We watched The Lord of the Rings yesterday and the story made reference to the dark (as representing the wickedness of Sauron, Lord of Mordor), and the light (as representing good). If you’ve ever read J.R.R. Tolkien’s books or seen the movies put out by Peter Jackson, then you will remember that Sauron had created 9 rings that he gave to different kings. However, unbeknownst to them, Sauron had also made a ring for himself so he could rule over the other rings. And, when Sauron lost the ring when he was defeated in battle, it was still used by others to deceive them into believing they could use the ring for good.
Now, you may not know it, but Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were friends, and Lewis encouraged him to write. Tolkien was also a Catholic whose Christian beliefs were evident in his writings (though he did not like to present them as overtly as Lewis did in his writings). The interesting thing is that his own description of Sauron (and Sauron’s original lord, Morgoth) was likened to an evil angel comparable to Satan, full of deceit and treachery.
- Corinthians 2:11 so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.
In John 8 Jesus proclaimed He is the light of the world. We know that since Jesus is God, and God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), that He is the true light of the world, and what He does is always perfect, honest, and righteous.
But, we also know that Satan is a murderer and liar (John 8:44, which will be part of this Sunday’s message). So, the question is, are you in the light of Christ and His truth, or are you deceived by the false light of Satan?
- Corinthians 11:3 & 12-15 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully… But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
Servants of righteousness. Hmmmm…Rusty Sampson wrote me a week ago noticing that there are warnings against false teachers in almost every New Testament book (BTW—repetition is a major tool to grab our attention when reading the Bible and interpreting it. God often uses it to emphasize that a point He is making is deadly serious and that we are not to miss it!). Below were his own observations (I didn’t ask him permission to post them here, so I hope he doesn’t mind):
“I noticed that in the books of the Bible, Paul warns to follow the True Faith, and that men will enter into the Church, not following Christ, but their own agendas.
“Sounds like it can apply to “today”…Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thess., 2 Thess., 1 Tim., 2 Tim., Titus, I found several versions of the same warning.
“1. Obviously Paul had/has real legitimate concerns that Christ’s gospel would be corrupted by sinful men in the Church. Otherwise he would not have made the point over and over.
- We have to take “care…” that what we hear and believe is the Truth.
- Paul is asking Church leaders to “take hold…” of that for which God has taken ahold of us. (Salvation will grab ahold of us in time going forward if we obey The Lord.)”
This is why Paul, in II. Corinthians 11, was fighting the false teachers. We’re not talking small differences of opinions over fairly minor areas of the Bible (like modes of baptism), but teachers of false doctrines who are actually Satan’s emissaries in his work to undermine the truth, destroy the church, and lead masses of people away from Jesus. Satan is disguised as an angel of light, and that disguise is often very attractive to people (remember, an angel of light was Joseph Smith’s description of the angel Moroni who supposedly gave him golden tablets which became the Book of Mormon). If you read a few verses earlier, Paul says he’s not the most skilled in speech, but he does have knowledge about these things. The tests of a biblical preacher of God is not how he looks, how suave and eloquent he is, but whether he has godly character, is orthodox in his beliefs, and teaches the Bible with its doctrines.
- Satan is a deceiver, a liar, and ultimately a murderer. Consider how false teaching about Jesus, sin, salvation, Heaven, Hell, and Satan will actually murder people as it leads them to Hell instead of to life in Christ: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Prosperity Gospel preachers are liars and deceivers, and they creep into churches via TV more than any other means (books would probably come in second). I’ve listed some of their names previously (and you can check out Justin Peters online as he discusses them in detail, bolstering his critique with quotes and video clips of their false teachings).
- Satan comes as an angel of light, and these are his salesmen promoting his lies. Write down a few comparisons you see between his schemes and theirs (which helps identify them as such): _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- We are not to be deceived by Satan’s schemes. How can you protect yourself and prepare yourself for his attacks? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Ezekiel 13:9-16 “So My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will have no place in the council of My people, nor will they be written down in the register of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel, that you may know that I am the Lord GOD. It is definitely because they have misled My people by saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace. And when anyone builds a wall, behold, they plaster it over with whitewash; so tell those who plaster it over with whitewash, that it will fall. A flooding rain will come, and you, O hailstones, will fall; and a violent wind will break out. Behold, when the wall has fallen, will you not be asked, ‘Where is the plaster with which you plastered it?’” Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, “I will make a violent wind break out in My wrath. There will also be in My anger a flooding rain and hailstones to consume it in wrath. So I will tear down the wall which you plastered over with whitewash and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation is laid bare; and when it falls, you will be consumed in its midst. And you will know that I am the LORD. Thus I will spend My wrath on the wall and on those who have plastered it over with whitewash; and I will say to you, ‘The wall is gone and its plasterers are gone, along with the prophets of Israel who prophesy to Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace,’ declares the Lord GOD.”
- Jesus came and brought light into the darkness, and spiritual light either draws people to Him, or drives them away, fearful of their pending judgment. And false teachers will mix a little Jesus into their lies, but the bulk of what they say is not Scripturally sound.
- How does God deal with false teachers? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
- The church has two biblically-informed positions it must hold: 1) Warning the flock while naming the prophets of Satan, and 2) Evangelizing and firmly correcting those who are within the church who are teaching these lies. But, in a day and age where technology brings in these false teachers to our radios, TVs, and internet so easily, most of our duty is to practice the first position. How can we practice both of these positions as a church? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Jesus is the light. His light shines out through His Word. The more time we spend in His Word the faster we’ll identify the liars and the lies of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. How has your Bible reading been going? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness Hymn by Rusty Edwards
1 Praise the One who breaks the darkness with a liberating light;
Praise the One who frees the pris’ners, turning blindness into sight.
Praise the One who preached the gospel, healing ev’ry dread disease,
calming storms and feeding thousands with the very bread of peace.
2 Praise the One who blessed the children with a strong yet gentle word;
Praise the One who drove out demons with a piercing, two-edged sword.
Praise the One who brings cool water to the desert’s burning sand;
from this well comes living water quenching thirst in ev’ry land.
3 Praise the One true love incarnate: Christ, who suffered in our place;
Jesus died and rose for many that we may know God by grace.
Let us sing for joy and gladness, seeing what our God has done.
Praise the one redeeming glory; praise the One who makes us one.