It didn’t take long. Less than 70 years into church history and there were those who wanted to water down the Word of God and the call to personal holiness. And others who wanted to add things to the requirements for salvation and Christian living.
In 25 verses Jude’s epistle called believers to contend for the truth. It still does today.
Sadly, many still prefer to teach only the easy to swallow parts … those things that don’t make anyone uncomfortable or the Christian life seem too hard? And others claim that something else is necessary.
The future, it’s full of promise, but often mixed with uncertainty. Should I marry this person? Does he or she really love me? Is this the right job? Could my spouse be cheating on me? The temptation to want to know what the future holds can be huge. But what does God say about knowing the future or seeking information about things God has not revealed?
And what about your heart? Do you have a wise heart? Are you teachable? Do you listen to godly counsel? Or do you first make up your own mind and then look for justification to believe and do what you desire? What does it means, “What the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies”? See today’s Proverbs reading.
Fortune Tellers, Palm Readers, and Other False Prophets
Chapter 13, verses 1-4 talk about the false prophets who predict things that come to pass. So many people assume that such a person must be from God, even though he or she says and does things that contradict biblical truth. Verse 3 says:
“… you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
There are still people out there today, claiming they can predict the future or they can tell you if your husband is cheating or give you a message from a deceased family member. They may even claim to believe in God. James 2.19 says, “… Even the demons believe—and tremble!” And in Matthew 8 when Jesus met two demon possessed men, the demons cried out, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
You can believe in God and not be of God. We are told to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5.11). And Deuteronomy 18.10-12 says:
10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.
It’s so easy to let hypocritical attitudes creep into our hearts and allow ourselves to become religious pretenders. We may look good on the outside, but have hearts full of envy, greed, anger, worry, and self-righteousness. In the process we lose the joy of our salvation and find ourselves just going through the motions of the Christian life.
Beginning in yesterday’s reading, Jesus, in talking to the scribes and Pharisees, uses the phrase “woe to you” eight times. He calls them hypocrites, religious pretenders who attempted to look good on the outside with all their religious deeds. But he said they were full of spiritual death inside. They lacked love and mercy, justice and faith. They believed their religious activities and long public prayers made them better than everyone else. They refused to see themselves as sinners in need of a Savior.
They loved themselves instead of the poor and needy. They legalistically carried out the law against others without mercy. In verse 24 He called them “blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” They not only couldn’t see where they were going, but were leading others astray also. They couldn’t or wouldn’t see their own sinful hearts. Because of their knowledge of the law and pretending to live it, He said they would receive a “greater condemnation.”
The law designated certain things as clean and others as unclean, including animals. Unclean animals, like camels, could be used as beasts of burden, etc., but were not to be eaten or used as sacrifices. This was a picture to them, and us, of God’s desire to have a people set apart for Himself with clean hearts—a holy people.
Gnats were the smallest of the unclean animals and camels the largest. Some of the Pharisees would strain their drinks through cloth to keep from inadvertently swallowing a gnat. They focused on all the religious “minors,” while ignoring the “majors”—the attitudes of the heart. Continue reading →