January 24, 2010 Identifying Evil Creeping In

Identifying Evil Creeping In

‘How do you know,’ was the question a student asked last week to explain how evil can creep into church and personal beliefs.  How do you know when evil is creeping in?  This is, perhaps, the most important question for fulfilling Proverbs 4.23.  The following Scripture references will help you to identify when evil is creeping in.

 

It is never too late to eradicate evil!

  • God’s call to Jeremiah 1.9-10 is the same for you.  Notice your position in God’s eyes.
  • In Jesus’ letter to the church at Ephesus (1st in the circuit that John would have taken to visit all seven churches), in Revelation 2.2-5, He commends their testing and identifying false apostles of Christ.  But, there was a subtlety they needed to overcome: having ‘left your first love’.  His remedy was to ‘remember, therefore, from where you have fallen.’  Go back to the beginning. 
  • (This reminds me of God’s advice in Jeremiah 6.16.)
  • In Jesus’ letter to the church at Smyrna (2), in
  • Revelation 2.9-10, He warns believers about the ‘blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not’; they don’t believe in God at all.  Their evil will test your faithfulness.  His remedy is to ‘be faithful’ to what you have believed about Him, even in their extreme efforts to break your faith.  They were not commended because they believed the lies of the supposed Jews.
  • In Jesus’ letter to the church at Pergamum (3), in
  • Revelation 2.13-14, He commends them for holding ‘fast to My name’ and not denying ‘My faith’ in the days of persecution.  But, there was tolerance for sexual immorality and other satanic deceptions among the congregation that He will ‘fight against’, when He comes.  Therefore, ‘hold fast to My name’!  Why is tolerance not a Christian virtue?
  • In Jesus’ letter to the church at Thyatira (4), in
  • Revelation 2.19-25, He commends their increasing service and faith and says they must ‘hold fast what you have’.  Their problem was a tolerance for a teacher of the ‘depths of satan’, who encouraged sexual immorality and eating foods offered to idols.  How many flirting glances or tastes of sin over how long does it take to loosen a firm hold of faith?
  • In Jesus’ letter to the church at Sardis (5), in
  • Revelation 3.2-4, He warns the congregation that their light of His truth had almost been consumed by satan’s darkness of deception, that only ‘a few names’ had not been blotted out ‘from the Book of Life’. 

In Matthew 6.22-23, Jesus said to make sure that your ‘truth’ is, indeed, truth and not deception.  Jesus shows how in John 8.31-32.  Don’t be dead people walking, to paraphrase a line from a movie about death-row inmates. 

Consider Matthew 23.27-28.

  • In Jesus’ letter to the church at Philadelphia (6), in Revelation 3.8-9, He commends believers for ‘[having] kept My word and [having] not denied My name’.  But He recognizes their ‘little strength’ because of the continuous lies of ‘those of the synagogue of satan, who say they are Jews and are not….’  His encouragement?  Persevere in ‘My word’ and ‘My name’ (implied)!  2 Peter 1.5-10 gives some good exercises for building up your faith.  Note, especially, the benefits at the end of verse 10. 

Sounds like Joshua 1.8!

  • In Jesus’ letter to the church at Laodicea (7), in
  • Revelation 3.15-20, He warns them about their lack of commitment to Him.  Their stuff from this world has blinded them to the true riches of Christ. 
  • (Matthew 16.26; 1 John 2.15-17)  So, ‘I stand at the door and knock’, He says, hoping they will open to Him and begin to show their preference for the things of God.  What do your preferences say about your commitment to Christ?

 

To summarize, evil may be overt or covert.

  • Evil may be overt, as in Ephesus (false apostles).  satan’s agents claimed to be believers but were satan’s agents.  Jesus said to inspect their fruit; see Matthew 7.15-20; is this judgmental?
  • Also, evil may be covert.  Covert evil may slip in while you are so busy defeating the obvious that you forget the fundamental contrasts of subtleties against His name, word, and faith; as at Ephesus (forgot first love).  Some church members wanted to justify their evil by spreading it to others; Smyrna and Philadelphia (philosophies of supposed Jews), Pergamum and Thyatira (tolerance for sexual immorality and eating foods sacrificed to idols).  Some flaunted their stuff, creating envy among the ‘want-to-bes’; Laodicea (trinkets and trash from the world).   The lights of commitment dim when the oil runs out; Sardis (light almost complete extinguished).  See Jesus’ encouragement in

Matthew 25.1-13.  You, emperor, may not realize the degree of your ‘undress’ until it is too late.

  • Today, you probably would beat to death the snake in
  • Genesis 3.1; overt evil.  But, what would you do, if you were Adam and had heard God say Genesis 2.16-17 and you, later, heard the snake challenge God’s instructions with rationale and a tempting display of forbidden fruit (Genesis 3.1-7)?

What had changed for Adam? 

How might he have allowed these circumstances to reduce his attention to the fundamentals?

 

What about you?

  • What overt evil do you see in your life?  How do these verses, Job 31.1-4 and

Isaiah 33.14-16, challenge your choice of movies and television?

  • What overt evil do you see in your church? 

How do Galatians 5.1-4 challenge any teachings about the place of works in salvation?  What is Jesus’ understanding? 

See John 6.47.

  • What covert evil do you see in your life? 

Is Paul’s admonition in 1 Timothy 6.10 a problem for you? 

What about Colossians 2.8-10?  How much time to you spend in Bible study (more than just reading) and prayer?

  • What covert evil do you see in your church?  Is ‘Sophia’ present (Greek for the female part of God and source of wisdom and power)?  Does your church teach that the God of Christianity is also the god of Islam (Isaiah 14.12-15)? 

Are your children ‘saved’ because you believe in Jesus? 

See Ezekiel 14.14 and 20 and Exodus 18.4 and John 3.16.

 

Evil is trying to creep in.  Will you let it?

January 17, 2010 Identifying Evil Creeping In

Identifying Evil Creeping In

‘How do you know,’ was the question a student asked last week to explain how evil can creep into church and personal beliefs.  How do you know when evil is creeping in?  This is, perhaps, the most important question for fulfilling Proverbs 4.23.  The following Scripture references will help you to identify when evil is creeping in.

 

It is never too late to eradicate evil!

God’s call to Jeremiah (1.9-10) is the same for you.  Notice your position in God’s eyes.

In Jesus’ letter to the church at Ephesus, in Revelation 2.2-5, He commends their testing and identifying false apostles of Christ.  But, there was a subtlety they needed to overcome: having ‘left your first love’.  His remedy was to ‘remember, therefore, from where you have fallen.’  Go back to the beginning.  (This reminds me of God’s advice in Jeremiah 6.16.)

In Jesus’ letter to the church at Smyrna, in Revelation 2.9-10, He warns believers about the ‘blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not’; they don’t believe in God at all.  Their evil is will test your faithfulness.  His remedy is to ‘be faithful’ to what you have believed about Him, even in their extreme efforts to break you faith.

In Jesus’ letter to the church at Pergamos, in Revelation 2.13-14, He commends them for holding ‘fast to My name’ and not denying ‘My faith’ in the days of persecution.  But, there was tolerance for sexual immorality and other satanic deceptions among the congregation that He will ‘fight against’, when He comes.  Therefore, ‘hold fast to My name’!  Why is tolerance not a Christian virtue?

In Jesus’ letter to the church at Thyatira, in Revelation 2.19-25, He commends their increasing service and faith and says they must ‘hold fast what you have’.  Their problem was a tolerance for a teacher of the ‘depths of satan’, who encouraged sexual immorality and eating foods offered to idols.  How many flirting glances or tastes of sin over how long does it take to loosen a firm hold of faith?

In Jesus’ letter to the church at Sardis, in Revelation 3.2-4, He warns the congregation that their light of His truth had almost been consumed by satan’s darkness of deception, that only ‘a few names’ had not been blotted out ‘from the Book of Life’.  In Matthew 6.22-23, Jesus said to make sure that your ‘truth’ is, indeed, truth and not deception.  Jesus shows how in John 8.31-32.  Don’t be dead people walking, to paraphrase a line from a movie about death-row inmates.

In Jesus’ letter to the church at Philadelphia, in Revelation 3.8-9, He commends believers for ‘[having] kept My word and [having] not denied My name’.  But He recognizes their ‘little strength’ because of the continuous lies of ‘those of the synagogue of satan, who say they are Jews and are not….’  His encouragement?  Persevere in ‘My word’ and ‘My name’ (implied)!  2 Peter 1.5-10 gives some good exercises for building up your faith.  Note, especially, the benefits at the end of verse 10.  Sounds like Joshua 1.8!

In Jesus’ letter to the church at Laodicea, in Revelation 3.15-20, He warns them about their lack of commitment to Him.  Their stuff from this world has blinded them to the true riches of Christ.  (Matthew 16.26; 1 John 2.15-17)  So, ‘I stand at the door and knock’, He says, hoping they will open to Him and begin to show their preference for the things of God.  What do your preferences say about your commitment to Christ?

 

To summarize, evil may be overt or covert.

Evil may be overt.  Some claimed to be believers but were satan’s agents.  Some wanted to justify their evil by spreading it to others.  Some flaunted their stuff, creating envy among the ‘want-to-bes’.  Jesus said to inspect their fruit; see Matthew 7.15-20; is this judgmental?

Also, evil may be covert.  Covert evil may slip in while you are so busy defeating the obvious that you forget the fundamental contrasts of subtleties against His name, word, and faith.  The lights of commitment dim when the oil runs out; see Jesus’ encouragement in Matthew 25.1-13.  You, emperor, may not realize the degree of your ‘undress’ until it is too late.

Today, you probably would beat to death the snake in Genesis 3.1; overt evil.  But, what would you do, if you were Adam and had heard God say Genesis 2.16-17 and you, later, heard the snake challenge God’s instructions with rationale and a tempting display of forbidden fruit (Genesis 3.1-7)?  What had changed for Adam?  How might he have allowed these circumstances to reduce his attention to the fundamentals?

 

What about you?

January 3, 2010 Evil Creeps In

 

Evil Creeps In

‘Do you know the seven signs of structural failure’, said the salesman over the radio. 

This started me to thinking about the ‘signs of structural failure’ to the church and my faith.  Like our tolerance for the small crack in the plaster that we notice but do nothing about until it is a gaping separation, are there early signs of satan’s weaving lies among the truth of the Bible until they are accepted as truth? 

Have we been ‘frogs in the kettle’ of pleasant waters becoming boiling? 

Consider the following examples from the present and the past. 

Then, consider what the Bible says to do.

 

Kwanzaa – an evil creeping in.

The following comes from Revisionist holiday history, by Marcia Segelstein, a guest columnist in OneNewsNow.com on December 29, 2009.

          This heresy was invented in 1966 by Ron Karenga, who became known as Maulana Ron Karenga.

          His motive for this deception can be read in Chapter 6 of an online version of his book, The Quotable Karenga. 

          He writes: “Christianity is a white religion. 

                   It has a white God, and any ‘Negro’ who believes in it is a sick ‘Negro’. 

                   How can you pray to a white man?” 

                   “The time we spent learning about Jesus, we should have spent learning about Blacks.”                  

                   “The Christian is our worse [sic] enemy.”

 

Kwanzaa and the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) share the same seven principles:

unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative production, purpose (liberation), creativity, and

faith (in ourselves).

 

This similarity could be because Karenga considered other groups when helped to found a violent black- nationalist organization called United Slaves, which believed that the Black Panthers were not extreme enough.  He chose SLA’s seven as Kwanzaa’s principles.

 

The seven-headed-cobra symbol of the SLA is similar to the ‘kinara’, which holds seven candles (like the Jewish menorah). 

          One candle is lighted for each the seven days following Christmas.

According to one website, Karenga was ‘inspired’ by African harvest festivals.  However, there are no harvesting rituals celebrated in December – anywhere.

 

Deceased columnist Tony Snow wrote in a column about Kwanzaa: ‘The white establishment has thrown in with it, not just to cash in on the business, but to patronize black activists and shut them up.’

 

Evil creeping into American society, culture, and the church. 

          The goal: separate black Americans from white and from Jesus.

 

Fundamentally, we know the following about God and Jesus:

          God is a Spirit, neither white nor any other color (John 4.24);

          Jesus was born to an olive-complexioned Jewish virgin

          (Luke 1.26-27).

 

Eastern faiths and New Age thinking – evils creeping in.

The following comes from ‘Mix-and-match’ faith dangerous, by Allie Martin in OneNewsNow.com on December 21, 2009.

          According to the recent Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 65% of American adults mix contradictory beliefs.

          28% of people who attend church weekly say they visit multiple churches outside their own tradition;

          59% of less-frequent church attendees say the same.

 

They blend Christianity with beliefs like reincarnation, astrology, and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects (like crystals).

 

Rev. Julian Dobbs with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (conservative) says: ‘Those things that appear attractive to us out of other religions may have just enough truth within them to ensnare us and entrap us into faiths that do not produce a relationship with the living God.’

And, ‘…when you mix and match and build a religion or a faith around you and what works for you and your likes and dislikes…you do that based on your hopes as an individual, rather than the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

 

God told the prophet Hosea, ‘My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge’ (4.6).  Consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 6.23 and the Apostle Paul’s in 2 Corinthians 6.14. 

The world’s argument about intolerance of Christians is founded in this mix-and-match philosophy and John 14.6.  

Does this confront your beliefs? 

Why?

Remember our earlier discussion of Colossians 2.8-10. 

Thus, base your faith on what Jesus said, as is recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

 

A history of evil creeping in.

The following comes from Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of our Church Practices, by George Barna and Frank Viola, Tyndale, 2002/2008.

          Robert Raikes from Britain founded the Sunday School in 1780 for the purpose of providing a basic education to poor children, not for the purpose of religious instruction.

          The first Protestant Seminary began in Andover, MA, in 1808 with a curriculum built on the teachings of Thomas Aquinas.

          The first Catholic Seminary began as a result of the Council of Trent (1545-1563).  Its curriculum was based on the teachings of Thomas Aquinas, which blended Aristotle’s philosophy and Neoplatonic philosophy with Christian doctrine.

          Infant baptism was brought into the Christian faith in the late second century and had replaced adult baptism by the fifth century. 

          The practice was rooted in the superstitious beliefs of that pervaded the Greco-Roman culture.

          Constantine brought the leadership style of the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans into the church in the fourth century.

          Ignatius of Antioch (AD 35-107) introduced the model of one-bishop rule in the church in early second century. 

                   It did not prevail until the third century. 

                   From his letters: ‘You should look on your bishop as a type of the Father…It is not lawful apart from the bishop either to baptize or to hold a love feast; but whatever he shall approve, this is well-pleasing also to God…Plainly therefore we ought to regard the bishop as the Lord Himself….’

 

Paul summarized the continuous assault by satan in

1Corinthians 1.22-23, which he wrote in AD 59.

 

Parts or the entirety of the following Bible books deal with evil creeping in:

Galatians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, Titus, 1 & 2 Peter, Hebrews,

1 & 2 & 3 John, and Revelation. 

 

The Apostle John received the Revelation from Jesus at about this time. 

The letters to the churches in Chapters 2 and 3 deals with similar evils creeping into the fledgling church.

 

What are we to do? 

OVERCOME!

Overcome is the only word that is common to all seven letters in Revelation 2 and 3. 

It is Jesus’ command; our imperative!

Notice the past tense of the verbs in 1John 2.12-17. 

It can be done!

Get ready to fight spiritual warfare! 

Praise God for His victory!