Sunday, September 18, 2011

Know What You Believe

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,
1 Timothy 4:1 NKJV

The dictionary defines the word doctrine as; " a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated".So let's bear this in mind when we read what Paul has to say to Timothy about believers that live in the "latter times". In this passage he says that just before the return of Christ some believers will "fall away from the faith" and "pay attention" to the "doctrines of demons". As hard as this is to believe, since God said it would happen, maybe we should examine what the "doctrine" of demons is.

Since it is always best to start at the beginning, let's go back to Genesis where man first encounters Satan and is introduced to what he teaches.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; "but of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.' " Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. "For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
Genesis 3:1-5 NKJV

Here we find Satan appearing to Eve with the intent to lead her astray. Satan is described as a serpent, but in truth, this is a poor translation of the Hebrew word. The word is "nachash" in the Hebrew, and it literally means "to shine" or the "shining one". So although the serpent may represent Satan, whatever form that appeared to Eve was a shining one, or with great attractiveness.

Next we see he is described as "subtle", which is translated crafty or cunning, and we are also told he is more cunning than any other creature. This alone should give us plenty of warning about how formidable an opponent he really is. Finally we are introduced to his "doctrine" when his first words to Eve are in the form of a question concerning what God has specifically said. In other words, the first thing Satan did was to question God's word, and the authority that went along with it!

So if we compare what we know about what Satan believes and teaches with the statement in Timothy about believers in the last days, what God is telling us is that believers are going to begin to question God's laws and the authority of His word. Taking into account that Satan is also described as cunning, his arguments are going to sound very logical and appear attractive to us in some sort of way. Does this not sound familiar to you right now?

Have you noticed the fact that many people in general are looking everywhere else but to God for the answers to the worlds' problems, and are in God's own words becoming "fools". Now that might be something we expect from non-believers but here we see that God tells us that even believers are going to start to fall away from Him, accepting Satan's argument that it is okay to question God's laws and His authority to make them.

It is no secret that today there are huge churches in America that are wildly popular because they in fact teach that very thing. These churches espouse doctrines such as parts of the Bible are irrelevant in this day and age, or we can change the world through social programs instead of evangelism. Spreading the gospel to an unbelieving world has taken a back seat to being politically correct, and practicing tolerance and acceptance of any religion or lifestyle.

It doesn't matter that God's word tells us different, because as Satan has led us to believe, God isn't always right now is He? This is the same line he used on Eve in the garden. On the one hand we could say Satan isn't very original but on the other hand, the same argument he used then still works now, and believers are buying into it.

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, [even] the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,
1 Timothy 6:3-4 NKJV

Paul says it best in this passage when, if you look closely at the meaning of the words in the Greek, he tells us that those who advocate a different doctrine are "conceited and understands nothing". What's more, he says that these people have a "morbid interest in controversial questions". So do you know anyone like that?

Unfortunately there are too many people in the church today that are more interested in trying to stir up trouble by questioning what the Bible has to say, rather than accepting God's authority and doing what we are here to do; evangelize. This of course is exactly what Satan wants. His plan is for believers to be distracted from doing the work God has for the church because they are too busy questioning what God has told us in His word.

How do we as believers avoid falling into the trap that Satan has for us? Well, first we need to know what to look out for, and that seems to be evident in what we have talked about today. God's word is truth, and anyone who says different is falling for Satan's big lie. The Bible is our authority for any and all questions, and we can know what it says only by investing time and effort in studying it to know what Gods' positions are for whatever concerns come our way. I hope you have already set aside time every day to read and study God's word.

Of course, the most important question that we must ask ourselves is “am I truly a believer”? “Have I committed my life to serving Christ” or am I listening to what the world is saying about there being many different roads to salvation? If we use the Bible as our authority as we are instructed to do, that question is answered in Paul's response to his jailer while in prison in Philippi.

And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Acts 16:30-31 NKJV

If you have never made the decision to ask Jesus to come into your life and accept the gift of salvation He has offered you I urge you to do it right now. Simply pray to Him and confess that you are a sinner in need of salvation, and then ask Him to forgive you of your sins. Tell Him you believe that He died on the cross to take your place and because of that you want to turn your life over to Him. If you do that you have His promise that you are saved.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
John 1:12 NKJV

Keep watching.