Waves and False Teachers
My idea of the perfect place to live is the mountains with the ocean at their feet. This is a blessing I was fortunate enough to visit frequently when I lived in Oregon. Mountains, hills, and canyons can be found relatively quickly in the United States. However, to reach the ocean, say from Ohio, is a bit of a trip. When my wife and I first married, I said I was willing to travel and live in a great number of places. However, the one caveat that I presented was I wanted to live near the ocean for at least one year.
The ocean is a bastion of pleasure. Man can build sand castles on its shores or swim in waters. He can explore its tidal pools or fish its depths. The waves can be calm and soothing or a raging force that can weaken the bravest of knees. The tides can pull so far back that you can hardly see the ocean or they can come in and leave no beach whatsoever. The ocean tides leave treasures of rocks, shells, wood, and more along the shore each day. The shores provide not only a continual treasure hunting ground, but a vast area for walks, picnics, and all sorts of recreation.
One of the most popular games children play at the ocean is running from the waves. Back and forth, back and forth, they challenge the ocean. How close can they get without getting wet? The problem with the game is sometimes, when the children lose, they also get into quite a bit of physical trouble. For instance, when I was a boy, I was knocked down by the waves. As I tried to stand, another wave came and hit me. This process repeated itself as I began to get weaker. My father eventually ran over and picked me up from the waves. Had he not done so, it is quite likely the ocean would have eventually dragged me off into deeper water at which point, I would have been no more. The ocean does not forgive the carelessness of youth, so vigilant eyes must be aware.
Even though I have been around the ocean frequently in my life, I do not approach it with recklessness. I have a great respect for its dangers. People on the shore and in boats get into trouble fast. We have all probably seen or heard of these dangers on television or on the news. My mother-in-law actually experienced the tragedy of losing two friends right in front of her eyes at the ocean. A sneaker wave came up and onto a rock and then they were no more. Ocean waves claim not only the young and weak, but the mature and strong.
The realization of the power of the sea was not lost on the seamen recorded in the Bible passage Jonah 1:4-5:
But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them.
Nor was it lost on the disciples of Jesus in Mark 4:37-38:
And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
These men who were afraid included seasoned fishermen. They were not boys or infants. They knew how to handle a ship. Yet, they had fear. It was a healthy fear. No man can control the sea, it is the domain of God alone. Of course, this is exactly what God did for the men in Jonah 1:4-5 and Jesus did for the disciples in Mark 4:37-38.
Psalms 107:29 – He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
Four points stand out in examining the ocean: It draws people to itself, it is a quick danger to the weak, the wise have a healthy fear of it, and God has ultimate control of it.
With this knowledge, consider the ocean and man from a Biblical standpoint. It is true that God created the seas (Genesis 1:9-10). He also created man (Genesis 1:26-27). Both were created good, man in the image of God. Men do many things which draw others to them. Some are gifted athletically, some have amazing genius, some have wonderfully warm kindness, and still others may have voices talented in song which draw people. There are numerous wholesome aspects demonstrated by man which are appealing. However, there are also seedy, evil components which man has himself devised that attract as well. Men often do not at first run to the evil, but they are deceived and enticed to partake of it.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 – For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
God through the inspired writer Jude penned the following words to describe false teachers who were drawing others to them and imparting false words and beliefs:
Jude 1:13 – Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
False teachers are a danger to everyone, however, they are a quick danger to the weak. The truth that youths love to play with ocean waves has been mentioned. However, man also loves to play amongst the raging waves of the sea of false teachers. A false teacher typically does not waltz in announcing he is a false teacher. Rather, he portrays himself as a strong, knowledgeable follower of Christ. He attracts the immature Christians more quickly because they lack the strength to protect themselves alone and they do not proceed with wisdom as the Bereans (Acts 17:11). The false teacher encourages man to rely upon his own emotions rather than rest upon Biblical authority which they know to be true. Thus, these “Raging waves of the sea” draw soul after soul.
The wise have a healthy fear of false teachers. They remain cautious about their own actions and pay attention to the waves. When the waves are seen as raging waves, they rise to higher ground, warning others all the while of the danger that exists. Unfortunately, the immature and deceived often dally among the waves, not believing them to be as dangerous as the wise say. The false teacher takes the opportunity to knock one sound belief after another down as the deceived Christian gets weaker and weaker, farther from Biblical authority and the safety of their brothers and sisters. The stronger, mature Christian tries to send them spiritual lifesavers from the Bible, but are ignored as the raging waves call the deceived to rely on his own emotions and is drawn away to his spiritual death.
While many good people have been attracted to the false teacher, deceived by immaturity and foolishness, one must remember that God will calm the raging waves. He will put an end to the falseness. Consider these two passages from 2 Peter written by the apostle Peter in regard to false teachers:
2 Peter 2:1 – But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2 Peter 2:12-13 – But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness,
God has control over the raging waves. They cannot pull him under, nor can they even tempt him. God has equipped man to prevail over the raging waves as well. He has given him the life preserver of His Word. He has given them wise, mature members of the Church to pull them from the waves and warn them not to play with the waves. The raging waves may attract, but they can only harm if the individual chooses to allow his emotions to reign over what he hears from the truth of the Word of God.
Psalms 93:4 – The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.