God by his word wants to be the only influence in your life. When he made Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:7-3:24), he made them in his own image and likeness, if they were to learn more about themselves they needed to learn more about God, and be close to him. He gave them his word, as their compass, as their means of knowing themselves, their possibilities, to be there guide, to form their identities.
But when Eve allowed the devil to control how she thinks about herself, and the possibilities that she has, things fell apart from her. The foreign influence she allowed into her mind caused her to sin against God. She started to feel differently based on the devil’s suggestion that she allowed into herself. When she felt differently she acted differently. When she lost her identity as being one with the word of God, she entered into error.
Paul warned that bad company (which was the devil in the case of Eve) corrupts good manners (1Corinthians 15:33). Rather than being negatively influenced away from God, we should be actively influencing others in that way. That is why God sent us out to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). He wants us to be active in influencing people positively and not the other way round.
The bible warned the pull of the flesh, against false brethren, false apostles, false righteousness, and false grace.
Paul told the Galatians to walk in the Spirit and not to fulfill the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-21, Romans 12:13). That means it doesn’t matter your New Year resolutions, when we are not actively seeking the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are automatically subjecting ourselves to the influence of the flesh.
He said that we should put on a new man renewed according to the image of him which created it- Christ (Colossians 3:8-10). Listing a series of bad behaviours, he said such should not be found in our lives because we have not so learned Christ (Ephesians 4:19-31).
On the mountain of transfiguration, the voice of God was heard by Peter, James and John from heaven telling them that Jesus is the Son of God (his number one representative) and they should hear him (Mark 9:7). We should learn from him, and be like him, if they want to have anything to do with the father.
Paul said that he puts his body under so that after doing the will of God he will not be a cast away (1Corinthians 9:27). When we allow the flesh (harmful passions, excesses, lack of self control, wrong use of the mouth, wrong use of time, and energy) to run riot in our lives, they we are candidates for being cast away. He also said that the one who thinks he stands should take heed lest he falls (1Corinthians 10:12).
John warned us against the lust of the eyes, the flesh and the pride of life as being influencers in our lives (1John 2:15-17). They will influence us away from the love of God. Paul wrote that we should beware of covetousness which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5).
A man came to Jesus, asking him to compel his brother to share the inheritance with him. Jesus replied: who made me a judge and a divider over you (Luke 12:13-15)? He added that his disciples need to beware of covetousness because the life of a man does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.
We should beware of wrong passion polluting our sense of judgment, and awareness of dangerous situations so as we could e.g. flee from lustful (2Timothy 2:22) scenarios that can make a mess of our souls, entrapping us in sin.
While the flesh wants to bring us into bondage to sin, false brethren want to bring us into bondage into legalism, according to Paul (Galatians 2:1-5). They know nothing of the liberty that we have in Christ Jesus. They know nothing of grace and are angry with it.
False brethren look for ways to exclude others from the kingdom of God, based on race, social standing, denominational affiliation, education, or being followers of a particular man. They create a sense of second class citizenship among the people of God. False brethren don’t care if you are following Jesus or not as not as you are following their own variant of truth, then you will be accepted by them.
False apostles are more dangerous than false brethren because of the level of influence they wield. They arrogate for themselves the authority that Christ has not given them, specifically to pull a crowd to themselves. They want to cast an influence on your pocket to cause you to give to them. According to the bible, they want to make merchandise of the people (2Peter 2:1-3). Paul says their god is their belly. False apostles can be embellished by Satan with false signs and wonders. Paul calls them Satan’s ministers (1Corinthians 11:13-20).
Jesus told the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is built on a twisted sense of self-righteousness (Isaiah 64:6), which drives people away from God. It is full of comparison. It forgets the grace and mercy of God.
Jesus gave a story of a Pharisee who in prayer in the temple spoke with a loud voice listing for God all his good points (Luke 18:9-14), saying he is not like a tax collector a short distance away from him. His self-righteous attitude is enough to drive calling people like the tax collector away from the house of God. With that story, Jesus was telling the disciple to not be like him.
The psalmist says that many people will proclaim their own goodness but a faithful man who can find (Proverbs 20:6). Rebuking the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, Jesus said that they are clean on the outside but on their inside they are dead men bones (Matthew 23:27).
Let us not focus on how we appear to men, but how we appear to God. God said to Prophet Samuel, when he wanted to choose the king of Israel based on appearance, “I don’t look as men do; I look at the heart while men look at the appearance (1Samuel 16:7).” The true gospel is a heart gospel. Paul said that we are not of the circumcision made by hand and on the flesh, but the one in the heart by the Spirit (Colossians 2:11, Romans 2:29). The falsely righteous emphasises certain practices to the exclusion of others.
One of the worst influences we should careful of is that of false grace, in which receiving Jesus is taken as a license to sin; in which the grace of Jesus, is taken as a license for lasciviousness (Jude 1:4).
They may not say it like that, but that is what they imply. They say something like this: it doesn’t matter what you do, once you are saved, you are always saved.
That is half truth. It is true that once you are saved you are always saved, but it is a lie that it doesn’t matter what you do. Though once you are saved, you are always saved, it matters what you do, for the following reasons:
- What you do shows us what has happened inside of you in salvation. If we don’t see a life of righteousness, but a life of sin (even if you want to have it under the caption of grace), then you are not saved at all, not to talk of being always saved (it does matter if you have answered the altar call a million times, or go to church regularly). Jesus came to save people from sin (Matthew 1:21), not save them into sin.
- What you do shows who you are following. You are not truly saved until you confess that Jesus is Lord from your heart (Romans 10:9-10). In that case it means you are following him. And you can’t follow him and still be dominated by sin, since he is without sin (Hebrews 4:15). And don’t tell me we can’t be like Jesus. That is an indication that you are submerged in false grace. Why is he our example, if we can’t be like him? You underestimate the power of God to change you. That means you have not met him.
- What you do make you light or darkness; it makes you either a child of the devil or a child of God. If your deeds are evil, if they are not reflective of the holiness of God, then you are darkness and you will hide from the light (John 3:19-21).
And you can’t hide from Jesus, who is light, if you have been truly saved. False grace teaches that God tolerates sin, claiming that the fact that we can come to God for forgiveness anytime because of the blood, is an open cheque for sin (1John 1:9-2:6).
They fail to consider that the blood of Jesus is meant to make us (through its cleansing ability) incapable of committing the sins we have confessed, not an allowance for more sin (and that the blood of Jesus grace to us). See how some people twist the meaning of grace. Paul said the grace of God trains in righteousness (Titus 2:11-12). That is the true definition of grace.
- God’s Transforming Power is By the Holy Spirit. (thegospelofgraceministries.wordpress.com)
- Ruminating Romans: Faithing in the Faith of Christ (afkimel.wordpress.com)
- The big difference between Christianity and Judaism (lifebyjesus.wordpress.com)
- Galatians 5:7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? (calvinistview.com)
- The Offense of the Cross – A Rebuke to the Modern Gospel of Watered Down Half Truths (thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com)
- Assurance of Salvation (reachoutm.wordpress.com)