Tag Archive: 2 Timothy 3


Entertainment-ChristianityWhen considering wolves in sheep’s clothing, we might envision some slick-haired salesman lugging his box of snake oil from house to house. Yet too often nothing could be further from the truth.  There are many warnings from Scripture admonishing the saints to pay careful attention as we traverse through this planet’s deadly terrain. We are instructed not to believe every spirit, but to test the spirits (Jeremiah 29:9; Matthew 7:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1) indicating that the enemy of our souls is very good at keeping up appearances.  Sometimes it’s not only difficult to detect a false teaching or teacher, but often it’s even more difficult to come to grips with the notion that an inspiring, talented, enthusiastic young adult might actually be used as a mouthpiece of Satan.

Granted, we should use godly wisdom in discerning whether a person leading others in the enemy’s lies is simply misguided or really out to deceive and destroy. The times in which we live are most definitely filled with muddied waters. God’s Word clearly indicates there are a growing number that are not only deceiving, but also being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:13)  There are those who actually believe they are doing God’s business (John 16:2) when, in fact, it is the god of this world they are serving. This brief article will not deal too much with the latter, but instead will hopefully serve as a warning and an encouragement in examining one very defined avenue of lies presented by one specific person.

Let it also be said that in today’s lukewarm Christian climate, there is a powerful embrace and strong misunderstanding regarding the “live and let live” philosophy pervading every facet of our earthly existence. Instead of being the new and improved super highway it’s cracked up to be, this broad road of tolerance is in actuality paved with the blood of the saints.  Over the years, many have given their lives for the Gospel’s sake and yet today, there are whole segments of professing Christianity unwilling to take a stand on the exclusivity of eternal life found in Jesus Christ. They are however all too ready and willing to embrace a vast array of wickedness and deceptive darkness in order to display their friendship with the world; all in the name of tolerance (and enlightenment).

Jesus, however, had a much different proclamation regarding the fellowship of darkness and light.  His prayer to the Father was that we would be in the world, but not of it. John 17:15. We’re also reminded that “friendship with the world is enmity (hatred) toward God.” James 4:4. How can there be true fellowship between light and darkness? Yes, we should be friendly, but never friends with this world and it’s dark philosophies and practices. How can light embrace the darkness and still call itself light?

It was stated above that it’s sometimes most difficult to come to grips with the fact that certain personalities might actually be leading others in a false direction.  Any good salesman knows that one of his most powerful tools is his own personality.  Not to say there’s anything necessarily wrong with working on having a pleasant personality, but we all know there are certain dispositions in which people tend to gravitate.  Someone peddling falsehood with an unlikable attitude might be easily dismissed, even exposed.  But someone who comes across genuine, someone energetic and interesting to listen to, perhaps even musically or artistically talented might be much more difficult to detect and even harder to speak out against.

Society has always been a lover and worshipper of man’s wisdom, strength, and wealth. Unfortunately, much of today’s Christianity is not much different.  We prop up certain actors, pastors, and speakers on billboards, Christian magazine covers, TV segments, and in bookstores. They are looked up to as our heroes and heroines, giving them the seats of honor within our hearts and minds, forgetting it is God alone that deserves all the glory, honor, and praise.  Some of these people are given full and free access to the pulpit, allowing the sheep to be fleeced and fed worldly manna over and over, causing them to grow anemic and impotent against this world and its destructive methods. Instead of reminding the sheep of the hope we have in Heaven, too often these false teachings encourage listeners to grow their roots deep into this planet, letting go of their heavenly hopes. Of course this is not true of all those on the “stage” today, but one thing is for sure, Christians are not immune from the power of personalities.

As saints, we are set apart for the service of our King, not those who set themselves up as earthly authorities.  Sadly, too many churches have started much in part because of one person’s magnetic personality.  As believers, we are not to sit idly by in our labor of love unto the Lord, nor are we to sit in silence, quietly giving approval to falsehood proclaimed to the masses.  Are we not called by God to expose the works of darkness?  Ephesians 5:11. Are we not called to reprove, correct, and exhort with all longsuffering?  2 Timothy 4:2  This world is daily peddling its false doctrines to the church and we too often just politely smile. Over time the church has become an unwitting participant in receiving and assisting in the circulation of their snake oil.  May we diligently ask the Lord to remove our dull hearing and blind eyes and instead give us careful, discerning hearts and minds to detect those things that are sometimes difficult to see and hear.  May we ask the Lord to give us a love for the truth, a love for Jesus Christ!  May we desire to earnestly feast on His Word, spiritually fasting from this world!

The world lines up to have its flesh entertained, loving pleasure more that God, and sadly God’s people too often love to have it so.  Church meetings have not remained a time for the saints to gather and proclaim the glory of God, but rather a place we go once a week to be entertained.  We might as well sell soda and popcorn at the doorways.  We go to our movie theaters and concerts on Friday nights and then expect the same show on Sunday mornings.

Above were mentioned some of the positions lifted up in today’s Christian world, but one was intentionally omitted. It is arguably one of the most powerful positions in the Christian world today.  It is the title of “Worship Leader”. This person, perhaps even more than the pastor, has the power to “prime” and direct the audience week after week.  This article is not meant to address the many facets of worship, however suffice it to say that music is an extremely powerful tool, one that can easily access the soul, often bypassing logic and reason.  Perhaps more than any other medium, music is the vehicle most often chosen to drive an audience in a particular direction.  If you disagree, try watching any cinematic masterpiece with the sound off.  You cannot go to just about any retail restaurant or popular clothing store without being bombarded with music.  And not only is it a powerful main character in the world of entertainment and marketing, but it’s also a tremendous tool in promoting false doctrine and seductive spiritual counterfeits around the world.

Some musicians propped up and circulated by today’s “Christian” platforms and pulpits are at best novices in the faith, puffed up through the adoration and accolades of men, while others are truly false teachers masquerading as angels of light.  Sadly, due to their talent and strong stage presence countless thousands within the body of Christ have found themselves distracted and directed by the darkness derived from the spirit of this world.  What is perhaps most troubling is the readiness by which so many musicians and worship leaders are received and promoted regardless of their lifestyles, doctrines, and associations.  Mature pastors and elders within the body should know better, however too often they are the ones promoting and even hosting concerts and conferences that help sow the seeds of this world’s teachings of tolerance, fleshly faith, and false unity.

It’s bad enough to be peddling snake oil, selling some worthless, yet benign elixir to the masses.  How much worse to be packaging and promoting a product that not only doesn’t work, but in all actuality is poisonous to all who partake?  The remainder of this article will examine one such peddler, yet it is not the intent here to examine his motives but rather the facts at hand.  As with any persuasive and positive personality, it will perhaps become easy for readers to misunderstand the intent behind the remainder of the article.  There is no desire to malign on a personal level nor is there any desire to disparage this musician’s character or perceived intent; however there is clearly a destructive message being sold to the masses, often to the most vulnerable, the youth within the visible church at large.  The person in question is musician and evangelist, Matt Maher.

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Matt has been propped up and promoted around the world as a Christian singer and songwriter and is currently touring cross country with the several well known groups in “The Rock and Worship Road Tour”.  Matt hasmattmaher both written songs for himself, as well as for several within the Christian community.  Perhaps one of his most recognizable songs is “Your Grace is Enough” which was released a few years ago and quickly accepted within Christians circles around the world.

Matt has written songs for well-recognized Christian musicians such as Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin (i.e. I Will Rise), Philips, Craig, and Dean, and Bethany Dillon. Regardless of their mixed doctrinal beliefs, especially concerning eschatology (end times); all of these artists are some of the most instrumental in producing today’s worship music. They are embraced by churches around the world.  Needless to say, they have many avenues already paved, readily accessing the hearts and minds of listeners across the globe.  How easy it is for a false teaching or teacher to hop aboard, sharing lies that will lead listeners astray?

Although Matt Mahar is a talented musician with a warm and humble persona, although he is warmly embraced and promote by the well known performers such as Chris Tomlin and Third Day’s Mac Powell, he is far from a follower of the true Jesus Christ.  But please don’t take this writer’s opinion for it.  Here are just a few facts from recent years.

First consider Matt’s own words. He admittedly considers himself much more than just a talented worship leader. He sees himself as a music missionary. He was recently quoted to say, “It’s funny but more and more I see myself as an apologist and as an evangelist.  Songs are my tool.” From the same article, Matt was quoted to say, “I would love for them to not be thinking about me but to be thinking about God.  My hope is that they would have an encounter with God.  I hope it isn’t about the person writing and singing the song.  My hope is that the music would just whisk them away to a holy place.  That is my heart more than anything.” (Full interview link below)

On the surface that might sound biblical, but is he really referring to the Christian God? It is important to examine what else He has said and done.  Matt has not only given interviews for magazines and websites, but he’s also done many performances for a variety of venues. He has played and spoken at many Roman Catholic events including such prestigious gatherings as the World Youth Day.  Readers may or may not know that Matt has never claimed to be a Bible believing, born again Christian. He is Roman Catholic, through and through.

He does not try to, in any way, shape, or form, hide his love for the Roman Catholic church and its many false doctrines.  In one of his popular Roman Catholic songs entitled “The End and The Beginning”, he wrote, “If everything that the Roman Catholic Church taught were true what difference would it make in our lives? We believe that in every single Mass, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that the bread and the wine are transformed into the Flesh and the Blood of Jesus. Transubstantiation – Heaven kisses earth. We become a living tabernacle. So wisdom, be attentive. Steady my shaken mind. Let this be my reality. More than just bread and wine…”  This alone should be enough to convince anyone that Matt is at best a professing Christian. In reality, he is a devoted practicing Roman Catholic.

Even though this article is not meant to focus on the false gospel of Rome, it is important to at least point out the glaring difference between the true Gospel of Jesus and the false gospel of Rome. According to Rome’s official doctrines, anyone who believes he is saved by grace alone through faith alone is accursed, that is damned to hell.  (Council of Trent, Canon 12- “If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified . . . let him be accursed.”) In order for someone to enter Rome’s heaven, he must not, as the Bible teaches, simply place his faith in the full, free, and finished work of Jesus. (Romans 3:20-28). Instead he is taught that sin is removed little by little, week after week through a series of rituals such as partaking of the Eucharist, reciting rote prayers, etc. Below are several You Tube links of Matt Mahar and his connections to Roman Catholicism, along with a couple other links as well.

Sadly, Matt has been warmly embraced by all variety of well-known Christian artists such as Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Mac Powell, and Philips, Craig, and Dean. Currently Matt is touring with several artists in “The Rock and Worship Road Show”, singing, speaking, and ministering to literally hundreds of thousands across the country. Some of the other artists on the tour include David Crowder, Jamie Grace, and Mercy Me. (Incidentally, the “Road Show” will be performing in Phoenix on March 22nd.)  Matt also recently made a guest appearance for Third Day’s concert at the Beacon Theater in New York City on March 3rd.

There are those in the Christian music world, such as Dan Haseltine from Jars of Clay, that don’t want to be held accountable for doctrinal errors they share, believing musicians should not be looked up to as teachers. This is dangerous enough. How much worse when an unbeliever dressed in wooly clothes sincerely sees himself as an evangelist and his music simply as his tool?  The question must be lovingly asked, of what does Matt considers himself an evangelist?  He clearly understands and supports Roman Catholicism. He clearly believes in the unbiblical idea that Eucharist has the power to cleanse partakers of their sins.  He most definitely embraces and encourages the practice of Rome’s false gospel to millions of youth and adults alike.  He has made no effort to hide any of this and yet, thanks to assistance of the Christian music world, his message and evangelistic crusade now have full access to the hearts and minds of tens of thousands within the true body of Christ.  How tragic!  Which is worse, the person openly promoting his false gospel or those claiming to know the true Gospel who hand him the keys to the front door?

So what are we to do? As far as I can see, there are three choices.  First, we could embrace Roman Catholicism and all of its false religious teachings, supporting it and saying nothing to all those who are being led astray.  Or we could choose to agree that Rome’s gospel is false, but still support the songs of artists such as Matt Mahar because they at least sound “Christian”.  The challenges in this article to identify the dangers of personality probably most apply to those who lean toward this second option.  Too often those who privately understand the falsehood of Rome’s gospel, will still support and even promote artists such as Matt Mahar because their music sounds so “Christian” and they seem so religious and sincere.

May we never forget when Rome speaks of God’s grace it has a completely unbiblical definition for it.  When Matt sings “Your grace is enough”, the Roman Catholic will inject his own traditional definition for grace, not the biblical one.  Rome teaches grace, but in order to enjoy and apply God’s grace, one MUST go to the Roman Catholic church time after time, partaking of its rituals and religious traditions such as the Eucharist.  Unfortunately, we too often make the mistake of assuming others have the same definitions as us. It is always important we listen carefully to what people are actually saying in order to discern truth from error, weighing everything against God’s Word.

Our third choice is one that many may find most difficult.  In Ephesians 5, Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit reminds us, “For you were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Ephesians 5:8-11.  Not only are we instructed not to participate in those activities that promote false doctrines, we are also to lovingly, yet truthfully expose them.  This is the avenue that will often cause the most controversy. Darkness does not enjoy the light, nor do lies embrace the complete truth.  Of course, it goes without says that we are to always speak the truth in love, with the Lord’s peace and joy in our hearts, knowing it is His Word, not ours, that effectually works in the hearts and minds of broken and contrite men.

May this article both serve to instruct and encourage true saints to continue fighting the good fight of faith, never growing weary in doing well.  Remember, it is the Lord who goes before and behind. May we never lose sight of Him, having the sole intention of pointing everyone to Jesus Christ, and Him alone.  That might mean exposing and correcting from time to time. That might mean naming names once and a while. It might mean not going along with the popular Christian crowd, but in the end what could be greater than knowing we have chosen to make Jesus our one and only treasure now and forever?

“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God…For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-7 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9

Matt Mahar Interview Article:  http://www.religionnews.com/2013/05/17/catholic-rocker-matt-maher-finds-cross-over-appeal-among-evangelicals/

More on Roman Catholicism: http://www.once-lost.com/ggapologetics/catholicism

More on Worship: https://unityinthetruth.com/2010/10/03/as-we-worship/

You Tube Videos: Matt Mahar, Roman Catholicism, and the New Evangelicalism

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eX5BeXkNZU LI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3rjEmPxcLI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky0g_9dyhbU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIgGHA27nG4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYR_sZRv_c4

Deeper Obedience

Open BibleObedience sometimes sounds like a dirty word, especially in today’s post modern world. However whether we want to admit it or not, we all obey a master. We will either be a slave to sin or a bond servant to the Creator of the universe and Savior of mankind. For the forgiven sinner washed in the blood of the Lamb, this truth is understood and readily embraced. The challenge for those who have been born again by the power of God is that we too often forget that our own obedience must go beyond mere outward actions to something much deeper.

This is a tough subject to cover in a small post. Please do not think for one minute that this writer is giving permission to walk in disobedience toward God or those in authority, but there is a deeper obedience revealed in Scripture, one far beyond the confines of this physical body. We are called not only to offer God our bodies (the outward), but first and foremost our hearts and minds (the inward). “My son, give Me thine heart.” Proverbs 23:26. The reality remains, if we’ve truly given the Lord our hearts, then outward obedience ought to follow.

Jesus came from above, leaving His Heavenly throne, demonstrating total and true obedience to His Father in Heaven. Jesus taught the truth of God’s glory and man’s utter need for Him in hopes of exposing and rooting out the hypocrisy of those living under the appearance of obedience, but inwardly denying the Lord of glory. “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men.” Isaiah 29:13.  Again, Matthew 15:7-13 plainly reveals this truth. “You hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people draws nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honors Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. And [Jesus] called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man. Then came His disciples, and said unto Him, Knowest Thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But [Jesus] answered and said, Every plant, which My heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up.”

It’s easy, especially in today’s Christianity, to fall into one of two basic categories: liberal or religious Christianity. Liberal Christian philosophy is rooted in allegorizing God’s Word and is often times viewed as the most malignant intruder to the true body of Christ. The other, although practiced by many, is the one Jesus actually spoke most harshly against. Ironically, although religious “Christianity” darns a thick cloak of righteous living, too often it’s unrighteous fruit is ripe, thriving in a toxic and tradition-based environment. Religious “Christianity” brings the outward appearance of obedience, yet just as with the Pharisees and other religious leaders of old, the heart is far from the True and Living God.  In Scripture, this is said to be a form of godliness, but denying the power there of. (2 Timothy 3:5) Sadly, the man-centered doctrines of religious righteousness reach into many avenues of all our attitudes and actions.

Besides the two categories mentioned above, there is a third option only chosen by a few, one that is neither based on man’s reasoning nor religious conformity. This third option could be called the deeper Christian life. For most born again believers, the desire to obey the Lord is important, making it easy to confuse outward conformity with inward transformation. The religious wolves know this all too well, preying on unsuspecting sheep by teaching them the traditions of men for the doctrines of God. Instead, the Lord came to liberate mankind from this hypocrisy, eradicating error and rooting out unrighteousness by giving all who would choose to receive Him a new spiritual heart and mind, a soul and spirit centered on Heaven with Christ as their one true Light. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2. “Forasmuch as you are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” 2 Corinthians 3:3. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26.

The inward transformation found in this deeper life brings to light a deeper obedience, one that truly requires the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Even though outward obedience, that is to say conformity, seems best, sometimes simply following what others claim to be the letter of the law causes us to entirely miss the life of the true law. The Pharisees chided Jesus more than once concerning this. “Why do Thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” Matthew 15:2. Another time the hungry disciples picked grain on the Sabbath. “And it came to pass, that [Jesus] went through the corn fields on the Sabbath day; and His disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful?” Mark 2:23-24.  The Pharisees were so busy walking by sight, desiring outward conformity, that they were blinded to the reality of the Living Word literally right before their eyes!

One of the best Old Testament examples of this deeper, inward obedience is found in Exodus 32-33. Here’s an insightful exchange between the Lord God and Moses.  In Chapter 32, the Israelites grew weary of waiting for Moses as he spoke with God, turning instead to false gods. “And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” Exodus 32:1.  Tragically, while the Lord was sharing His glorious Word with Moses, the people were at the bottom of the mount breaking the very first and greatest of all God’s commands.

God grew angry at the people’s deep rebellion, “And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.” (verses 9-10). God then specifically commanded Moses to leave Him alone so He could consume the wicked people.  God also told Moses He would make a great nation of him, forgoing His previous promise to Abraham. Moses could have easily obeyed God, reasoning within himself that God told him to do these things therefore they must be done. Moses could have taken the outwardly obedient route.  After all, God gave him specific orders, yet Moses chose to go a deeper way. He could have left the mountain and told himself he was obeying God. After all, God told him to leave.  But the deeper path was one guided by loving discernment, not outward observation. Moses desired the God of His commands even more than God’s commands, lighting his path directly to the Lord.

Did Moses leave and allow God to destroy all the people? No. Instead Moses drew even closer to the Lord, speaking to Him in spirit and truth!  He then lovingly brought the law and judgment of God to the people, giving them opportunity to repent. After that, Moses returned to the Lord, interceding on the people’s behalf.  What a great picture of Jesus!  What an amazing picture of selfless love, first for God and then for the people! No wonder God called Moses His friend! God’s love ought to be our true motivation for obedience and Moses is an excellent example of this deeper life, one that is not based on empty, outward conformity, but on a genuine and deep, deep love for God above all else.

At the end of Chapter 32, the Lord commanded Moses, “Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.”  After the Lord dealt with the people’s sin, Chapter 33 reveals the beauty of what comes from this deeper walk with God!  “And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle. And Moses said unto the LORD, See, Thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and Thou hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with me. Yet Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found grace in Thy sight, shew me now Thy way, that I may know Thee, that I may find grace in Thy sight: and consider that this nation is Thy people. And He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? is it not in that Thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. And he said, I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory. And He said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee…” Exodus 33:8-19  [Emphasis mine]

Oh, to know Jesus so deeply, so intimately that we desire nothing less than Him!  Moses deeply and obediently sought the Lord above all and God blessed him with His rest and presence. Moses desired nothing less than the glory of God and the Lord rewarded him by revealing His glorious goodness found in His name alone! The Lord blessed Moses with the knowledge of God. The Lord Himself was and is and always will be the true reward and marvelous treasure discovered by every saint choosing to walk in deep obedience unto Him!

“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best! ’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest! O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;  and it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!” (“Oh, the Deep, Deep Love” ~S. Trevor Francis)

“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22

“For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17

“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; my ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of Me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:6-8

Bible Light Bulb ImageGod’s Word is literally a never ending subject designed to perform a vast array of functions.  Ultimately it’s THE unique love letter from the Creator and Savior Jesus Christ, who is by no coincidence called the Word of God. John 1:1.  It is the only pure and sufficiently perfect revelation of God to mankind and is filled with eternal instruction for righteousness. It is the true and complete map leading every humble seeking sinner to the Righteous One- Jesus Christ.  In 2 Timothy, the Lord, through Paul, also reminds us that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.  The Word of God is most definitely and eternally profitable, but it is also most assuredly practical!

One of the very practical purposes it serves is to remind mankind that there really is nothing new under the sun. God’s Word is a historical reminder of His love and justice, mankind’s arrogance and pride, and Satan’s repeated attempts to kill, steal, and destroy. This historical and prophetic record we call the Bible is a very practical guide, revealing past and future accounts all for our benefit. The Holy Spirit reminds us in Romans 15:4, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”  God went to great lengths to not only preserve His Word, but also to make sure certain historical events were meticulously recorded.  And since it is God who inspired the men who wrote His Word, not only are the events revealed accurately, but also those unseen areas, the intentions of men’s hearts.  May we take careful heed to what has been recorded and preserved for every generation! 

The Old Testament is filled with Israel’s choices, both godly and ungodly.  Sadly, many were the latter.  Their decisions, though, serve two very important purposes for us today.  First, they remind us that godly choices always lead to a beautiful walk with the Lord.  Second, they remind us that ungodly choices are deceptive and common to every generation, even in our’s today.

After reading through 2 Kings 17 the last few days, I couldn’t help but think of the constant barrage of today’s false doctrines, namely the purpose driven and emergent teachings not only infiltrating churches, but being warmly embraced and taught, all in the name of the Lord.  It seems just as Israel had sought out so many false doctrines from the world around them, fearing men instead of God, so the same  is being repeated today.  Perhaps a bit repackaged, Satan’s strategies are actually all too familiar, promising something new, but in the end always leading men further and further into darkness.

I’ve chosen to include a few comments below in brackets. Just a disclaimer and loving reminder- the comments are not inspired.  May we truly take heed to God’s Word, letting it thoroughly transform and renew us, bringing eternal patience and comfort, all for our hope and His glory!

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2 Kings 17:7-17

7 For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,  

[God brought His people out of Egypt, never desiring to lead them back.  Egypt serves as a continual and clear example of man’s empty and dangerous philosophies and methodologies, teachings derived many times through sorcery and other occult practices. Exodus 7:112 Timothy 3:8.]

8 And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.  

[Not only did they fear other gods, the gods the Lord cast out, they also walked in the statutes or philosophies of the heathen. Today it’s even easier for professing saints and true believers to pick up the latest psychology and church growth books without even “walking” anywhere.  Now we can simply google the information in our own homes.]

9 And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.

[Even though their false deeds were done in secret, they weren’t hidden from God. The Lord knew what was going on.  Also, it’s more than a bit ironic that the people built high places starting with the tower of the watchmen.]

10 And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:

11 And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger:  

[This generation wasn’t the first to provoke the Lord to anger.  May we consider carefully our actions against our loving God, never provoking Him to anger! Let us not forget that one of God’s names is Jealous. Exodus 34:4.]

12 For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.

[God spoke plainly.  No means no, no matter what a relativistic society says. God was not merely addressing a belief system or He would have said, “Ye shall not believe these things.”  God is clear.  Whatever one believes will be practiced. It’s not enough to just say we don’t believe something.  We must also stop doing those things as well.  May we seek the Lord in giving us the power to overcome those areas that hold us close to this world.]

13 Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.  

[Be encouraged, in every generation, there are always a few willing to speak God’s Word. May we choose to be among the minority desiring to earnestly stand upon the Rock, boldly and faithfully proclaiming His truth, not willing to embrace this world’s evils.]

14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God.

[It was their desire, not God’s, to harden their necks.  A stiff neck is very painful, preventing a man from ever looking up.]

15 And they rejected His statutes, and His covenant that He made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them.  

[This one verse speaks of God 6 times, 5 in pronoun form, all pointing to God’s strong desire to be faithful, just, and true with Israel.  Yet despite the Lord’s pursuing love, they chose to follow after vanity, which ultimately led to becoming altogether vain.  We’ve all heard it said you are what you eat.  A true saying from 2 Kings 17:15 would be, “You become what (or who) you follow.”  As men followed after vanity they became vain.  Just like Adam and Eve’s desire for knowledge apart from God, Israel diligently sought the God-hating, idol worshiping nations around them for earthly wisdom and methods to conduct both their lives and the nation as a whole.  This verse speaks loudly of the dangerous potential of every unchecked heart, even of those born again.  The vain doctrines of Satan have been passed along to foolish unbelievers seeking ungodly knowledge, power, glory,and honor.  Sadly, many of these doctrines have been embraced and even taught in today’s professing church. Today’s relativistic, sight-walking emergent church movement is a prime example.  Despite the many clear warnings from Scripture not to run after the world’s teachings, the emergent movement has willingly become a mixture of New Age philosophies and Catholicism wrapped in church growth methodologies.  Just as Israel ran after other methods and doctrines, so the warning from God for our generation stands- “We should not do like them.”]

16 And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.

[They didn’t leave some of God’s commandments, but all.  To run after the world, one must turn his back altogether on God and His Word.]

17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.  

[Many of the false doctrines of witchcraft have been deceptively introduced into the professing church through the idea of methodology.  Yoga isn’t a form of occultism. Rather it is now simply a method for centering one’s mind to know God better.  Vain, repetitious prayers are nothing more than methods for helping one be still and know God. On and on go the lies.  Yoga isn’t just a neutral method. It is a Hinduistic practice centered around worshiping many of their false gods, serving as a means to attain freedom from the wheel of reincarnation. And although vain, repetition prayers are strictly forbidden by Jesus in the Bible (Matthew 6:7), many of those in emergent churches, and even other churches, have begun practicing and teaching people this awful doctrine rooted in Eastern mysticism.]

2 Kings 17:20-29

20 And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until He had cast them out of His sight.  

[Praise God for His correction.  God does not behave like many of today’s parents.  He didn’t just turn a blind eye on Israel’s actions, rather He lovingly and justly corrected them.  Even though Israel was disobedient, God promised Abraham that He would preserve Israel.  Just like them, all who have been truly born again can rest assured, confident in the faithfulness of God.  He promises eternal life to all who believe in Him.  We have the Holy Spirit in us as a deposit, sealing us to the day of redemption.  (2 Corinthians 1:22. Although we stumble, we can have confidence that He who began a good work in us will complete it unto the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6.  God’s Word of course will by no means serve as a cloak for those false prophets who are deceiving and being deceived.  Nothing is hid from God.  May we carefully examine ourselves to be sure we are truly in the faith, to be sure we truly understand the grace of God. 2 Corinthians 13:5.]

21 For He rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin.  

[Here is a perfect example of a people driven from following the Lord.  The flock of God ought never be “driven”, rather a good shepherd leads the sheep. As examples of Christ, we should first be good followers of Him, then choosing to intentionally lead others to Jesus.  It’s been said that cattle are driven, but sheep are led.  To do this correctly, we need God’s love, both for the lost and for His bride.  Driving people implies forcing them to do something against their wills.  Jeroboam drove people from following the Lord and made them sin a great sin.  May it never be said of us today!]

22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them;  

[Although we sometimes may step into the sins of this world, we can choose to depart at any time.  May we choose to depart quickly, remembering the longer we stay ensnared, the more difficult departure becomes.]

23 Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.  

[God told them what would happen before it happened so that men might know that He is God. John 13:19.]

24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.  

[When God’s Word is abandoned the world will always fill the vacuum in abundance.  So it is in many of today’s professing churches.]

25 And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord: therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them.

26 Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore He hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land.  

[God’s expectation is that all people would seek after Him.  His judgment here would be foolish if the people from these nations could not choose to turn to the True and Living God.]

27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land.  

[What an opportunity to teach God’s Word!  God truly desires that all men would understand and know Him!]

28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord.  

[The faithfulness of the few. May we seek to teach men the fear of the Lord wherever the Lord sends us.]

29 Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.

2 Kings 17:32-40

32 So they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.

[What a curious statement.  They feared the Lord, yet sacrificed to false gods.  This reminds me of Jesus’ statement, “They honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” (Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8.)  How is it that men can fear God, but not truly follow Him?  There is only one way. They have no true knowledge of the Holy One.  They lack true understanding of God and their own sinfulness. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10. Perhaps these people feared God like a bug fears the light.  It runs away from the light, fleeing into the darkness in hopes of preserving its own life.  These men outwardly feared the Lord God, recognizing His authority, yet chose to flee from God instead of to Him.  This is so true today. Too many people in churches profess to know God, yet run to the world’s teachings in psychology and occult methodologies in hopes of staying far from the true Light of the World.  One of the sad things here is young believers, ignorant of some of the dangers, have the potential of getting driven down these roads, and, as we all know, the longer someone goes down the wrong road the longer it takes to get back.  Secondly, it’s interesting that the people chose to make the lowest of them priests.  In 1 Timothy 3:6 God warns us that a leader in church should, “not [be] a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.”  Choosing immature, weak men to be priests would guarantee less discernment and conviction, as well as easy manipulation.]

33 They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.

34 Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel;

[Israel was and continues to be God’s property.  By giving them a new name, God signifies His rightful authority over Israel.  They are truly God’s chosen nation.  Just as Jacob was given a new name, so it is with everyone who’s turned from his sinful self to receive God’s full and free forgiveness found in Christ alone.  A new name not only signifies ownership by the one who names us, but also the reality of a new life.  Jesus says in John 12:46, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote, “You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6.]

35 With whom the Lord had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them:

36 But the Lord, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, Him shall ye fear, and Him shall ye worship, and to Him shall ye do sacrifice.  

[Lest we forget, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17.  God led them out of sorcery, witchcraft, idol worship, and the wisdom of men.  We are called to fear God because the fear of the Lord is the beginning of true, eternal wisdom, and this wisdom is foolishness to the world. The world has nothing to offer Israel, and the world has nothing good to offer the true church of God!]

37 And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which He wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.  

[We shouldn’t revere or fear the ways of the world.  Too often the successes of the world become a snare.  We wonder why the world is doing so good.  We become enticed as did Lot’s wife.  May we never look back.]

38 And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.

[One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to help us never forget the truth found in Jesus Christ and revealed in His Word. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26.]

39 But the Lord your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.  

[God is not only the Lord their God, but the Lord your God.  He is personal and intimate.  We can each have a deep, everlasting relationship with Him. Not only does the fear of God bring wisdom, it also brings true deliverance from our greatest enemies – sin, self, and Satan.]

40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.

41 So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.  

[If the Lord tarries, the choices of today’s church, both godly and ungodly, will have eternal repercussions for many generations.  Let us never forget that our faithfulness unto the Lord to walk after His ways will not only bless us. Like a tree bearing much fruit, heartfelt obedience to the Lord will bring eternal nourishment to many others for years to come, bringing all the glory to the One who brings the increase.  “So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:17.]

Many of today’s churches are seeking something new, fresh, and ever changing.  By doing so, they are choosing to abandon the old paths of God’s sound and secure Word.  They are choosing to fill themselves with empty, dangerous, and foolish doctrines instead of allowing the power of God transform and renew God’s people.  May Israel’s history be a very real reminder of just how dangerous it is to play with the world and it’s doctrines taught by the god of this world.  Instead of dabbling with this world, why not be sold out for the truth of God?  After all, what could be more profitable, and what could be more practical?

“Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16

This video, courtesy of  Once Lost Ministries, is based on a previous post entitled “Christ Esteem or Esteeming Christ“.  

 

Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26-27

 

OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES: 

Bible Light Bulb ImageLovers of Self- A Sign of the End: We live in an era that is literally saturated with pop-psychological jargon.  From the news stands to the TV to America’s school curricula, Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian, etc. philosophies have inundated the human perspective at every turn. Although men have always been lovers of self, there has never been a time in history where the solution for all men’s ills has been so falsely sold as simply having high self-esteem.

Yes, worldly thinking will continue to get worse and worse, but having it flow so pervasively throughout the body of Christ is truly a sign of the last days!  “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves… Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 Timothy 3:1-2a. 3, 7

The Holy Spirit’s warning here isn’t for the world, but for the church and one of the men who has arguably most  infected the body of Christ with the false doctrine of self-esteem is Dr. James Dobson. Dobson has authored or coauthored 36 books and sold hundreds of millions of copies worldwide. The Focus on the Family radio broadcast reportedly reaches 200 millions listeners in 164 countries each day.  His grandfatherly demeanor perhaps gives the impression that his advice can only bring healing, but sadly the seeds of deceit planted by his worldly philosophies will continue producing unrighteous fruit until the Lord returns with His saints.

Dr. Dobson has unashamedly expressed innumerable times that the biggest problem in all humanity is low self-esteem. Therefore it would stand to reason that his number one solution for mankind is not the Gospel, but a good self-esteem.  In his book Hide or Seek he says,

  • “… whenever the keys to self-esteem are seemingly out of reach for a large percentage of the people, as in twentieth-century America, then widespread ‘mental illness,’ neuroticism, hatred, alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, and social disorder will certainly occur. Personal worth is not something human beings are free to take or leave. We must have it, and when it is unattainable, everybody suffers. … a sizable proportion of all human activity is devoted to the task of shielding us from the inner pain of inferiority. I believe this is to be the most dominant force in life” (Hide or Seek, pp. 20-21, 152). (Emphasis added.)

There are several excellent resources (posted below) on the subject of James Dobson and the problems with self-esteem.  The purpose of this post, however, is to expose a layer beneath this, examining a repackaged version of self-esteem that may be less easily detected.

Two Techniques: In every industry there are those talented enough to sell.  Whether it’s an idea or product, to get ahead in the business world, it is important that one understands the nature of sales. For some this comes quite naturally and for others it takes study and practice.  Two basic techniques of selling might be called “Problem/Solution” and “Repackaging”.  The first is what Dr. Dobson is famous for.  He presents the problem as being low self-esteem.  He does this by telling many stories, the kind that tug on your heart strings and before you know it your feelings end up trumping your intellect. You begin developing an emotional connection with the misinformation.  Given enough time, the listener also develops an atrophied ability to reason.  Then, after you are so emotionally invested, Dr. Dobson triumphantly declares the sole solution being a healthy self-esteem. Although this technique is worth an in depth examination, the second sales technique will be the focus for the remainder of this post.

“Repackaging” has been around since almost the beginning of time.  Satan repackaged the fruit of knowledge of good and evil as a product that would bring wisdom, not death.  After all, wisdom is a good, godly thing, right?  Yes, if it’s from the Creator.  Creation, however,can never bring men true, everlasting, and godly wisdom!  “Repackaging” can also be thought of as the Trojan Horse approach.  The whole purpose to this technique, of course, is to make whatever you’re selling seem more appealing to the person you’re selling it to.

When it comes to the idea of self-esteem, there’s most assuredly been a “repackaging” over the last several decades in hopes of making it more palatable, even to  many fundamental Christians.  The history of this modern day “repackaging” really goes back to Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller. (For more, see The Berean Call’s newsletter articles “Toward the Prize” and “Psychology in Prophecy”)

Too many of today’s professing Bible teachers have continued offering millions of followers this destructive fruit as the ultimate form of wisdom, carefully keeping their teachings hidden in biblical jargon.  They talk of Jesus and godliness, yet carefully woven into their messages is the idea that Christ has come to heal us of all our negative self-concepts, that Christ has come to bring about a “healthy” self-esteem within us.  They say, “Let’s focus on Jesus”, but too often Jesus is not their ultimate goal. What many of them really mean to say is, “Let’s focus on Jesus so we can finally feel good about ourselves.”  To illustrate this better, consider this brief illustration.

  • A boy goes to school sad because he’s picked on every day and never first in line.  He’s never chosen first to be on anyone’s team at recess and at lunch he has trouble finding a place to sit.  He comes home every day feeling bad because he just isn’t popular at school.  Then one day the boy discovers a beautiful rock as he explores his backyard, a rock like no other.  It’s full of colors. Parts are shiny while other sections are clear.  When held up to the light the rock shimmers and glistens, sending the sun’s rays bouncing in every direction.  He decides to bring it to school for show and tell and immediately everyone wants to see the rock.  Suddenly the boy is the most popular kid in school.  Everyone wants to be his friend.  Then one day he loses the rock.  He looks everywhere, but can’t find it.  He reluctantly goes to school, but once the other kids find out he no longer has the rock, the boy goes back to being ordinary and quickly loses his popularity.  His sadness comes knocking and he’s quick to let it in.  A few weeks later, the boy begins digging, but this time not in the dirt, but in his Bible.  He finds another Rock, but this time it is Christ.  He finds the Savior and calls out to Jesus, asking Him to forgive his selfishness, to forgive his sinfulness against the Creator.  The boy gladly receives God’s full and free pardon and adoption into God’s family.  As the boy begins searching and studying the Word, he quickly realizes that his selfish pursuits were simply that, selfish.  He finds Galatians 2:20, Luke 9:23, and Luke 14:26 and soon begins to understand that life is not about feeling good about himself, but simply turning from self to God, serving Jesus, not the flesh.

In this little story, the boy first used a rock to make him feel good about himself. Then he found the true Rock, Jesus Christ, who taught him that Jesus isn’t here to make him feel good about himself, rather to free him from self so that he could finally begin learning about the God who is eternally good.  This story sums up what much of Christianity has become.

You see, too often the popular teachings of self-esteem have been carefully repacked to appear biblical so they will more readily be acceptable to those in the church.  For example, people will say that Jesus came to make us feel good about ourselves.  Another goes something like this, “Once Jesus is in your life, you can now have a healthy self-image, realizing how worth it you are. After all Jesus died for you.  He paid the ultimate price proving how valuable you are.”

On her website, in a section entitled Everyday Answers, Joyce Meyer says, “We all need to accept ourselves, embrace our personalities and even our imperfections, knowing that although we are not where we need to be, we are making progress. Jesus died for us because we have weaknesses and imperfections, and we don’t have to reject ourselves because of them. God wants us to love ourselves and enjoy how He’s made us!” (Emphasis added.)

Rick Warren, arguably today’s most popular teacher of self wrapped in Christian garb, has for years focused on having a good self image.  An interesting side note: Rick Warren was trained for years at Robert Schuller’s Institute at The Crystal Cathedral.  A quote from Pastor Warren’s Daily Hope devotional posted May 12, 2013, says,  “For years psychologists have told us that our self-esteem comes from what you think the most important person in your life thinks about you. Make Jesus the most important person in your life, and it’ll change everything. God’s Word says you’re lovable (John 3:16), capable (2 Peter 1:3), valuable (Luke 12:6), forgivable (Psalm 103:12), and usable (Ephesians 4:12). Let that tape become the soundtrack of your life, and you will never be the same.”

Jesus dying on the cross doesn’t prove my worth, rather the price of my sin.  Yes, He paid it all, but it’s not like Jesus went to Jostens Jewelry to buy a diamond ring.  It’s more suitable and biblical to say He went to the judge to pay off in full mankind’s penalty, a fine that was infinite in cost.  Such a high-priced penalty doesn’t denote value, but the extent and severity of my crime.  His death reveals the extent of my sinfulness and the depth of His love.  Jesus didn’t die for creatures that were worth something, but for creatures that were so not worth it!  I don’t deserve His forgiveness, nor does God somehow see a diamond in the rough, some glimmer of hope.  I am hopeless and rebellious to the core.  God’s love  is not based on me, rather solely upon His own infinite character!  After all God is love.  In other words, it is the love God is that motivates His actions, not my loveliness!

Christ-Esteem: In recent years, the phrase “Christ-esteem” has begun circulating the pulpit as a way of replacing self-esteem.  And while I agree that our focus must be on Christ, it seems to this believer that the phrase “Christ-Esteem” still lends a bit of credibility to today’s psychologized Christianity, saying we must focus on Christ in hopes of realizing how lovely we really are.  Loved, yes!  Lovely, no!   Paul said it this way, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing…” Romans 7:18.  The only good in me is Christ!  He is my hope of glory.  Being that we’re in such a psychologically defined society, it’s every believer’s responsibility to be extra cautious in the language chosen when teaching the truth of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

Esteeming Christ:  Instead of saying I have Christ-esteem, I’d rather declare that I esteem Christ.  Webster’s online dictionary defines Esteem as “to set a high value on : regard highly and prize accordingly.”  Jesus is not simply in my life. He is my Life!  Jesus does not simply enter my heart and mind to make me a better man.  He comes to transform and renew me into His image, living His Life in me and through me.  John the baptist said it best, “[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.John 3:30.  He should be my all in all! Clearly, my highest aim is not to esteem self, but to esteem Christ and Christ alone.  My pursuit to do so should be pure and careful.  It should be thoughtful and bold.

Our love for Christ should go beyond all men’s opinions and teaching, no matter how popular and kind the man may be.  God is not a respecter of persons, nor should His children.  Using the phrase “Christ-esteem” might be a little thing, but again, due to the psychologically redefined language flooding our world today, I choose to speak clearly and carefully, not desiring to confuse the Gospel to its hearers.  Reflecting the heart of every sinner, Isaiah wrote, “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”  Isaiah 53:3.  As an enemy of God, I esteemed Him not.  As a blood-bought sinner, I can truly and whole heartily declare my sole desire is to esteem Jesus Christ above all!

“[May] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:17-23

For the You Tube video discussing this article, go to: “Christ Esteem or Esteeming Christ”.

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The Sharpest Sword!

God’s Word – Sharper than a Two-Edged Sword!

 A sword is a tool that has throughout time been known as a very effective, trustworthy weapon.  There are a variety of  blades – long, short, single-edged, double-edged, etc. To make a good sword takes excellent craftsmanship and a quality metal that is able to be heated, folded, and pounded time and time again.

Isn’t it interesting that the more people attempt to discredit the Word, pounding it with lie after lie, the more God’s Word is revealed as the Truth. The more people attempt to destroy the Bible with the fire of man’s pride and anger, the more God’s Word shines on, just as a newly polished sword.

God’s Word is not described as sharper than a single-edged, but rather a double-edged sword. Just as a two-edged blade, God’s Word cuts two ways.  Not only does it slice into the darkness of  this fallen world, but it also cuts deep, convicting the heart and mind of the one holding it.  The Word of God reaches as deep within as it does without.

Even though there are many comparisons between a double-edged sword and the Word of God, there are two big differences.  First, God’s Word is much sharper than any sword.  A physical sword can only cut that which is physical, but God’s Word can reach deep into the thoughts and intents of the heart, even dividing the soul and the spirit. Hebrews 4:12.There is no sword, not even a light saber that can reach this area of man. (I thank God His Word is so sharp.  If I had a surgeon operating on me, I would hope his instruments were as sharp as possible.)

Secondly, a physical sword is temporal, but God’s Word is eternal.  There is no sword that will outlast the Word of God.  We can trust God’s Sword both now and for eternity!

May we always be willing to allow the Sword to do its work, both within our own hearts and in those around us.

 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”   2 Timothy 3:16

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