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Heed the Warning

How easy is it to take criticism?  We don’t like being told that we’re going down the wrong path.  But it’s necessary sometimes to keep us from bigger problems later on.

As we continue looking at the book of Galatians, the church has come to the point where they need to deal with Paul’s correction.  They’re being drawn down the slippery slope of legalism.  The Apostle is trying to warn them before it’s too late.

Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Galatians 4:16

We would much prefer to be told how wonderful we are.  By pointing out their error, Paul risks their anger.  The word enemy in this verse actually means hateful.  They’re getting to the point where they don’t want Paul participating in their growth anymore.

That’s what happens when you start listening to the wrong people.

Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good.  What they want is to alienate you [from us], so that you may be zealous for them.  It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you.
Galatians 4:17-18

Paul is well acquainted with the methods used by false teachers.  They don’t have the Word of God to back them up, so they have to rely on other things.

According to this verse, they’re very loving and passionate towards you.  They show what seems to be a genuine concern for your welfare and growth.  But all the while, they’re really looking for your passion towards them.

It’s amazing how gullible we can be when someone starts by telling us what we want to hear.  That’s why false teaching usually begins with flattery.  Paul was clear that he never used this method to win people over.

I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.  For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites.  By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
Romans 16:17-18

That’s the danger of listening to these false teachers.  After all, would you rather listen to someone telling you how great you are; or that you’re headed in the wrong direction?  The Galatian people were being tempted to end their relationship with Paul in order to serve these deceivers.

Paul is clear that zeal is really a good thing, as long as what we’re zealous for is the truth.  We must always ask ourselves if our zeal is for the Word of God for the goals of man.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!
Galatians 4:19-20

Because of their wavering, Paul has begun a campaign of intercessory prayer for them.  He was there when they were birthed into God’s kingdom.  But now, through self-righteous legalism, they’re trying to win God’s favor by their works.

Paul knows that this course will end in spiritual disaster for them.  He also knows that only the power of the Spirit of God can change the hearts of people.  So just like he interceded for their salvation, he’s now diligent in praying for their freedom from this deception.

Don’t be fooled.  Good works, in and of themselves will never bring you closer to the Lord.  It only comes through intimacy with the Holy Spirit.

Question: What has been your experience, if any, with deceptive teachers?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on September 8, 2017 in Legalism, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Cain’s Offering

GrapesAs I was reading the tiny book of Jude, I saw something that caught my interest. Jude is speaking about some false teachers who had secretly infiltrated the church.

In writing about them, he made this statement…

Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.
Jude 11

When I saw that line – they have taken the way of Cain – something struck a chord in me and I knew I had to look deeper into it. I wanted to understand this because of the false teaching evident in the church today.

As I studied the life of Cain, I came to a conclusion. We’ve really misunderstood him. We call him evil and murderous. But I want to take a fresh look at him. I think that you’ll be surprised at what I found.

Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.
Genesis 4:1-3

We know from the Bible that Cain was the firstborn. Abel came along later. What we don’t know is how much later. Actually, Adam and Eve had other children – many others. Some estimates say it could have been as many as 500 children during their lifetime.

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.
Genesis 4:3

Here is the first of a few things that caught my attention. As this story unfolds we are confronted by the fact that Cain loves God. Not only does he love God, but he’s grateful to God for the abundant harvest that he received.

Of course the growing conditions were ideal back then. I’ve heard some experts who said that the fruits and vegetables grew to enormous sizes before the flood. They were big enough that an ear of corn could be a meal for an entire family.

As a result, we see that Cain was a worshipper. He acknowledged that God was the source of his prosperity and brought an offering before Him. Then something happens that wasn’t expected.

…but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Genesis 4:5

God did not accept Cain’s offering. This brings me to a truth that many Christians have missed. Just because we offer the Lord something; that doesn’t mean that He’s obligated to accept it. God doesn’t have to accept our offerings, especially if He didn’t want it in the first place.

Too many people think that they’re impressing God with what they do, yet God never asked them to do it. They end up offering things to God that He doesn’t want. I want to take a few posts to look at Cain – and how to avoid taking his path.

Questions: Can you give a modern example of what Cain went through?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2016 in Spiritual Walk, The Church, Worship

 

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