Sheepy Wolves

sheep-wolf

“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.”

Matthew 7:15, NLT

The old King James Version says, “which come to you in sheep’s clothing.”  There is something to be said about both translations.

Being aware.  Jesus commands this awareness, this discernment that our world is a dangerous place and dark things come out of it.  Deception is always working, the true believer must keep learning.  We must identify sheep, who are not really sheep after all.  They look like sheep, unless you get close.  They smell like sheep.  They appear gentle and kind.

But inside they are malignant and treacherous.  Jesus chose the word, “dangerous.”  We pretty much avoid anything dangerous. If there is a sign on the beach, and if it says “Dangerous Undertow,”  most of us will comply and our time in the water is alert and quite aware.

There are people in the world who should have that sign, as they are treacherous and deceitful.  They say many things, and there is enough there to seem authentic.  As simple believers, we feel we should trust without questions. We avert our eyes to anything unseemly or aberrant.  Isn’t this what a loving Christian is supposed to do?

Jesus never told us to be tolerant, at least not like this.  He understands that wolves will tear apart sheep, ripping them into ribbons, if given half the chance.  He commands us to exercise caution.  But already there has been way too much “sheep dismemberment” in our generation.  The flock has been chased and separated, many have already been devoured.

Jesus is encouraging us to become discerning  and aware,  and teach it to our children and friends.  We shouldn’t be paranoid, or frightened by the world that swirls around us.  And there will always be people with mixed motives and confusing thoughts.  If we are honest, we ourselves have these same things, as we are His work in process.

Exteriors are always a big question mark.  The main issue is the delicate art of observation.  The more we get to know Jesus, the more we will identify what is a lie, a trick or a deception.  The Secret Service of our country, in learning to understand counterfeiters will study at length the real currency.  It’s interesting, they don’t study the false bills, but the real ones.

Be encouraged.  He is standing right in front, making intercession for you before the Father.  The Word is ours also, and there are pastors and teachers, who are shepherding the flock.  You are targeted, but never forsaken.  Our enemy is defeated.  Do not fear, never ever fear.  We have angels in high places who are our friends.

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

 

Righteousness: His, Yours? (or Ours?)

“All of us are dirty with sin.
All the right things we have done are like filthy pieces of cloth.
All of us are like dead leaves,
and our sins, like the wind, have carried us away. “ 

Isaiah 64:6, NCV

________________

I have this reoccurring nightmare. I jump out of a plane.  I deploy my parachute, and it opens.  But it is completely full of holes!  Yikes!  I wake up before I splat. And then I think in a spiritual sense— what a relief it is to have a holiness that is given, or imputed.  If somehow you could turn off the spigot of the holiness he gives, and then run on your own merits; how far would you go?

Among good Christian people, there is an occupational hazard of sorts, and that is to “advance” in our thinking to that place where we are doing fine on our own.  We very much appreciated Jesus’ help– but now, at this moment, I must figure it out by myself.  This line of thinking, is called “self-righteousness.”

“Many have passed the rocks of gross sins – who have suffered shipwreck upon the sands of self-righteousness.” 

William Secker:’The Consistent Christian,’ 1660

We begin to travel in our sense of ourselves, away from a desperate, clinging to a trust in his mercy that is moving to a place of a confident, strutting awareness of having put ourselves back together again.  This is the ‘evil ones’ work– to steer you into self-righteousness.  Once you get there, he can just release you and let you ‘stew in your own juices,’ while he rules over your soul.

Becoming self-righteous should scare us to death.  It will damn our souls just as quick as adultery, or murder.  It is evil, and it sedates us to the place where it can work, unhindered and unchallenged.  I’ve read that some predators inject first an anesthetic to soothe their prey. This enables them to take their time, as they slaughter them.

I have had several bouts with self-righteousness.  (And I bet I’ll have several more.)  It is sin that will give you a wonderful back massage, just before it reaches for the knife that will cut your throat.  Somehow, we are lulled into this and my! I’m such a good person (even after such a dark and evil start.)

“Self-righteousness is the largest idol of the human heart – the idol which man loves most and God hates most. Dearly beloved, you will always be going back to this idol. You are always trying to be something in yourself, to gain God’s favour by thinking little of your sin, or by looking to your repentance, tears, prayers ; or by looking to your religious exercises, your frames, etc; or by looking to your graces, the Spirit’s work in your heart.”  

–Robert Murray McCheyne

 Jesus was, and is, and will be all my “righteousness.” 

We must cling to these hand-holds of grace.  The waves are substantial, and we most certainly would be swept out to sea.  But we grab and hold on to him.  And he holds on to us!  The fantasy of having enough of my own created righteousness to please God is simply a crock.  Jesus was, and is, and will be all my “righteousness.”  I have nothing– nothing else.

 bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

Self-Deception & Brokenbelievers

moralselfdeception.jpg__700x460_q95

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”

Psalm 145:18

“Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.”

Psalm 51:6, NASB

flourish20

Self-deception is sort of an occupational hazard for believing Christians. We have this strong tendency to walking and seeing out of delusion. A certain amount of confusion comes over religious people who have lost the sense of truth; we lose the sense of words and definitions of the Faith. We may say all the right things (and at the right time,) but no longer understand what is real, and what is true.

We can see this in our worship. We come to God and say the things we think he wants to hear. We declare praises, but they revert to a superficial veneer that covers up our lives. We can be fairly sincere in this, but we’re not speaking what is real. We can sing “praise the Lord,” without a true sense of what we are truly saying or doing.

We can see this in our prayer times. We come into the room and encounter God. (At least we hope so). But we say things like, “I give you my heart,” when we haven’t really. We so want to please God, so we tell him the things we think he would like to hear. We can polish our words to the point they are no longer real.

I know this may seem harshly dismissive of many peoples discipleship, and I’m sorry if it seems this way. But I’m really describing myself. I want the ‘real me’ to encounter the real God. “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). That freedom comes as a result of knowing what is real.

Perhaps we should become alert:

  • of words that have lost their meaning,
  • of the tendency toward self-deception,
  • of the unreal world of the enemy,
  • of God’s love of the truth.

Oh Father, please may it be the real me that speaks to the real you. Keep me from deceiving myself with empty and vain words that have a long time ago lost their meaning. May I truly possess what I glibly profess. Keep me true, dear Lord. Amen.

aabryscript

%d bloggers like this: