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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Take Heed That You Be Not Deceived

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
Matthew 24:4
Introduction
 Jesus exhorted his disciples directly, and for all of us who have come after His atoning death and resurrection, He also exhorts us. The exhortation is clear and unambiguous. Take heed that no one deceive you! There is great deceit all around the world in these days. We live in very dangerous times! It has been reported by reliable media sources in the Middle East that the Iranian Generals have said that they have analyzed American Military strengths and weaknesses and have formulated plans with maps and strategies to avoid our strengths and to hit our weaknesses with the stated purpose to bring down the nation from within. Multiple news sources have reported and are indeed in these days reporting that the President has virtually no respect either abroad or nationally. In fact many of the latest poles are reporting that President Obama has a fifty-three percent (53%) or more disapproval rating when it comes to truthfulness, and respect for his leadership.
In recent weeks news sources have reported that Iranian gun ships and missile carriers are locating themselves just outside the limit of twelve miles of the United States near the coasts of the United States. What are these missile carriers/gun boats locating themselves in these areas to do? It is now reported that in 2013 there was an attack on a California electrical substation that completely interrupted the California Power Grid. No arrests have been made to this date. Many analysts now believe that it was a practice run to interrupt the electrical power grid of the United States. There are known weapons which will completely interrupt or destroy the power grid of the United States and shut down anything electrical. Without electrical power no lights work, no air conditioners work, no heaters work, no traffic control on the ground and no air traffic control can occur, there is no refrigeration, no freezers, no gas pumps, nothing electrical will work. If you can imagine the multiple cities that were shut down in the recent harsh wintry conditions all over the country, from Chicago to New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Atlanta and other cities and realize that if these cities are paralyzed by a little ice and snow what will occur if a bomb which interrupts the entire electrical power grid should go off. These are perilous times militarily.
These are also perilous times for Christians. During the recent Academy Awards nominations and voting leading up to the Academy Awards a Christian song “Alone but Not Alone” done by Joni Eareckson Tada was nominated for an Academy Award. The song was ultimately disqualified by powerful forces located within the Academy voters because seventy (70) emails had been sent out by one of the voters asking other voters to consider this song for an Academy Award. Notwithstanding the fact that it is normal promotional activity for supporters of movies, songs, producers, actors etc. to send out DVD’s, televisions programs, and lavish parties promoting their particular movie, director, actor, etc. for the Academy Awards.
“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrist have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.”
Thus the apostle John writes in 1 John 2:18. There are many other scriptural references telling us that we are in the last days. For example, the writer of Hebrews, directed by the Holy Spirit begins his epistle with the following words:
“God, who at divers times and in various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us by His son whom he has appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the expressed image of His person and upholding all things by the word of His power, when he had by Himself purged our sin sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high….”
 Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, interestingly who describes himself as the brother of James, says the following:
“Beloved while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the Saints. For certain men have crept in unawares, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turned the grace of our God into lewdness, and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The apostle Peter also calls attention to these last times when he says the following:
 “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior. Know this first that scoffers will come in the last days walking according to their own lust and saying ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’ For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word are reserved for fire until the Day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
Peter equates these times with the day of the Lord. In the remainder of the third chapter of 2 Peter he describes the Day of the Lord and calls all of us, His followers, to conduct ourselves in holiness and Godliness, looking for and hasting the coming of the day of God, and calls all Christians to be steadfast! Indeed, Peter says “therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found in Him in peace, without spot and blameless.”  Peter also admonishes all of us to “beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.” 
There are many false prophets out there. The admonition of the Lord Jesus to “take heed that no man deceive you” is especially to be heeded now.
 The Apostle Paul also warns of these very things as he is writing to his young protégé Timothy, having first told him that “the foundation of God stands sure having this seal the Lord knows those who are His wherefore let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from inequity.”  Paul also admonishes all of us that we are not to quarrel “but be gentle to all. Able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps, will grant them repentance so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”  Be gentle! Nevertheless be steadfast, and firm, with humility, but nevertheless correct those who are in opposition to the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul goes on to tell us in his second epistle to young Timothy the following:
“But know this, that in the last days, perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”
 Paul continues to admonish and exhort Timothy so that he will remember that “all who seek to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Nevertheless, he exhorts and encourages Timothy to “continue in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing from whom you’ve learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Dangerous times! Perilous times! False teachers! Opposition! Be encouraged! Rejoice and draw near to God, stand fast, for our redemption draweth nigh!
I.      The Deception of Evolution

A.     The Woodpecker


There are many today who “professing themselves to be wise” continue to hitch their star to the pernicious deceit and myth of the Darwinian Theory of Evolution. They are “willingly ignorant.” There are many truths which have now been proven and, indeed, are recognized by many honest scientists (even though some are still professing atheist) that this tired, old, outdated, pernicious myth is false. Just consider a few things which show the fallacy of evolution. Did you know that the woodpecker comes equipped with a kind of “shock absorber” between his beak and his brain that allows him to hammer endlessly on trees and other dead wood looking for bugs to eat? This “shock absorber” prevents his brain from being injured.  Additionally, the woodpecker has a tongue that is attached near the nostril on his beak and encircles his brain so that when he shoots out his tongue to retrieve the insects hidden in the dead trees, the tongue extends three to four times the length of his beak. That doesn’t occur just by evolution. Some have said, it appears to be by design. Indeed, it is by God’s holy design!

B.     The Caterpillar/Butterfly

Perhaps more amazing is the metamorphosis of the caterpillar to a butterfly. A caterpillar is born with no reproductive ability. When the caterpillar spins his cocoon, recent miniature videography has confirmed that the caterpillar actually is dissolved into a kind of “goo” inside his cocoon. The caterpillar actually dies and is dissolved! Later the butterfly is “resurrected” from the former goo of the caterpillar. It is a vivid real life example in nature of why the caterpillar and the butterfly did not “evolve.” Incidentally, the butterfly does have reproductive capability. This event is also a real life picture of what Paul describes to the church at Philippi when he says as follows:

“Brethren join in following my example and note those who walk so as you have us for an example. For many walk, of who I have told you often, and tell you now even weeping that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, whose glory is in their shame-who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our vile body that it may be conformed unto His glorious body according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.”

Our vile bodies (the goo of the former caterpillar) shall be changed to be likened to the Lord Jesus Christ’s glorious body (the butterfly). “The Lord God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we even ask or think.” 

C.     The Bombardier Beetle

 Consider also the bombardier beetle. The bombardier beetles are ground beetles (carabidae) consisting of more than five hundred species all together, which are most notable for their defense mechanism that gives them their name: when disturbed, they eject a hot noxious chemical spray from the tip of their abdomen with a popping sound. The spray is produced by a reaction between two chemical compounds, hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide, which they store in separate reservoirs in the beetle’s abdomen. These chemicals are mixed when needed in a third chamber that also contains water and catalytic enzymes. Heat is formed from the reaction between the mixtures and comes to near the boiling point of water and produces gas that drives the ejection. The damage is fatal to attacking insects and small creatures and is actually painful to the human skin. Some of these bombardier beetles can direct the spray over a wide range of directions. The bombardier beetle lives in most of the continents on the earth with the exception of Antarctica. They typically live in woodlands or grasslands in the temperate zones but can be found in other environments if there are moist places to lay their eggs. Just imagine for a moment the “first bombardier beetle” attempting to figure out how to mix the subject chemicals in the right amount, if he doesn’t get the formula just right he blows himself up. Additionally, if he fires off his deadly mixture too soon nothing happens, if he fires off his deadly mixture too late he boils himself to death. The truth of the matter is that this creature did not evolve! Logic and common sense tells almost anyone with a brain that the creature did not evolve. It is not a matter of survival of the fittest, because in this case it is not about fitness at all, but totally about survival. If the “first bombardier beetle” doesn’t survive there will be no other! Clearly God’s holy word tells us that the Lord God designed the bombardier beetle just like he designed other animals to “reproduce after their own kind” 

D.     DNA

 Finally, the double helix of the DNA code has by many accounts, put to death the myth of evolution. God’s word says in Genesis that He created all things in six days and on the seventh day he rested. These were not “billion year days”. The description of “the evening and the morning were the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th day” is repeated. Both the text and the context indicate a twenty-four hour day. Logic dictates that if you have 500 Million years of daylight the trees and grass and plants will all be fried, or, if you have 500 Million years of night everything will freeze. The truth of the matter is that the myth of evolution is perpetrated by those who are unwilling to surrender their will to the Lord’s will. They are unwilling to receive the truth of God’s word, and are unwilling to acknowledge the Lord God of the Bible for the simple reason that if they have been created they are beholding to the creator.

II.      The Greater Peril

These deceivers who are in opposition to the word of God have even been joined in some instances by professing ministers of the Gospel of Christ. God’s word says that he created all things in Heaven and in earth in six days and on the seventh day he rested. Many of these professing ministers of the Gospel of Christ deny that God created all things in six days, preferring to maintain the myth that it has been 14 Billion years since God created. They attach their conclusion to “scientific revelation” that surrounds such things as the half-life of radiation, the conclusions of men that result from absurd assumptions that the light from the stars has taken 14 Billion years to get here. Many of these men also deny the global flood despite the ample evidence all over the world of the truth of Genesis chapter 6 and following (consider for example that there are fossil relics of sea creatures on every mountain range in the world). So what is going on? These professing Christians who are taking these ungodly positions in contradiction to God’s word are in actuality doing what Satan did to Eve in the garden. You will recall that Satan said “hath God said that you shall not eat of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden, because if you do you shall surly die? You will not surly die but you will be as smart as God.”

These men without evidence have succumbed to the exact same tactic of disputing the word of God. It is a dangerous position for them and it is a dangerous position for anyone who listens to them. The word of God states that it is true. In John 17:17 Jesus speaking to the Father says “Father sanctify them in thy truth, thy word is truth”. Jesus says in the 14th chapter of the Gospel of John “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes unto the Father but by me.” Either Jesus is truth or he is not. Jesus is not merely “a good man”. He is truth itself. He authenticates the entire Old Testament and all of scripture. He is the living word of God “who was in the beginning with God, is God, and has created all things! A body was prepared for Him and in the fullness of time he was born of a woman under the law. He gave his life a ransom for many. He died an atoning death for all of those who will place their trust in Jesus alone for their salvation and repent from their sin. He himself bore our sin in his own body on the cross that we might be dead unto sin and alive unto riotousness and with His stripes we are healed. 

A.     Renewal in the Spirit of the Mind

In the 4th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in the 23rd verse the apostle Paul states clearly what these men need. Having previously described that all non-Christians “walk in the vanity of their mind having their understanding darkened being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them because of the blindness of their heart, and who are past feeling and have given themselves over unto lewdness to work all uncleanness and greediness, Paul called them to be renewed in the spirit of the mind.” This is the need of many of these men. Though they may have been “born again”, they need to be renewed in the spirit of their mind. Indeed, it is the need of everyone who has not already been born again.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his great exhaustive commentary on Paul’s epistle to the Church at Ephesus points out the fact that the word renew literally does mean precisely what it says. The spirit of the mind is to be made new again. It suggests restoring the spirit of the mind to the condition that it once had. Prior to the fall the spirit of the mind was alive. When Eve disobeyed God and led Adam astray the mind and the spirit of the mind died. It is no use arguing about that fact. Eventually Adam died. Cane died. Abraham died. Moses died, David died, Peter, James, John, Paul all died looking for the expectant hope as scripture describes of Abraham of a city that “has foundations whose builder and maker is God.”

The statement “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” is also in the “present tense” so being renewed is something that continues and must go on and on. In order to be renewed in the spirit of one’s mind there must be an operation of the Holy Spirit. In order to get a fuller picture of what this means Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones directs the attention of the reader to chapter 6 in Genesis where the Lord God says concerning the world that he was going to judge and to destroy in the flood “every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually.” MLJ says “what a diagnosis! What a psychological analysis!-every imagination of the thoughts of his heart! In these words we find that the “spirit of the mind” is analyzed still further; the imagination comes in, the feelings come in, it is this principle at the back of the mind that has gone wrong. It is not the mind as an instrument (in and of itself) that has gone wrong. We must be perfectly clear about that, because somebody might want to challenge me at this point and say, are you saying that every man who is not a Christian cannot think at all and has no ability? …to which MLJ says of course I am not! This is where it is important to differentiate the difference between the mind and the spirit of the mind. The trouble with man is not in his mind but in the spirit of his mind. MLJ goes on to say concerning Paul’s illustration in Romans 6:19 that “here, I say, is the devastating thing that the fall and sin have done to the human race. The mind of man which was, at the beginning, governed by the spirit is now governed by the flesh. All man’s thinking is vitiated to that extent. Man is still able to think and act to advantage as a physicist, a doctor, a philosopher, and so on; although even there at a given point he goes wrong. The moment you come to the things that really matter—man’s whole being and his relationship to God at the time and to eternity—there man’s thinking fails completely, because the spirit of his mind has gone astray.” 

Dr. Lloyd-Jones goes on to use another example from Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians where Paul says “the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Is he saying that the natural man is not a Christian because he has not a brain? He is not! He is saying that his brain is of no use to him because the spirit that controls it prevents his grasping the true doctrine. It is the spirit of the mind that is wrong, not the mind as an instrument. If we grasp this we shall never be surprised to find that certain great people are not Christians. Some of them are familiar to us through radio and television and others of them are writers. …they are great men; and we grant that they possess greater brains than we have, better instruments as such. But it is not the instrument that matters, it is the spirit of the mind that matters.

Continuing with Dr. Lloyd-Jones exposition on this subject, he states that:

“What the New Testament does is to train the man, to set him right, and then he goes on and does the work. It is the spirit of the mind that needs to be changed. The Christian must not do things without knowing why he is doing them. He must not do them blindly just because he has been told to do them. Not at all! Intelligence is essential! The spirit of the mind! If you do not know why you are living the Christian life, you are being a very poor Christian. The Christian is able to give a reason for the hope that is in him, with gentleness and reverence. It is not a mechanical thing; it must be intelligently performed by the spirit of your mind!”

 Dr. Lloyd-Jones concludes by saying “if the spirit of our mind is changed and is renewed, we shall be thinking in such a way that we shall put off the old man, and will put on the new man. And we shall do it properly and in the right way. … obviously, at the time when we are converted we see the one great truth, but we need to be taught much more, do we not? We need to be taught how to think [when first one is converted] one is a babe in Christ, the spirit of their mind has to be renewed; they have to start learning to think in this new way; the whole outlook, the whole attitude, the very spirit of their thinking has got to be entirely renovated… we need to be Christianized in the whole of our being; and obviously, first and foremost in the mind itself, for ‘as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he!’ So be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”

 This clearly is what needs to happen to many professing Christians, some of whom undoubtedly have been born again but have not yet been “renewed in the spirit of their minds” and are falling into the trap of deceit laid by the enemy. When they take the position—whatever it may be—disputing God’s word they are undermining the authority of scripture. These pernicious evil thoughts such as evolution; the position that it took billions of years for the earth and the stars and everything in the universe to be formed; that God did not destroy the world with a global flood; and many others, all deny the truth of the word of God. “God’s word is truth! There is no other acceptable position for professing Christians. Let us “bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

Conclusion

 These are perilous times, indeed dangerous physically, but more importantly perilous dangerous times spiritually. “There is great deceit for many false teachers, naysayers, disputers of the truth of God’s word, “have crept in unawares” … ungodly men, who have turned the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” We, however, have received the one true faith delivered once to the Saints. The Apostle Paul stated regarding this one true faith “but even if we, or an angel from Heaven preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received from us let him be accursed.”

 Wherefore, know and be assured that God hath made him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Do you know Him? Have you been made the righteousness of God in Him? Have you been renewed in the spirit of your mind?

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Your friend and brother in Christ,
Daniel (Bill Gray)