Who Goes There?


Good advances don’t have universally positive fruit.

who goes thereFor instance, I wonder if our advances in literacy and scholarship might have undermined our theology in some respects.  For instance, what do we look for when we read the Old Testament?
Walter Kaiser suggested that the Old Testament is treated by many Christians like their Grandmother’s attic: there are certainly treasures there, but you don’t really want to venture in alone.  So there are too many of us who only go in on guided tours to key sites before retreating to the familiarity of the New Testament.
But let’s say we’ve overcome that fear factor and ventured in.  Since it is January, perhaps the percentage of Christians reading the Old Testament is at its highest point in the calendar.  What should we be looking for?
Many will look for instruction. 
After all, these things were written for our instruction, Paul explains in Romans 15:4. In 1Cor.10 he tells us that these things were written as examples to us.  So perhaps that should be our goal as we read the Old Testament: to pursue instructions for living well?  After all, doesn’t the Bible tell us its purpose is Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth (or is that just a church poster and bumper sticker?)
Certainly there is plenty by way of instruction in the Old Testament, but sometimes we can be naively optimistic when we assume that we can filter out instructions that no longer apply, and successfully follow those that do.  Especially when the example Paul is speaking of functions as a warning against pride!  By all means lets look out for instruction and example in the Old Testament, but to turn it into an instruction manual does run more than a slight risk of missing the point.
Indeed, let’s not a develop radar for instructions for life while missing the consistent pattern of human inability to succeed at life presented in those pages.  The repeated pattern of human failure and the minority remnant of often fragile and frail faith should rebuke us from assuming we can simply pluck meaningful verses and live by them.
Some will look for anticipation. 
Recognizing that the Old Testament is anticipating something in the New, some Bible readers know that they are looking for more than personal instruction.  They are looking for the promise of what is to come.  This is good.  This is much more God-centred than a mere instruction hunt tends to be.
There is the promise-theme starting in Genesis 3:15 with the anticipation of the seed of the woman who will crush the serpent’s head.  That flows through hints and promises channeling our focus through Shem, Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Jesse, David, etc.  It points to a prophet like, but greater than Moses; a priest greater than Samuel; and a King who is the greater descendent of David.
But here is where the blessing of literacy might be undoing us somewhat.  Perhaps we can tend to zero in on the written anticipation within the divine plan, but lose sight of the divine person.  Certainly we should read the written word and we should interpret it as accurately as we possibly can, but the Bible tells us that it is possible to devour the text and miss the person.
We must look for a person.  
Our tendency in the flesh will always be to settle for instructions that we can follow (and where we can’t, we’ll adjust our list so that we can get closer to success).  This is why we must read the Old Testament and see what is there – the pattern of human failure is significant as the dark velvet on which to spot the shiny loyal-love of God’s grace.  We must be alert to the promise that is there.  But ultimately our faith is not in promises read, understood, believed and claimed.  Ultimately our faith is in the giver of the promise.  That was true for them to whom the promises were made, too.  We must read to meet the God who revealed himself and invited trust in Him, the giver of the promises.
In his warning in 1Cor.10:1-13, Paul points to Old Testament examples of people setting their hearts on something other than God.  Disaffected from God they trusted in themselves and became profoundly vulnerable.  It was not merely an issue of lost information, it was the spurned relationship that undid them.  So the warning for the Corinthians was what?  To set their eyes on the instructions when faced with temptation?  No, it was to look to a God who is faithful and actively involved in their circumstances.
In his reference to instruction in Romans 15:4, Paul refers to endurance and the encouragement of the Old Testament Scriptures that lead to hope.  Next verse he reinforces his point.  Not that by our effort in following the instruction we might live well, but that endurance and encouragement come from God as we follow Christ in relationship to the Father and God’s people.
Jesus told the “Bible experts” in John 5 that they searched the Scriptures looking for life, but they missed that the Scriptures were speaking of him!  On the other hand, I just read a Spurgeon sermon on the “goings forth” of Christ “from of old” where he listed some of the Christ-spottings in the Old Testament.  We’d find similar thoughts in Calvin and Edwards and others.  So perhaps some Bible experts had their hearts pointed in the right direction.  Let’s be sure we do too.
Read the Bible and notice both the instruction and the human failures.  Notice both the faith-response and the rebellion response of human hearts.  Notice God’s promises to the undeserving.  And notice that the invitation is to trust in the God who not only states promises, but reveals himself repeatedly along the way.  We trust in God.  We trust in Christ, the person whose revelation of the Father forever endorses the trustworthy nature of that which is promised.
~ Peter
You are invited to comment on Peter’s article at Cor Deo
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Peter-Mead.png[/author_image] [author_info]Dr Peter Mead is a Bible teacher and ministry trainer, based in southern England. His main ministry is as co-director and mentor of Cor Deo, a full-time mentored study and ministry training program.  Peter leads the Advanced Bible Teachers Network at the European Leadership Forum.  He holds degrees from Multnomah Biblical Seminary (MDiv/MA), and the Doctor of Ministry degree in homiletics from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where Dr Haddon Robinson was his mentor.  For more information on Cor Deo, including the weekly theological blog, please visit www.cordeo.org.uk. Peter also authors the BiblicalPreaching.net website for preachers.[/author_info] [/author] [button link=”http://www.biblicalpreaching.net” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Biblical Preaching[/button] [button link=”http://www.cordeo.org.uk/” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Cor Deo[/button]  

New Year’s Resolutions…

[You are encouraged to read Dr Shogren’s post at his blog.]


 – or New Covenant Miracles?


For many years, I made no New Year’s resolutions. My reasoning:

  • Why make a big deal just because the planet has revolved around the sun to an arbitrary point in space?
  • Why try to be a better persons on this one day when I should be doing it all the time?
  • Are resolutions relevant to me, since I don’t need to quit smoking, drinking or gambling?

I’ve come to think differently, having taken another look at the Bible and paid closer attention to human behavior. For the past 5 years or so, I have made a single New Year’s Resolution on December 31.
The Word reveals to us that there are two methods for making resolutions.
Method A: “I will try really hard to be a better person in this area.” [1] But don’t we all know what happens? The resolution comes unraveled, usually within a few days or weeks. “45 percent of Americans make resolutions, but only 8 percent keep them.” [2] And so, red-faced, we push our noble plan to the back of our minds, at least until next year.
We Christians have the inside knowledge that the problem lies with the one who is doing the resolving. The words “carnal” or “fleshly” refers to “humanity as flesh is contrasted with Spirit, [it] is sinful, and without the aid of the Spirit cannot please God.” [3] Yes, those outside of Christ can and do make resolutions. Nevertheless they will fall short, and for several fundamental reasons: they lack God’s wisdom concerning how they should alter their lives; they have not been born again and changed in the New Covenant; without the Spirit they might come to be relatively better persons, but they cannot alter their nature, please God or effect any real change (Rom 8:5-8). They launch the New Year with hopeful hearts, but their resolutions are fragile ice crystals that melt under the January sun.
The disturbing thing is that some of these people are Christians, who listen to their peers and reach for the same old bag of tricks for self-improvement. Oh, sure, they add religion to the mix: they might pray for strength; they may even have the Bible as their guiding star. Many (most?) of us Christians try to do a spiritual thing but in a “carnal” manner. For example, one famous preacher wrote about resolutions, but most of his advice is plain common sense, the sort of thing you might get from Reader’s DigestDon’t start out assuming you will fail; be realistic; don’t be self-centered; take concrete steps; have an accountability partner; don’t get discouraged. Toss in a Bible verse and a word or two about prayer, and voilà – a way of life that bears a surface resemblance to the gospel, but at heart is the world’s system. It is putting new wine into old wineskins and it will lead to frustrated intentions and efforts, no matter how sincere they are (see Matt 5:17).
Let’s take a step backward and think for a minute: Is this the miraculous, paradigm-breaking new life promised to us in Christ:Be a sensible person, Be realistic, Take small steps? What happened to the Bible’s jumbo-sized promises of a life of dynamic, lasting change?
Method B – God steps in to make us like him, first when we are saved and then moment by moment. Yes, we take steps and put forth effort in faith, but God himself is the real agent of change.
The Bible plan is that “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Rom 8:9). That means that any change in our lives must be spiritual (which in Paul’s language means “in and through the Spirit”), not through our efforts (the flesh, human common sense, without supernatural power).
Let’s unpack the Bible teaching with a “for instance”: If I resolve to be less selfish this year, and by next year, before God, I am authentically 25% less selfish, then my friends, we have witnessed a miracle, a work that only God can do. The yardstick of comparison would not be the success rate of the nicotine patch or Weight Watchers, but the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 or the healing of the lame man or even the creation of the stars, the sun, the moon. It will be the fruit of Almighty God’s involvement within us.
There is an excellent example in 1 Thess 4:10: “concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.” Paul was looking back to the prophecies of the New Covenant in Jer 31:31-34 and Ezek 36:26, showing how the pagan Thessalonians were living in the miraculous love that is the “fruit of the Spirit.” He is also directly alluding to Isa 54:13, “I will make all your sons taught by God.” “Taught by God” is not just taking a class about love; it is his complete package for change from the inside out. To the extent that they are walking in the Spirit, believers find that they are being motivated, are thinking, acting and reacting differently than they used to. In modern terms, the Spirit has re-written their software.
The Israelites looked forward to the New Covenant, but did not claim to have experienced its wonders. How blessed are we! From Pentecost onward, each believer is a temple of the Spirit, a “new creation.” This means that Christians have a fundamentally different nature than those we see every day in the world.
But back to the Christians who don’t understand what God has done, and who attempt to do good in their own power, or even in their own power mixed with some prayer or with a couple of relevant Bible verses on their smartphone. In fact, anyone at all could memorize Proverbs 23:20-21 –

Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.

And that person might find good help; he need not even be a Christian; he could be a Muslim or atheist or nothing in particular. But in gospel terms, this method of change can be as “fleshly” as the one who does evil things for evil reasons. That is what was happening in Galatia, where the Judaizers were struggling hard to be the people God wanted them to be; not only did they fall short, but they plummeted below the level they had started from. Legalists, according to Gal 5:16-17, become ever more angry, judgmental, bitter, divisive, sexually out of control.
What an embarrassing failure for all who name the name of Christ but reject his plan for life. They crouch in the shadow of the Spirit’s massive power plant, but imagine it’s best to rub two sticks together. It’s fruitless, and it’s an offense to God who provided us a crucified Savior in order to give us the ability to perceive, dream of, desire, and follow the holy path that he lays out for us (Eph 2:10).
Those who focus on the New Covenant live better than those who formulate tons of rules. That doesn’t mean that we “go all limp” and make no decisions; on the contrary, it turns us into active agents, as we ask that our decisions be an expression of God working through us.
The Christian’s New Year’s Resolutions ought to begin and end with confidence in Christ, with the power of the Spirit, with the New Covenant that rewrites us spiritually and, if we want to use the terms, in the realms of the motivational, the psychological, the behavioral, the social.
So, getting back to me: for the past 5 years or so, I have made New Year’s Resolutions. One had to do with my devotional life; another with my less-than-kind-attitude toward a specific group of people. I prayed. But my prayers did not sound like “I’m trying hard, Lord, I promise to do better, give me a push toward accomplishing my goal.” Rather I prayed along these lines, on December 31 and continually from then on:

Lord, you say in your Word that I should walk like ___. Mere self-control or determination will do me no good. But I confess that you are the God of the New Covenant and that you have made me to walk in holiness in this area of ___. Thus I ask that you would continue to rewrite me and change me from the inside out, doing a miracle by your powerful Holy Spirit. I believe that this will result in me living for you in this area of my life, making decisions and taking action as you guide me.

Do New Covenant Resolutions work? Well – if they didn’t, there is no way I would be writing this post!
[1] The US government actually maintains a list of the most popular resolutions (click HERE http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/New-Years-Resolutions.shtml).
[2] See [http://www.nwfdailynews.com/local/the-truth-behind-new-year-s-resolutions-1.71900
[3] G. E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (rev. ed.; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993), 511.
~ Gary

Visit Dr Shogren’s blog to comment on his article.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/cmc-gary-shogren-sm.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Copyright Gary Shogren.
Gary has a PhD in New Testament Exegesis. He serves as Professor at Seminario ESEPA, San Jose, Costa Rica[/author_info] [/author]
[button link=”http://justinofnablus.com” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Dr. Gary Shogren’s blog![/button]

Protect Your Mind

 [The following content was not edited for online publication but is provided by Jimmy Snowden “as-is”.]

1 Samuel 15:35

“And The Lord regretted that He made Saul king over Israel.”

1 Corinthians 15 - hope!We will now continue through 1 Corinthians 15. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul is dealing with a false teaching which had crept into the church of Corinth regarding the resurrection—they were teaching that the dead are not raised. In vss. 29-34 Paul seeks to dismantle the faulty foundations of this false teaching by demonstrating how everything done in the Christian life contradicts this theology. Last week’s sermon was really an application of the sermon I preached two weeks ago, “Beliefs Have Consequences.” In that first sermon I gave many illustrations from everyday life to demonstrate that what you believe effects what you do. Every decision you make is determined to one degree or another by a belief that you have. I gave the illustration of a log in a fire. Why is it that you don’t pick up a burning log out of a fire? Because of what you know to be true about burning logs, they are hot and burn your hands. What you know to be true about the log affects how you treat the log. This is the way we live our lives. This is true in everyday life and it is true in the Christian life. Your mind plays a central role not just in Christian thinking, but also in Christian living. Why? Because the Christian life flows out of the Christian mind. I ran across this quote from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

“If you only realized who and what you are, you would have gone eighty per cent of the way to being a complete victor over everything that assails you.”[1]

I must admit that I would be prone to reject this statement if it came out of virtually any one else’s mouth. However, I have read enough of Lloyd-Jones to know that he is not talking about some mere intellectual assent to theological truths about who this Christian is as a child of God. I know that Lloyd-Jones is never content with mere intellectual knowledge. Rather, when he says “if you only realize” he certainly mean something  like this; if you would only embrace by Spirit-empowered faith the fullness of who you are as a child of God, you would get victory over 80% of the spiritual struggles in your life. I think he is right. It starts with knowing something. All of Christianity flows out of what you know. Not just intellectually—but truth that you embrace with Spirit-empowered faith.
Just think of what I mentioned last week from Romans 8:31. Imagine if you really believed and embraced fully the reality that God is for you. That one truth is so powerful for life. To believe that God is not the great antagonist of your life. To believe that God does not merely put up with you. To believe (and embrace with Spirit empowered faith) that God cares and that He is for you. Many Christians, though, don’t really believe that God is for them. They know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ—they know that they aren’t going to be judged by God in hell. However, they don’t go far enough. They say, “Well… He ain’t gonna destroy me, but that doesn’t mean that He likes me.” No, my friend. God is for you. God has so much for you. He wants you to live in fellowship with Him. He wants you to live in the blessing of all that He has promised you. I believe He looks on us and says, “Look at all that I have for you. Take it. Take hold of my promises. I want so much more for you.” No… not houses and cars and salaries, but joy and peace and freedom. What you believe effects what you do. I think Lloyd-Jones is right. If you were to realize who and what you are as a new creature, most of your problems in the Christian life would be solved. Our problem is that we don’t really believe He is for us. We basically believe that He puts up with us. Not true. He loves you. He is for you.
Let me give you another illustration.
How much differently would you live if you truly believed that you are no longer a slave to sin? I had a good friend in college. We would often times get together and talk about the things God was teaching us and the different things we were struggling with in our walk with Christ. One day my friend rebuked me in a friendly way. He scolded me. I was telling him about my struggles with a particular sin (laziness, lust, pride… I can’t remember what sin it was at the time). In the middle of telling him my woes he said, “Jimmy, it sounds like you don’t really believe what God has said about you.” I said, “What do you mean?” He took me to different verses in Romans 6 (vss. 2, 6, 17-18).

2 How can we who died to sin still live in it?… 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin… 17 Thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

My friend pointed me to these verses and said, “You have died to sin. Sin is no longer your master. You have a new master, Jesus Christ. When you talk about your relation to sin you sound like you don’t believe what God has said. You sound like you are still alive to sin. You speak of sin as if it were still your master. You speak as if your struggle against sin were a lost cause.” He exhorted me, “Jimmy, you have a new master. His name is Jesus. You don’t have to obey sin. You don’t have to submit to it. You can get victory.” At one point he said, “Jimmy, play dead, because that is what you are—you are dead to sin.” Do you believe what God says about you? Do you believe what God says about your relation to sin? My friend, you are free! You are freed from slavery to sin. You aren’t free to do whatever you want. No. You are free to obey. You have a new master.
I can say that this conversation with my friend was one of the most important conversations that I have ever had. What I want you to see is that my friend was exhorting me to belief. What you believe effects what you do. If you believe that you are still a slave of sin, you aren’t going to make strides in your battle against sin. If you believe that your struggle against sin is a lost cause—an exercise in futility—you are aren’t going to wage war against it with any hope of victory. You will not resist the Devil for long. Why would you persist in fighting sin if you believe it is a losing battle anyway? You see, it is a battle for belief. What you believe effects what you do. What you believe about your relation to sin massively effects the way you fight against it. This is why so many Christians live in a haze of spiritual depression. They are depressed because they don’t believe what God has said about them. What you believe effects what you do. I agree, more or less, with Lloyd-Jones when he says, “If you only realized who and what you are, you would have gone eighty per cent of the way to being a complete victor over everything that assails you.” The Christian life is first and foremost a battle for belief (not just intellectual assent but true biblical belief) in the truth of God’s word.
Now this is exactly what Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 15:30-32.
He basically says, I would never live the sort of life I live if there were no resurrection of the dead. In other words, the life of daily death that he lived was one that naturally flowed out of a belief in the resurrection. The life he lived, the decisions he made screamed, “I believe in the resurrection!” Paul’s belief in the resurrection expressed itself in real, concrete actions. I will put it in the form of a principle: good doctrine produces righteous living. Paul’s belief in the resurrection produced radical self-sacrificial living. Radical self-sacrificial living flows out of a belief in the resurrection.
Think here about the tight connection between the Christian mind and the Christian life. What you believe effects what you do. If you believe that God is for you, it is going to effect the way you live the Christian life. If you believe that you are no longer a slave to sin, and that you have died to sin and that Jesus is your new master, it is going to effect the way you go to war against the sin in your life. If you believe in the resurrection it is going to shape the decisions you make, the way you relate to the world and the things of this world. Now here is the point I want to drive home this morning, and I think this point is clear in the text. I want to make the point by asking a question: If godliness (righteousness, right living) flows out of good doctrine, would it not follow that ungodliness (unrighteousness, wicked living) flows out of bad doctrine? The obvious answer is, Yes! Of course it is true. The fact is that what you believe effects what you do; and that cuts both ways. On the one hand, godliness flows out of good doctrine. On the other hand, ungodliness flows out of bad doctrine.
I hope you see here the importance of the mind in the Christian life.
It is why the sermon this morning is titled, “Protect Your Mind.” Why protect your mind? Because the mind determines the actions. Many people think that bad doctrine is bad for the Christian simply because it is wrong. That is one reason that bad doctrine is bad for us. Of course we want to think thoughts that are true and accurate and in accord with reality. Of course we want to think God’s thoughts after Him. But that is not the only reason why bad doctrine is bad for the Christian. Bad doctrine is bad because it results in bad living—ungodliness.
Let me give you an illustration of why bad doctrine is so dangerous. Back in the 1800’s doctors would practice bloodletting. Before modern day advancements in medicine and a greater understanding of how the circulatory system works, doctors believed that you could remove harmful and deadly viruses and infections by lancing the skin and letting the blood flow out of your body. They had wrong information. They thought you could get rid of an infection just by ridding your body of a small amount of blood. So they would cut you and let blood flow out of your body until they thought the infection or virus was out of your bloodstream. Many patients died because of this practice. Hudson Taylor, the great British missionary to China, worked as an assistant surgeon before going to China on the mission field. He got infected with a nasty virus while performing surgery through a small cut he had on his hand. He decided to operate on himself and lanced his finger. He passed out on the floor, and by the grace of God was found and nursed back to health. He almost killed himself unintentionally. Now we say, “Why would someone do something like that? Why would someone lance their hand in order to let more blood out of their body?” Well… that’s my point. They had bad information.
What you believe affects what you do. If your beliefs are based on bad information, you are going to make poor decisions. Once scientists came to an understanding of how the circulatory system works and of how infections infect, they stopped the practice of blood letter. This is the same with bad doctrine. Bad information results in bad decisions. This is why the mind of the Christian is so important. This is why we must be careful to have pure doctrine. This is why we must guard our minds from false teaching. False teaching affects more than your abstract thoughts. False teaching eventually affects the decisions you make. This is why we have to be in our bibles, devouring the truth.
1 Corinthians 15:32b  
Just consider what Paul says in vs. 32.

32 If the dead are not raised ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’

Paul is here quoting a common statement from the Epicurean philosophers. They saw no meaning to life, because they believe that there was no life after death. They argued that since life had no ultimate or grand purpose you might as well live it up, because this is all there is. It was a call to live a life of absolute reckless pleasure. The youth tell me that young people now say YOLO, which apparently means You Only Live Once. Youth nowadays (I am getting so old I can only speak of it like someone completely detached) say this before they make stupid decisions. The point of the phrase is that you need to make life as interesting and thrilling as possible because you only live once. So go ahead and take a bite of that big man’s burger without asking, YOLO! So go ahead and dump your ice cream sundae on your head, YOLO! It is a childish attempt to look at life in a thoughtful way while justifying bad manners and stupid behavior. Just as the Christian must reject Joel Osteen’s “Your Best Life Now” the Christian must also reject YOLO.
The Christian is told that the best life is yet to come. We are told not to store up treasures here on earth but in heaven. The fact is that our best life is to come and once you die you will actually step up into eternal life. It just isn’t true that you only live once. The Biblical message is that you live forever and that your decision matter because of that fact. And what Paul is saying is that if you reject the resurrection, there is absolutely no ground or basis for morality. Who cares how you live, it is all meaningless anyway. This is what the rejection of the resurrection of the dead leads to—a life of careless immorality. Do you see what Paul is saying here? What you believe effects what you do. False teaching has a corrosive effect not just on your mind but on your life as a whole.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34  
In vss. 33-34 Paul tells us that we need to protect our minds. And this is good counsel. If our beliefs affect the way we live—the decisions we make and the priorities of our lives—we should protect our beliefs. Consider what he says.

33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. 

            This saying, “Bad company ruins good morals” reminds me of a saying my mom always used to tell me and my two brothers, “Show me your friends and I will show your future.” Paul is saying that it does matter who you fellowship with. He is not saying that you can’t befriend unbelievers or anything like that. Rather, he is speaking about fellowship. The “Bad company” that Paul is referring to is most certainly the false teachers who were rejecting the resurrection of the dead. But here is the thing that we have to notice. Paul is telling the Corinthians to not fellowship with these false teachers. But why? Because false teaching “ruins good morals.” Isn’t that an interesting point. We tend to separate the two. You have your Christian mind over here and your Christian walk over here. God simply won’t let us think this way.
False teaching is serious business not just because it is wrong on an intellectual level, but because wrong beliefs produce sinful actions (ruins good morals) just as much as right beliefs produce righteous actions. And this is one of the great reasons why we are zealous to protect the purity of our doctrine; not just because we want to be right, but because false doctrine has consequences. What you believe effects what you do. And it appears from vs. 34 that this false teaching had already begun to corrupt the lives of those in Corinth. How long can you go on rejecting the resurrection without feeling a sense of meaninglessness? This is why we are exhorted to protect the purity of our doctrine all throughout the New Testament.

2 Corinthians 10:5; We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

Titus 1:9; He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Jude 1:3-4; Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Think about the Judaizers in Galatia. Think about the Pharisees. Think about the false teachers that Timothy faced in Ephesus in 1 and 2 Timothy. Think about the false teachers that Jude was combating in Jude. There is one common thread that is evident in each of these false teachers—they were evil people. They were prideful, arrogant, self-centered people—most of them were driven by dishonest gain. Why? Because what you believe affects what you do. False teaching is dangerous because what you believe affects what you do. Notice how often bad morals accompanies false teaching.

1 Timothy 6:2b-5; 2 Teach and urge these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

Titus 3:9-11; 9 Avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

            I could go on and on with references which make a direct link between false teaching and ungodly living. Protect your mind. Paul actually tells us to warn a divisive false teacher twice of his error and if he does not heed your warning, have nothing to do with him. This is a near perfect parallel with Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 15, “Bad company ruins good morals.” Don’t fellowship with false teachers. And we see that the negative effects of the false teaching were already having their effects on the Corinthians—their disbelief in the resurrection was already resulting in sinful actions. Paul then closes by exposing these false teachers for who they are. Paul was not afraid to say that these false teachers did not know God. It is imperative that we call false teachers for what they are. They are mutilators of the flesh. God hates false teaching and despises false teachers because they lead His people astray—not just in regard to their thinking, but also in regard to their living. The point. Guard your mind. Protect your mind. If what you belief effects what you do, you must see that the mind in the Christian life is of paramount importance. I don’t care how well meaning a false teacher may seem; have nothing to do with him or her. You have no business, for example listening to Joyce Meyer or TD Jakes or Benny Hinn or Joel Osteen or John Hagee. Stay away! Why? Because what you believe effects what you do.

[1] Lloyd-Jones, The Assurance of Salvation, 208.

~ Jimmy


Jimmy Snowden
Jimmy serves as pastor for “Preaching and Vision” at Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Boscawen, New Hampshire. Previoulsy he fulfilled leadership roles in both Kansas City, Missouri and Las Vegas, Nevada. Jimmy received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from Hannibal-LaGrange College and a Master of Divinity degree from Liberty University.
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