October 5, 2010

To Live is Christ — without hiding

I have moved twenty-eight times, almost half of those since Christ came into my life. God has blessed by leading me to solid, Bible-preaching churches in all those moves. While we’ve had our share of cults coming to the door, no false teachers were in the congregations of those churches.

However, false teachers and false doctrine abound. God has always warned His people to close their ears to them. He used His faithful prophets to give those warnings.

Don’t listen to the lies of these false prophets, you people of Judah! The message they preach is something they imagined; it did not come from me, the Lord All-Powerful. These prophets go to people who refuse to respect me and who are stubborn and do whatever they want. The prophets tell them, “The Lord has promised everything will be fine.” But I, the Lord, tell you that these prophets have never attended a meeting of my council in heaven or heard me speak. They are evil! So in my anger I will strike them like a violent storm. I won’t calm down, until I have finished what I have decided to do. Someday you will understand exactly what I mean. I did not send these prophets or speak to them, but they ran to find you and to preach their message. If they had been in a meeting of my council in heaven, they would have told you people of Judah to give up your sins and come back to me. I am everywhere — both near and far, in heaven and on earth. There are no secret places where you can hide from me. (Jeremiah 23:16–24, CEV)
The bottom line here is that those who speak falsely and those who listen are trying to hide from God. They do not want to give up their sins, so instead of listening to the good news of repentance and forgiveness and the gospel of grace, they try to hide from the truth in false teaching.

This never occurred to me as the basic lure of cults and teaching that claims to be Bible-based but is not. However this hiding to avoid truth is not just in the Old Testament. Jesus said it this way . . . 

No one who has faith in God’s Son will be condemned. But everyone who doesn’t have faith in him has already been condemned for not having faith in God’s only Son. The light has come into the world, and people who do evil things are judged guilty because they love the dark more than the light. People who do evil hate the light and won’t come to the light, because it clearly shows what they have done. But everyone who lives by the truth will come to the light, because they want others to know that God is really the one doing what they do. (John 3:18–21, CEV)
When I think of people hiding in the dark, I picture their ‘darkness’ at the least as ignorance, and at the worst as flagrant sin. Yet the Bible says false teaching is also a form of darkness. Those who do not want to give up their sin can hide in “religion” by putting on a form of godliness. Paul says it this way . . . 
You can be certain that in the last days there will be some very hard times. People will love only themselves and money. They will be proud, stuck-up, rude, and disobedient to their parents. They will also be ungrateful, godless, heartless, and hateful. Their words will be cruel, and they will have no self-control or pity. These people will hate everything that is good. They will be sneaky, reckless, and puffed up with pride. Instead of loving God, they will love pleasure. Even though they will make a show of being religious, their religion won’t be real. Don’t have anything to do with such people. Some men fool whole families, just to get power over those women who are slaves of sin and are controlled by all sorts of desires. These women always want to learn something new, but they never can discover the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, these people are enemies of the truth. Their minds are sick, and their faith isn’t real. (2 Timothy 3:1–8, CEV, italics mine)
The danger of false teachers is very real. The only way to avoid deception is to avoid the root problem. Instead of clinging to sin, I must always want to get rid of it. Instead of trying to look good on the outside and cling to “my way” on the inside, I must be willing to humble myself and admit my sinfulness. God’s grace is there for me. I can try to hide from God, but as Jeremiah says, He is everywhere and knows my heart.

No matter what false teachers do to look good, they cannot hide from Him either.

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