Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Doing Things Contrary – Beware of False Prophets

(Written by Ptr. Mike Miller, Straight Path Bible Church, May 8, 2005)

I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. – Acts 26:9 through Acts 26:11

What a thing to have to live with! Those of us who are saved have many regrets and things we are ashamed of concerning our life before we were saved. However, most of us simply lived in selfish sin, but we didn’t dedicate our lives to persecuting Christians and destroying the church. Paul had to live with the fact that he had mistreated and even consented to the deaths of Christians for believing in Christ. Now that he is saved he loves these people, so it must have been a heartbreaking thing for him to remember, even though he knew God had forgiven him. Surely he didn’t relate this to King Agrippa in a cold and matter-of-fact way. The fact that it broke his heart to remember what he used to be had to be evident to Agrippa and probably was a big factor in “almost” convincing him to be a Christian.

What a terrible thing to mistreat God’s people! Surely there is a severe judgment for doing such a wicked thing. The strange thing is that most of those who are going to face such a judgment are not found outside the church, but inside it. They are standing behind pulpits and pretending to be men of God while they lead the people astray. This is a much worse crime than what Paul did before he was saved concerning persecuting the saints.

Why would a man stand in a pulpit and tell the people lies? There are only two possibilities. First, it could be because he is deceived himself. He is simply repeating the lies he has been told. That raises another important question then. How can he be deceived and leading others astray if the Holy Spirit lives in him, while the Bible promises that the Spirit of God will guide us into all truth? (John 16:13) The answer is also found in the Word of God: “…Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” – Rom. 8:9

The second is worse than the first. He must KNOW that he is not telling the truth or that he is withholding truth, but he does it anyway for his own selfish benefit. He does it for the money. He does it for the position. He does it to receive the praise of men and to be called “Reverend.” He does it to be known in the community. He knows what the Bible says, but he cares more for himself and his selfish ambitions than for the souls of the people he preaches to.

So you have a man who is unsaved leading other people farther from God than they already are. Those who might have had a chance; those who might have listened and received the truth, are blinded by the deceit of an imposter, and their souls are eternally doomed. He says to them “peace” when there is no peace. He offers them phony assurance that they are right with God while they live and love the same worldly things that the rest of the world does. He draws no lines between holy and unholy, and in fact, whatever criticism and correction he offers is almost always directed toward those who live “too” holy and “too” separated from the world and its pollution.

The only difference between a false prophet and a vile criminal is that the false prophet is much more wicked. He is more wicked and vile than any murderer who ever sat in an electric chair. If God has a place in hell for the people like Adolf Hitler or Nero Caesar, because of the careless way they treated human life, just try to imagine what punishment must await a man who trifles with the eternal souls of men for his own gain and selfish interests.

A lady in our church who is a nurse told me that she had seen many men die in the Veteran’s Hospital where she worked. She said she had noticed that there are three types of people. First, there are people who are right with God and ready to die. The time comes and they go out peacefully and death is a welcome thing for them. Second, she said, are the people who are not ready and when the moment draws near they are frantic and desperate and fighting to the last breath. It is a terrible and fearful thing to witness. Then there is a third group. These are the people, she said, who THOUGHT they were ready until the moment arrived and then they realized they were not. She asked, “Do you know who is in that third group many times?” I said I didn’t and she told me that many of them are preachers who have stood behind pulpits and not told the people the truth. Their moment of death arrives and they are crying out to God about what they didn’t tell the people and what they knew God wanted them to hear. They held back on what they knew or just didn’t tell the truth because it would have cost them favor with the people or maybe their job as pastor, or damaged their reputation and fellowship with fellow preachers. They valued their own interests more than the eternal souls of men and now they are about to face God with it. No crime ever committed on earth was ever so wicked as that! No murder, however violent or gruesome, was ever as worthy of punishment as what that man did when he blinded the souls of people who might have believed had he told them the truth.

It seems that every day we hear of those who murder women or little children for their own lusts. Anyone with any sense of justice feels enormous anger and revulsion at these evil deeds and desires to see the criminal punished and taken out of society so they can’t commit such wickedness anymore. How much more wicked is it when men murder the eternal souls of others so they can keep drawing their salary, or so they can still be welcomed in the next preacher’s fellowship?

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Mark 8:36-37

Considering the value of a soul, what kind of punishment is deserved by anyone – not just a preacher in a pulpit, who would mislead and guide someone away from the pure truth of the Word of God? Take heed about criticizing the man of God who will preach to you the full counsel of God! You better be careful when you find yourself in disagreement with a man who will lift up his voice like a trumpet and show you your transgressions! If you have a preacher who will fearlessly show you the way of the Lord and what God expects of you no matter what it costs him you better not undermine him! He is real! You better thank God for him. When you are voicing your opinions and disagreements you may be doing the same thing that false prophet does when he stands behind the pulpit. As certainly as God will judge a lying preacher he will judge you for leading people from the truth, too.

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