Friday, November 25, 2005

The Peril of Spiritual Infidelity

Those who are trumpeting the message that behavior is more important than belief would do well to take a closer look at Scripture. Rather than disregard or hold belief at a level of lower importance, Scriptural truth should be the basis of our actions. In fact, the Bible never separates truth from practical application and a call to act on that truth. When Paul would teach doctrinal truth, he always connected the truth with practical action in the life of the believer. (2 Peter 3:10-12) He would present the truth in such a way as if to say, “in light of this, this is how we should live our lives.” If we would teach expositionally and present the truth within context, Christians would be able to note the connection. That is the beauty of true expositional teaching and the reason why it often becomes difficult to make this connection with the incessant barrage of topical teaching so prevalent today. It becomes too easy to pull verses out of context to essentially teach what we want and miss the whole point of the passage. Furthermore, it allows too much latitude to skip over passages of Scripture that a pastor just does not want to deal with, but would really be beneficial for the congregation to hear. It is too convenient for the pastor skip over anything he thinks would offend some people. My question is when did Jesus ever avoid certain truth because it was offensive?

The peril of not abiding by and defending God’s truth can be seen in the Lord’s condemnation in His letter to the church in Thyatira. The Bible teaches us that they were a church dominated by love and good works. In fact, their works continually kept increasing. But they had one major flaw; they tolerated false teaching in their midst. The Lord gives a very strong condemnation to Thyatira promising harsh judgment, unless they repent.

19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:19-23, NKJV™)

The terms associated with sexual immorality are often used in Scripture in reference to spiritual apostasy. (Leviticus 20:1-5, Leviticus 17:7, Deuteronomy 31:16, Exodus 34:15-16)They are certainly not flattering terms. Proverbs 7 provides a description of how a harlot cleverly seduces the undiscerning. If you want to get a vivid picture of the cunning tactics of a harlot, read Proverbs 7. The seductive qualities of false religion bear a striking resemblance, with spiritually deadly consequences.

“6For at the window of my house I looked out through my lattice, 7And I saw among the naive, And discerned among the youths A young man lacking sense, 8Passing through the street near her corner; And he takes the way to her house, 9In the twilight, in the evening, In the middle of the night and in the darkness. 10And behold, a woman comes to meet him, Dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart.”
(Proverbs 7:6-10,

“21With her many persuasions she entices him; With her flattering lips she seduces him. 22Suddenly he follows her As an ox goes to the slaughter, Or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool, 23Until an arrow pierces through his liver; As a bird hastens to the snare, So he does not know that it will cost him his life. 24Now therefore, my sons, listen to me, And pay attention to the words of my mouth. 25Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her paths. 26For many are the victims she has cast down, And numerous are all her slain. 27Her house is the way to Sheol, Descending to the chambers of death.”(Proverbs 7:21-27, NASB®)

In much the same fashion, believers are in the same dilemma today due to the prevailing shallow understanding of biblical truth. Unfortunately, believers are easily seduced by a spiritually that bears a resemblance to Christianity, but in reality, runs counter to Scripture. The charge that knowledge of the truth is not all that important does not square with the teaching of Scripture. Israel fell into the same peril due to their neglect of the truth and we would do well to take note of the error they fell into so that we do not make the same error. Spiritual naïveté is dangerous.

“18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.”
(Proverbs 29:18, NKJV™

The “revelation” spoken of here is referring to the revealed Word of God. Without the proclamation of God’s divinely inspired truth, people operate according to their own desires, which leads to the path of destruction.
The only remedy to avoid being taken in by the harlotry of false religion is to take heed to God’s Word. Knowledge of God’s Word produces wisdom and understanding. God is our heavenly Father who has given us His Word to keep us from falling victim to false teaching.

“ 1 My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, 2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; 3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God.”
(Proverbs 2:1-5, NKJV™)

“ 10 When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, 11 Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you, 12 To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things, 13 From those who leave the paths of uprightness To walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who rejoice in doing evil, And delight in the perversity of the wicked; 15 Whose ways are crooked, And who are devious in their paths; 16 To deliver you from the immoral woman, From the seductress who flatters with her words, 17 Who forsakes the companion of her youth, And forgets the covenant of her God.”
(Proverbs 2:10-17, NKJV™)

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