Warning! The Foundation of Modern Western Christianity is Weak (Part 2)
“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49
In my last blog post I introduced my view regarding the weakness of the foundation of modern western Christians and the resultant vulnerability they will have to future pressures that may come upon them either as individual conflicts or large scale catastrophes such as religious persecution, economic collapse, or even war. I also presented what I see as symptoms of this weakness manifested in Christians in the form of sin and worldliness, to support my premise. I now want to look at the source of the problem.
In a broad sense, this weak foundation is the result of Christians not knowing and understanding the truth. All the truth that we need can be found in God’s word, the Bible, but like a precious metal that must be dug out from deep in the earth, it takes work to mine out the truths of God’s word. Time is required to read, study and meditate. We must also learn how to receive guidance from the Holy Spirit, who can lead us into this truth.
But this valuable truth is often substituted with lies. Falsehoods and lies can be presented for years, and once they are accepted as truth, they are unknowingly or unintentionally further propagated. Whether wolves in sheep’s clothing or misinformed Christian teachers with good intentions, the results are the same, and correcting the root problem by exposing the false and presenting the true is my goal.
Satan is the father of all liars and his goal is to propagate these lies in whatever means possible. I think it is important that we are aware of his tactics. Understanding the nature of lies and lying will help us to better detect the truth.
As I write this, the United States is going through a presidential election. For this election it seems that we have hit a new low in the quality and character of the candidates that are running. Even the most positive and patriotic citizens are becoming disillusioned with what has become a media circus. The reason I mention this election is because I see a similarity in the tactics of politicians and the tactics that the enemy (Satan) uses to deceive people to make progress on an agenda that would not be acceptable if shown in the light of the truth. Seeing how a politician works will make it easier to see the similar ploys that the enemy uses on Christians.
One of the popular jokes about politicians is asking the question, “How do you know if a politician is lying?” and the answer: “Their lips are moving.” The point is that lying and deception are major tools of the trade for many politicians. Of course, they have to be skilled with these tools and very shrewd in order to be acceptable to the masses. Therefore, they use what is known as prevarication or equivocation, which is a means of purposely misleading or manipulating the listener by speaking mostly truth, but leaving out important facts, or by using words that could have multiple meaning or a meaning that is slightly changed or shifted to purposely deceive or mislead. In other words, they will not blatantly and directly lie, but they will speak what is mostly true, and then add what may be technically true, but purposely misleading. An example of this would be ex-president Bill Clinton’s response to the media’s questioning about his relationship with Monica Lewinski (an intern that he had sexual contact with). His famous statement was, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” The key word here is “relations”. Technically, he could say, if pressured regarding this statement, that by “relations” he meant intercourse, but he knew that many Americans would or could take the word “relations” to mean any sexual contact with this woman. Of course it came out that he had very intimate sexual contact with her, but just short of intercourse. Technically, this statement was not a blatant lie, but obviously it was an equivocation, or purposely misleading.
The word equivocate means to use a word or phrase that has two or more interpretations in order to mislead. The lesson here is for us to be extremely accurate with our definition of words, looking closely at their Biblical definition and their context in order to fully understand the truth and then compare it to the message being presented by preachers, teachers and evangelists, for validation.
In addition to this, we must realize that having most of the truth, with a small part of the information being untrue or misleading, is as faulty as having none of the truth. In fact, it is more dangerous because the lie is hidden when surrounded by truth.
I would also like to point out that subtle lies and misdirection are intended to shift the focus from what is critically important to something less critical. I like the phrase “majoring on minors” to describe this error. When this happens it becomes very challenging to correct because the “minor” item is still important, but just should not be the main focus. We tend to see things as dichotomies where it is either good or bad, so when we are challenged about a focus on a “minor” item, we think the challenger is saying it is a bad thing, and therefore we reject the challenge.
False teachers, just like dishonest politicians, will mislead and deceive by slightly changing the meaning of words, or using words in a way that can have multiple meaning. Or they may leave out important information, telling only partial truth. They will also attempt to slip in a falsehood in the midst of solid truth, so as to be undetected. These surrounding truths usually “tickle the listener’s ears” by being what is known to be desired by the listener, feeding their emotions. The result is a misunderstanding of importance or a shift of focus that leaves the foundation weakened and vulnerable.
Realize also that not all preachers, teachers or evangelists who have presented faulty messages had set out to deceive or mislead people. They may have initially been sincere in wanting to help people and serve the Lord. Eventually though, they have let some carnal desire to impact their message. It could be the desire to be seen as successful, so they make compromises to their integrity. They may be looking for money, popularity, material gain, etc., and compromise the message to increase numbers or “sell” it more successfully. Satan will take advantage of any weakness and use it to further his agenda.
Some of these errors are inherited from previous teachers, so some are just parroting what they have already heard, not realizing that there is an error. It is critically important that all teachings are validated by the Scriptures. Any teacher of the Gospel who is not presenting their message along with the supporting Scriptures should be seen as suspicious.
As Christians, especially new Christians, we desire to do what is right. We want to be trusting and listen to those who are older in the faith. It is difficult, if we are looking at the person who is teaching or preaching, to be seemingly judgmental towards them. We must look beyond the person, though, and examine the message. Many times, in today’s world, we are not exposed to the character of the person speaking, especially if we only see them on Sunday or if we only see them speaking on television or read their ideas in a book. It is our responsibility to examine what is said and compare it to the truth that is found in the Bible. We must know the meaning of words in the Bible, looking up their definition in the original language (Strong’s concordance is available online for free).
Here is Paul’s advice to Timothy (inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore it applies to us also):
“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim. 3:13-17
Both Paul and Timothy were leaders in the Christian community of that time, but don’t think that knowing and understanding the Scriptures is only for the leadership elite and not for the common Christian. That is another ploy of the enemy to keep the truth hidden, like during the past dark ages, where only the so called “church leaders” could know and interpret the Scriptures and the common people couldn’t directly read the word of God but had to get their understanding through the “priest” or “bishop” who was the “expert” with the authority to “hear” from God and understand. In fact, for a long time the Scriptures were only translated to Latin, until Martin Luther and others came along and the reformation happened, putting the Bible translated to the local language into the hands of the masses.
We should follow the example of the believers that Paul and Silas encountered in Berea:
“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded (or noble) than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, ……” Acts 17:10-12
For now, please consider these ideas and in the future I will drill down into the specific problems. My hope is that readers of this message will be challenged to go deeper into the Scriptures and begin to question for themselves if what they were taught is aligned with the truths of the Word of God. Having a deeper knowledge and understanding of the truth is the only real defense against falsehoods. Hear and absorb the truth, and then put it into practice.
Here is more of Paul’s exhortation to Timothy in his second letter (I will leave you with this):
“But know this that in the last days perilous times will come; for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power, and from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.” 2 Tim. 3:1-9