply and demand,” or in this case, “the law of greed and exploitation.” It makes for a very formidable alliance, and that is why it is so successful, or at least as far as the teacher and the marketing of it is concerned. Our carnal nature is never in short supply of these essential ingredients to make this business a lucrative one, “who suppose that godliness is gain.” “But godliness is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment” (I Tim. 6:5b-6). The fact of the matter is, greed and contentment just do not mix..
Paul wrote, “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all evils, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. But flee from these things, you man of God...” (I Tim. 6:9-11a). “Have wandered away from the faith...?” Could this be one of the “doctrines of demons” Paul alluded to earlier in the same letter? Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mat. 19:23).
Ah, but did not Jesus also say, “But first seek His kingdom and righteousness and all these things shall be added to you” (Mat. 7:33). Yes, but He makes this statement within the text and context of admonishing the people not to anxiously pursue these earthly” things.” Also, notice within the phrase the connective word “and,”is used, and not the conditional phrase, “so that.” Big difference! In fact, just prior to this, Jesus, says, “For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek.” Make no mistake, no Jew wanted to be compared to a Gentile. They got the message, loud and clear!
Recognize the hidden signs: “Welcome to the Spiritual Smorgasbord!” “Welcome to the Biblical Buffet!” “Have the best of both worlds!” “Choose and eat only what you want!” To prospective patrons, be forewarned: “Consumption will be hazardous to your health!” But, how can one know if a teacher and their doctrine is adulterated? If you look closely, you will find it revealed right on the back of the package. Take the time to read the ingredients, and you will know.
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