“Do not think that I came to do away with or undo the Law of Moses or the writing of the Prophets; I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For I assure you and most solemnly say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke of the pen will pass from the Law until all things are accomplished. So whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them, he will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness is more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-20).
I believe we all have an innate desire for approval. Whether it is from a parental figure, a coach, a teacher, or friends, the human heart longs for acceptance. Webster’s Dictionary defines approval as “an act or instance of approving something. Approve is defined as to have or express a favorable opinion of, to accept as satisfactory, to give formal or official sanction.”1 In the kingdom of God, approval from the Lord is a matter of trust, “But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel [that tells the good news of salvation through faith in Christ], so we speak not as [if we were trying] to please people [to gain power and popularity], but to please God who examines our hearts [expecting our best]” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
The Word of God is flawless, “The law of the Lord is perfect (flawless), restoring and refreshing the soul; the statues of the Lord are reliable and trustworthy, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). As Christians, we are to come to the Lord and His Word with reverential awe. We are to read His Word with an open heart to truth and what He is revealing to His people. We are not to add or take away from His Word because we dislike what He says. “You shall not add to the Word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2). “Do not add to His Words or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar” (Proverbs 30:6). “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19).
Christians are to teach the Word of God with faith, trust, and commitment. I listen attentively to pastors, teachers of the Word, and evangelists. I do not ingest just anyone’s teaching and agree with it, but hold it up to Scripture for truth. Is this what Scripture said? Is this what Jesus was portraying? Is this what God said or were words and phrases added to enhance and attract people? I pray before I read devotions, books, and commentaries from pastors. I desire to know truth, God’s truth. My prayer is, “if this is not truth, then press on my heart your truth and open my eyes to Godly, biblical teaching.”
I have felt this way about many ‘teachers’ and evangelists I see on television. I do not like entertaining preachers who use a loud song and dance. I am always reminded of Billy Graham. Billy Graham needed no ‘song and dance,’ but walked to the podium to preach. He had the presence of God on his life. He did not need the ‘show’ to draw crowds, but proclaimed truth to hungry souls. He is highly honored by Christian leaders and secular individuals.
The approved woman is a workman for God. She praises God (2 Corinthians 10:17-18) and recognizes Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (1 John 4:2-3). She studies and does her best to present herself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling, and skillfully teaching the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
The approved woman has shown herself to be an example of good works, with purity in doctrine [having the strictest regard for integrity and truth], dignified, sound and beyond reproach instruction, so that the opponent will be ashamed, having nothing bad to say (Titus 2:7-8). She accepts – as a teacher of God’s Word – she will be judged to a higher standard [because we have assumed greater accountability and more condemnation if we teach incorrectly]” (James 3:1).
False teachers are everywhere. The Bible clearly states to be on guard and test any teaching, holding it up to God’s Scripture for truth. My heart is burdened for individuals who are mislead by false teachers, the stage show, and unholy doctrine. I believe many have fallen victim to lies and deceit because many do not read and retain the Bible. God’s Word is clear and concise. I would concede I do not understand every word written, but I do trust the one who wrote it. I know every word is written for a reason, for a season, and for reprove.
I also believe many today do not want to hear truth. Remember Paul’s exhortation to Timothy in regards to tickling the ears? “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction [that challenges them with God’s truth]; but wanting to have their ears tickled [with something pleasing], they will accumulate for themselves many teachers to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold, and will turn their ears away from the truth and will wander off into myths and man-made fictions [and will accept the unacceptable” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
To end and confirm Christ’s words, we do not do away with the Old Testament because God’s Old points to God’s New – Christ. Christians are to be a gentle as doves, but as shrewd as snakes praying and deciphering truth versus fiction. The serpent is crafty and clever, be on guard and in prayer. Watch for those individuals who add or take away from God’s Word, watch for the ‘show’ and if God is preached. If Christ is not preached, but continually self-expression, pray for the lost individual who needs Christ’s intervention and for those who follow deception.
What does this have to do with your confidence and identity in Christ? Everything! You will never reach your full potential or have all that God has for you as long as you are under deception. Your heart may believe false teachings and are unable to grow spiritually. You may believe change and renewal is out of the question from false doctrine. You may believe healing and transformation from Christ is unattainable because of false leadership. Your heart may be so self-absorbed because your leadership does not teach repentance. You may feel stifled from lack of teaching on faith. You may feel a lack of spiritually growth because you are not hearing the Word of God preached from the pulpit. You may be feeling a prideful spirit instead of the Holy Spirit’s guidance due to unholy deception.
These are all concerns I have with my sisters in Christ who are spiritually deprived of God’s goodness, His mercy, and His truth. My prayer is you take an evaluation of your heart and beliefs if you feel there is no growth or unity in your church. I desire everyone come to the full knowledge of Christ so we each can grow, mature, and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
May God bless your church and pastors. May the Lord open your heart to His truth and Scripture. May the God of heaven and earth reveal anything in your life that is not of Him. May the Lord continue to reveal deception and draw you to repentance. May the Lord continually shine is face upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord be praised and magnified!
Picture by:Divine Walls