Tuesday, February 24, 2015

THE PEOPLE WHO DECEIVE (pt 2)

Jesus said to “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)

At first glance, this appears to be a straightforward warning that any member of the Body of Christ should be able to heed. I’m not so sure that is the case.


We’ve already looked at the word “beware” and its depth of meaning. Now let’s consider the concept that Jesus spoke of.

He said that false prophets would come among us dressed in sheep’s clothing, but they were actually ravening wolves. He then goes on to say that we will recognize them by their fruit.

Let’s try to unpack this a little.

The first thing to notice is that outwardly there are no identifying marks, no telltale signs. Everything about these folks would be considered “kosher,” okay, acceptable. Obviously, there is nothing to fear.

I was continually appalled throughout the run of the Charismatic Movement how easily people were deceived by the various preachers on the scene. I saw the deception take place among the travelling tent evangelists all the way to television big-name preachers.

The Holy Spirit would make me aware of what was happening long before the proof ever came to the surface. Sometimes, I was moved to speak out against one or another of these deceivers; but, for the most part, I held my peace.

Part of the reason for this occurring is that we have bought into the philosophy of the world, which says, “If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck.”

That philosophy transferred over into the Church, so that if it smiled nicely, quoted the Bible, had a $100 haircut and said, “Praise Jesus,” then it must be okay.

We (myself included) missed it.

Big time.

Why?

Because we continue to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
(I hope that statement caught you off guard. If you will stay with me on this, I promise you will begin to gain insight into the nature of discernment in a way you may have never considered before.)

Let’s return to our verse which is the premise for this entire concept:

Hebrews 5:14--
But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (KJV)

As you may recall, the word translated “evil” here is not the usual word. It actually has the concept of “not-so-good.”

So, the distinction that we are to discern, according to this verse is between that which is good and that which may be its enemy.

As you’ve probably heard it said, “Don’t let the good things become the enemies of the best things.”

My claim as to why we have been deceived is that we have continued to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Contradiction?
Not at all.

Conundrum?
Only at first glance.

Genesis 2:9—
And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:17—
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.

In these two verses, which of course are in Hebrew, we have the word “evil.” The Septuagint (LXX), which is the Greek translation of the OT that was available to Jesus and Paul, renders the Hebrew with the common word for evil, which is πονηρο (ponero)

Notice that the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” is listed as a “tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food” along with the tree of life.

It was the partaking of this particular tree that started all the problems between the human race and God in the first place.

This particular word has as its basic meaning “anything that is contrary to God.”

It was not God’s intention that we should know by perception nor experience ANYTHING that was contrary to Him or His nature. We were intended to remain in our innocent state of seeing nothing but good in all things.

However, that is not where we now live. We now live with this understanding and perception of things good and things branded as evil.

I’m not saying there is not sin, there are no bad things happening in our world. That would be ridiculous in the extreme.

I AM saying that we have focused on these little particular things and missed the ability to “judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)

In other words, we have our list of things that we call sin—lying, cheating, stealing, murder, abortion, homosexuality, drunkenness, etc. (If I’ve left out your particular “sin du jour,” please forgive me and insert it here,)

When we do not see any of these, then we assume that everything is all right.

That is eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rather than using the gift of discernment which He has given.

It is looking on the outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7) rather than on the heart.

The deception begins with the outward appearance.

Recall that Jesus asked if “men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” when referring to the wolves in sheep’s clothing. The obvious answer, of course, is NO.

Many miss the latent sarcasm here pointing to the logic of His warning to “Beware.”

He is saying that you only go to a grapevine for grapes, or to a fig tree for figs. These “wolves in sheep’s clothing” look okay. They look like a grapevine. They look like a fig tree.

EVERYTHING ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKS GREAT!! But, don’t be fooled by that.

It requires DISCERNMENT!

We are not dealing with the black and white divisions of sinners and saints.

If it were that easy, no warning would have been necessary.



And you, my friend, have been warned.

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