(August 12, 2017) Stuart Reynolds challenges today’s spiritual deception…
Some of us may remember the classic 1973 film set in 1930s Chicago and starring the strong acting trio of Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Robert Shaw. It tells the story of an elaborate con of a much feared criminal banker in retribution for a murdered friend.
The phrase – The Sting – refers to the moment a ‘play’ is completed, taking a target’s money. If successful, the ‘victim’ of the con does not realise what has happened and who has cheated him, until all are long gone.
Paul wrote about a particular ‘sting’ in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, ‘Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.’
Ground of our deception!
‘Do not be deceived’ – If ever a warning text for our day, this is it! Among others, there is a two-fold implication to this command of counsel:
- The possibility that we can be deceived
- The protection that we need not be deceived.
The sad contention of this article is that much of the modern church has been deceived by an elaborate and wicked ‘sting’ – plundered of truth our ‘treasure’ and not even knowing it! People are duped because of their greed; the church suffers from its gutless gullibility!
As AW Tozer put it, ‘The problem with most Christians is that they don’t think!’ Our tendency to believe anyone and anything because of our self-imposed ignorance of the scriptures.
‘Do you not know…?’ the apostle Paul asks, and in too much we don’t ‘know.’ Incapable of thinking and living according to the scriptures, not having ‘the mind of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and deteriorating from ignorance to impotence – we are ‘stung!’
The testimony of the psalmist is never obsolete but is always absolute! ‘I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you’ declares Psalm 119:110.
Grave of our desertion!
We live in a culture where from disciplining our children to defending the faith we can no longer say ‘No!’ to anyone. We need to understand that for something to be ‘legal’ – or ‘legalised’ – does not automatically make it to be moral or ethical.
The list Paul includes is as much alive today and being harboured in the life – or death – of the local church, as ever it was when this letter first arrived on the doorstep of the Corinthian church.
The wise preacher of Proverbs 25:26 pulled no punches: ‘Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.’
Such leads to chaos and confusion, not to mention anarchy, as, in the midst of the muck and mire, things become misplaced or even just plain lost –
- ‘Stung’ out of transformation and left with accommodation!
- Scripturally plundered by the culturally perverse!
- Reverence for God – previously highly cherished by the church – replaced with the age-old confidence in ourselves and supposedly the ‘emerging’ liberty of the Post Modern!
- Integrity and instruction supplanted by inclusion and indulgence!
- Re-definition of God and his word rather than reinforcement!
Allow me to inject an important note of clarification: The true church is being hammered today because of its stand against homosexuality. Such is a misrepresentation. There is nothing new about homosexual sin in particular or sexual immorality in general – it has been around since Sodom – as has God’s judgment and final word!
The Bible-believing Christian is suddenly and increasingly characterised as the ‘bad guy’ in this debate. However, the truth is, for from being the aggressor, it is the Bible, and thus the Christian, under attack. The LGBTQ ‘community’ – seemingly growing in letter, if not also number, every week, in who they presume to represent – are redefining what God has ordained and undermining who God has created:
- ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24). In the New Testament, when speaking of marriage, Jesus still refers to ‘(man)…his wife’ (Matthew 5:2) – ‘Adam and Eve’ never ‘Adam and Steve’!
- The Bible clearly states: ‘…God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them’ (Genesis 1:27, see also Genesis 5:1-2). Again, Jesus underlines this in Matthew 19:4.
Are we, as some of our own have and would have us to, really suggesting and seriously contemplating – no matter what is expected or demanded from the world – that we ‘give way’ on what God has ordered about marriage and abandon what he has decided for creation and its consequence, because it is no longer convenient for society at large or comfortable for the local church?
I never thought that Hannibal Smith of The A-Team would ever speak to and inform my understanding and practice of theology! In explaining a stand taken and decision made, Smith said: ‘That’s the trouble when you take a moral stand. Somebody’s always angry… but it makes you feel good!’
It’s the right thing to do. If we don’t start to live like this, we will die without it and be found on the wrong side of God, because it’s the dark side of truth!
Grace of God’s determination!
Consider the strength of phrasing in the 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 verses:
- ‘Do you not know…?’ – no variance!
- ‘Do not be deceived’ – no doubt!
- ‘Neither…nor…nor…nor…nor…nor…nor…nor…nor…nor’ – no exception!
- ‘Washed…sanctified…justified’ – no less!
- ‘In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God’ – no other!
Only God can determine this by his grace – and do this!
- There is a line of distinction and measure, between saved and lost, light and darkness, heaven and hell, truth and falsehood!
- There is a limit to what is acceptable and excusable and who we will accommodate and include!
- There is a need for ‘No!… Stop!… Not here!’ as well as ‘Yes!… Go!… Come and see!’
- There is a crisis-point…a place of turning…a definable decision…and all seen as evidence in the testimony to God’s glory that cannot be refuted: ‘And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified…’
A wise old pastor said: ‘If you want a healthy and solid church, do not focus on what astounds but rather on what transforms. Preach the Bible!’
‘Do not be deceived…’
Stuart Reynolds, Ears 2 Hear Ministries, is UK based ministering as an itinerant preacher, teacher in evangelism and revivalism in the UK and USA. Links: firstname.lastname@example.org / mobile +44 (0) 7816 853 551 / http://sdhareynolds.wixsite.com/earstohearministries.