Are You Following the Real Jesus or a Counterfeit?

Real Jesus Fake JesusThe Emergent Church’s main priority is to be followers of Jesus Christ. A young man with whom I have become acquainted via the internet and in particular his blog insisted that I should not call him a Christian but a follower of Jesus.

At first glance this may seem tworthy to imitate. However, we really need to ask Jesus who?

I was shocked to the bone when I recently read an article in which several world-renowned figureheads in evangelical Christianity were featured as champions of the faith.

I immediately thought of Paul’s words of warning in 2 Corinthians 11, proclaiming that there were false apostles who claimed to have worked on the same terms as he did. What a villainous, wicked, dishonest and deceitful thing to do!

I can just imagine them saying, “Brother Paul endorses our work wholeheartedly because we are working on the same terms as he.” This was not only a very subtle attack on Paul’s missionary work but a very fraudulent way to promote their heresies.

No wonder Paul felt compelled to use such a frank and outspoken approach to quash this very dangerous situation in the Corinthian Church:

You seem quite happy and pleased to endure it when a man comes and preaches another Jesus than the One we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the [Spirit] you [once] received, or a different Gospel from the one you [then] received and welcomed. You tolerate [all that] well enough. (2 Corinthians 11:4)

How do we discern when a different Gospel is preached, motivating  people  to receive another Jesus and another spirit?

The most obvious answer most Christians would afford is “erroneous doctrine” which is clearly correct. But what incites wrong doctrine? The driving force behind wrong doctrine is the obsessive desire to please man and to receive rousing accolades for doing so. Paul’s succinct description in 1 Timothy 4:2-4 fits the situation in the churches of our day like a glove,

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

Bill Hybels Willow CreekWillow Creek Community Church in Northwest suburban Chicago is one of the largest mega-churches in America of which Bill Hybels is the senior pastor out of a total of approximately 48 staff pastors.

It claims to have a membership of 12,000 plus souls. Pastor Hybels did a thorough survey of the un-churched Harrys and Marys in their community to determine why they never attended church services.

The answers they came up with formed the basis for a more upbeat and palatable gospel. The survey indicated that they:

  1. didn’t like to be bugged for money.
  2. “found church boring, predictable and to much of a routine.
  3. “didn’t think that church was relevant to their lives,” and . . .
  4. “always left church feeling guilty” (the Christian message was too negative with sin etc).

The result was a man made mega-church with all the trappings and glitz and entertainment of an Oscar winning Hollywood film.

In order to accommodate the battle of the sexes (chauvinism and feminism) Hybels adopted two different gospels – one for men and one for women.

The gospel for men is to rid them of their “mindless misrepresentations of masculine identity,” while the one for women offers them the freedom from “being a people pleaser” and thereby allowing herself to satisfy her “need for inner security.” 

I was wondering whether Hybels’ male and female gospels had any influence on Angus Buchan’s Mighty Men conferences and Elza Meyer’s Esther and Hadassa Women’s Conferences.

The most alarming thing about Willow Creek is that thousands upon thousands flock to their staff to learn the techniques for church growth.

More or less 15,000 people attend the Saturday evening and Sunday’s seeker services accompanied by contemporary music, multimedia displays, dramatic sketches and watered-down messages geared to reach the itching ears of the “investigative Christians.”

Sadly they are not building on the already lain foundation. They are laying a completely new foundation, not of solid rock but shifting sands that cannot withstand the consuming fire of a Holy God.

It is different gospel, with another Jesus and another spirit at the helm of things. I chose Willow Creek as an example amongst many others because it typifies many others who are following in its footsteps (see here).

Jesus never mollycoddled or catered to the whimsical fancies of people so that they may “feel welcome, unthreatened and entertained” as Hybels would say.

No! Jesus struck at the core of man’s problem, his sin which he expresses in his self-will, self-centeredness, self-worth, self-esteem, self-importance, etc. These are the very things that keep us from following Christ.

I would like to draw your attention to the word “finish” in Luke 14:25-33. The fact that it appears three times should make us to take special note of it. God’s purpose for our lives is to finish our course with joy (Acts 20:24).

Repentance and the new birth is only the beginning of the course. Unfortunately preachers are often guilty of keeping their congregations ensnared in the beginning stages of their new life in Christ.

They do not encourage them to press on, to such a degree that their church members become complacent and passive (satisfied with the status quo. Or, as some would say, “we don’t want to rock the boat,” especially when they need to warn their congregations against false doctrine.

Multitudes of people followed Jesus, most of them, however, for all the wrong purposes and reasons.

The majority of the people followed Him because He had given them bread to eat. Others seem to have been more interested in the miracles He performed.

Sheer curiosity motivated many people to follow Him. Jesus did not play along with their whimsical desires. He stopped, turned around and facing them He explained exactly what was required of them to follow Him.

The great majority of people were usually offended by what He said and turned their backs on Him. It is evident from Jesus’ words that discipleship does not merely mean to follow Him. It involves a great deal more than that.

One can only imagine what the huge crowd’s response could have been if Jesus had said, “Anyone who would like to accept Me as their Saviour, come forward and I will pray for you”, or “those of you who want to give their hearts to Me, put up your hands, bow your heads and close your eyes while I pray for you.” 

This may seem somewhat of an exaggeration. Nonetheless, this is happening in many churches throughout the world today. Although we should have a burning desire in our hearts to bring as many sinners as possible to repentance, we should always guard against over-eagerness.

Unrestrained zeal often fails to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). When the whole counsel (will) of God is declared fearlessly, it compels any would-be follower of Christ to first sit down and count the cost.

This is exactly what Jesus was saying to the huge crowds that followed Him. Sit down, (give yourself the time to ponder this very important matter with prudence) and count the cost (make very sure that you are prepared to pay the price of discipleship and finish the course).

Pay the price? Isn’t salvation a free gift from God? (Ephesians 2:8, 9) Yes! Indeed it is and we need to thank God for His wonderful grace every day.

However, Jesus clearly says that discipleship does not go without cost. What does this price or cost entail? To find a proper answer we need to review the world’s magnetic allurement on the human heart.

Man’s natural inclination is to find security, solace, happiness, pleasure and acceptance in the world. As a matter of fact, every child is born into a family where the principles and standards of the world is impressed on his susceptible mind from early childhood.

Very soon he becomes entangled in the things of the world “the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).

According to 2 Peter 2:20, the world pollutes or defiles. It contaminates the one who associates himself with the things of the world. Everyone who is a friend of the world is an enemy of God (James 4:4).

Could there be anything more devastating and dangerous than this – to be an enemy of God? It follows that one needs to come out of the world before the enmity can be removed.

A radical translocation is the only means to eradicate the animosity between a friend of the world and God. In Colossians 1:13 we are told that God’s children have been removed from one place to another, i.e. from the dominion of darkness and evil into the kingdom of His dear Son in whom we have redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of our sins.

There is, however, always the danger of being drawn into the world again and saints are warned to beware lest any man spoil you (carry you off as a captive) “through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

The rudiments of the world are so strongly embedded in fallen man that God Himself had to die on the cross to free us from its venomous tentacles. Through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection we have been cut off (severed) from the world.

We are no longer of the world although we are in the world. In His High Priestly prayer in John 17 Jesus twice says, “they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Listen very carefully what Jesus is saying here, “we are not of the world as He Himself is not of the world.”

To live as an alien (foreigner) in this world naturally makes us enemies of the world. To be hated by the world, to be dejected, humiliated, and to be the target of scoffers and mockers are all part and parcel of the price disciples of Jesus have to pay.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4: 11, “Up to this time, we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.” Our flesh (the old Adam nature) is not capable of enduring this kind of treatment.

Self-pity usually engulfs the soul like a dark cloud when persecution, tribulation and hardship befall God’s saints and many begin to compromise their position with the world.

There is only one sure antidote against the slippery road into worldliness – self-denial and mortification. Listen to what Jesus says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself (forget himself, lose sight of himself and his own interests), and take up his cross (die to the world and its dainties) daily, and follow Me.” 

Napoleon Bonaparte, the great French conqueror in the previous century said, “Conquest has made me what I am, and conquest must sustain me.” The conquest of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross has made us what we are and it is only His conquest that will sustain us.

Every true child of God is acutely aware of the Holy Spirit’s godly jealousy in his innermost being.

He is particularly sensitive to the Spirit’s jealous supplications to “Come out of her, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues,” and “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 

The prerequisite for God to be your Father and for you to be called His sons and His daughters is separation, self-denial and mortification of the flesh. We have no right to call Him Father while we frivolously compromise our divine calling to be separated from the world and the things in the world (James 4:4).

The natural tendency of the human soul is to freely indulge in all the pleasures of the world without a twinge of conscience. Children of God who do not separate themselves from the world are no better than the unbelievers who naturally partake of the things in the world.

In fact they are worse and are called “adulterers and adulteresses” or unfaithful wives who are having illicit affairs with the world. What are the traits or characteristics of those who compromise there calling to be separated from the world?

They become friends of the world. It means that the world accepts you as its friend because there is very little left in your make-up to indicate that you are not of this world (John 17:16).

The distinct demarcation or differences between you and the world has faded away to such a degree that the world begins to accept you as its own. The world no longer hates you the way it hated Jesus but rather develops a very congenial and friendly attitude toward you.

We should be very concerned when the world starts to love us and cuddle up to us as its friend. If we truly desire to follow the real Jesus and not a counterfeit we should constantly remind ourselves where He is to be found.

Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. (Hebrews 13:12-14)

In stark contrast with the above, the Emergent followers of Jesus demand to have the Kingdom of God to come here and now. What they fail to see, is that they are playing into the hands of Antichrist whose wish it is to set up his own kingdom of darkness and destruction.

Daniel 8:23-25:  And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.  (24)  And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.  (25)  And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.

Who are you following – the real Jesus or a counterfeit Jesus? Who have you received – the real Holy Spirit or a counterfeit spirit who supposedly lights the fire of God in you (“Rodney Howard-Brownism”), What Gospel are you preaching – the real Gospel of Jesus Christ or a false Gospel that is misleading millions of people into believing that they are experiencing a mighty revival? (Angus Buchanism)

http://www.revival.com/pastor-rodney-with-angus-buchan.2658.1.htm

Please share:

Tom Lessing (Discerning the World)

Tom Lessing is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

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Sharon

Great article. Just because the name “Jesus” is said it doesn’t mean the Son of Jehovah God. Mormons have their “Jesus” who is the brother of Lucifer. Muslims have their “Isa” but their Isa is not our Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. Catholicism has its “Jesus” but they keep him subservient to Mary and they keep him on the cross.

Our Jesus, the true Jesus IS THE SON OF GOD! Our Jesus always has been, is right now, and forever will be King of Kings, Lord of Lords! He is the GREAT I AM. WOW! Makes a Baptist Girl wanna shout! :o) Bless His Name!

Matthew 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Mark 13:6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Luke 21:8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.

Rista

Woooow . . . . . tnx, you speak my language. LOVE the article. Will fwd it to a few of my friends who also follow the soft, ‘do not offend people’ way and pray that the article will make an impact. I keep trying to convince them that the Jesus I got to know by prayerfully studying my Bible and the one they believe in are not the same but they keep fast to their believe that they are ok and that I am ‘too harsh’, ‘taking it too far’ and ‘digging too deep into the Bible’. 8^(

Deborah (Discerning the World)

Rista

Great Rista, I pray it has some impact on them. But this spirit of this false Christ is so blinding that those caught up in this New Light religion, only the Holy Spirit can open the eyes of those trapped in this false gospel. Let’s pray one of your friends is genuinely seeking the truth.

Dan

Thank you very much for a great article. Please share some practical ways of what it means to “take up your cross and follow Jesus” on a day to day basis? I have shared the gospel with some of the people I work with, most of them deny God, others find it extremely offensive. I don’t walk around the office preaching and I’ve stopped trying to witness to them in words, I focus on doing my work well (as if for God) instead. What else should I be focusing on?

Deborah (Discerning the World)

Dan

Romans 12:1-21 1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And 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. 3For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Dan

Thank you very much to both of you, Deborah and Thomas. That is indeed a big help. When I got saved, for the first few months it was really easy to follow the Lord. To do His will came almost naturally. Then, slowly but surely the flesh started pocking out his ugly head and I didn’t deal with it right away, because I was uneducated. I thought the Holy Spirit will deal with it. However, I’m starting to see more and more that it is my responsibility and now it just seems like a giant mountain that needs to be overcome.

Carolyn

Great post Thomas. And I too was encouraged by the comments made to Dan. I’ll just add a couple of thoughts I had this morning.

Here are three things that stick out in my mind when it comes to a counterfeit Christianity.

1. Always undermines your confidence in the Word of God
2. Always costs money (I’ve heard it this way-the Whore of Babylon always charges for services rendered)
3. Our Righteousness always comes from us or the church rather than Christ. (hint: works of the law, works of the flesh, works of the church)

There are many more elements that can drive the false gospel, like people pleasing and beguiling promises but these are the ones that show up consistently. I love these verses:

John 4:1 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Isaiah 55:1[ Invitation to the Thirsty ] “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

Revelation 21:6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.

Carolyn

Also, my thoughts on the cross of Christ…it’s a stumbling block. Talking about the blood of Christ is not popular but without it there is no remission of sins. Suffering is the cross that we accept from God’s hand for the purpose of separating us from our own devices and other means of salvation. We become humbled and dependent on God, willing to go through whatever comes, believing that it is the will of God so that our temporal life may be sacrificed for eternal life and the higher purposes of God. The same thing that Thomas said, only in different words.

You will find an absence of the cross and suffering in the false gospel. Glaring omission, but one that is completely missed by those who have not given up their stake in what this world has to offer them.

Carolyn

One more post on the cross. Dan, you said, “Please share some practical ways of what it means to “take up your cross and follow Jesus” on a day to day basis? I have shared the gospel with some of the people I work with, most of them deny God, others find it extremely offensive. I don’t walk around the office preaching and I’ve stopped trying to witness to them in words, I focus on doing my work well (as if for God) instead. What else should I be focusing on?”

I can’t say what is practical for others but cross carrying for me has been a strange and arduous journey, one in which I think nothing is happening, my life is a train wreck, all is futile, wanting to be useful and relevant but paradoxically, feeling as dumb as a stick. The Spirit’s work seems to be imperceptible to me. I pray and struggle. Then at different points, I look up and glimpse the panorama of God’s handiwork in my life. Prayers have been answered, not always with the results that I wanted but better than. And I am allowed to see that I have grown up a bit. I have more assurance, greater confidence in Him. Then the picture fades and I am back on the trail, dragging my cross behind me again. So while I bumble along on the trail, a day at a time, reading the Word and praying for guidance, there has been much spiritual transformation taking place. It’s his story being written, just like a patchwork quilt that looks good on the surface but had much more going on underneath. We will all have a story to tell when we reach the other side.

So my practical work? Above all, reading the word and believing it. As well, turning my heart toward God and following the leading of the Spirit and being surprised at how and what he has accomplished in spite of me. Each of us is unique so there’s no perfect formula but we follow a God who works his own will and wisdom in and through and around us. His works are awesome.

Carolyn

Thomas, I neither drag my cross aimlessly nor do I feel sorry for myself. You are putting words in my mouth. I do use a bit of humour to make my life less intimidating. The cross is a reality for me…and I can be honest about it. It’s not a super spiritual religious attitude, it’s not a martyr syndrome…it’s me…living out what Jesus talked about, through the strait gate, on the narrow road. Death to self, absolutely!

Carolyn

That’s funny. Now that I read your comment, I see it the way you meant it. Thanks for explaining the explanation. There really is so much more to understand about how the cross is the demonstration of God’s power to us:

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

….whereas, to the world, it is a demonstration of weakness and defeat. Paul said:
1 Corinthians 2:2
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

It’s such a foreign idea to the world…and even today’s professing Christian, gives so little consideration or thought to what it means.

So sorry that I came across angry. Not angry…indignant maybe a little as I misread you…but I’m calm as a cucumber….so calm I’m going to bed.

Redeemed

Carolyn, glad that got cleared up. Amazing what a good night’s sleep will do!

BTW, so good to have you back!

Dan

Carolyn, thanks for sharing your experiences with me. Thomas, thank you for sharing the example of the family accusations and what it would mean in that situation, to crucify the flesh.
I believe from the examples that both of you’ve shared, I’m starting to get the picture. So basically, in order to deal with the flesh, you need to watch yourself, think before you act, then act according to your understanding of scripture so far. That way you are growing in grace. Then as you are learning more from scripture, you make better decisions thus become more efficient and effective for the Lord. Thus maturing spiritually.
(Rom 8:10) Your body is dead (it’s a condemned thing) but if Jesus is in you, your spirit is alive because of righteousness (that He obtained for you). Therefore follow the desires of the Spirit and not of the body. Whatever thoughts and desires arise from within the body / mind, is against the Spirit. There is nothing good to be found there. For that reason, I no longer trust it, I treat it also as a condemned thing. Is that correct?
If so, then the next thing to focus on would be: what does it mean to be led by the Holy Spirit? Here I would like to come back to the article. A big reason why people follow a false Christ is because they open themselves up to the “holy spirit” but really what it is, is an “out of word” experience. So, to be led by The Spirit, what does it mean? Could you share some examples of your daily walk with the Lord please?

Sharon

These verses may have been posted some where else but they are so good…Even the Apostle Peter talked of the cross being offensive. Jesus our Rock is precious to us. But to the lost our Lord is something to make fun of, they even blaspheme His name. But when witnessing we can’t “sugar-coat” the cross of Jesus Christ. I don’t think any movie, book or TV program is able to show just how bloody His body was as He hung there, suspended between Heaven and Earth. But this is how God chose to save us, to atone for us. It wasn’t just the crown of thorns, it wasn’t just the beating our Savior went through. His back was in shreds from being whipped with a “Cat of Nine Tails.” Then came the spikes hammered into His wrists & feet. Yes He was a bloody mess. Last but not least came the spear into His side. HE, the Lamb of God, went through all of that for all of we filthy and undeserving sinners like us. He went through it for the redemption of man kind. Oh what a Savior we have! That HE would do that for me…I can’t help but love Him. He suffered, bled and died….but we know that’s not the end of the story. Hallelujah, He arose from the grave! I believe with every fiber of my being that we are the generation to hear, “Come Home.”

People will find the Cross to be an offense just as Peter said….but to us who believe, He IS precious.

1Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
1Peter 2:6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
1Peter 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
1Peter 2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
1Peeter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
1Peter 2:10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

Sharon

8 Symptoms of False Teaching I post this because of the topic.
Permission to Print from
http://www.thebereancall.com

Many things combine to make the present increase of false doctrine especially dangerous.

1.) There is an undeniable zeal in some teachers of error—their “earnestness” makes many people think they must be right.

2.) There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge—many think that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe to listen to.

3.) There is a general tendency to completely free and independent thinking today—many like to prove their independence of judgment by believing the newest ideas, which are nothing but novelties.

4.) There is a wide-spread desire to appear kind, loving, and open-minded—many seem half-ashamed to say that anybody can be wrong or is a false teacher.

5.) There is always a portion of half-truth taught by modern false teachers–they are always using scriptural words and phrases, but with unscriptural meaning.

6.) There is a public craving for a more sensational and entertaining worship—people are impatient with the more inward and invisible work of God within the hearts of men.

7.) There is a superficial readiness all around to believe anyone who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, forgetting that Satan often masquerades himself as an angel of light (2nd Corinthians:11:14).

8.) There is a wide-spread ignorance among professing Christians—every heretic who speaks well is surely believed, and anyone who doubts him is called narrow-minded and unloving.

All these are especially symptoms of our times. I challenge any honest and observant person to deny them. These tend to make the assaults of false doctrine today especially dangerous and make it even more important to say loudly, “Do not be carried away with strange doctrine!”

Sharon

One thing you need to understand is that God’s saints do not need to strive to gain a victory. We do not work toward a victory; we must live from without the victory that Jesus has already wrought for us on the cross.

With all respect I do disagree with you where you stated the above comments. The Apostle knew what it was to strive for a victory. Paul said,

Php 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do,forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
Php 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Jesus did get the victory for Salvation for us. We need not worry about that. But sometimes we do press toward, not looking back, and keep on keeping on doing what God has called us to do. He is the victory.

Redeemed

It seems to me that to have a victorious Christian life that we need to SURRENDER to the Holy Spirit and OBEY. This calls for an act of our will. Some may call it a work and this may be a matter of semantics.

We do make a CHOICE whether to OBEY and PRESS ON toward the mark or shrink back and take the wrong path. We are saved and our salvation is certainly secure, but we still have decisions to make as to how we live out our Christian walk.

Jesus tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden light. We simply have to SURRENDER to Him to win spiritual battles. That calls for us to stay the course and take the narrow road. We don’t need to “gut it out” to resist sin, simply trust and obey.

Yes, we must resist temptation, and again this calls for SURRENDER and OBEDIENCE. We need to depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit to guide and give us the strength to resist. It is not something that we conjure up in our own strength.

Could it be that Thomas and Sharon agree except that there is a difference in how the views are expressed?

Carolyn

Well, Dan. Here is my first attempt to answer your question: “A big reason why people follow a false Christ is because they open themselves up to the “holy spirit” but really what it is, is an “out of word” experience. So, to be led by The Spirit, what does it mean? Could you share some examples of your daily walk with the Lord please?”

Consider a child. (You are a child of God). A parent has an end goal of his child manifesting good behaviour and producing some admirable character traits. So does the child figure out what the parent wants and become the perfect child overnight? No there is petulance and foot stomping, whining, tantrums and sulking before we see some progress. The child quickly learns that anger is unacceptable behaviour, petulance has no reward and foot stomping gets the silent treatment (maybe even a spanking).

Our heavenly Father desires a child who manifests the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The child does not really understand what the Father has in mind but if he is willing, he has now begun his walk of faith. The child does what comes naturally…so when trials come to discipline him, he reacts. There is some pain experienced to further enforce the discipline. And the child wishing to please the Father, learns to listen…rather than react.

Take patience for instance. I am learning patience. (Being in my 50s, you’d think I would have some by now) Yup…I have some, but not enough, apparently. I am in very difficult circumstances and learning to watch and wait. Time has a way of perfecting our patience. Just by learning to wait and see, pray and listen, ask, seek and knock. I didn’t know there was so much I didn’t know, like humility. I’m learning that men that mock God, pay the price and those that love God are rewarded in time. I’m learning the value of being kind in a steady kind of way…endurance. I’m learning that I don’t have to run the show, I don’t need to fret because of evil men seeming to succeed in their ways, I don’t need to fear what others fear…

Anyhow…you get the drift. And that’s just one small example of the Holy Spirit leading me.

He is working all things together for good. If we are seeking for chills and thrills, we’ll not be listening to the real Holy Spirit, ’cause it’s the wrong thing to be seeking for, according to the Scriptures. We are to be seeking for His righteousness and His kingdom. I guarantee that if we obey him in this one thing…the wheels will begin to turn, faith will begin to grow, trials will come out of the woodwork, reasons to seek his guidance will abound and the fruit of the Spirit will be the result, the end goal.

Here’s one more way the Holy Spirit leads. He comforts us. There was a time period in my Christian walk where I was in the word constantly. So much so that it was irritating to my (professing Christian husband). But I couldn’t help myself. There was a driving appetite to read and understand the Word. I read it over and over and over. If I couldn’t understand it I would come back and read the same passage till I knew what it meant. It really was the Lord allowing me to let the Word wash me and penetrate below the surface of my intellect into my spirit/heart. And after that time, I have never had that same opportunity to be in the Word, but it does come back to me. Like the other night…I was so weary and heavy hearted…and when I prayed, the Holy Spirit brought back to my mind the verse, “Come to me all you that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest”. It was so strengthening/refreshing, I was able to get past the moment and miraculously, keep going…

The Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth…that is to say, if you want truth. We have to be honest in our hearts regarding that point. And then, He goes to work. Personally, I have travelled down so many rabbit paths that I should think by now, the Holy Spirit would be in complete despair. However, he uses all things to teach and train. So although people would despair, there is nothing to fear. When he led me out of charismania, I didn’t know where I was, I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t know how to get there. But I wanted Truth…that’s all I knew for sure. He did the rest. The breaking down of my idols was not easy to go through. I lost everything…but I always knew I could call on him and he would be with me. I had the Word planted in my heart securely. Everything else (cash flow, friends, family, security, heretical ideals, and everything I had held dear) literally melted away. The only thing left standing was the Word. That’s the honest truth. I started from nothing at 43. I still have nothing, make that less than nothing as far as earthly success and riches. But now I have true riches and eternal treasure…because I still have the Word and a stronger relationship with the Father who is perfecting my confidence in him.

You said, “So basically, in order to deal with the flesh, you need to watch yourself, think before you act, then act according to your understanding of scripture so far. That way you are growing in grace. Then as you are learning more from scripture, you make better decisions thus become more efficient and effective for the Lord. Thus maturing spiritually.”

That’s it in a nutshell. Trouble is, life is never as neat as a nutshell. Just when we think we have it all figured out, here comes something unexpected….

Deborah (Discerning the World)

Redeemed

Sharon agrees, she just does not read what Thomas wrote PROPERLY the first time round.

Sharon

Thomas, I think we are saying the same thing but using different terms. As Paul said in

1Corinthians 15:31 …I die daily.

We are to die daily, deny our fleshly cravings and lay them on the cross. I realize this. There are things in my life that if I give them just a “toe in the door” it would lead to destruction in my life.

Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Romans 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
unto Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

1Corinthians9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
2Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I realize that there are things in my past and in my present that I do not want to be in my future. I realize that Jesus Christ has gotten the Victory for us.
1Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

He overcame for me but it is up to me to claim victory over what ever is in my life that shouldn’t be there. When I first started posting here it was because I love Deb-ster’s straight forward approach to false teachings.

I am not as eloquent as Deborah, Redeemed, Carol, Dan and yourself. I’m not a teacher, preacher, speaker but I am a talker (sometimes too much)and I love talking about my King and Savior Jesus Christ. I know what I believe and why I believe it. Perhaps I need to back-off for awhile and just reread the many articles here.

Peace to you, His peace.

Thomas Lessing (Watch and Pray / Waak en Bid) wrote:

Sharon and Redeemed,

I am not trying to be facetious, difficult or insensitive to the things you write. Our duty is this:

Redeemed

Thomas asked: May I ask to what spiritual battles are you referring?

I will try to answer that with Scripture as well as some other thoughts on the matter.

Thomas said:

None of us could have surrendered ourselves or been obedient to the Holy Spirit if Jesus had not already triumphed over sin, the devil, the world and death. Isn’t that the reason why Paul wrote: “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”? (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Comment: I am sorry, but unless I am missing something, I find this statement somewhat confusing. Certainly if the Lord Jesus had not gone to the cross and exacted justice for our sins there would be no path to salvation. But it is each individual’s choice whether to personally accept and apply redemption to themselves and their sin and respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. This is the beginning of the Christian life. That fact is well-established. What we are discussing here is the Christian’s walk after regeneration.

Thomas said:

The only thing Christians need to, and herein lies the victory, is to reckon (reason). “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God.

Comment: While we have been born-again, the flesh still remains something with which we must contend until we have our glorified bodies. We don’t reason with the flesh – it needs to be put in its proper place through obedience to the Spirit. Matthew 6:21 NKJV “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Thomas said:

Why do we fail? Well, because we stop reckoning (reasoning) and try so very hard (like Paul in Romans 7) to be goody-goody by thinking there is still something good in our flesh.

Comment: As believers, we should know that the flesh is not our friend and that there is nothing good in it. If it is not kept in submission, it will rear up and cause us to fall into temptation and sin. Satan uses the weakness of our flesh to draw us into temptation. We need to shut the door to the things that tempt us such as the lust of the eyes, etc. We should be careful what we “feed” our flesh, that we do not in fact, “feed” it, but rather nourish ourselves on the Word of God and learn how to purify our lives. NOT in our own strength, but in the power of the Lord. Too many Christians fail to understand what true holiness is. Dr. Ironside wrote a wonderful book on this topic and I highly recommend it. He got caught up in striving to achieve holiness and had a nervous breakdown.

Thomas said:

If we do not live, walk and talk in the victory Jesus has already wrought for us on the cross and try to work towards a victory, we have already failed. (Romans 7 again).

Comment: Here you say “try to work towards a victory”. The victory wrought for us on the cross is for our salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit. It did not nullify the ability of the flesh to stumble us. Note again Matthew 6:21. We are exhorted to be on the alert lest we fall into temptation.

Thomas said:

I’m sorry, but nowhere in the Bible are we told to resist temptation. We are taught to resist the devil (James 4:7). In fact, Jesus who was without sin, was deliberately led into the desert to be tempted of the devil. There he resisted the source of all temptation, the devil himself. We shouldn’t be surprised when God allows his saints to fall into all kinds of temptations, not to teach them how to resist the temptations but the devil himself. (Hebrews 12:1-4).

Comment:

I fail to see the difference whether it is Satan himself or one of his demonic minions that are the source of temptation. Isn’t it one and the same? Our flesh can tempt us to sin and of course the enemy is always ready to capitalize on our weak areas to cause us to stumble. When the Word says to resist the devil, doesn’t it mean any and all sources of evil? Of course we should need to recognize the instigator of evil is Satan.
Does it not seem plausible that one should evaluate the temptation and eliminate the doorways to such? We are to avoid temptation are we not? The Bible exhorts us to put on the full armor of God. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:11
The Bible compares the Word of God to a sword. A sword is used in battle.
Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
This indicates that we do struggle with wickedness. ..
In 2 Timothy 2 it says: You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. …”
This indicates that we are soldiers and soldiers fight battles. Of course we don’t do battle with traditional weapons but the Word says: In 2 Corinthians 10:4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.”
Thomas, you ask what spiritual battles I am referring to, and the above should answer that. You are right, we are not to strive in our own power, but we have weapons at our disposal to offset evil. It is up to us to implement them and deny the flesh and resist the wiles of the enemy.
In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul states, “I have FOUGHT the good FIGHT….”. He was a faithful servant and soldier for the Lord Jesus Christ and set the example for us. He humbly admitted that he struggled with the flesh – this did not mean that he failed. It simply meant that he was being honest about what it meant to live the Christian life. It is not an easy road and requires diligence and the renewing of the mind, a conscious effort on our part, a submission to the Spirit. This is an ongoing tension in the believer’s life until the day they pass from this world into the next.
It is certainly not my desire to contend over this issue and I am sure that in essence we agree. And the Bible says for believers to reason together – that is the intention here.
Grace and peace to you brother!

Carolyn

Here’s a personal example of the false Jesus. I became friends with a lady through a family contact and we became fast friends for a period of about three years. A teacher by profession, she talked like a Christian, she was a good conversationalist and we shared many commonalities in our life experiences. Or so I thought.

One day I asked how she came to be a Christian. She said her sister had become a Christian first and had been talking to her about Jesus. She just couldn’t believe in his reality until one day she was in a ladies’ washroom and the whole area lit up and she felt the “presence of Jesus”. “From that moment I knew he was real”, said she. Well, I brushed it off, thinking “well, that was a long time ago…she’s must have had a genuine conversion experience since then.”

Assumptions can really mess with us as they did in this case. As our friendship progressed I noticed some disturbing symptoms of Scriptural ignorance. I would say to her, “you know where it says such and such” and she would just stare blankly back at me. Well, to make a long story short, I discovered through another friend, that she was back stabbing me to others and that she had lied to me over and over about a multitude of things. Which reminds me…(half joking) – how do you know a politician is lying? Their lips are moving. It was like that. She was a chronic liar. Huh. What a shock. She had the wrong gospel, the wrong spirit and was someone that was ever learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. She was the offspring of her Father, the devil, the father of lies.

Since then, I have been challenged to be more aware of what a person actually says about their conversion and subsequent walk of faith. And I never cease to pray and ask God to give me discernment. Obviously, I do not have it in myself. It is a bit disillusioning to think I could be so easily deceived. One can expect lies and hateful speech from unbelievers, but I thought she was a believer, therefore it came as a shock. (ok…I think I have used the word shock enough)… I suppose part of the problem was that I had a false idea (drummed into me since childhood), that a Christian is a Christian because he professes Christ. And we tended to look at incongruities as imperfections of the faith. But this and other examples of deceivers have taught me that if I have some doubts or checks, I should pray and listen and watch.

I tell this story to confirm that when a person’s faith is genuine (i.e. that they are seeking truth, they are walking in the truth by the light of the true Holy Spirit) their Spirit-initiated works will follow. They will not lie and keep sinning and use hateful speech without being chastised by the Spirit for it and having to repent from it. If we see someone who has different fruit, without conscience, then the tree is different, the spring is different. The thing about false Christians masquerading as angels of light is that they may be saying everything correctly and it may take a while but you will begin to see inconsistencies and signs of a life incompatible with the Holy Spirit’s character.

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