Monday, April 8, 2013

The Subtle Devices

Since I know the following will raise much ire, I’ve already emptied out my inbox in anticipation of all the hate mail.

The more I grow in God, the more I seek Him and spend time in His presence, the more I realize how subtle the devil’s devices and deceptions truly are. The Word of God tells us to be watchful for a reason, and the reason is that only by being watchful will we be able to see the subtle works of the enemy and not be caught up in them.

Today I want to discuss two of those subtle devices, and I know at least one will seem anathema to the ‘God is love and nothing more’ generation, and because they are unwilling to search out the Word and see whether what I say is in harmony with it, they will lash out and call me names, perhaps even put up another website denouncing me as an unrepentant heretic.

(Don’t bother looking for the website I am referring to. The ‘prophetess’ who ran it was sued for fraud by people she’d bilked out of their hard earned money over the years, and closed up shop. Her web domain is no longer viable.)

The first subtle device which incidentally serves to warp men’s perception of God, who He is, and why Jesus had to come and be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, is the notion that all Jesus preached was love.

Every time a conversation arises around topic that is volatile, the ‘Jesus preached love’ card gets pulled from the sleeve, replete with hand gestures and a hardy voilà.

‘It’s not our concern that men are dying in their sins, it’s not our job to protect the church from the wolves, it’s not our duty to preach the righteousness of God, all we have to do is preach love, ‘cause Jesus preached love!’

Really though? Was all Jesus ever preached, love?

What about repentance? Did He ever preach that? Maybe a little bit, just a smidge? What about self-denial and self-renunciation and picking up our crosses and following after Him? What about the Kingdom to come or the home He went to prepare or the Helper who was to come after His ascension? Did He speak on those things too, or was Jesus just a less haggard version of John Lenin telling everyone, everywhere, all the time that all they needed was love, man?

Matthew 10:34-36, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.’ And ‘a man’s foes will be those of his household.’”

Yes, Jesus did preach love, He preached loves for one’s brothers and sisters in Christ, He preached love for God, He even preached love for one’s enemies, but that’s not all He preached.

When we attempt to eliminate all the other things Jesus preached and taught, and take it upon ourselves to say all He spoke on was love, we are distorting the truth, and men will not see the real Christ for the distortion we are attempting to show Him through.

Sin destroys. For us to say with a straight face that God winks at, accepts, embraces, and even loves something which destroys His creation is ludicrous and asinine.

Sin also separates man from God. In being separated from God, those unwilling to repent can never enter in, can never partake, nor can they be welcome into His kingdom. If God is okay with His creation being separated from Him for all eternity, why go through the trouble of sending His only begotten Son to die on a tree so that selfsame creation might be reconciled unto Him?

If you love your child and you see them playing with a knife you don’t roll your eyes and say ‘you silly goose, here’s a sharper one,’ you run and you pluck it from their hand and make it known to them how dangerous playing with knives is.

The second subtle device which I began to notice as I was outlining the series on prayer is the notion or presupposition that the act of praying or being a prayer warrior is somehow reserved for the widows and the elderly ladies in the church, the selfsame ones who make the same sweet potato casserole at every potluck.

Kings prayed, priests prayed, soldiers prayed, generals prayed, the Apostles prayed, Jesus prayed, and yes, even widows and elderly ladies prayed. None of us is exempt from talking to God. None of us is exempt from establishing a relationship with Him, and the fact that when we say ‘prayer warrior’ the first thing to come to mind is that little old lady in our church, shows just how well the subtle devices work.

1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”  

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

12 comments: said...

One day John Wesley was riding along a road when it dawned upon him that three whole days had passed in which he had suffered no persecution. Not a brick or an egg had been thrown at him for three days. Alarmed, he stopped his horse, and exclaimed, "Can it be that I have sinned and am backslidden?"

Slipping from his horse Wesley went down on his knees and began interceding with God to show him where, if any, there had been a fault.

A rough fellow, on the other side of the hedge, hearing the prayer, looked across and recognized the preacher. "I'll fix that Methodist preacher," he said taking a brick and tossing it over at him. It missed its mark and fell harmlessly beside John.

Whereupon Wesley leaped to his feet joyfully exclaiming, "Thank God, it's all right. I still have His presence."

Lee said...

No hate mail here, Brother Mike. Just a heart full of gratitude, after this old lady prayed this morning, that God saw fit to have this message waiting for me. I had just asked Him ...what more could I say to people who think they are alright with God but have no time for fellowship with Him or no desire to study His word. I have tried to show them ( family and friends ) that they wouldn't treat any other relationship that they value the way they treat Jesus. They know those relationship would fall apart but can't seem to see the connection with The Lord. I started my time with Him this AM singing the old hymn SWEET HOUR OF PRAYER and there is so much truth in that song ...only one of which is leaving this world of care and being strengthened and calmed in His presence. Thanks for the message. Hope that there was a mighty stirring in Michigan.

Anonymous said...

I know it happens, but I can't imagine people thinking Jesus preached only love unless they've never read their New Testament. That says a lot. How would they explain Him being provoked to fury and violence and driving the money changers out of the temple with a whip? Or calling certain people what they were at the time, a brood of vipers? Hopefully at least some of them repented. I have never gone through and counted the references, but I have read that Jesus mentioned hell more times than He mentioned heaven. That should serve as a warning, as well as the 25th chapter of Matthew. I think what applies in this case is people who love their comfortable lie more than they love the truth, so they stop their ears to it. At their peril.

marshall warren said...

Michael, by the power of His Holy Spirit, my family and I have been striving to follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus and His Apostles as given to us in the New Testament for many years. The Bible has been miraculously preserved for us until these end times. It is God's very voice. The more we are conformed to His nature the more alienated we become from worldly Christians. This is heart breaking, but during this time of the "great falling away" it must be expected. "Therefore don't think it strange" that you will be misunderstood and criticized by the worldly church. Stay in prayer, in His word, and in obedience to His teachings. Let Christ's love flow through you like a "river of living water."
Thank you and God bless you,
Marshall Warren

meema said...

If it's any consolation, you'll get no argument from me. Again, as I have mentioned before, when I get flack from the world, that's how I know I'm on the right track.

God bless you, dear heart. You know many are praying for you. Having done all stand!

For Christ,

Barbara said...

They want to worship the Jesus hippie. I think Jesus is a warrior. He is coming with an army of angels to take Jerusalem from the invading armies on the plains of Armageddon. When people seee this happening, probably within a decade, they are going to be quite surprised at who Jesus really is.

They treat him like a hippie tooth fairie who grants wishes and loves everyone freely. If you would follow a fool like that, you don't have much integrity. They don't realize that Jesus is a warrior king. He laid down his own life in the battle against sin, not because he is a pacificst, but so the blood price could be paid.

He took more than a bullet for us. All people take him as is a master of ceremonies at their church rock concert parties, with their falling out on the floor in altered states of conciosness and babbling jibberish to each other like drug crazed stoners.

Anonymous said...

I'm in a church that I love, but sadly the tendency is yes, to emphasize just God's love and not his justice, wrath, or the coming judgment. That's called "death talk" and "fear mongery." We don't talk about sin, we talk about "brokeness." There are no "wicked" people, only "lost" people. The pastor made the worship team change a line in a song that is based on a verse in Job where he said "God gives and takes away." No, we don't like saying God takes away, so that had to go. When I teach Bible study, I have to be careful about talking about God's judgment -- I'm allowed to talk about persecution, but there's a subtle pressure to always put God in a "good" light, and they think this means he never does anything anyone, anywhere could attribute to being what they think is "mean." So He isn't going to "judge" the USA, He just might "lift his blessing." I find it frustrating at times, but I know the pastors love the Lord, the senior pastor, in particular, is very heavy into prayer, and has a lot of emphasis on wanting us to be people of prayer, more so than any other pastor I've ever known. So I tend to give him a pass for being semi-obsessed with always having to be positive on the time. I've just learned to keep my mouth shut on certain topics and save my more plain speaking for Bible study.

(I loved the Wesley story, Joel, thanks for sharing!)

Anonymous said...

We need the Truth, brother Mike, the straight Biblical Truth, because it isn't being taughtin our churches. Thank you for not watering down the Gospel.

Praying for you!

Tiffany Tull said...

God is love. He told people to repent for the kingdom of heaven is near because He loved them so much and didn't want to see them perish in hell. He was speaking the truth in love when He rebuked the Pharisees, hoping to save some (which some did believe).

Jesus' actions and words flow from a heart of love - the Father's heart.

How can He hate his own body (the true church)? He has to tend and take care of it - He has not left His body, that's impossible, He is our Head. He is faithful as a son over God's house. That's not to say their isn't terrible sin inside His body, but He is dealing with it. The weeds and tares are going to be together until the end of this age. Not everyone who is in the church is "the church" but we can still minister to one another and save some from the flames right? And it should be His love that compels us. It's his kindness that leads us to repentance. In these end times people have heard it all, but what many of them have NOT experienced is a deep revelation of His great love for them. When they experience this it will change them! His love will change them, and they will willingly obey Him, willingly confess their sin, and in great joy share the gospel of hope with others! His Holy Spirit will convict them of their sin. Everything He says comes from His great love for us. He relents from sending calamity. He'd rather we repent because I'm sure it grieves His loving heart to bring judgement. Don't give up on His great love for us. His love is what is going to reach many of the lost in this age, it's a revelation of His love. I've been a Christian for 20 years, and I didn't know this great love until maybe 5 or 6 years ago (and I still don't know it fully, I feel like we'll spend eternity knowing His love). I pray that you would know this great love that surpasses knowledge, that you would know the height and depth, width and breadth of this love, and be filled to the full measure of all the fullness of God. This love of God is what helps me love my brothers and sisters in Christ who are immature and still growing in their knowledge of Him, it helps me love those people who struggle with addictions, people who frustrate me with what I feel like is slow spiritual progress, it's what helps me pray for the lost. If I didn't have this great love in my heart I would be so weary of loving people - but it's His love burning in my heart that pours out like streams of living water. I hope that makes sense.

Eli said...

I think to truly exemplify my complete agreement with you is to simply say "Amen and Amen".

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you have written on both accounts. I can't reason why others would differ.

We do have a tendency to focus on one aspect of God at a time though. But that is what a fininte person does. We feel many things at once like happiness and sadness when a loved one dies but we can only state one feeling at a time so we seem to contradict ourselves.

We focus on God's love because to focus on anything else can be intimidating. Which is as it should be. He IS intimidating. But we are priveleged to have the ability to come to Him through Christ. What we have lost in this focus of God's love is the 3D vision that behind His love we see popping out in front, is the sin it is covering. Therefore we fail to mention the reason God extended his love, not because we have a brokenness of spirit but because we ARE broken and sin.

You know John the Apostle did that in his letters: focus on God's love more than not. I think as we get older this becomes more apparent. As a grandparent I show more mercy on my grandchilden than I did on my children, because I was too busy raising them rather than enjoy them. We do the same with spiritual things. We spend time growing and learning what is and shouldn't be. Then as we have aged and mellowed we look back and say is that sin or is it culture, or a minor misstep?

As ambassadors of Christ we do need to preach repentance and shout it loud and strong, but individually we need to show God's love and mercy thorough our uncompromising beliefs yet non-condemning and Christ-like attitudes and actions.

And you can't do that without being in prayer.

Nothing like a good discussion!

heweeps said...

I really think the meaning of some words has changed so much over the centuries that the modern mind has a hard time grasping some things as they were originally written. The love most christians talk about today seems to be some kind of milk toast mush love. The allegory of the child and knife speaks of true concerned love with the idea of correcting and teaching. If the parent was seen maybe raising his voice to attract the childs attention away from the knife he would be seen as abusive or something. God is building a church a bride and he is going to do what it takes. Ananias and Sapphira died of their own guilt feelings to the christian of today that has these mushy views of God'love. There is no room in their belief system that allows for God's chastisement/punishmentt. And yet after the church grew and grew. Man this could be a huge topic.