Hypocrites! #1

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward (Matthew 6:2 KJV).

What exactly is a “hypocrite?”

The word appears 20 times in the “New Testament” Scriptures. Today’s Scripture is the first occurrence. Our English “hypocrite” is a transliteration of the Greek term, hupokrites (“under judge”). It was used to describe an actor under an assumed identity. He or she wears a costume, mask, and/or makeup to transform into someone else. To be candid, he or she is a pretender. It would do us well to look at these verses to see just what makes hypocrites so insincere.

Reading today’s Scripture again: “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” Here, a hypocrite gives alms (money/goods to the poor and needy)—not to help others or glorify God—but to be noticed and praised of men.

Matthew 6:5 mentions a second type of hypocrite: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” They pray—not to have fellowship with God or reflect upon His Word—but to be observed and praised by others.

Verse 16 features a third hypocrite: “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” The hypocrite here also seeks the attention and glory of men—they advertise their fasting by using their faces. They are not interested in true mourning, deep contemplation of their sin, and so on.

Just as someone would play another role on a stage, so the hypocrite “plays his part” for all society to give him a standing ovation….

A Higher Education: It Is Up to You!

Friday, May 19, 2018

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 KJV).

Twelve years ago today, I graduated high school. Consequently, we dedicate this devotional to high school students who are nearing graduation.

Are you about to graduate high school? What would God have you do afterward? Go to college? Trade school? Something else? What career should you pursue? If you do plan on education after high school, where should you attend school? These are tough questions, and while God’s Word does not answer them, you can make decisions that conform to sound Bible doctrine—that is God’s will.

In today’s Scripture, Paul encourages downcast Timothy. Timothy was considerably younger than the Apostle Paul. Older people who are teaching false doctrine are intimidating young Timothy: “Tim, you are too young to teach God’s Word. Let us handle it.” Young Timothy conceded, became silent, and allowed the (“older and wiser”) false teachers to continue teaching their damnable heresies (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 1:5-8). Paul replied, “Timothy, Speak up! Let no man despise thy youth!”

Christian youth can be just as effectual in their station in life as Christian adults. The lost world is watching us Christians, and we need to be sure that our actions are in accordance with the sound Bible doctrine we claim to believe (lest we be guilty of confusing the already-puzzled unbelievers). Whether “young or old,” our speech, our lifestyle, our acts of love, our determination, our belief in sound Bible doctrine, and our separation from that which God hates, is the way we communicate to the lost world God’s Word and its preeminence in our lives and hearts (today’s Scripture).

Above all, dear graduates, whatever you do post-graduation, “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). After all, it really is not your life—it is Christ’s life in you (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:4), so He alone deserves the glory! 🙂

*Based on a Bible study by the same name, which can be read here. Also, see the study “The Spirit-Filled Student.”

By the way, you may also be interested in reading this archived special-edition study about my own college experience.

The Price of Heaven

Friday, May 18, 2018

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5 KJV).

Heaven has an entrance fee—and, friend, you CANNOT pay it!

Our flesh loves to perform. You would think that 10 rules would get someone discouraged, but no! If so much as one rule is kept 90 percent of the time, or all are kept 10 percent of the time, there is boasting. “No, I did not keep it perfectly, but ‘I did the best I could!’ I will try even harder next time!” A performance-based acceptance system, unfortunately for sinners, is an “all-or-nothing” procedure. Even though a sentence may be 99 percent true, one wrong word renders the whole statement false. Likewise, one failure nullifies the “performance” to become (something quite easy to guess)—“non-performance!!”

King David, in today’s Scripture, is confessing to God. David has recently become a coveter, an adulterer, a liar, a conspirer, and a murderer: “[1] Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. [2] Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. [3] For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. [4] Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.”

Today’s Scripture follows: Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Just yesterday, a woman told me that she believed a man went to Heaven because he had given so much money to his church. Like so many, she fails to see the truths from the pen of King David. David knew his problem was sin: he was born a sinner! No matter his “good” works, his sin nature would remain.

Having received a complete revelation from God, we see what David could not. Jesus Christ died on Calvary to be the “propitiation”—the fully-satisfying payment—for our sins (Romans 3:25). Friend, you place before God something other than faith in Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for your sins, and you will be indubitably disappointed when you realize your “method of payment” is permanently denied!

Curb Appeal

Thursday, May 17, 2018

“And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” (Mark 13:1 KJV).

“Look, Lord, the beautiful Jerusalem Temple!” “Yes, I see—and what awful doctrine is here too!”

Friend, ask individuals why they attend their particular local church. Curb appeal will likely come up first: “Our building and grounds are so beautiful!” Other reasons are various and sundry. “The rituals and programs are thrilling!” “We have the best ‘praise and worship’ team in town!” “Our preacher is an outstanding motivational speaker!” “Momma and Daddy went there, I was baptized there, and I will die there!” “My friends invited me to go!” “My spouse makes me go there!” Rarely will you ever hear, “I go there because they teach me sound Bible doctrine!”

Once you ask 100 people, you will break yourself of the habit of being startled when you meet church members ignorant of Scripture. They were never going for the Bible study anyway. What mattered was chitchat with friends about the weather and politics, participation in ceremonies, and entertainment at a music concert—all amounting to nothing in eternity.

First Timothy chapter 4: “[6] If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. [7] But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. [8] For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”

“Godliness” is proper worship of God. The Lord Jesus said in John 4:24: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” We worship God—not with our flesh but with our spirit (inner man). We also worship Him “in truth”—according to sound Bible doctrine as opposed to everything else. “Bodily exercise” (religion) “profiteth little:” it looks and feels good now, but will bitterly disappoint eventually. However, dispensational Bible study “is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come!”

Bible Q&A #495: “Is the United States’ recent embassy move to Jerusalem a fulfillment of Bible prophecy?

Yoke!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 KJV).

What was life in religion like decades ago for one of my Christian friends?

After visiting his religious leader and “making his confession,” he exited the booth feeling guilt-free and sinless. It was in that moment he wished he would die. Remember, he allegedly had no sin on his account, so he believed he would make it into Heaven instead of atoning for unconfessed sin in purgatory. Another Christian friend, formerly of that denomination as well, confirmed she also shared that fantasy. (They, of course, returned for the next confession… ready to “unload” new guilt and sins!)

The deficiency of the “short-account” system is manifested for all. You can confess your sins all you want, but wait long enough, and there will be something else to confess… and something else… and something else… and something else! It is an endless cycle—nothing but a burden that keeps the church member running, striving, huffing and puffing. Both miserable and pleasurable, such a system is so enticing to human nature. We bend toward both lasciviousness (looseness) and asceticism (discipline). The sin nature loves worldliness (sins of the flesh) but it also enjoys religion (sins of the spirit). It will eagerly go out and commit terrible sins—yet how willing it is to return to a church and “make up for those transgressions.” What a terrible trap in which to be caught!

Praise God, however, for both aforementioned souls escaped Roman Catholicism! They saw the utter futility in trying to keep so many rules and regulations, their complete inability to measure up to please God, the total insecurity of their religious system. Finally, they came to God by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone—having never returned to that slavery. Today’s Scripture is the Lord Jesus Christ calling people out of the cruel trap of religion. His words echo even today!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is ‘the eye of the needle’ in Matthew 19:24?

Whose Child and Servant?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44 KJV).

Beware, beloved! According to the Lord Jesus Himself, a religious leader is not necessarily a child (and servant) of God!

Once, I read a biography of a chief religious leader in Christendom. Now a dead man, his denomination referred to him as “a servant of God.” That made me wonder—just whose servant was he before he died? Had they realized what they had done by giving him such a “flattering” title posthumously?!

The Lord Jesus Christ, while a kind and loving Man, was nevertheless quite direct when it came to the souls of men being damned to Hell in the name of vain religion. Israel’s religious system, centered in the Jerusalem Temple, was wholly corrupt. Today’s Scripture is the Lord Jesus speaking directly to Israel’s religious leaders—mainly, the Pharisees (verse 13)—and He holds nothing back. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do!” Actually, they were so in tune with Satan’s policy of evil that they would soon crucify Him on Calvary’s cross in unbelief! The Devil had so infected God’s people with lies, especially in religion (where it appeared as truth and godliness). Sound familiar?!

In addition to “children,” Satan has “ministers” (servants). We read some sobering words in 2 Corinthians chapter 11: [13] For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. [14] And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. [15] Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” Again, a religious leader is not necessarily doing the work of the God of the Bible! If you want to avoid the charlatans and the chicanery, friend, you had better study and know your King James Bible rightly divided!

Dear Friends Divided!

Monday, May 14, 2018

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17,18 KJV).

Doctrine divides, dear friends—doctrine divides dear friends!

When the ecumenist laments, “Doctrine divides,” he or she (for once) is telling the truth. Dearest of friends, doctrine divides dearest of friends. It is asserted that false teachers “really are not that bad,” that “they can be reformed or salvaged,” that “they are entitled to their opinions as we ours.” We are urged, “Stop causing trouble by emphasizing doctrine and just preach the ‘love of Jesus!’ We can all be united as ‘Christians’ if nothing more.”

These last several months, I have learned firsthand (and most painfully!!) the closest-knit congregation is not immune to being split so mightily because it falls away from sound Bible doctrine. Intimate, long-time friends in the ministry have turned on me in the blink of an eye, becoming my enemies like I have never even dreamed. Once Christians turn away from the truth, Satan wastes no time to penetrate the group with as much as error as he possibly can. When the assembly reaches that point, your numerous warnings have been ignored, it is apparent that you can do nothing but apply today’s Scripture. With a broken heart (!), you have to give those precious brethren over to what they want.

So emotionally driven, these brethren passionately defend the false teacher and make you appear as the evil one. Be not surprised! When they have no sound Bible doctrine on which to stand, they, being deceived, will speak vicious, offensive words about you for calling attention to doctrinal error. You can and should pray for them (1 Corinthians 1:4-10), you can and should forgive them as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32), but things will never be the same between you and them as long Heaven is far away. The ministry is not for wimps, dear friends, the ministry is not for wimps!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What do you mean—‘the prophetic program’ and ‘the mystery program?’