Subtle Deceptions…

Today I was thinking of 1 Samuel chapter 5, when the Philistines took the Ark of God and set it next to their god Dagon. The next morning, Dagon had fallen and parts had broken off. They set Dagon back up, and then the next time they checked Dagon had fallen once again and broken. They decided, since they didn’t want to lose their own idol, to get rid of the Ark of God… (see 1 Sam 5.7).

It is interesting to me to see so many people try to set up their relationship with God right alongside their own false ideas, habits, theories, and lifestyles. This week alone, Gary and I were told (by two different people), one, that whatever they believed about their relationship to Christ and going to heaven was good enough for them, and by another person that they just “run to the cross” but still commit fornication, drink, smoke and have foul language and knows “Jesus understands.”

The truth of the matter is that our opinions don’t count too much in changing what reality is. No matter what I believe about the Bible, its 3,000-year old timelessness will not be fazed! It will not diminish nor extinguish nor cease its truth because of what I believe about it!

The funny thing is where people GET their “ideas” from in the first place! They want to come against timeless and proven wisdom, but in its place is a smorgasbord of weird disjointed ideas they picked up from various sermons, various life experiences, and various philosophies without substance!

Or it is even MORE interesting to me when people are living in the consequences of bad choices how they can slam people that have made better choices with better consequences. My son often tells me that some people really don’t WANT to make the effort to do things the way the Word instructs us to do things which is for OUR own good and HIS glory!

Sin is missing the mark. Missing the mark for our OWN lives. And the consequences of sin is slavery to sin, destruction, division, isolation, envy, strife, opulence, and from such you are robbed of true joy, and God can never be glorified in that!

As a parent, our wish is to “decrease” in order that our children “increase.” We do ANYTHING for them to prosper and we consistently sacrifice our own good for theirs. The things we want for our children don’t relate to anything for US: we want them to be FREE from things that will bring them down. We don’t “get ANYTHING” out of the things we want for them. For example, we want them to be “debt free” because we know the stress debt would put on their relationships. Do WE get anything out of it? NO. But yet we have put a LOT into trying to help them stay debt free. Yet other people, who have put NOTHING in and are living in misery because they are NOT debt free want to pull our children’s hearts away from us and talk down about our choices. It is almost hilarious but so subtle… And it is a tangible demonstration of spiritual warfare, because it is the same with the things God has DIED to give us to SET US FREE and how the “things of the world” with the tinsel and instantaneous gratification pull us away from the things that will make for our stability and true joy and ultimate prosperity.

The question is, “Is Jesus REALLY LORD”?? Is He really in charge of your life? Do you TRUST Him when He gives you COMMANDments, statutes, precepts for living, DESPITE the fact that it most often goes against your fleshly nature? Do you believe His Word above your own ideas? Do you “make NO provision for the flesh” knowing that you can become the SERVANT of sin if you yield yourself to it?! Do you KNOW that He wants the BEST for you – that all His precepts are so that your days on earth are like days of heaven?!! CONTRARY to what people who lack the humility to follow Christ’s ways, or lack the strength or determination to go against the crowd will tell you, Christ’s precepts and commands are not because He is on a “power trip” and wants to RUIN your life; rather, they are so that you have an AMAZING meaningful consistent life of FREEDOM.

We can’t have it “both ways” – do “our own thing” and profess Jesus is LORD. James 4:4: You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God.

Everything we see, read, do, hear, put in our bodies, etc., affects us somehow. That’s why, to maintain a close relationship with God, we have to realize the importance and the impact of the things we do—the things we watch on TV, habits, activities we participate in, and the people we spend our time with. People are divided into only two categories, those who belong to the world and its ruler, Satan, and those who belong to God (Acts 26:18). These two groups of people are described in terms of opposites all through the Bible; e.g., those in darkness/those in the light; those with eternal life/those with eternal death; those who have peace with God/those who are at war with Him; those who believe the truth/those who believe the lies; those on the narrow path to salvation/those on the broad road to destruction, and many more. Clearly, the message of Scripture is that believers are completely different from nonbelievers, and it is from this perspective that we must discern what kind of friendships we can really have with unbelievers.

The book of Proverbs has a few wise verses on believers befriending non-believers: “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” (12:26). We should stay away from foolish people (13:20, 14:7), from people who lose their temper easily (22:24), and from the rebellious (24:21). All these things represent those who have not been saved. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). First Corinthians 15:33 tells us that bad company corrupts good character. Unbelievers are slaves to sin (John 8:34), and Christians are slaves to God (1 Corinthians 7:22). If we become deeply involved (either by friendship or a romantic relationship) with non-Christians, we are setting ourselves up for turmoil. It can (and does often) cause the Christian to stumble in his walk, fall back into a sinful life, and also turn others away from God (by misrepresenting God and Christianity).

Another detrimental effect of closeness with unbelievers is our tendency to water down the truths of Scripture so as to not offend them. There are difficult truths in the Word of God, truths such as judgment and hell. When we minimize or ignore these doctrines or try to “soft pedal” them, in essence we are not helping them; and we are compromising to accommodate their lifestyles. 

Although these close relationships are not recommended, it does not mean we turn our noses up and ignore unbelievers, either. Second Timothy 2:24-26 tells us that as servants of the Lord, we are to be kind to and not quarrel with anyone. We should gently teach those who oppose the truth, and be patient with difficult people. Matthew 5:16 tells us, “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly father.” We should serve unbelievers so that they may see God through us and turn to Him in praise. James 5:16 says that there is great power in the prayer of a righteous person, so bring your concerns for unbelievers before God, and He will listen.
Many people have been saved because of the prayers and service of Christians, so don’t turn your back on unbelievers, but having any kind of intimate relationship with an unbeliever can quickly and easily turn into something that is a hindrance to your walk with Christ. We are called to evangelize the lost, not be intimate with them. There is nothing wrong with building quality friendships with unbelievers – but the primary focus of such a relationship should be to win them to Christ by sharing the Gospel with them and demonstrating God’s saving power in our own lives.

Over the years I have been blessed with many amazing friendships. Sadly, some were only for a time, and then choices my intimate friends made compelled me to either break the intimate friendship or give up a life of excellence I was pursuing that involved separating myself from things that could bring me down or compromise the high bar I had made for my standards. I appreciated one friend who literally told me that she was making choices in her life that I would not want to be a part of, and she encouraged me to not agree with her choices. After she reinforced that stand by not answering calls, etc., and when the years of following that path defined the path by the consequences, I know her love was so great for me that she did not want me to suffer the same consequences.

The fact of the matter is that compromise is the enemy of conviction. And although, like a fork in the road, a path of compromise can seem to be very close to a path of conviction, as you follow that path along, it separates further and further from the same destination. Many times you can only see it at the end – Hosea 8.7 – those that have sown the wind reap the whirlwind.

1Corinthians 15:33 Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt* and deprave good manners and morals and character. (word derived from “HABITS”)

*5351. fqei÷rw phtheiro, fthi´-ro; probably strengthened from fqi÷w phthio (to pine or waste); properly, to shrivel or wither, i.e. to spoil (by any process) or (generally) to ruin (especially figuratively, by moral influences, to deprave): — corrupt (self), defile, destroy.

From a wise friend to another friend: Think for a moment of all the grains of sand on the entire earth and then multiply that by a million. That’s like eternity. Now take a single grain of sand and divide it by a thousand. That’s like our entire lifetime on earth. Yet what we do with our short time on earth determines everything for eternity. I’m not just talking heaven/hell. Each choice we make now is determining our place, our rewards or consequences, in eternity. It’s all about living for Jesus. The “pleasures” of this world only lead to destruction.

I have known many who have had advantages of good families, strong leadership positions, influential seminars they have attended and even hosted, only to throw all their advantages that should have equipped them for the storms of life away to conform to standards of people who have lacked any advantage at all or people that have faced one adversity after the other in their lives because of their wrong choices…

This to me is like have prepared sufficiently to climb Mt. Everest, having equipped yourself with the right gear that cost you, trained, and saved enough money to hire the Sherpas, get the necessary permits, and done the necessary research to know when to climb. THEN to cast all that aside to climb the Mountain… to just casually dump your gear at the side of the road and go to the airport and hope to get on a plane and disregard your research and just go at any old time, and join forces with a kamikaze maverick who doesn’t believe any of that stuff anyways, since he is good at climbing and has made it through a few hikes anyways. As ludicrous as it sounds, that is what people do with their spiritual prowess: dump it at the side of the road to join forces with people who live their lives trying to disprove the timeless wisdom of Scripture and deny its consequences when you do. And sadly, although the fork in the road still allows you to glance over time and time again at the other road, eventually you will end up at an entirely different destination.

Amos 3:1-3 Listen to this, Israel. GOD is calling you to account—and I mean all of you, everyone connected with the family that he delivered out of Egypt. Listen!
“Out of all the families on earth,
I picked you.
Therefore, because of your special calling,
I’m holding you responsible for all your sins.”
Do two people walk hand in hand
if they aren’t going to the same place?

Our challenge is to NOT be “conformed” to the patterns of this world that AREN’T WORKING:

“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” (Rom 12:2-3 AMP)

Stay in the Word of God – know HIS wisdom that will lead you to true victory both now and for eternity! Learn to hear His voice and know His plan for your life! Come against anything that would threaten your relationship in right standing with Him! And live life with the meaning, purpose and value HE CREATED YOU to live it with!!!

Carpe diem!