Perfecting The Art Of: Self-Deception, Destruction, And The Drawing Away Of The Disciples After Them.
The Word of God is truth (Jn. 17:17). Every individual word is true (Matt. 4:4), as well as the entire totality thereof (Psa. 119:160). No part or portion of the Word of God is a matter of one’s own, private interpretation (2 Ptr. 1:20-21). It is the perfectly pure (Psa. 19:7-11) and totally timeless (Psa. 119:89, Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Tim. 2:11-15) standard by which we shall all be judged on the last day (Jn. 12:48-50, Rev. 20:11-15).
In a somewhat similar manner, the spirit of mankind hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years either. As King Solomon in all of his God-given wisdom once said regarding such, “There is nothing new under the sun” (cf. Eccl. 1:8-9). Take for example, today’s occasional God-professing but personally and secretly pride driven disciple; he or she who wants and will insist on their own way no matter what, and despite whatever the biblical truth of the matter actually is; he or she who has already come to some biblically-contradictory conclusion on a timeless topic with eternal implications, but for whatever privately-held and personally pride-driven reason, absolutely refuses to sit down, sincerely study, deeply discuss, honestly understand, humbly accept, and truly repent of their egregious error.
Some of today’s biblically-addressed topics wherein this rebellious and God-defying attitude might be seen as most in evidence could include, but not be limited to, such subjects as so-called “social drinking” (the public consumption of alcohol by any saint); marriage, divorce, and remarriage; the divisive sin of denominationalism; women’s roles in the church; and even, sadly, such things as the essentiality of repentance and baptism both before and in order to obtain the forgiveness of one’s sins amongst other things.
Now, the overall point of this article is not to seek to prove that such God-resisting and rejecting mindsets have existed for millennia (for that is pretty blatantly obvious from even a peripheral skimming of the Scriptures), but to warn and to outline in far greater detail, the fact that their tactics in today’s church have not changed a whole lot from those of their pride-filled and scripture-resisting and rejecting predecessors from previous centuries.
For example, when God’s “old paths” truth (Jer. 6:16) is fully and faithfully presented by either an elder, preacher, or bible class teacher regarding some of the harder teachings of scripture, some will simply walk away, never to return (Jn. 6:60-66). Others may travel to a nearby, truth-nullifying congregation where God’s word is not so clearly taught, in order to have their “ears tickled” (2 Tim. 4:3-4), their sins remain unaddressed, and their consciences therefore falsely comforted. Still others, like Korah and his crew, might seek to assemble a gang of rebellious, religious, congregational leaders and openly revolt against God’s chosen plan (Num. 16:1-50). And while these sorts of scripture-rejecting rebellions are all fairly easily seen and identified, others in ages past have practiced a far more secret, subtle, and sinister form of subterfuge… laboring at length to lay the groundwork for a far more sly and stealthy sneak attack on their intended target – seeking to strike from within before the faithful leaders or people of God ever know what hit them (See 2 Sam. 15:1-14)!
Hence, Jesus’ warning to His disciples very early on in His ministry to always be on guard and aware of such devious, dubious, extremely well-disguised but still ravenous ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ (Matt. 7:15-20) – a crucial warning also echoed by the Apostle Paul to the leadership of the first-century congregation of the Lord’s church at Ephesus (See: Acts 20:17-38). In that text we see several essential and eternally-vital elements:
- That it is by fully and faithfully declaring and defending the whole and total counsel of God that God’s messenger can stand innocent before Him (vss. 26-27);
- That after Paul’s departure, “savage wolves” would come in among them from the outside (vs. 29), as well as the fact that even from within their very own number, would come some personally power-hungry and pride-driven disciples “speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after themselves” (vs. 30). (It is also interesting to note that the Apostle Peter says something very similar in 2 Ptr. 2 + 3, wherein he warns of sinister false teachers who would secretly bring in damnable heresies, denying the truth and causing it to be blasphemed in their greedy lust for money, while the Apostle Paul warns of those false teachers who would do so out of their lust for personal power and the acquisition of their own following.)
- That it is only by faithfully proclaiming and defending God’s word – no matter the opposition, cost, or consequences – that one can be truly and fully assured of heaven (vs. 32).
Such stealthy, Absalomic opposition from within by any who might covet more personal power and their own following as opposed to humbly accepting and following the Lord of glory and His word, can come in many and various forms. Some might resort to gossip, slander, and/or character assassination regarding those who refuse to compromise God’s truth (Jer. 6:28; Prov. 10:28; Matt. 26:59-67; Ro. 1:28-30). Others may seek to bribe or “buy” either another’s loyalty, influence, or their own way into power (Matt. 26:14-16; Acts 8:18-23). Others seeking more personal power or control may be seen continually inserting themselves into situations they have no legitimate business being involved with, thus becoming “busybodies” as opposed to ‘minding their own business’ as the scriptures command all Christians to do (2 Thess. 3:11-12; 1 Tim. 5:13; 1 Thess. 4:11-12). Still others – like Paul mentioned in Acts 20:29 – might show up only when/after the man of God is gone and the flock appears to be less protected. Hence, Paul’s admonition to the Ephesian leadership in verse 32. Let the church beware (Matt. 7:15-20)!