EDIT: Oops, this one was supposed to be posted last week. Apologies for the mix-up in scheduling. Part 4 will now be posted next Monday instead of today.
I asked earlier (click to read previous post) how well we knew the true King of the coming kingdom, and now I’ll ask another question. How well do we know the imposters who are working to undermine the King and His kingdom? Such imposters are out there, and we must be able to recognize them.
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. (2 Cor 11:13)
If we read the first verses of this chapter, we see Paul is talking about false ministers who are preaching “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4). Keep in mind that Paul is writing to the church of God at Corinth in the first century … while the apostles and other eyewitnesses of Christ’s life were still alive. Even at that point in time, deceptions about Christ were already being preached.
They Despise Christ as King
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. … the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries. (2 Pet. 2:1-3, 9-10)
Notice in verse one these people are described as “denying the Lord” and in verse 10 it says they “despise authority.” This word translated “authority” is kuriotes (G2963), which is derived from kurios (G2962), which is the word used to refer to Jesus as Lord. In this context, “authority” denotes the kingly glory of Christ.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1)
In the churches today, we see such an emotional commitment over pet doctrines and cloudy issues. When is the barley ripe in Israel? Whose calendar should we follow? Should we ever eat in a restaurant on the Sabbath? How exactly should the ‘sacred names’ of God be pronounced?
Many of these petty “doctrinal issues,” I’m convinced, are no more than spirit-inspired distractions intended to muddy the waters … to make it harder for us to know and relate to God and Christ. Most are inspired by intellectual pride and vanity, and fueled by anger, greed, and a lust for power in the churches. In John 17:3 Christ defined eternal life in this way, to know Him and the Father, not that you know ripe barley, or are adept at spotting the first crescent of the moon. Oh, that’s too simple isn’t it? We better look into the Hebrew or Greek and find a way to complicate this.
Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head (knowing Him), from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. (Col 2:18-19)
“Not holding fast to the Head” … remember in Eph 1:22, it says that the Father glorified Christ and “gave Him to be head over all things to the church.” Could we allow ourselves to be influenced to hold on to something or someone else?
We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:6)
With God’s help, we can discern between a spirit of error and the spirit of truth. We can avoid time wasting distractions that can take us away from John 17:3, and eternal life. Some of these distractions might even masquerade as Bible study, like “foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and striving about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless,” which Titus 3:9 warns us to avoid. I know individuals who spend all of their Bible study hours, and much of their fellowship time with this, and it’s useless.
Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. … But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. (2 Tim 2:14-16, 23)
For whom have we learned what we know about the Godhead? Was it to gain approval in God’s eyes, or to show-off to our fellow human beings? Are we sharing our faith the way Jesus would have us teach, or are we arguing pet doctrines and causing strife in the churches?
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. (1 Tim. 6:3-5)
Romans 11:8 talks about “a spirit of stupor” that fell upon Israel. Could the same thing happen to us? All of the turmoil and confusion among the churches of God has a tendency to wear on us and we can become spiritually depressed.
Brethren, how can we do battle against the spiritual forces of the darkness of this world? Against the spirit of anti-Christ, the spirit of slumber, the spirits of perversion and adultery, the spirit of error, deception, seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons? How can you do battle with an enemy you can’t see, who is much more powerful than you are, who exerts influences on the minds of everyone around you, and even on your own mind?
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (Eph 6:10)
Notice the power comes only from one source. We can’t humanly work it up, control it, package it or sell it, and it can’t be institutionalized by a corporation. It is asked for and granted on an individual basis. We have to believe that the King of the coming kingdom can and will do battle for the subjects of His kingdom, His called out ones in the churches of God.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Jesus said in Matthew 11:28. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,” He continues. If we come to Him and follow His example in meekness and gentleness of heart, He says, “you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). And so we ask the question, how did He deal with the spiritual forces of darkness and wickedness that He couldn’t see with His human eyes? That’s the question we’ll answer in next week’s post.