WE HAVE AN ALTAR!
The people of God are blessed with a degree of participation never known before the glorification of Christ Jesus. In salvation, we become capable of imbibing the Divine Nature--a requisite to eternal life.
"Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come." (Heb 13:9-14).
Devotion 2 of 12
THE SOLEMN WARNING
We are in a competitive environment. There are intense efforts going on right now to gain your attention and affection. A battle for the hearts and minds of men is in place, and we do well to be aware of it.
Many people are content to think of their faith in strict association with a specific local congregation, or, perhaps, a certain pattern of theological thought. They are not aware of the magnitude of the real environment they occupy. It is a spiritual one, filled with personalities. There are the "powers of the world to come" that can be experienced by men (Heb 6:5). Jesus himself is speaking "from heaven" (Heb 12:25), calling for our attention. Scripture speaks of those that have "heard" Jesus, and been "taught" by Him (Eph 4:20-21). The Holy Spirit is speaking "to the churches," alerting them to heavenly realities (Rev 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). It is true that these influences come to us through means (the Word, exhortation, conscience, etc.), but we must never forget they are accomplished through the Persons of God, Christ, the Spirit, and the "spirits of just men made perfect."
These are not the only influences striving for our attention. Satan himself comes as "an angel of light" to deceive the people of God (2 Cor 11:14). He has a host of corrupt "ministers" that come under the guise of "ministers of righteousness" to turn the hearts of the people away from Christ (2 Cor 11:15). There is also a body of teachings spawned in hell and perpetrated among men, appropriately called "doctrines of demons" (1 Tim 4:1). Add to this scenario the presence of teachers characterized by craftiness that are lying in wait to deceive the saints (Eph 4:14). There are also rhetorical experts that "by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Rom 16:18). Faith thrusts us into an arena of unspeakable activity!
In spite of these circumstances, myriad of professed believers think only within the context of their local assembly, and the external influences experienced while there. They are blissfully unaware of the glorious influences of heaven or the treacherous ones of hell. They do not associate what they hear with heaven or hell, Jesus or Satan, advantage or jeopardy. Their assemblies are more like clubs or social gatherings than places of Divine enablement! The Kingdom of God will not allow for such insensitivity! The solemn warning is to be heeded. "Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings" (NIV).
What are "all kinds of strange teachings?" The KJV calls them "divers and strange," while the NASB refers to "varied and strange." There is a multiplicity of these teachings, but they all have a common focus and objective. They are "divers," "different," and "varied" on the surface. However, there is a common objective that characterizes all of them. They are designed to turn the eyes of the hearer away from the Son of God.
These are doctrines that, like a mighty flood, carry the soul away. They contain words and concepts that catch the soul in an undertow, pulling it down into the quagmire of deception and ruin. Most of these teachings are novel and interesting, appealing to those who, like the Athenians, spend "their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing" (Acts 17:21). The saints are admonished to not allow themselves to be caught up in such things. They are to guard their souls, and "take heed what they hear" (Mark 4:4). Those who delight in subjecting themselves to the latest theological fades and so-called evangelistic techniques, for example, do well to give heed to these words!
These doctrines are "strange" because they do not blend with the purpose of God. They do not fit into the eternal scheme of things. They are of another order--an earthly order, that cannot be united with the Word of God which "lives and abides forever." The word "strange" comes from a word meaning "foreign (literally, alien, or figuratively, novel); by implication, a guest or (vice-versa) entertainer:--host, strange." They are teachings that do not belong in the house of truth. They are not simply different, but antithetical, or contrary to, the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. These are dogmas that are more entertaining than beneficial. They are like visitors that do not live in the temple of God, but only come to disrupt, dissuade, and turn the heart aside. There are many "church" people who appear unaware that such teachings even exist.
PRAYER POINT: Father, give me grace to be alert to the encroachments of the devil, and sensitive to the wooing of the Spirit.
-- Tomorrow: WHAT IS GOOD --