God the Holy Spirit (1), speaking through Peter (2), cautioned the Church to be aware of the presence of the devil, who like a lion, would come and attack the flock.
The letter written to the Galatians from Paul reveals that Satan wasted no time infiltrating the early Church with religion to compete with what is revealed in Scripture. The existence of all the pageantry, erroneous teachings and accompanying rituals found in the Christian Community of our day confirms that Satan continues to have considerable success.
Deception has always been the devilís method of operation (3), and religion has often been a very effective weapon in his arsenal. By religion, I am referring to any teaching or practice that is offered as a counterfeit alternative to what is revealed in Scripture.
The ďhostile (4)Ē nature in Man is receptive to satanic deception. Satanís religious alternatives and additives appeal to the pride of Man and appear to provide the means to satisfy Manís inherent desire to do something to obtain and/or retain salvation.
The ancient Berean congregation was acknowledged for its practice of verifying that what came from the pulpit could be Biblically substantiated (5). In their case, the Scriptures primarily consisted of the Old Testament, as much of the New Testament had not yet been completed.
If such scrutiny were deemed appropriate to verify the teachings of such men as the Apostle Paul, can we afford to do any less today, especially since we now have the completed Word of God available to us?
The spiritual life is a continuation of a conflict that began before the creation of the human race (6). In fact, Man was created to glorify God in the midst of this conflict that will not end until life on this planet, as we now know it, is forever changed.
Understanding this conflict is critical for executing the true post salvation spiritual life.
One of the strategies for successful warfare, temporal or spiritual, is to deceive the enemy by having them believe that one is strong is where he is actually vulnerable, and having them think one is vulnerable where one is strong. The last place that the average Christian would expect the devil to be operating out of would be the pulpit of the Church, but Scripture (7) teaches otherwise.
The success of Satanís strategy depends on Biblical ignorance and the arrogant denial of satanic presence and activity within the Church. The refusal to appropriately deal with such things when they are discovered is the greatest threat to maintaining the purity of the Gospel Message. Apostasy within the Christian Community will only increase as the Church Age draws closer to its end (8).
The erroneous information and accompanying practices that are promoted by many pulpits is not done with malicious intent. Itís a matter of the blind leading the blind (9). Satan cunningly uses unwitting, religious people to speak for him. However, a bullet fired in ignorance can be just as lethal as one that is skillfully aimed.
The religion has been passively passed down from generation to generation can be identified by its lack of Biblical roots. If many who call themselves Christians were as concerned about the quality of their spiritual food as they are about the physical food they eat and give to their families, Satan would not have such an easy time promoting his agenda.
Scripture (10) commands (not an option) us to examine ourselves from time to time to see if we are in the faith. Faith, in this verse is not limited to the act of believing, but the subject matter that we base our beliefs on. Either itís Scriptural or itís not.
The Church was commissioned (11) to preach the Gospel to unbelievers and to make disciples of its own born again members. The Greek word for disciple in the original manuscripts is mathetes, which means to be a technical student in a teacher-pupil relationship.
Pastors are accountable for both the quantity and the quality of the food that comes from their pulpit. Members of the congregation are accountable for what they do with the information received.
Can you, like the Bereans, discern whoís at the pulpit?
(1) 2Tim. 3: 16 (2) 1 Peter 5: 8 (3) Eph. 6: 11 (4) Romans 8: 7 (5) Acts 17: 11 (6) Ezek. 28: 14/Isa. 14: 13,14 (7) 2Cor.11: 14, 15 (8) 1Timothy 4: 1 (9) Matt. 15: 14 (10) 2Cor.13: 5 (11) Matt.28: 19, 20
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