By Dave Breese
Theres a word that has fallen out of fashion in our time and which has become conspicuous by its absence. This because, in these positivistic days, everything is fine, wonderful, acceptable, permitted and okay. This generation is taught to accept anything; whatever is, is right might well be its motto. Consequently, the horrible sins of yesterday, such as adultery, fornication, sodomy, have been reestablished in the culture and given new names, such as alternative sexual preferences and the like. Throwing up is the best answer to those who would assert the legitimacy of these things.
The present condition of our world should cause us to pay new attention to that particular word. The word is beware. I was struck just recently by the number of times our Lord used the word beware to warn His disciples and the outside world of some dreadful things. Some of those are worth noting.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (Matt. 7:15). According to the Lord Jesus, false prophets were really terrible people. Again and again, He lashed out most strongly against these spiritual counterfeiters. Christ spoke about these people concerning Judgment Day, then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity (Matt. 7:23).
Just as false prophets did constantly prey on the vulnerable of Israel, so we are warned of false teachers preying upon the Church today. We are to beware of these people. They are to be instantly and totally rejected by the Church. The Apostle Peter, addressing Christians, said, But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who secretly shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of (II Pet. 2:1,2). Many are attractive and even convincing. Nevertheless, a false teacher is a false teacher.
But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues (Matt. 10:17). Here, Christ is, of course, warning His own not to be too enamored of people, too trusting of this world. The lesson once again is clear that the world will lie to you if you dont watch out. The world will push its own false truth into your minds and that of your children. If you call these worldly propositions lies, you risk the possibility of prison, of suffering, and even of death. This politically correct nonsense is very serious. How many believers died because they resisted the lying ideology of the Communists? Hatred of the Christian faith is still a very common attitude across the world. Our confidence in the promises of men should be no more than very relative. Dont expect a lot of help from this wicked world. Absolute confidence must be reserved to be placed in God Himself.
Then Jesus said to them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees (Matt. 16:6). The disciples of Christ were temporarily confused by this warning of the Lord Jesus. They thought He was speaking of bread or some other commodity until Christ explained Himself to them, Then understood they how that He bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees (Matt. 16:12). The Pharisees and the Sadducees were, of course, the religionists of that day. They passed upon the people burdens that were impossible to carry and they turned the faith into a set of laws that needed to be obeyed in slavish fashion. They were quick to hail men to prison and to death if they disobeyed their burdensome laws. Therefore, we rightfully conclude that the leaven of the Pharisees is the preaching of religious works as the way of salvation. The Pharisees and the Sadducees would never agree that by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph. 2:8,9). They fought against the Lord Jesus for pointing up their religious hypocrisy. They later fought against Saul of Tarsus for preaching salvation by faith alone to the Gentiles. The leaven of the scribes and Pharisees is the religion that preaches salvation by works and denies the grace of our wonderful Lord.
Be very sure that the leaven of the Pharisees is percolating even now in many churches, many denominations, many Christian organizations. The message of salvation by grace alone is deeply resented by the present day Pharisees, of which there are many. This because it is their purpose to make people slaves to religion (even the evangelical religion) rather than free men in Jesus Christ.
And He said to them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a mans life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses (Luke 12:15). So we have a warning of Christ, beware of covetousness, which pierces to the heart of the problem of many people today. It is frightening to notice how many men, women, and young people for whom money is everything. In fact, surely the philosophy of our world is that the basis of life is economic. It was this philosophy that Karl Marx preached, and as a result, 60 million people died in Russia. Similarly, it is this philosophy that continues to gain ground in western culture and, sadly, in the church. Today we have the colossal cost of practicing and edificizing the Christian religion as one of the mounting problems of our time.
Remember, the covetous man is never satisfied. Covetousness demands more, more, and more yet. Christ warned us to beware of this attitude because covetousness consumes things without end. The assumptions of covetousness are false because a mans life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses. Money and life are not the same things.
Beware of evil workers (Phil. 3:2). Could it be that the Apostle Paul is actually saying that there are workers within the ranks of the Christian religion who are evil rather than good? Is their intent to destroy rather than to build up? The answer to that is certainly, yes. Who of us does not know individuals who seem to destroy everything that they touch? Many times their benign suggestions within the Church produce ruin rather than renewal. Evil workers will abound even worse and worse as we move toward the end of the age. We must be discerning about their preachments and beware of them to the extent that we recognize their dreadful activities early on in their subversive careers.
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. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:8,9).
Here the Apostle Paul warns us that there are things which purport to be philosophy but they are nothing more than vain deceit. They are a package of human traditions that are after the world and not after Christ. The result will be that those who hear and attempt to believe these philosophies risk the possibility of being spoiled.
So, again and again, the Bible warns us to beware, to watch, to be careful. The watchful Christian will be spared many a problem and will be a good soldier in many a battle. Those battles are sure to come and, indeed, are upon us now. Be looking up, but keep a sharp eye on the road ahead.
Destiny Newsletter continued