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From time to time, I have encountered Christians who were on their way to their yoga classes.  Ever wondered how we should respond to that?  Check out the recent article by Dr. Albert Mohler on the subject.

http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/09/20/the-subtle-body-should-christians-practice-yoga/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AlbertMohlersBlog+%28Albert+Mohler%27s+Blog%29&utm_content=My+Yahoo

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SCRIPTURES CONCERNING FALSE TEACHERS/FALSE PROPHETS/FALSE BELIEF

[All Scriptures from from the English Standard Version (ESV)]

OLD TESTAMENT

 Deut 18:20-22

 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

 Jeremiah 14:13-16

13 Then I said: “Ah, Lord God, behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’” 14 And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. 15 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. 16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them—them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their evil upon them.

 Jeremiah 23:1-40 (Select verses)

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord…16 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” 18 For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened?…21 “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.  23 “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? 24 Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.  25 I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ 26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, 27 who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal? 28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord. 29 Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? 30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who steal my words from one another. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who use their tongues and declare, ‘declares the Lord.’ 32 Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the Lord, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the Lord.  33 “When one of this people, or a prophet or a priest asks you, ‘What is the burden of the Lord?’ you shall say to them, ‘You are the burden, and I will cast you off, declares the Lord.’ 34 And as for the prophet, priest, or one of the people who says, ‘The burden of the Lord,’ I will punish that man and his household. 35 Thus shall you say, every one to his neighbor and every one to his brother, ‘What has the Lord answered?’ or ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ 36 But ‘the burden of the Lord’ you shall mention no more, for the burden is every man’s own word, and you pervert the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God. 37 Thus you shall say to the prophet, ‘What has the Lord answered you?’ or ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ 38 But if you say, ‘The burden of the Lord,’ thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have said these words, “The burden of the Lord,” when I sent to you, saying, “You shall not say, ‘The burden of the Lord,’” 39 therefore, behold, I will surely lift you up and cast you away from my presence, you and the city that I gave to you and your fathers. 40 And I will bring upon you everlasting reproach and perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.’”

 NEW TESTAMENT

 Matthew 7:15-27

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. [16 ] You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? [17 ] So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. [18 ] A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. [19 ] Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. [20 ] Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. [21 ] “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. [22 ] On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ [23 ] And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ [24] Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. [25 ] And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. [26 ] And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. [27 ] And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

 Matthew 24:4-5,11

And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray…11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. (See also Mark 13:22-23)

Matthew 24:24 

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

Acts 20:29-32

I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Romans 16:17-18

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

2 Corinthians 11:3-15

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things. 7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! 12 And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Galatians 1:6-9

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— [7 ] not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. [8 ] But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. [9 ] As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Ephesians 4:14

so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Philippians 3:18-19

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

Colossians 2:8, 16-19

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ…16  Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

1 Timothy 4:1-5

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Titus 1:10-14

For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.

2 Peter 2:1-22 (select verses)

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. [2 ] And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. [3 ] And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep…Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones…But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, [13 ] suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. [14 ] They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! [15 ] Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, [16 ] but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. [17 ] These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. [18 ] For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. [19 ] They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. [20 ] For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. [21 ] For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. [22 ] What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

1 John 2:18-25

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us —eternal life.  [Note verse 19: They went out from us… These antichrists did not emerge from outside the church, but from within!

1 John 4:1-6

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

2 John 10-11

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

Jude 3-18

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. 5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. 8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. 14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. 17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”

Revelation 2:2

2 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.

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so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Eph. 4:14)

Those who are not mature, or at least maturing in the Faith, who are not exercising themselves in the use of the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, are in grave danger – eternal danger!  We must constantly heed the warnings of Scripture, warnings found in passages such as Ephesians 4:14, which is where I’d like us to turn our attention now.

The word children in this verse literally means “not speaking” and therefore referred to helpless infants.  Figuratively, it came to mean one who is simple or unlearned, and spiritually to those who are immature in the faith, and therefore prone to error.  It stands juxtaposed to one who has attained to “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (v13). 

Dr. Charles Hodge, in his commentary on Ephesians, notes two characteristics of children that are highlighted in this passage: 1) their instability; and 2) their susceptibility to trickery or deception. 

Concerning the instability of children, they are compared in this verse to a ship without a rudder that is being tossed to and fro by surging, violent waves and driven by seemingly random winds.  (I’ll come back to that in a minute!) This term “tossed by waves” metaphorically refers to those one who are thrown into confusion, who are unstable in their opinions or beliefs, who fluctuate or change their ways of thinking because they have little or no internal foundation.  They are like those whom Jesus warned about who build their houses on sand (Luke 7:26-27).

William MacDonald has stated:

Immature Christians are susceptible to the grotesque novelties and fads of professional quacks. They become religious gypsies, moving to and fro from one appealing fantasy to another. (Believer’s Bible Commentary)

In additional to being unstable, these children are also easily deceived.  The term human cunning (ESV) is the Greek word kubeia, which is where we get the words cube and die.  This word, originally referring to dice-playing, became synonymous with any kind of trickery because dice-playing carried with it the idea of manipulation and deception, since professional gamblers would often craft dice to roll as they pleased.  False apostles and teachers would also come into local congregation and manipulate Scripture to say what they wanted it to say, and so manipulate naïve and discerning believers.  This is why Paul commended the noble Bereans for examining Paul’s teaching according to Scripture (Acts 17:11).

These men are crafty and treacherous, cleverly manipulating both words and speech, along with those who hear their words and speech.  They have become adept at making lies look like the truth, and making the simple gospel seem too elementary and nonsensical.  This same word, kubeia, is used of the religious leaders who cunningly attempted to trick Jesus by asking Him, “Should we pay taxes to Caesar?” (Luke 20:23).  What appeared to be an innocent question was a Catch-22 (or so it seemed).

These manipulators are also deceitful schemers.  Deceit means “wandering away.”  These deceivers cause immature babes to wander away from sound doctrine and go into all kinds of aberrant teachings.  These are men who promote humanism (Your Best Life Now), human potential (Seize Your Divine Moment), lifestyle improvement without repentance (The Purpose-Driven Life), and encourage openness to everything (A Generous Orthodoxy), just to name a few.  Mature, stable “adult” Christians will see through the deception with much skillful training and knowledge of God’s word, but babes are swept away in the flood.  And let us never forget, error leads to condemnation, eternal condemnation! This is why these teachers are so dangerous.  They convert others, but in doing so make them twice as much a son of hell as they are (Matt. 23:15).  We must beware of men and women like this, and we must warn others of the danger.  (We’ll pick up here in part 2)

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There is a false gospel that does not preach repentance. Sin is a problem with the universe; the world is broken and fallen. But your own personal fallenness is downplayed or even ignored. It’s not your sin that needs to be forgiven, but the universe that needs to be repaired. Your problem isn’t that you sinned against a most holy and righteous God whose indignation burns against you, but that you are part of a system that’s broken, and there is a loving God out there who is for you.

This false gospel preaches to you that you have a divine destiny and that if you come to Christ you can claim it. Is this true? Sort of. But is this the gospel message? Absolutely not! The spiritual mind understands that our destiny is to be glorified and united with Christ forever. We also understand that God gives us a purpose, to His glory. The carnal mind cannot understand this. It is beyond him. And so, when the preachers tells him he has a divine destiny, his unregenerate nature is summoned to pride. The regenerate and unregenerate man are both inspired by greatness, but the regenerate man searches for greatness in the glory and pleasure of Christ. The unregenerate seeks it in the flesh, whether that be better sex, more money or power or fame, or just significance and meaning. But these are never for God’s glory, because they have no cognizance of what that is.

There is only one portal to righteousness for the unbeliever, and that is through brokenness and contrition. Jesus said that those who are poor in spirit are the ones who would be blessed. The call of the Holy Spirit to the unbeliever is not upward to greatness, but downward to repentance. Any other calling is not from Him. Sin – personal sin – must be dealt with first. Repentance and faith must ensue. Then comes the greatness. But that greatness has no resemblance to this other so-called greatness.

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The most godly Christian is the one who knows himself best, and no one who knows himself will believe that he deserves anything better than hell.

The man who knows himself least is likely to have a cheerful if groundless confidence in his own moral worth. Such a man has less trouble believing that he will inherit an eternity of bliss because his concepts are only quasi-Christian, being influenced strongly by chimney-corner scripture and old wives’ tales. he thinks of heaven as being very much like California without the heat and smog, and himself as inhabiting a splendiferous place with all modern conveniences, and wearing a bejeweled crown. Throw in a few angels and you have the vulgar picture of the future life held by the devotees of popular Christianity.

This is the heaven that appears in the saccharin ballads of the guitar-twanging rockabilly gospellers that clutter up the religious scene today. That the whole thing is completely unrealistic and contrary to the laws of the moral universe seems to make no difference to anyone.

Born After Midnight, p. 136

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In November of 1958 Dr. J. Vernon McGee preached a sermon he titled “The Dark Side of Love.” Later that sermon was printed in a little booklet by the same title. During his five-year Thru the Bible study, Dr. McGee quoted himself from the booklet when he came to his study in the book of Zephaniah. These words were not only true over 50 years ago, but amazingly they still ring true today. Here’s what he said:

In our nation we have come through a period when the love of God has been exaggerated out of all proportion to the other attributes of our God. And it has been presented in such a way that the love of God is a weakness rather than a strength. It has been presented on the sunny side of the street with nothing of the other side ever mentioned. There is a “love” of God presented that sounds to me like the doting of grandparents rather than the vital and vigorous concern of a parent for the best interests of the child.

The liberal preacher has chanted like a parrot. He has used shopworn clichés. He has taken tired adjectives, and he has said, “God is love, God is love, God is love,” until he has made it saccharine sweet, and he has not told about the dark side of the love of God. He has watered love down, making it sickening rather than stimulating, causing it to slop over on every side like a sentimental feeling rather than an abiding concern for the object of love.

However, I want you to notice that there is the dark side of the love of God. The Great Physician will put His child on the operating table. He will use the surgeon’s knife when He sees a tumor of transgression or a deadly virus sapping our spiritual lives or when He sees the cancerous growth of sin. He does not hesitate to deal with us severely. We must learn this fact early: He loves us just as much when He is subjecting us to surgery as when He sends us candy and flowers and brings us into the sunshine.

And sometimes the Great Physician will operate without giving us so much as a sedative. But you can always be sure of one thing: When He does this, He will pour in the balm of Gilead. When He sees that it is best for you and for me to go down through the valley of suffering, that it will be for our eternal welfare, He will not hesitate to let us go down through that dark valley. Someone has expressed it in these lines:

Is there no other way, O God,
Except through sorrow, pain and loss,
To stamp Christ’s likeness on my soul,
No other way except the cross?

And then a voice stills all my soul,
As stilled the waves of Galilee.
Can’st thou not bear the furnace,
If midst the flames I walk with thee?

I bore the cross, I know its weight;
I drank the cup I hold for thee.
Can’st thou not follow where I lead?
I’ll give thee strength, lean hard on Me!

My friend, He loves us most when He is operating on us, “for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth …” (Hebrews 12:6).

Under another figure the Lord Jesus presented it yonder in the Upper Room to those who were His own. He said in John 15:1, 2: I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth [prunes] it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

We must remember that the Father reaches into your life and mine and prunes out that which is not fruitbearing—and it hurts! But, as some Puritan divine said years ago, “The husbandman is never so close to the branch as when he is trimming it.” The Father is never closer to you, my friend, than when He is reaching in and taking out of your heart and life those things that offend.

It was Spurgeon who noticed a weather vane that a farmer had on his barn. It was an unusual weather vane, for on it the farmer had the words, GOD IS LOVE. Mr Spurgeon asked him, “Do you mean by this that God’s love is as changeable as the wind?” The farmer shook his head. “No,” he said, “I do not mean that God’s love changes like that. I mean that whichever way the wind blows, God is love.”

Today it may be the soft wind from the south that He brings to blow across your life, for He loves you. And tomorrow He may let the cold blasts from the north blow over your life—and if He does, He still loves you.

It has been expressed in these familiar lines written by Annie Johnson Flint in a way I never could express it:

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river, turbid and deep.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the laborer, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

Beloved, if you are a child of God and are in a place of suffering, be assured and know that God loves you, regardless of how it may appear.
If you’d like to read more about “The Dark Side of Love” you can download the ebooklet here. If you’d like to know more about the Dr. McGee and Thru the Bible you can find them here.

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Last week, Christian artist Jennifer Knapp “came out,” confirming rumors about her homosexual lifestyle.  In this article, we will be looking at an interview by Christianity Today that shows several things about her situation that are revealing and troubling.

The opening line of the article reads, “Veteran artist returns after seven-year hiatus with a feisty new album, Letting Go, while also revealing that she’s gay.”

 Jennifer Knapp has decided to return to the Christian music industry after taking a seven year leave.  Upon returning, she has stated unapologetically that she is a practicing lesbian and presently in a same-sex relationship, and she has been traveling with her lesbian partner all over Europe and the United States during her musical hiatus.  Now she’s back, writing Christian music and performing, all the while investing in a long-term relationship with her female sex partner. Regarding her relationship, Knapp says:

I’m certainly in a same-sex relationship now, but when I suspended my work, that wasn’t even really a factor.

 Her immoral relationship was not even a factor as to why she took time off from her “ministry.” Knapp says later:

…if you remove the social problem that homosexuality brings to the church—and the debate as to whether or not it should be called a “struggle,” because there are proponents on both sides—you remove the notion that I am living my life with a great deal of joy. It never occurred to me that I was in something that should be labeled as a “struggle.” The struggle I’ve had has been with the church, acknowledging me as a human being, trying to live the spiritual life that I’ve been called to, in whatever ramshackled, broken, frustrated way that I’ve always approached my faith. I still consider my hope to be a whole human being, to be a person of love and grace. So it’s difficult for me to say that I’ve struggled within myself, because I haven’t. I’ve struggled with other people. I’ve struggled with what that means in my own faith. I have struggled with how that perception of me will affect the way I feel about myself.

 That’s quite a revealing statement.  In Jennifer’s mind, homosexuality is nothing more than a social problem to the church, a debate with “proponents on both sides.” To Knapp, homosexuality does not even register as a sin. 

Therefore she does not consider it a “struggle,” most likely referring to an internal struggle against sin since, after all, it is not sin to her.  No, her struggle is with other people who do see it as a sin.  She goes on to identify some of these people, among them, “conservative evangelicals”:

The Bible has literally saved my life. I find myself between a rock and a hard place—between the conservative evangelical who uses what most people refer to as the “clobber verses” to refer to this loving relationship as an abomination, while they’re eating shellfish and wearing clothes of five different fabrics, and various other Scriptures we could argue about.

 Now I cannot say with any certainty how kind or meanly evangelical Christians have treated Jennifer.  I personally do not know her, but I can relate to her because of our common humanity.  But notice a few things here.  First, Jennifer, like so many professing Christians, shop around for Bible verses that meet their “perceived needs.” But like any shopper, they are free to pick and choose – take some, leave the others. 

Knapp says the Bible literally saved her life.  What part of the Bible is she referring to?  Certainly, salvation comes by grace through faith in Christ.

But this same word of God also saves from judgment by warning of God’s impending judgment on children of disobedience, those who are, among other things, sexually immoral and homosexual (1 Cor. 6:9; Eph. 5:5).  Knapp seems to be altogether disregarding these verses and other verses stating God’s warnings to be holy (1 Pet. 1:15-17; Heb. 12:14).  But I suppose Jennifer would see all of these warnings as “clobber verses.”

Knapp goes on:

I’m not capable of getting into the theological argument as to whether or not we should or shouldn’t allow homosexuals within our church. There’s a spirit that overrides that for me, and what I’ve been gravitating to in Christ and why I became a Christian in the first place.”

 Do you see how warped the mind of a natural man or woman can become?  Homosexuality is not only contrary to God’s word, but even to nature itself.  But if it can be relegated, like so many other things, to being nothing more than a “theological argument,” then it can be shelved for the theologians to wrestle with.  But in categorizing unrighteousness in such a way, she no longer feels the need to search her heart, examining Scripture and herself in fear to see if she is truly among the saved. 

But there’s “a spirit that overrides” that for her, a spirit that she’s been gravitating to in Christ.  But that Jesus Jennifer is gravitating to is a figment of her own imagination.  Christ is both lover of the Church, His bride, and also Judge of the world in righteousness.  Yes, He embraces sinners, but He condemns the ungodly to eternal punishment.  Jennifer, like so many other professing believers have fallen into the snare of making for themselves an imaginary Jesus, an idol of their own creation, that imposes no perfect standard and makes no demands of righteousness upon anyone but loves them just as they are.  But that’s not the Jesus of the Bible!  Yes, we must come to Him as we are, but Christ Jesus never leaves us there.  Being grounded in Christ always, always leads to fruit – works of righteousness and increasing holiness.  If there is no fruit, there is no root!

She responds to another question saying that she is not attending a church these days, but says in another place, “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.”  Something about goats (unregenerate people) –they’re quite uncomfortable among the sheep (the true people of God).  And inversely, those who belong to Christ also love the communion of saints.  There’s no other place we’d rather be than among our siblings in the Lord.

Knapp says:

It’s not on my agenda to convert the world to a religion, but to convert the world to compassion and grace. I’ve experienced that in my life through Christianity…I aspired to be a Christian in my private life, and I think it’s a wonderful side effect that can happen with music…For me, it’s the journey that I’m on, trying to figure things about as best I can.

 Again, this Christianity she embraces is a Christianity of her own making.  She aspires to be a private Christian, having broken free from the body of Christ.  But Jennifer needs to know that you can’t break free from the body without also being severed from the Head.  You can’t have one without the other.  And her rebellion against Christ is perhaps most evident in this statement:

I’m not going to let go of my faith and I’m not going to let go of the passion to do music the way I want, in case there are other people telling me I can do neither because of personal decisions I’ve made.

 That has the same tone as Frank Sinatra, who boasted toward the end of his life, “I did it my way.” It’s the rebellious attitude only an unregenerate person can make, or at the very least a wayward Christian who is on the verge of apostasy from the gospel.  She’s not letting go of her faith or of doing music the way she wants.  But any true child of God bows the knee to Christ, knowing we are governed not by what we want but by what Jesus commands.  That’s what Lord means.

Jennifer said, “I wrote ‘Inside’ in complete and utter fear to voices in my head that told me that I couldn’t be a person of faith,” and I want to say this with the uttermost sensitivity, but I wonder if these voices in her head are her guilty conscience because she knows what she is doing is wrong.  I truly pray they are, for they are the only signs of hope that I have seen thus far.  These voices serve to guide her back to what is right and true, and therefore they are blessings.  God often uses our consciences to show us that we are in sinful rebellion against Him.  The Spirit of Truth convicts us unless our consciences are seared.  The more Jennifer refuses to obey that voice, the more she refuses to turn her back on her sinful practice, the less she will hear that voice.  If she wants to silence it, all she has to do if ignore it long enough and it will go away.  I pray she does not.  I pray this voice of conscience drive her back to the cross, to the throne of grace.  I pray she repent before it’s too late and she’s too far gone.  I do pray for her and ask you to pray for her as well, that God would pour down grace and repentance on this wayward sister until she comes into the light.

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