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Saturday, August 01, 2020

                   Truth is a precious commodity today. Many people lie to us. Some lie for self-preservation, others lie to get our money. Still, others lie because they know no other way! They are like the people in II Peter 2:14 who had “exercised” their hearts in this way. A multitude of excuses can be offered for why men are dishonest, but the fact remains that such actions are not of God, but are motivated by Satan (Jn. 8:44). God tells us not to lie, but to speak the truth (Col. 3:9; Eph. 4:25). His word is truth (Jn. 17:17), and Christ is the embodiment of truth (Jn. 14:6). To lie, therefore, means we are drawing closer to Satan rather than drawing closer to God (Jas. 4:4, 7-8; etc.).

                   Perhaps this is why the Holy Spirit inspired John to speak about the truth in ⅓ of his second letter (II Jn. 1-4). The truth is so important to God that it warrants being mentioned four times in just eleven sentences. There is nothing like the truth! Think about it -- our society treasures the truth. We might not think so at first, but if we do not treasure the truth, why is calling something “fake news” an insult? Why do we have men swear to tell the truth when in court? Why are there “truth in advertising” laws in America? Why is there such a clamor and concern for “CGI,” “AI,” and other technologies taking over? Is it not because they have nearly reached the point where we can’t tell the true from the false? Some dinosaurs will still remember the question, “Is it real, or is it Memorex?” What happens to a society when we can no longer separate fact from fiction? Yes, truth is a precious commodity. God recognized this when He inspired John to write to the “elect lady and her children” about the truth (II Jn. 1-4). Look at some unique characteristics of truth that make it stand above dishonesty in II John 1-4.

  • Truth can be known (v. 1).
  • Truth abides in us (v. 2).
  • Truth is eternal (v. 2).
  • Truth cannot be taken from us (v. 2). We might leave it, but it cannot be taken.
  • Truth forms strong relationships (v. 1, 3).
  • Truth must be obeyed (v. 4).
  • Truth shapes the manner of our lives (v. 4).

Are we interested in truth? It is a fact that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18). Therefore, God’s word is truth (Jn. 17:17)! The longer we spend time in it, the more we are exposed to the truth. The longer we speak of it, the longer we are speaking the truth! Is there anything more appealing than that? I don’t think so! Long ago, George Washington was quoted as saying, “I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” Why not make this your goal as well, friend? If we lose the interest and capability to be honest then we have lost it all.

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Cannot Cease From Sin"

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

            “Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin” is a vivid description of false teachers (II Pet. 2:14). It reminds me of the description of the people before the Flood when “every imagination of the thoughts of (man’s) heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). To have one’s eyes “full of adultery” is a poetic way of saying these people see the perverse in everything. Purity and innocence are gone from them. Sin has perverted their minds.

            This statement, “cannot cease from sin,” doesn’t meant they physically couldn’t stop sinning. They could change if they desired (II Pet. 3:9). It means that these folks won’t stop. They have “exercised” their hearts to where they think of only the wicked, the ugly, the sinful, the impure, the dishonest, and the godless. It has become such a habit for them that it is like “second-nature.” It’s like breathing to them. Paul similarly described the Gentiles in Romans 1:18-32. Do you know people like this? Have you seen people like this in the mirror? I pray not!

            It is these people that Peter says promise folks “liberty” though “they themselves are the servants (slaves) of corruption” (II Pet. 2:19)! These people are in bondage to their sin and wickedness, and they want others to go with them down the same road! This is the nature of those in bondage to sin. They don’t want people “judging” them, but joining them! They don’t want people to instruct them in the way that is right and cannot be wrong (Rom. 1:16-17; Jn. 8:31-32). They want consequences ignored as they think about all the “freedom” and all the “fun” they are having in sin!

            As an example, this is the practice of any alcohol ad. The commercials focus on the “fun-times,” or the “sophistication,” or just quiet introspection as one thoughtfully drinks alcohol. At the end, we read the disclaimer to “Think when you drink” or a reminder to have a designated driver, or there is the fine print where a toll-free number for “A.A.” is offered. Why the disclaimers? I thought alcohol brings good times and sophistication! Why a designated driver? Doesn’t alcohol make you smart? Apparently, alcohol promises one thing (liberty) but brings something else (bondage). If you are not sure about this, ask why it is that alcohol commercials never include winos or the people whose marriages were destroyed because of alcohol. Why do we never see ads showing the people having “DT’s” when coming off of a weekend bender? “When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again” (Prov. 23:25). This is the mantra of the addicted person, i.e., the one who is fooled into thinking he is free when he is actually in bondage.

            Other examples of spiritual bondage abound, but the point is that a man can sin so much until it is “second-nature.” He can lie so frequently that he no longer knows what the truth is! Someone who cannot cease from sin is in slavery and needs to get out! The only One who can free us from the bondage of sin is Christ (Jn. 8:31-32, 36). He makes it possible for us to “escape the pollutions of this world (II Pet. 2:20). The question is, will we accept His cure? He sacrificed His life for all (Matt. 20:28), but not everyone accepts it (Matt. 7:13-14, Acts 17:30-34).

            What will you do? Will you continue in bondage, or will you accept freedom in Christ? When we believe on Christ (Jn. 8:32), repent of our sins (Lk. 13:3, 5), confess our faith (Rom. 10:10), and are baptized, we can be made “free from sin” (Rom. 6:17-18; Acts 22:16). The sin that was once “second-nature” we can drop and can accept true freedom in Christ! Why are you waiting?

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

“False Teachers Are Deceivers And Deceived.”

Sunday, July 19, 2020

            Something interesting develops as we read II Peter 2:10-19. In the text, Peter gives us insight into the mind of the false teacher. False teachers have been the “theme” of II Peter 2, and so it ought not to surprise us to see him write extensively on the subject! After the warning about the false doctrine they teach (v. 1-3), Peter now deals with their motivation. In short, in an effort to deceive others, they have deceived themselves (v. 14).

            This is not an uncommon occurrence. Usually, anytime someone repeats a lie over and over, he will finally believe the lie himself. Thus it is with false teachers. They are  “presumptuous,” “self-willed,” and speak evil of “dignities” (KJV - other versions specify angels or angelic dignity). Reading verses 10 and 12, we learn that false teachers “speak evil” or blaspheme when talking. Furthermore, they “speak great swelling words” to those who have escaped error in an effort to get them to return, going so far as promising liberty when they can only provide bondage (v. 18-19). It is one lie after another with these arrogant people!

            Peter tells us that this arrogant person speaks “great swelling words” to get you to believe him and not God. The false teacher has “discovered” something you haven’t. He has found something “lost” to man for millennia. He has learned a “secret” and is happy to share it with you if you are “open-minded” enough to listen and accept. You must not be like those “close-minded Pharisees and legalists,” but must be open to the fact that you could have been wrong for all these years! His arrogance (v. 10) is apparent as he gives you the impression that he is smart, and all others who won’t listen or won’t fall in line are ignorant. He has the answer. Though there might be feigned humility at first (“I’m just a servant of God!”), it quickly melts away when challenged or when his doctrine is examined. His arrogance goes to the point of even blaspheming angels, who are greater in power (v. 10-11).

            As we read II Peter 2:10-19, we find false teachers exercise their hearts for covetous practices (v. 14). They have “forsaken the right way” (v. 15) and God considers them as “clouds without water,” i.e., good for nothing (v. 17)! We can dive deeper into this text, obviously, but for the sake of brevity, let us take this short list and be warned! False teachers are active! They love deceiving others and are constantly looking for more disciples that they might “draw” to themselves and away from God (Acts 20:30). Friends, this is not a joke! This is not a game! These self-serving people, like the scribes and Pharisees, “compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, make him twofold more the child of hell than (they)” (Matt. 23:15)!

            Listen to the warnings from God through the apostle Peter. Don’t get caught up in the web of false doctrine and deceit! Listen to the truth (Jn. 17:17)! Read God’s word without filter and without preconceived ideas. Don’t go to the Bible to “prove” your point, but go to the Bible with an open mind that God might prove the truth to you (Eph. 3:4; II Tim. 2:15)! Man’s word changes, but God’s word does not (I Pet. 1:24-25). Don’t let a false teacher deceive you! Allow God through His word to enlighten you and prepare you for an eternity in Heaven!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Feigned Words"

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

            When Peter spoke of the false teachers “among you” (II Pet. 2:1), he warned that these people would “with feigned words make merchandise of you” (v. 3). This concern about false teachers has been repeated since the gospel was first preached! In Matthew 7:15, Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Similarly, Paul warned the Ephesians about the “grievous wolves” that would come, “speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30). Paul also warned the Colossians, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8). The term “spoil” in this text carries with it the same meaning as the term “making merchandise” from II Peter 2:3.

            When we remember the broader context of II Peter, we can see why Peter was motivated to preach and remind the folks of the truth. He knew false prophets were active. This is the tragedy that faces us. As soon as the gospel is preached, there is a warning concerning false teachers! This fact shows us just how hurtful and deceptive Satan is. You see, as soon as something beautiful comes along, Satan is ready to ruin it. He did this in the Garden (Gen. 3:1-6), he did it through false prophets (Matt. 7:15; II Pet 2:3; etc.), and he still does it today. He wants us “drawn away” from God and drawn to his kingdom (Acts 20:28; Jas. 1:14-15). Satan has his false teachers promise us freedom (II Pet. 2:19), but they are trying actually to make us their “spoil” and enslave us in sin.

            How can I know who the false teacher is? I will know when I see someone who is willfully teaching a doctrine that is opposed to the truth -- a “damnable” or destructive heresy! This is not someone who has a different opinion or a “quirk,” (Rom. 14) but someone who is teaching a doctrine opposed to the Lord’s word and wants you to go with him! Listen to Solomon, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not” (Prov. 1:10)! The warning against listening to false teachers was given in Deuteronomy 13, and it needs to be heeded still today (Rom. 15:4)!

            False teachers are not your friends! The false teacher tries to endear himself to others, but he is merely using “feigned words,” misleading words, lies, or perverse teachings, to “draw away disciples,” and make “merchandise,” or make you a “spoil.” The false teacher may come along to tell you that he has “discovered” something that no one else has seen in millennia. Why, he has seen through the religious “fog” and has discovered something unique, special, and it will put you closer to God than you have ever been before (see: II Pet. 2:19). If you would only listen to him and follow him, then you could be smart, too! Don’t stay in ignorance, but accept this “truth” that has been hidden, or lost for ages! This is but one example of “feigned words,” and simply put, you are nothing more to the false teacher than something to conquer. You do not have value in the eyes of a false teacher. Your worth is gauged by what you can do for the false teacher rather than what you can do for God!

Don’t become the “spoil” or “merchandise” of a false teacher! Instead, submit your life to the inspired Word of God (II Pet. 1:20-21) and follow it all of your life (Rev. 2:10; Heb. 5:9). See the blessings that come when we listen to God instead of man (Jer. 10:23; II Tim. 2:15; Eph. 3:4)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Damnable Heresies"

Monday, July 13, 2020

            When Peter warned the Christians about the false teachers they would face, he said that these people would bring with them “damnable heresies” (II Pet. 2:1). “Damnable” in this verse means something that brings destruction or ruin.  “Heresies” in this passage is a reference to the opinions or dogma that these false teachers espoused. While the KJV (Bishop’s, Geneva, etc.) uses the term, “damnable heresies,” other versions use such phrases as:

  • “Destructive heresies” (ASV, NAS, ESV, ISV, NET, RV, WEB)
  • “Wrong teachings for your destruction” (BBE)
  • “Harmful lies” (CEV)
  • “They will teach things that are wrong—ideas that will cause people to be lost” (ERV)
  • “Destructive, untrue doctrines” (GNB)
  • “Fatal divisions” (Weymouth).

            I list these versions for a side-by-side comparison. There is no Bible version I am aware of that says that false teachers would bring in harmless teachings, or teach doctrines that had no eternal consequence if followed. In every case, we see that false teachers were teaching things that had horrible implications for the hearers.

            When we read passages like II Peter 2:1, we become aware of God’s attitude toward false teachers and false teaching. God makes it clear that there is such a thing as right and wrong or truth and error. In the post-modern world we live in, the majority deny that right and wrong exist. Not so with God! He doesn’t say, “Everyone has their truth, and we need to let them express it.” He doesn’t say that all people’s actions are equally valid and deserve our respect. Instead, He says there were some people in the long ago, and some today who were false teachers and brought damnable, or destructive heresies (doctrines). He further teaches that Christians ought not to listen to any of it! He said they had ulterior motives (v. 3) and their “damnation slumbereth not”!

            Let us be on guard for false doctrines and the destruction that follows. Let us spend time in God’s Book daily, so we know truth from error (Jn. 17:17) and can prepare ourselves for an eternity with God one day!.

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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