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Vessels in the Master’s Household October 1, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Apostle Paul, False Doctrine, False Teachers, Second Timothy.
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2 Timothy 2:17-26

Paul uses vessels in a household to clarify something that Jesus himself made clear in the parable of the wheat and the tares. Not every person who says, “I’m a Christian is a Christian.” Even worse, not everyone who says they are teachers and preachers of the truth, teach and preach the truth. It is one thing to identify this as a fact. What do we do about it as the church of the living God?

A. Paul indicates that we need to identify what type of vessel we are (verses 17-21). This seems to contradict what Jesus taught in the parable of the wheat and tares. In the parable the tares are to be left until harvest time but in this passage we are to separate ourselves from those who do not teach the truth.

This underlines for us the importance of taking a passage in its immediate and biblical context. Jesus was addressing the Jewish nation and Matthew was writing showing the authenticity of Jesus as the King of the Jews. Paul was dealing with a local church situation in Ephesus. In the one, Jesus is referring to a future event when it would be shown who was following the true Messiah. Paul is referring to false teachers who are in the church overthrowing the faith of some.

1. What does this mean for us? It means that we must make sure that our core beliefs are approved before God. Are our beliefs presentable as approved before God (verse 15)?

• Do you believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, without any error?
• Do you believe in the Trinity, one God in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who created this universe out of nothing?
• Do you believe that God the Son became the virgin born son of Mary, Jesus the Christ, being 100% God and 100% man?
• Do you believe that Jesus lived a sinless life, died for our sins on the cross, rose from the dead, and ascended to His Father to take His rightful position as the Lord of the universe?
• Do you believe that all humans are sinners, guilty before God and condemned to hell unless they trust Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation?
• Do you believe that total forgiveness of sin is by grace alone without good works?
• Do you believe that we the Church are the people of God left here to proclaim the message of Christ until He returns to set all things right for all eternity?
This is what you must believe in order to present yourself acceptable to God.

2. Is your belief presentable as shameful before God (verse 15)? There are a lot of false beliefs and always have been. Which false beliefs are the biggest danger within the church?

In an older survey taken about twelve years ago (Source: Barna Research Group, Ltd. Based on national surveys of 1,000 or more randomly sampled adults 18 or older, conducted July 1999 through July 2000)…
• 40% of Christians did not believe that the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teaching;
• 38% of Christians did not believe that the Holy Spirit is a living entity, that is in the Trinity;
• 37% of Christians did believe that Jesus Christ committed sins when He lived on earth;
• 40% of Christians did believe that Jesus did not return to life physically;
• 47% of Christians did not believe that people who do not consciously accept Jesus Christ as their Savior will be condemned to hell;
• 51% of Christians believe that if a person does enough good things for others during this life, that person will earn a place in heaven;
• 54% of Christians did not believe that we have a personal responsibility to tell others about our faith in Christ.
This is what happens when we do not separate the vessels of honor from the vessels of dishonor.

B. Flee sin and pursue righteousness (verses 19, 22-23). It is interesting that Paul writes in verse 22, flee youthful lusts. Timothy was a younger man than Paul and susceptible to youthful lusts. Paul recognized that even a man of God must guard himself against youthful lusts. Perhaps he would have agreed with “Ramsey McDonald, [who while prime minister of Great Britain] once said in an address to a gathering of British young men and women, ‘Youth is a terrible thing. It can be used to build heaven or hell’” (Cited by Morgan P. Noyes in The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 11, 1955 p. 494).

Verse 19, however, reminds us that not just young people should flee from iniquity but rather that all who put their trust in Jesus Christ should depart from iniquity.

Not only should we depart from iniquity and cleanse ourselves from sin but we need to run after righteousness. As we know, what we believe not only causes us to flee from sin but also to produce the fruit of the Spirit, some of which are mentioned here in this verse.

C. Oppose iniquity with humility (verses 23-26). This is the attitude with which we are to deal with vessels of dishonor, with humility. Name-calling and derogatory jokes are not to be a part of our toolkit. We must remember that we are vessels of honor because of God’s grace and not because we have made ourselves to be something special.

1. Know the truth (verses 15, 24). Do you know what the Bible teaches? One of the reasons a Bible is valuable is because it allows us to search the Scriptures for ourselves. If you don’t spend any time in your Bible, reading, asking questions, trying to find out exactly what our core beliefs are and what they mean for our everyday lives then your may be in danger of having your faith overthrown.

2. Know yourselves (verses 19, 22b, 24a). Are you saved? Being saved is more than simply knowing the truth but rather it is a commitment to Christ based on the truth that you know. Have you trusted Him as your Savior, are you part of the family of God?

3. Know the vessels of dishonor (verses 20, 25-26). I’m not talking about a witch hunt. I’m talking about recognizing where one stands in relation to the truth. When I look around the kitchen for a dish to put in the microwave I don’t reach for a Styrofoam plate. That is a vessel of dishonor. If I put a vessel of dishonor in the wrong place there will be negative results.

How many people never hear the gospel because we assume they are okay. They say enough of the right things for us to give them a free pass. Remember, not making a judgment about someone is a judgment. Not recognizing someone as sick may result in their death. We do it gently, humbly, with compassion and even tears but we dare not let the vessels of dishonor sit on the shelf.

Righteous Indignation (Galatians 2:1-16) March 12, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in False Teachers, Galatians, Paul's Life.
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Galatians 2:1-16

Do you get angry about what angers God? God doesn’t sweat the small stuff that gets under our skin. There are, however, some things we need to get angry about.

When we worked in Germany as church planters, we received a call once from another American missionary. He was not someone we knew or had ever met. The city where this man labored had received an influx of asylum seekers from a non-western culture. This man had baptized some of these people but they were being moved by the German government to housing in our area and he wanted to know if we could help them spiritually. We agreed and soon we had as many as a dozen of these people meeting with us for Bible study. What we then found out made us angry. These people he had baptized did not know the gospel. They did not understand the significance of Jesus Christ, some not even realizing that the New Testament teaches that Jesus is God in flesh. He had apparently simply asked them if they believed in Jesus. They had said yes and he had baptized them. Some of them now thought that they were Christians because they had been baptized.

Also Paul got angry when the gospel of Christ was circumvented. He knew that performing some ritual was not enough to bring a person into the kingdom of God.

A. That is why it is important that we to make sure that we are teaching and living the truth (2:1-3, 7-10). Paul was a unique individual. He had met and seen the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus. He had received direct revelation from God much of which we have in those of his epistles gathered together in the New Testament. Yet he consulted with the earliest disciples, that is, he compared notes with them to make sure that he was preaching the same gospel as they were. If he was preaching salvation by grace through faith in Christ and they were preaching salvation by keeping the law, then his whole work among the Gentiles would be in jeopardy.

1. There is only one truth (2:1-2). Paul was making sure that they were agreed on that. There are some things that we can disagree on but not on the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ alone.

2. There may be multiple ways to live it out (2:3, 7-10). Circumstances may affect how we live out the truth but it does not change what that truth is. For a Jewish Christian to be circumcised was not a big deal. That was their heritage from God. It is not what saved them but it was not wrong to maintain there heritage. For a Gentile, however, to become a Jew through circumcision was to deny the saving power of Jesus Christ. That is what Paul was guarding against. Paul was not against rules and regulations. He was against making them a means of salvation or spiritual completion.

B. We need to stand against those who would take our spiritual liberty (2:4-6, 11-16). Chuck Swindoll tells how “the life cycle of a silkworm from egg to worm to moth includes the state at which the worm spins about itself a remarkable cocoon. This little sack is composed of 400 to 800 yards of silk fiber which seals it from the inside as it waits for metamorphosis. At the completion of the cycle, the adult moth will break the cocoon, tearing apart the fine silk cords that bind it, and fly free. But the silkworm farmer does not allow most to become adults. At a key point in the cycle, he steams the cocoons to keep the moths inside from maturing. If he didn’t do this, they would go free, leaving a trail of broken threads which are useless to the exploiters. If they were allowed to mature and escape, by the way, the reproductive moth would lay up to 350 eggs. But they are not allowed to do so…” Spiritually, if I lay down laws for you to keep that cause you not to trust in Christ for your eternal hope of salvation or for your spiritual walk now, then I am bringing you into a type of spiritual bondage.

1. Our salvation is in Jesus Christ not in works of the law (2:4-5). Paul says that he did not submit even for an hour to such foolishness. There can be no toleration of salvation by works in any form.

2. Our significance is in Jesus Christ not in works of the law (2:6). This is why Paul was able to stand against these men. He had come to understand that any significance that he might have is in Jesus Christ alone.

3. Our manner of life is governed by Jesus Christ and not by the pressures of man (2:11-14). There are those who will try to put pressure on you to do this or that so that you might fit in with the religious world. We do not, however, tolerate for one minute any pressure that would cause people to separate themselves from Jesus Christ for salvation.

i. Ethnic pressure by man (2:15). There were actually two aspects to this pressure. One was racial and one was religious. Racial pride should never be a part of our makeup as believers in Christ. Why? Galatians 3:26-29 puts it this way, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

I trust you will allow me a rabbit trail. I am ashamed of the number of Bible-believing Christians who use racial slurs. If the verses I have just read are true, then every person is potentially in Christ Jesus if they believe the gospel. President Obama has been president for over three years and yet I am still hearing white Christians use ungodly racially charged language in reference to him. It is not a joke. You may say, I am not a racist, I just thought it was funny. Let me ask you a few questions. If you tell one lie, are you a liar? If you steal one time, are you a thief? If you kill someone, are you not a murderer? If you use a racial slur one time, are you not a racist?

Anyway, there were some who because they were descended from Abraham felt that only those who found a way to become a physical Jew, that is, through circumcision, were pleasing to God. Circumcision was never able to bring anyone to God.

ii. Religious pressure of man (2:16). This group also felt that you must keep the right set of religious rules. Religious rules are not evil in and of themselves. The problem comes when we think we can earn grace, forgiveness, and salvation by keeping those rules. We should live right, there is no question but to demand rule keeping or ritual keeping for salvation is a denial of who Christ is and what Christ has done for us on the cross.

The problem of course is self-righteousness. If you are trying to get enough works to please God, to let you get into heaven, then you may be unsaved and self-righteous. You may be religious but lost. Turn to Christ alone and His work on the cross on your behalf alone for salvation.

Are you allowing your sensitivity for other belief systems to cause you to soft peddle the gospel of Christ? We do not have to be hateful but we do need to stand for the truth, we need to boldly proclaim salvation through Jesus Christ alone.

Spiritual Liberty (Galatians 1:1-9 and 5:1ff) February 27, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Crucifixion, Death of Christ, False Doctrine, False Teachers, Galatians, Gospel, Martin Luther, Religion, Sermons, Spiritual Liberty.
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Galatians 1:1-9 with 5:1ff

This letter is one of the most important ever written. Martin Luther’s study of it led him to attempt a reformation of Catholicism. Although unsuccessful in his attempt, it resulted in religious and political changes that transformed Europe and ultimately the world. One might say the political freedom we enjoy today is in part due to changes set in motion by Luther’s study of this little letter.

A. However, spiritual liberty and political liberty are not one and the same. It seems like the political season has been long already but there is much ahead of us and much of it will invoke the terms “liberty” and “freedom.” These are wonderful concepts on which our country was founded. Yet there is a liberty and a freedom that is possible even if one lives in a totalitarian system. Some might say, “Of course, the freedom of the human spirit.” Now the freedom of the human spirit is a wonderful thing but it is limited, as we will see, by the human condition. As with our conscience, as with our knowledge of nature, God has gifted humankind greatly but the curse of the fall has corrupted these gifts of God making them incapable of giving us spiritual liberty and spiritual freedom.

1. Political liberty sees all men as created equal and having the same right to life and liberty. This is a liberty worth fighting for and has often been fought for in our history beginning with the American Revolution right down through the present age.

2. Spiritual liberty also sees all men as equal. They are born equally in bondage to the present evil age (Galatians 1:3-4 and 5:1). This is an equality we would like to overcome. This is what I meant by the human spirit being limited. Occasionally there is someone who seems to be ahead of his time but when we investigate their lives, they are just as much a prisoner of the human condition as the rest of us. They are also in bondage to our sinful condition.

There’s a “legend told of Alexander the Great…It is said that when he was dying at Babylon, Alexander crawled out of his tent on all fours at midnight, intending to drown himself in the Euphrates River. He hoped his body would be lost and that men would then believe that he was, in truth, immortal. But his attempt failed. His wife brought him back to die in his bed…” (from Deliver Us From Evil by Ravi Zacharias).

i. Spiritual liberty comes through deliverance by Jesus Christ (5:1). To be set free from this evil age does not mean to be removed from this world. Neither does it mean to become one with it. Spiritual liberty means to be freed from the impossibility of pleasing God through our own methods. It is not something we work for but rather is granted to us by grace, that is, undeserved. We take hold of the liberty freely offered by faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel.

ii. Spiritual liberty comes through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (1:4). One could say that is the gospel. In order for us to be free, Jesus had to be bound in obedience to death.

Jeffrey Ebert of Havertown, PA tells how “when [he] was five years old, before factory-installed seat belts… [his] family was involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver…[He] was sitting on [his] mother’s lap when the other car swerved into [them]…[He doesn’t] have any memory of the collision [but does] recall the fear and confusion…as [he] saw [himself] literally covered with blood from head to toe. Then [he] learned that the blood wasn’t [his] but [his] mother’s. In that split second when the two headlights glared into her eyes, she instinctively pulled [him] closer to her chest and curled her body around [his] smaller frame. It was her body that slammed against the dashboard, her head that shattered the windshield. She took the impact of the collision so that he wouldn’t have to… (after extensive surgery, [she] eventually recovered…)” (from Leadership, Summer 1992). She was obedient to death.

B. To seek deliverance from any other source is the rejection of Christ (1:6-7 with 5:1-4). Paul uses the phrase, “turn away…from him” in chapter one. In chapter five he says, “Christ will profit you nothing…you have become estranged from Christ…you have fallen from grace.” This is pretty harsh language. It means that you have no more contact with Christ, in other words, your only hope of salvation, you have walked away from.

If I try by my good works to guarantee my place in heaven, I have walked away from Christ. If I try by baptism or the Lord’s Supper to be saved, I have walked away from Christ. If I try by keeping the law of God Himself to be saved, I have walked away from Jesus. If I try by being a member of a church to be saved, I have walked away from Christ. When I walk away from Christ, then there is no hope for me (5:5).

C. To preach deliverance from another source brings God’s judgment (1:7-9 with 5:7-10). Perhaps you think God is being too strict. Perhaps it should be enough to want to find God. There is, however, no other source of deliverance.

When Aaron built the golden calf, he said to the Israelites, “Behold, the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt.” Aaron didn’t deny God’s existence or power; he simply brought in a statute to help them visualize their God. God judged them. When Naaman was told to wash himself in the Jordan, he complained that there were other cleaner rivers in Syria to wash in but if he had ignored God’s way, he would have died a leper. Jesus tells about those who say, “Lord, Lord, haven’t we done mighty works in your name;” but his answer to them was depart from me I never knew you.

Some of these people wanted to practice Old Testament rituals like circumcision but Paul makes it clear that those things do not produce a new creation (6:15). That is only possible through Jesus Christ.

Do you point people to Christ or to moral values? Do you introduce them to Jesus or to a church? “There is no other name given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Where is your faith? In Jesus or in your good works? In Jesus or in your baptism? In Jesus or in your church? If one or the other were taken away from you, which would cause you to fear facing eternity? If you lose contact with Jesus, you have no hope. Are you trusting Him alone today? If not, put your trust in the one who died for you.

Next week: The Curse and the Blessings of the Cross

When Is It Right For a Christian to Brag? March 1, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in False Teachers, Humililty, Religion, Second Corinthians, Sermons.
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“WHEN CAN YOU BOAST IN SUFFERING? (2 Corinthians 11:16-33)

Paul was an humble man. He does not like to boast. He finds boasting to be contrary to the word of God. He is familiar with what Proverbs 27:2 commands, “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger and not your own lips.” His parents taught him that “to seek one’s own glory is not glory” (Proverbs 25:27). He understands that “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.” Paul himself taught in an earlier epistle to the Galatians that humility is one of the fruit of the Spirit. Yet Paul on this occasion writes that he is forced to boast, to praise himself, to seek his own glory in defense of his position as apostleship and he does this by boasting in his suffering.

I. Why then does he feel that he needs to boast? Paul is convinced that he needs to differentiate himself from the false apostles, the false teachers, the charlatans who have come into the church in Corinth. In the same way, it is important that we differentiate ourselves from the charlatans of this age (verses 16-21). We live in an age with many options. All of them claim to have some measure of truth. The local church, however, according to 1 Timothy 3:15 is the “pillar and ground of the truth.” Fellowship Bible Church and other gospel preaching, Bible believing churches in the Castleton area are the supports of the truth in this area. We have a responsibility to call attention to the truth of the gospel of Christ. It is part of our commission from Christ to enlist followers of the truth of Christ. How then are we supposed to do that?

A. Well, normally we follow Christ’s example (verses 17, 21). Paul refers to this in 2 Corinthians 10:1 when he refers to the meekness and gentleness of Christ. This is the humility of which we spoke earlier. Jesus, as we referred to earlier during our celebration of the Lord’s Table came to this world in poverty (2 Corinthians 8:9). He went to the cross in weakness (2 Corinthians 13:4) beginning with Palm Sunday when he entered into Jerusalem in the midst of great rejoicing but with no pomp but rather as the Old Testament predicted rode in lowliness on the colt of a donkey even to His actual death on the cross where he suffered in great weakness. Jesus did not show great strength on the cross but rather died relatively quickly. People sometimes lasted for a long period on the cross but Jesus succumbed to His suffering quite quickly. His death was not impressive. Spiritually, we find that he became sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), the one thing that Jesus as God hates, that He became. In His life and in His death, both physically and spiritually, Jesus displayed the ultimate in humility, meekness, and gentleness.

Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 2:20-21 that this is our calling, to bear patiently with humility the suffering that we receive because of the good that we do. We are not to lash out, we are not to attack back, we are not to rebel, we are rather to suffer as Christ suffered, submitting ourselves to that persecution.

Paul points out that this is our normal manner of operations, humility and meekness and gentleness and patience even in the face of great persecution but Paul in verse 17 says that there is an occasion to depart from the normal path of humility. There is an occasion when it is proper to boast. That occasion is when we need to differentiate ourselves from those who are charlatans.

B. Normally the charlatan takes advantage of others (verse 20). In verse 19 Paul refers to these false teachers as fools but he sarcastically says, “You Corinthians are so wise that you can accept the fools who take advantage of you.”

They enslave you to their will.

They use you up to the fullest extent.

They take what belongs to you.

They put themselves up on a pedestal among you.

They punish anyone who may stand against them.

We find this hard to believe that anyone would stand for such a thing but cults are full of people who are enslaved by religious leaders who follow this pattern. We need to be aware that such groups exist out there and that this church itself is not impervious to the infiltration of such false teachers themselves.

II. So Paul says, “Because these people are infiltrating themselves among you, I need to differentiate myself from them. I must point out the ways in which I am superior to the false teachers.” Paul mentions that his passion for Christ and His gospel is different but he does not stop there. He also points specifically his personal sacrifices among the Corinthians themselves. Paul fears though that these people might be deceived by the charlatans and brings up his suffering as a characteristic that differentiates the true apostle from the false apostle and the true church from the charlatans (verses 22-33).

A. In many ways we are equal or interior to the charlatan (verses 21-22). Apparently it was expected that an apostle must be Jewish. These false teachers were claiming to be Jewish in every way. Ethnically, culturally, and religiously these false teachers were Jewish. Paul does not dispute that but rather points out that he takes a backseat to no one in his Jewishness. His pedigree all the way to Abraham was in the records of the temple in Jerusalem. Although he had been born outside of Palestine, he had been trained at the feet of Gamaliel, one of the leading teachers at that time in Jerusalem. Paul had been immersed in both the culture and the religion of the Jews and had come out a Pharisee. No one could question his Jewish credentials.

In the same way, the false prophets of our day try to demonstrate that they are from God by proclaiming loyalty to Jesus Christ, some even proclaiming that He is their Savior. We at Fellowship Bible Church our also loyal to Jesus Christ. The false prophets of our day talk about their faith and how God answers their prayers. This very building in which we are sitting is a testimony to how God answered the prayers of a small group of people who had no money, no land, no leadership, and no credit. Those people knew what a credit freeze was long before the rest of us found that out. The false prophets claim to base their beliefs on the Bible. Our very name testifies to the fact that we make much of the Word of God in this church. It is our authority for what we believe, for what we do, and for what we hope for in eternity. The false prophets are in no way superior to us in their claims.

B. In our attitude towards suffering, we, like Paul, should be superior to the charlatan (verses 23-33). Paul presents a pretty extensive list of hardships and trials which he had endured as proof that he was more of a minister of Christ than those false prophets who were attempting to deceive the church at Corinth.

He begins by pointing out that he has generally suffered more. Notice that he has not said that the false prophets have not suffered but than in comparison Paul has worked harder and longer and suffered in proportion to and because of the amount of work that he has done.

He says, “I have been beaten more often.” The list here is quite impressive: beaten by the Jews with thirty-nine stripes (which was one under the maximum allowed number under Jewish law) five times, beaten with rods (presumably by the Gentiles who apparently were not limited in the amount of blows they could offer) three times, and he was stoned once (Acts 14:19 records how that he was stoned and left for dead).

In addition, Paul did not choose the easy route of staying in a city and remaining there in safety but he traveled frequently despite the constant dangers that we a regular part of traveling in those days. This involved the danger of shipwreck, the danger of fording flooded rivers, the danger of highway robbers, and the danger from those who followed him from city to city spreading false rumors against him and inciting riots against him and those who worked with him. It is obvious that there was nowhere that was safe for Paul.

Finally, Paul mentions what was known to the Corinthians that he labored and lived in want. He did not get enough sleep; he did not get enough nourishment, in fact, sometimes he did not have any nourishment to speak of; and he did not have clothing to protect himself from the elements.

1. How does this prove that Paul is more a minister of Christ than the false prophets? His labors and suffering proved that the cares of this earth were unimportant to him. Paul’s safety was relatively unimportant to Paul. His health and welfare was a secondary thing. Paul was not working for retirement but rather for eternity.

Now none of us have suffered like Paul has. Should we? Is this the lesson that we should take from this? No! There is no reason for us to take a vow of poverty and sell everything we have and sick suffering so that we might become more spiritual. Verses 31-33 make it clear that to flee suffering is not necessarily wrong. The lesson we can take though and should take from Paul’s example is this. The cares of the earth should be unimportant to us (verses 23-27, 31-33)…

2. …because the cares of Christ’s body are of ultimate importance to us (verses 28-29). Again we see in Paul’s life that you cannot divide love of Christ from love of your brethren. This principle is taught over and over again. If you love God, you will love your brethren.

Notice first of all that Paul is not talking here about his evangelistic ministry but rather his responsibility for the spiritual growth of the churches. Paul worried about their welfare. Several times Paul mentions how that he prayed night and day for the churches. He wrote letters, he sent colleagues to help the churches, he visited the churches when he could, he gave his life for the churches.

When they suffered, he suffered. Although the word “weak” in the Bible can mean sin, Paul uses it to speak of our suffering, physical, financial, emotional, mental weaknesses which make our lives harder. Paul suffered with the churches. He was not distant from them but rather identified with them. He sympathized with them and did what he could to help them. This was an evidence that they were a priority to him.

When they began to stray, to stumble, Paul also showed he cared. In fact, this whole letter is evidence that Paul put Christ’s church ahead of the things of this world. If you wanted to make Paul mad, just try to introduce false doctrine or sin into the church. Paul fought for the purity of Christ’s church and the health of Christ’s church as if it was his very own.

Believer, do you love Christ’s church? Is it a priority in your life? How important to you are the people with which you share this room? Would you die for them? Would you live for them? Do you get angry when you see someone trying to cause them to stumble? This is our test as believers? This is the test the proves whether we are Christ’s disciples or whether we are just paying lip service?

NEXT WEEK: WEAK CREDENTIALS (2 Corinthians 12:1-13)



The Face of the Enemy (2 Corinthians 11:1-15) February 22, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in False Doctrine, False Teachers, Religion, Satan, Second Corinthians, Sermons, Spiritual Leadership.
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(2 Corinthians 11:1-15)

The hardest enemy to face is the one that you do not recognize. This is what Paul fears in this passage. He identifies both the characteristics of the enemy as well as those of the true preacher of the gospel, so that the Corinthians might not be deceived by the enemy. He begins by asking them a very interesting question…

I. Why do you put up with the enemy (verses 1-4)?

A. Their teaching is defiling (verses 2 and 4).

Paul emphasizes the importance of a pure message. There were those in Paul’s day who preached an impure message. Paul describes this as “another Jesus”, a “spirit” and a “gospel” of a different kind. This was a huge problem in those days. It is still a problem today. In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul describes those who preach a different Jesus as storeowner who waters down the wine that he sells.

This is a serious charge. In 2 Corinthians 10:6, Paul says that he was ready to punish, to take vengeance on those who pollute the gospel of Christ. Paul is not having an intellectual debate in this book. He is battling for the purity of the church.

In 2 Corinthians 2:17, Paul mentions that his gospel message was unadulterated. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: “What adulterates the gospel? What makes the true gospel another gospel?” Based on 2 Corinthians 11:4, I would say any of the following adulterate the gospel:

1. Any presentation of Jesus other than what is presented in the word of God corrupts the truth. The Bible tells us that Jesus is God who became man, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for my sins as predicted by the Old Testament, was buried and rose again according to the Old Testament, and ascended to heaven to take His rightful place as Lord of the universe. Any direct or even indirect denial of Christ’s character defiles the truth.

2. Any reception of a new Spirit other than that taught in the Scriptures is also suspect. When I hear that I must have some experience with the Holy Spirit that is superior to trusting Christ and receiving the indwelling of the Spirit, I have reason to doubt the truth.

3. Finally, when I see a list of what one must do to be saved, even if the list is of good things, I am aware that another gospel is being preached. In other words, an addition of any means that makes salvation possible other than solely by God’s grace. This applies to those who believe you have to live righteously to stay saved. If I teach that I have to live right to be saved or to stay saved, then I am adding a human means to my salvation. That, in God’s estimation, is rotten fruit (Ephesians 2:8-9).

B. The enemy is deceptive (verses 3-4, 13-15).

In this way, Paul connects these people with Satan. In the same way that Satan deceived Eve, these false teachers try to deceive God’s people. He says that they like Satan transform themselves. They are not what they appear to be nor are they who they say they are. They are liars and are not to be trusted. They are deceptive. This should not surprise us. Satan’s tactic never really changes. He deceived Eve in the garden and since that day he has continued to deceive the world, being so effective at it that Paul says, Satan, the god of this world has blinded their eyes.

C. Their end is destruction (verse 15). They share not just their character with Satan but also their end. Jesus warned in Matthew 25:41 that those judged by God will have their place in the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his messengers. Although there are multitudes who are following Satan and his messengers into the lake of fire, it is specifically reserved for Satan and those who preach for him, even if those messengers are naming the name of Christ.

II. The other side of the question is this, why do you reject your spiritual father (verses 1-2 and 5-11)? You should trust me to put a stop to Satan’s doomed deceivers who are trying to destroy your purity.

A. Why? Because I have been a jealous father to you (verse 2).

What was in those days the great desire of every father for his daughter? That she be taken care of, that she given to a man, to a husband, who would care for her, protect her. Great gifts of money as a dowry were provided in order to guarantee that the daughter would have a good husband. Paul is saying, I greatly desired to find a husband for you who would care for you, who would protect you. I have labored and sorrowed, preaching Christ at every opportunity, just so that I might present you pure with a full dowry to Jesus Christ. Paul took his responsibility for the church very seriously.

The pastor or missionary and other ministers of the gospel often have two families, the physical family and then the people for whom he cares spiritually. That is a very difficult task to handle and Paul chose not to get married for that very reason. He had his hands full with his spiritual family.

B. I have also been a generous father to you (compare verse 3 with verses 5-9). My knowledge (verse 6) and my sacrifice (verses 7-9) speaks for itself.

We reveal through our knowledge of God whether we are true ministers or not (verse 5-6). This is a constant. Effective ministry is not based on numbers of attendees or whether people like us or not. It is based on God revealing Himself through us. Look at 2 Corinthians 4:5-11. If people do not see Christ revealed in our lives and our message, our ministry will be in vain. People have to see more than good morals. That’s why Paul condemned these false teachers. They made themselves the standard of good morals. That’s why upholding the Ten Commandments as a standard to live by is, in and of itself, a dead end. The best they can learn through the Ten Commandments is how evil and vile they are. People have to see Jesus in us.

Jim Elliot once prayed, “Father, make me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road. Make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.”

How then do we make sure than not only our message but also our lives reveal Jesus Christ? One way is through sacrifice. Paul mentioned several times throughout his epistles, that he did not take advantage of those to whom he ministered because he feared that would hinder the ministry. Paul is not saying that ministry does not deserve or need money. What is saying is this, our ministry must not be motivated by money or the need for money. To the extent that our ministry is money dependent and not God dependent, to that same extent our ministry will be suspect.

C. I have been a loving father to you (verses 10-11).

There was nothing more important to Paul than to please His Lord. He had a passion for preaching the gospel because he had a passion for Christ. He also had a passion for people because he had a passion for Christ. That, of course, is why he was passionate to protect those people from the false teachers. He was looking out for them to protect them because he loved them.



Christmas Controversies December 4, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in C.S. Lewis, False Doctrine, False Teachers, Religion.
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Remember last year’s controversy over the Gospel of Judas? Here’s an update.

This year’s controversy is “The Golden Compass”. For a fair look at this movie and the books on which it is based, see this post by Al Mohler.

Link to Osteen November 1, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in False Teachers, Joel Osteen, Personalities, Religion.
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Osteen and Meyer (indirectly) compared to macaroni and cheese

The Prosperity Gospel August 20, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in False Doctrine, False Teachers, Personalities, Prosperity Gospel, Religion.
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Especially look at the various links at Ron’s Reflections on this subject. I found the video very powerful but you should read Ron Ethridge’s post or Piper’s sermon first.

I get angry when people pollute the gospel of Jesus Christ. I remember when we were in Germany working with Iranians, how that a certain religious figure would ask the asylum-seeking Iranians (who were dying to find a country that would take them) if the believed in Jesus. They never understood, if he even explained to them, the gospel. If they said, “Yes”, he would baptize them and they thought that they were Christians or at least thought that they could pass themselves off as Christians. We have the most wonderful message of hope and love and freedom from sin and this man failed to communicate it. In fact, he communicated “another gospel” that is not a gospel. A verbal confession or a prayer without understanding and faith in Christ is nothing but empty words! Well, I’ve ranted enough. Look at the video and read the posts and the sermon and evaluate the “prosperity gospel” for yourself.

How God Reveals Himself in the Old Testament Through Jesus Christ August 12, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Character, False Teachers, Inspiration, Law, Matthew, Messiah, Promises of God, Prophets, Religion, Righteousness, Sermon on the Mount, Sermons, Special Revelation.


Did Jesus Contradict the Old Testament?

Matthew 5:17-20

Last Sunday I was asked about an apparent contradiction between the Old Testament command to stone false prophets and the command that Jesus gave in John 8:1-11 that those who were without sin should cast the first stone. This is such an important question that Jesus Himself in His most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, addressed this issue of His relationship to the Old Testament.

One of the earliest accusations against Jesus was that He opposed the Law of Moses. Now if this was true then He should have been stoned according to the Law. In fact, in John 10:30-39 when Jesus told them that He was one with the Father, making Himself to be God, they tried to stone Him but Jesus escaped from them.

So today, we are going to see what Jesus has to say in his defense to the accusation that He tried to correct the Old Testament law.


Jesus says, “Listen to me and be convinced” (verse 17). The gospel of Matthew is the only one of the gospels written specifically with Jews in mind. The Jews of that day were divided about the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. Many believed and followed him, many others did not, but there was a number of Jews who wanted to believe but needed more evidence. Just as there are questions of doubt in these days, there were questions of doubt in those days.

Jesus said to the doubters, “Think outside of the box! Do not jump to conclusions based on the normal way of thinking. Listen to me and see if I am telling you the truth. Do not suppose you know the answer. Listen and think!”


We have an excellent example of this in the story of the woman who was to be stoned. John 8:6 says they brought the woman to Him to ask what they should do. Now there were Jewish courts for such a trial but they had decided to see if they could trap Jesus into contradicting Moses. Also, although apparently the woman was guilty, the man with whom she had been caught was not brought before Jesus. These men were obviously not interested in keeping the Law but rather in entrapping Jesus. Jesus could have easily said, “Stone her!” He would have been within His rights. In fact, He did say stone her but He did it in a way that was definitely outside of the box. He said to the men, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

These fellows knew each other. They knew what kind of men they were. Suddenly they lost interest in the case. Beginning from the oldest to the youngest they walked away. They had been exposed. After they left, Jesus said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Where are the witnesses against you?” She said, “I have no accusers!” At that, Jesus wiped the dust off His hands and said, “I cannot condemn you unless you have accusers. You may go but do not sin anymore.”

This is a good example of how Jesus thought outside the box and He wants us to do so as we examine Him. He wants us to think, of course, but He does not want us to think the way the world does but with spiritual thinking, thinking which is outside of the box of our humanity.


Jesus then said, “I did not come to take the house of God down.” That is what that word “destroy” means. “I did not come disassemble God’s Word.”

Jesus then said, “I came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.” I came to move in new furniture. Look at my life, look at my teaching! There is not one thing that I do or teach that takes away from the Law (the first five books of Moses) or the Prophets (which is the rest of the Old Testament). I did come though to add meaning and clarity.


Jesus says, “Listen to the Old Testament and be assured (verses 18). The Old Testament is an established standard by which to measure Jesus.

Almost every Easter and Christmas we hear expressions of doubt about the truth. We have heard about the DaVinci Code, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, the gravestone which supposedly has Jesus’ name on it. Although we may not appreciate these expressions of doubt, they are crucial. They are “…crucial… because on the surface there seems to be no great difference between Christianity and the religions of the world. They have great leaders… and so do we. They have written Scriptures . . . and so do we. They have miracle stories . . . and so do we. They have high ethical standards . . . and so do we. They have a long and rich history . . . and so do we.

One might ask, ‘How can I know which religion is the right one?’ That’s a fair question. The average person today faces a… supermarket of religions from which to choose. He sees the well-stocked shelves and wonders, ‘Which one should I choose?’ There is only one problem. All the bottles have been poisoned except one. How can he find that one right, pure and safe bottle?” (RAY PRITCHARD)

The Old Testament is our answer. If Jesus can knowingly attempt to fulfill every letter of every page of every book of every section of the Old Testament, then we have a way to judge if He is really who He said He is.

The Old Testament points to the coming of a specific person. That is one of the key messages of the Old Testament. Jesus reveals Himself to be that person. Jesus fulfilled completely the book written about Him, the Old Testament. This book was completed four hundred years before His birth. Others before and after Him claimed to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament but only Jesus has fulfilled the holy book written about him.

No other man can make such a claim.


Mohammed wrote the Koran to correct the Bible not to fulfill it. He claimed inspiration but he could not claim to fulfill the written prophecies of the Old or New Testaments.

Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible but he was not the fulfillment of one word of Holy Scripture.

Buddha wrote many words and like Jesus challenged others to evaluate his words but he never fulfilled the written prophecies of others.

Confucius wrote but like the others could never point to other holy writings and legitimately claim that he fulfilled them.

Jesus Christ said in John 5:39-47, “Search the Scriptures! They speak of me. If you believe Moses, you will believe Me because he wrote of Me. There is no other case in all of history where you can take a book and then take a person hundreds of years in the future and say, “This is about Him,” but in the Old Testament you can.


Jesus says, “Look at the False Teachers and be instructed (verse 19). “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments…” – Every person is responsible before God because of the truth of the Old Testament. If Jesus had not yet come, or if He had come but God had chosen not to give us the New Testament, we would still be responsible to God based on the Old Testament. It is the inspired Word of God.


Verse 19 – “…and teaches them so…but whoever does and teaches them…” Jesus is saying that you cannot separate doctrine and deed. If in your teaching you cause someone to break “one of the least of these commandments…” you will find yourself on the bottom of the spiritual pecking order, last in the kingdom of God.


Finally, Jesus says, “Look to Yourselves and be warned” (verse 20). The authority for the warning comes from the phrase, “For I say to you…” How did Jesus get this authority? – Look back at verse 17. By fulfilling the Law and the Prophets. From whom did He get this authority? – Look at Matthew 7:21. He got His authority from God. Continually in the Sermon on the Mount He repeats the phrase, “I say unto you…” After awhile one might ask Himself the question, “Who does this Jesus think He is?” In Matthew 7:21 He tells us. He is Lord, and whoever obeys Him is doing the will of the Father.

The Purpose of the Warning (…unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees…) Their lives were to reflect true righteousness which can only be found in following Jesus Christ. He goes on to teach them what to do. There is a huge difference between teaching righteousness and being righteous. Jesus was demanding that they become righteous by following Him, by becoming His disciple. Becoming a disciple speaks of a personal relationship to the teacher. This is what these fellows had. Of course, obedience is the natural result of being a disciple but you still have to learn what obedience means and that was what Jesus was teaching the disciples. First of all, that they might obey and secondly that they might be different from those who only taught righteousness but did not practice it themselves.

When God presents us with truth, He expects us to do something with that truth. Jesus presented in this sermon the truth of His Messiahship. He expected them to live accordingly. He expects the same from you.


He, however, will have nothing to do with you…unless…unless you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone as the Savior of your eternal soul. This message is eternal but useless without trusting Christ as your Savior. Judas heard the same message as the rest of the disciples but he lived for earthly things. Yes, it was a temptation for the other disciples also but Judas was the only one that stepped over that line and said, “I’m driving my stakes down right here. I am living for this world. This kingdom that Jesus keeps promising, never comes. I’m going to get while the getting is good.” That’s why he could so easily betray Jesus.

You have the opportunity to become a disciple. Look at the claims Jesus makes for Himself and decide to follow Him and live or turn and go your own way. Whether you trust Him or not, He holds your future and you can enter His kingdom but you must trust Him and Him alone. He died for you according to the Old Testament Scriptures, He was buried, He rose again according to the Old Testament Scriptures, and He ascended on high to the Father’s throne (according to Psalm 2:7 and Hebrews 1:3-6) but you must turn to Him and to Him alone for salvation.


Believer, are you living for Christ or are you just talking. Do you mouth the right words or do you live as you know Jesus wants you to. You may not know everything you are supposed to do to honor God but are you doing what you do know?

Some of you are struggling with doubts. You wonder if you are saved, if God really loves you, if you are good enough to please God. Are you going to live in the assurance established by the Old Testament Scriptures? They will never pass away. They will be fulfilled. Jesus Christ will do that. If you are in Him, in Jesus Christ, then you are just as assured of heaven as God’s Word is settled for all eternity.

Are you going to live, conscience of Christ’s commands everywhere you go? If you do, are you going to obey those commands. If you look in these chapters you will find the command to love your enemy, to forgive, to have confidence in God, the command to be pure, the command to be honest, the command to pray, the command not to judge, the command not to be proud, the command to live a mature and godly life. Will you live like your king or will you live like Judas for this world?

How to know if God is revealing Himself (From Sermon Series on God’s Word) August 5, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Antichrist, Bible, Depravity, Deuteronomy, Eternal Security, False Doctrine, False Teachers, First John, Gospel, Hell, Holy Spirit, Jehovah's Witnesses, OT Preaching, Perserverance, Prophets, Satan, Sermons, Spiritual Warfare, Truth.


1 John 4:1-6 and Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 18:21-22 

Lying spirits exist and we are to test the spirits (verse 1). Now God has given us the final word but God has chosen to allow competition, to allow false spirits to speak their false doctrine through false prophets, to allow the lie to coexist on this earth with the truth.

It is not always easy to discern the false from the true. Just as counterfeit money is meant to be spent, false doctrine is intended by Satan to be believed and that means he must make it believable to the human mind and appealing to the human heart.  That is why it is of eternal importance that we look into God’s Word and find out how to determine the difference between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.


There are two passages in the Old Testament law in the book of Deuteronomy that discuss testing the spirits who claim to speak the truth. Now, it is easy to say that the Law was for then and not for today, for example in the law against eating pork which is also in the book of Deuteronomy (Deut. 14:8). We understand though that the law is more than the Ten Commandments and when Jesus said He came to fulfill the law He meant all of it, not just the moral code but also the civil and ceremonial aspects of the law. Not only that but as we saw about a month ago, “All Scripture is…profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). So how do we apply the Old Testament tests? By finding and investigating the timeless principles that apply to the subject of testing the spirits as taught in 1 John. (Ideas in this paragraph with thanks to Paul Lamey of Huntsville, AL.)

Test #1 –

If one part of the prophecy is proven untrue or inaccurate, then it is not of God (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).

“Here’s a Help Wanted ad you may find interesting: Spokesman needed for international firm. No experience necessary, no education required. Must be between 20-85 years old. Full- or part-time…Will meet often with the CEO who will instruct brief you on what to say to the public. Important that you be able to move in all circles of society–from the highest to the lowest. Good vocabulary a must, ability to speak in colorful images a big plus…Unlimited opportunity for advancement…Must be willing to endure ridicule, persecution, slander, and occasional beatings. This job carries only one significant negative aspect: Make one mistake and you will be stoned to death….That ad describes the biblical role of the prophet…The test for a biblical prophet was 100% accuracy. Make one mistake and you would be stoned to death…(T)he Jews had a well-defined procedure for stoning. The victim was stripped naked, with hands bound, paraded out of town and placed on a scaffold nine feet high. The first official witness pushed the victim off the scaffold. The second witness dropped a large stone on his head and chest. Bystanders then pelted the dying man with the stones. The corpse was then buried in a special place along with the stone that inflicted the fatal blow. No mourning ceremony was permitted. False prophets had to be stoned. The Law commanded it…(P)rophecy was not a growth industry in the ancient Israel. It was a risky way to make a living. Today prophecy (and messages from God) is big business–and not nearly so risky.” (Thanks to Ray Pritchard)

(In fact, you can make the New York Times Best-Seller List and become a fixture there.)


Not only does a prophet sent from God speak the truth with 100% accuracy but he knows that his message is 100% accurate and does not try to hide that fact. When someone says that they have a vision or dream or message from God and they temper their claim with the possibility of human fallibility then I know that I need not be afraid of that person. God does not speak to every subject but to every subject that He speaks, He speaks authoritatively and without error.

Test #2 –

If the prophecy leads away from the truth, then it is not of God (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).

Actually, this whole chapter deals with the seriousness of following anyone who would lead us away from the truth. In verses 6-10, if a family member attempts to lead away from the true and living God, they were to be stoned. In verses 11-18, if Israel heard that one of their cities had turned from following God, they were to go against it and destroy it with all its inhabitants, all its livestock, and to destroy everything in it. They were not to take anything for plunder. Obviously, we are not to apply the extreme measures that are commanded to the Israelites but we are to take this seriously.


How do we recognize the spirits (verses 2-6)? In other words, how does this apply today?

The Spirit of truth identifies…

…Jesus as God and man (verse 2). Any person or any group that denies that Jesus is 100% God and 100% man is not of God. The Bible is very clear. One of the reasons that we have started studying together the book of Colossians in the adult and junior high and junior aged Sunday School classes is the vital importance of this doctrine. If Jesus is not God then Christianity is a lie and if Jesus is not man then Christianity is a lie and the Bible is a lie. I do not have a problem with the Jehovah’s Witnesses refusal to celebrate birthdays. That is not an eternal issue. I do not have a problem with their refusal to salute the American flag. That is not an eternal issue. I do not even have a problem with their refusal to take blood transfusions. I think they are wrong and that it is an unfortunate belief but that belief will not send them to the lake of fire. I do have a problem though with their refusal to acknowledge Jesus Christ as God, not a god, but Jehovah God Himself. That is why I fight for the Virgin Birth. If Jesus was not Virgin Born, He was not God. That is why I fight for the Bodily Resurrection of Christ. If He did not rise bodily from the dead then there is doubt that He was really man. He was and is both. That is also why it is so important that we hold to the Bible as given by God without error. If the Bible is in error in any area, then how can we trust what it says about Jesus Christ and the message in verse 2 about Jesus Christ is only to be found in the Bible?


The Spirit also identifies the redemptive work of Christ as sufficient for eternal salvation (verses 9-10). I understand that John is not addressing this directly but it is addressed in other places in the Scriptures: the first half of the books of Romans, the epistles to the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, the books of 1 Timothy and Titus, the book of Hebrews. I am saying that it does matter what we believe about Christ’s saving work.

The word “propitiation” here means to appease God. We are sinners, we deserve the eternal punishment of the lake of fire but Jesus Christ came and died to appease His Father. That is the good news that we are to believe. If you believe that salvation comes any other way than through Jesus Christ alone, you are in the trap of the spirit of error. If you believe by being good you can satisfy God, then you believe the spirit of antichrist. If you believe that trusting Christ and being baptized to wash away your sins, then you are trusting a ritual. Paul said in Galatians of such rituals that they make the crucifixion of Christ of no effect. Either Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection was sufficient or it is not. If you believe the Church provides you appeasement before God, you are trusting the doctrine of the world. If you believe that the Lord’s Table which we partook of earlier in this service will impart God’s saving grace into your life, then you are trusting the doctrine of a false spirit. It is through Jesus Christ alone.

Acts 5:12 says that there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. He does not need my help, He does not need your help, and he does not need the help of any ritual, good deeds, or organization. He is capable through His death alone of saving us and according to these verses, He does this because He loves us.

The Spirit of error… (verse 3-5).

…contradicts in some way the Spirit of truth (verse 3a).

Why?  Because the spirit of error is of this world (verses 3b-5). This is not a new phenomenon (verse 3b). Since time began, Satan has been lying to humankind. Although it is true that as we get closer to the end, evil men will get worse and worse, it is a matter of degree and not of quality. The quality of the counterfeit is always bad. Some are more effective in their deception than others but counterfeits are always a lie.


Believers in Christ have protection within them from false prophets (verse 4). In 1 John 2:18-27 we find specifically what he means by this verse. Some have asked me, what happens if I quit believing in Jesus Christ. According to these verses that will not and cannot happen. If you quit believing in Christ it is because you never truly believed in Him. I am not talking about doubts. I am not talking about those who give up in frustration and quit trying to live for Christ. I am talking about those and the text is talking about those who teach the truth and then turn their backs on it and attempt to drag others with them on their path. That is what John is addressing here. We, however, are protected. We are protected because we have the Holy Spirit living within us. We are protected because we have the truth in us.

The world has no protection from the false prophets because they think just like them (verse 5). This is an awful thing to think about but the Bible plainly teaches that the natural mind follows after the lie of Satan. The lie appears in all kinds of forms but every form is deadly. Which will kill you a bullet through the heart or a knife through the heart? So it is with the lie of Satan. There is no hope unless they are awakened by the Holy Spirit and believe the truth of the Word of God concerning Jesus Christ.


When someone clearly sees and rejects the truth we know that they are not of God (verse 6). If you are here this morning, you have heard the truth. Did you understand it? If you understood it, have you accepted it or rejected it? If you have accepted it, how are you going to react when you hear the lie? That is our invitation this morning.