Saturday, August 1, 2015, 9:44 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Sheep.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Peter 2 (Selected vv. NASB).
False Teachers (vv. 1-3)
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
A heresy is a deviation; “an opinion, doctrine, or practice contrary to the truth” (M-W). It is similar in nature to apostasy, which means “departure (implying desertion); apostasy – literally, ‘a leaving, from a previous standing’” (biblehub.com). There is much heresy and apostasy within the church today, which has been secretly introduced into the teachings of the church. It was very slight and subtle, at first, but as the people began to accept the lies which were cleverly disguised as truth, more and more was introduced, and more and more was also accepted as truth when, in fact, much of it was lies.
It works something like this: My husband and I both grew up with televisions in our homes during the 1950’s through the 1970’s. So, as children and young adults, TV watching was just part of our lives. TV shows back then were much tamer than they are now, yet they had many subtle messages contained within them which were being daily introduced into our minds. In the 1980’s we were introduced to movie rentals. Up to that moment, we had seen movies mainly on TV, which were edited for television, so renting movies meant introducing even more stuff into our minds. We got addicted to watching movies, and soon we had seen most of the ones in the video store, and so we started buying movies, and introduced even more garbage into our minds. Little by little we accepted more and more junk, which we should never have accepted, all in the name of entertainment. The more we accepted, the more we desensitized ourselves to what we were taking into our minds.
And, this is how heresy gets secretly introduced into the church, too. The process has been slow and subtle. The more the people of the church have accepted these subtle heresies, the more they have become desensitized to them to where they don’t see them. For instance, in 1999 my husband and I put our TV away for 6 months. At first we didn’t know what to do without it, but then we did fine, but after 6 months we reintroduced it back into our lives, which was a mistake. We were both amazed at what we now noticed that we had not noticed before. We were also shocked at how much we had been desensitized to the junk so that we didn’t see it. Logic says we should have discarded the TV then, but it was in 2008 that we got rid of our TV for good, and I have not missed it one bit. Praise the Lord!
In the protestant evangelical church, which was my upbringing, I have seen a huge paradigm shift take place in the church just in the past 15 years. That is when I became aware of the Rick Warren Purpose Driven movement, which literally transformed evangelical Christianity away from the foundations of the gospel according to Jesus and his apostles to a foundation of human teachings and human marketing schemes for the purpose of drawing in large crowds of people into the gatherings of the church. That is when I began to notice pastors, who had once preached the true gospel of salvation, altering and diluting the gospel to make it more appealing to human flesh. They began to focus most of their time and attention and financial contributions toward the “Big Show” on Sunday mornings, and on making the world feel comfortable, non-threatened and not offended by the gospel.
Then, in 2011, I became aware of an even greater deviation from the truth. This one was not just diluting the gospel to make it more appealing to the people of this sinful world, or marketing the church just like any other human-based business, or making church “fun” and “entertaining” for the world so they would want to come to its meetings. This deviation (apostasy) moved in the direction of the blending of different religions into one and the introduction of pagan beliefs and practices into the church in the name of Christianity. And, the people put up with it easily enough.
Because the church did not blink an eye, for the most part, when all these other transitions and introductions of destructive heresies took place, the people were prepped to just accept whatever their pastors fed them next. Too many people are far too trusting of people in positions of religious leadership and they often follow them blindly with full allegiance, and thus they do not test what they hear against the Word to make sure it is truth.
This transition is called “Emergent” or “New Age,” and there is much deception contained within. I was first introduced to this through the teachings of a man named John Eldredge, because a loved one of mine was following this man’s false teachings. Eldredge was a student of Larry Crabb, and Larry Crabb was a student of the teachings of CS Lewis. The teachings of Eldredge, Crabb and Lewis all mix pagan mythology and mysticism in with Christianity. And, a large portion of today’s church has accepted this teaching. This is all leading to a one-world religion where the people of the world put aside what divides us and they all come together as one in unity under the New World Order “beast,” unless they refuse the mark of the beast and choose to stand strong on their faith in Jesus Christ.
Promising Freedom (vv. 17-22)
These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”
Many, many church congregations today have introduced movies or movie clips into their worship services. They see this as using parables to teach biblical truth, but often times the movies from which these “clips” are taken have situations in them where people who are not married to each other are involved sexually one with the other. So, they are using what is ungodly and unholy to try to teach what is godly, righteous and holy, but the two are in conflict with each other. Or else the movies glorify other sins such as stealing, lying or cheating, etc. In addition to this, many pastors are very worldly, and so they introduce worldly thought and actions into their sermons, oftentimes in order to make them more entertaining. So, meeting together with the church in these buildings called “church” these days is not much different than going to see movies in a movie theatre. We have had to walk out of church meetings because of the sensual nature of what was going on inside.
Many of these modern church congregations and their leaders prey on the people of this sinful world who are “unchurched” and who lack biblical knowledge and understanding, because the biblically ignorant are most likely to believe whatever they are told. At the same time, many of these leaders, too, are warned against those who hold to the truths of scripture and who believe in the gospel as taught by Jesus and his apostles, and these leaders are, thus, being schooled in how to get rid of those with “strong convictions.” They teach the people that all they have to do is pray a prayer to receive Christ, and that they don’t have to repent of sin or obey Christ to be saved. In fact, many of these false teachers tell the people that God requires nothing of them at all other than the faith to believe, although that faith is not explained. So, they are promising people freedom from the punishment of sin and they are giving them a false hope of heaven when they die, yet they are not free themselves from slavery to sin nor do they teach freedom from bondage to sin.
Yet, Jesus taught death to sin. He said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self (his self-life), take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self), and follow (obey) Jesus. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose them for eternity, but if we willingly lose our lives (die to sin and self), we will gain eternal life (See Lu. 9:23-25). His Word teaches us that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness (new birth) of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See Eph. 4:24). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (See 1 Peter 2:24). He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (2 Co. 5:15). And, He died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. If we walk according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (See Ro. 8:1-14).
Scripture also warns much against mixing paganism in with faith in the One and Only true God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The NT scriptures have set the standard for Christian faith and practice. They have much to warn us against, but also to encourage us in, if we will spend the time becoming students of the Word and not be students of movies and ungodly and humanistic teaching and philosophy, so that we know the will of God for our lives. Jesus said that his sheep (his followers) know his voice, they listen to him, and they follow (obey) him, and these are the ones who can’t be snatched out of his hands. He also said that his sheep don’t follow strangers (false teachers), but they run away from them.
So, are we listening to the Lord by spending much time in his Word, hearing what he has to say? And, by obeying what we hear from the Lord? Are we testing what we hear from humans against the Word of God, to see if it is truth, or if we are believing lies? And, are we running away from false teachers/teaching? Or, are we spiritually and physically lazy, and so we just buy into whatever sounds good to our itching ears, and so we don’t bother to check it out to see if it is truth or not? We need to follow our Lord in obedience, and not follow strangers (those who teach what is contrary to the truths of scripture and the gospel). And, we need to be discerning about what we are daily taking into our minds. If we are allowing ourselves to daily be entertained by what is junk and what is sinful, it will fight against us being able to walk in the Spirit and to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God.
My Sheep / An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV
My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.
So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.
Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…
They know my voice, so they follow me.