By Lou Coleman
To put it bluntly, there is a lot of Phony Christianity out there. There are those who are deceived and who are deceiving others. There are those trusting more in rituals and church membership than a relationship with Jesus Christ. There are those claiming to speak for God and using their “ministries” to line their pockets with money from gullible people. Not only did the apostle Paul had to confront people who did dumb things in the name of the Christian faith, but God tells us that He doesn’t like it when people do not do the very thing that He has commanded. Exactly! Not only does He “not like it,” He hates it! He hates it when people fake it. He hates it when people attempt to serve him with self-effort. He hates guile and duplicity. He hates it when people have the audacity to think that they can fool Him! We may be able to fool men – even ourselves- of our bogus piety and sincerity, but are we really so arrogant to think that we can fool God? You know Jesus warned about bogus Christianity many times? In Matthew 7:15 He said, “Watch out for false prophets.” He wasn’t speaking about false prophets in the world but about false ministers in the church. False prophets are ministers who preach a gospel of deception and lies. As agents of Satan, they speak lies and contradict the Word of God at every turn. They are dangerous, like ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing. In Jeremiah 6:14, God says, “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace.” False prophets never speak about man’s sin, the wrath of God, or the coming judgment. Their mission is to put Band-Aids on people serious wounds, covering them up rather than dealing with them. Instead of preaching about sin, judgment, hell, the wrath of God, repentance, or saving faith, or saying the cross is necessary for salvation, they say God loves and save all people. But as Jeremiah asked, “To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? I tell you the dogs have been turned loose on folks trying to live for God like never before. Satan and his minions hate believers, and they strive to trip us up, tempting us and trying to lure us into sin and impair our effectiveness in God’s Kingdom. But thank God we were not created ignorant of what sin is and what it would do, (Gen 2:16-17; Romans 4:15; 5:13)
Listen; regardless of whether you realize it, Satan has targeted you as a victim. He knows your name and address, your strengths and weaknesses. Somewhere in the shadows, he and his forces lurk, even in churches, waiting, planning for the moment they will strike when you’re caught off-guard. He desperately hopes that you will, as many Christians remain ignorant of his reality. But as Jesus said, “whatsoever causes you to forget yourself, even if it is your right eye… then take it out and throw it away.” He is not saying anything that has to be taken literally; it is a metaphor. He is saying that it is better to be blind than to be forgetful of yourself because the blind man who remembers himself is not blind, he has the real eye. But if a man who has eyes forgets himself, what is the use of having eyes? He cannot see even himself; what else can he see? Either we need to hit our knees and pray for spiritual reality in us or assume God has given someone else a message. But I, for the sake of the ‘form of things’ or human convention or pride, WILL NOT FAKE IT! “Who Let The Dogs Out?” Because most of those who claim to represent Jesus actually don’t. Moreover, as time goes on, even more pretenders will arise, however sincere they may be. Jesus said, I have told you beforehand” (Matt.24 25). So wake-up and smell the coffee! The truth will set you free!
Even though some of what I’ve said may sound critical. It may sound harsh, even sarcastic. There are times when truth sounds that way and I make NO APOLOGY. In Matthew 23 Jesus is speaking out against the religious rulers of His day. His tone was angry. He was both confrontive and critical. He even used biting sarcasm several times to make His point and illustrate how far these men had departed from God’s righteousness and truth. But His heart was pure. His love and compassion for them was evident. I’m not Jesus, and I can’t say my heart is pure, even though I’d like it to be. But, I can identify with Jesus in this one thing: when I see the religious deception perpetrated on people, I grieve.
Some time ago the Lord took me to Jeremiah 5 and showed me that this passage doesn’t just describe the condition of Israel in Jeremiah’s day; it also describes the condition of churches today. This is what it says: “And should I not punish them for this rebellion? Declares the Lord! Should I not avenge Myself on a nation such as this? A horrible and amazing thing has happened in the land: the prophets are liars, telling the people only what they want to hear; the leaders deceive my people, using a false authority that I have not given them; and worst of all, the people want it this way. But what will they do when the end comes, and they are still bound up in all this deception?” (Jeremiah 5:29-31)
Herein lies my greatest fear: that most people in the Church are happy with the way things are and will not be interested in anything that opposes the truth as they see it. But all I can say is that I’m confident of the message God has given me, and I know the Word of God can take care of itself. Since most of what God has given me represents a serious departure from conventional wisdom, I can only quote Paul: “Remember what Isaiah said, God will turn conventional wisdom upside down. The time will come when the so-called religion experts will be the ones who look foolish. So where does that leave the one who thinks he’s wise, or the well educated, or the one who understands the ways of the world? Isn’t God going to expose all this pretentious nonsense? The world never had a clue when it came to knowing and understanding God. That’s why He uses the things that the world thinks are foolish or just plain wrong, even unpleasant, to guide those who trust in Him on their way to salvation.” (I Corinthians 1:19-21)
I pray that we will examine our Christianity and see whether it is simply empty profession or whether we embrace the kingdom of God and its law. Think it through. Foolishness will never help us, because, according to the Bible, foolishness is rejection of God as King, rejection of His law, rejection of His plan, and rejection of His way. “Who Let The Dogs Out? Woof, Woof!”