You ever notice how the apostles of Christ never warned the early Christians about the dangers of being deceived by the gods of the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Indians, Persians, et al. They weren’t concerned about Sol Invictus, the worship of the Sun god, nor the worship of the Roman Emperor, nor any of the invading mystery cult gods of the East.
They warned Christians about organized churches and synagogues who professed to know God even while they were being infected by the false teachings found in the worship of those very false gods.
Paul makes this clear: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (II Cor 11: 13-14).
Much to be gleaned here. First, there are false apostles, individuals who claim to be sent by Jesus Christ (Yahshua) with His message. Their stock in trade, however is deceit. How do they deceive would be followers of Christ? They “transform themselves into preachers, teachers, and priests of the God of the Bible.
“Transforming themselves” comes from the Greek words meta schema, which means “to change fashion.” Someone’s schema is “the habitus, as comprising everything in a person which strikes the senses, the figure, bearing, discourse, actions, manner of life” . In other words, when you look at one of these “false apostles” of Christ, you see and hear someone who you would expect to be a man or woman of God. Their appearance, the way they carry themselves, their words about Christ, their actions in the community, and their “manner of life” testify as to their self-declaration that they are indeed a person of God.
The old way of checking out somebody–if they walk like a duck, and talk like a duck, and act like a duck, they must be a duck–does not work in this case. In fact, this is part of man’s wisdom that must be thrown away in order to go on to higher growth of discernment in God.
So Just Who Are These False Preachers, Teachers, and Priests?
Who are they? Just look around. Churches on many corners teach the “traditions of men.” Their leaders do not dig deep as Christ admonished us. They are content to poll parrot what they heard in seminary, joyfully passing on poisoned pablum to the lambs instead of the true vision.
And it just wasn’t a lone apostle Paul who warned us of these. The apostle Peter, who backs up Paul, warns of them, also (II Pet. 3: 15-16). After lining out the steps on the road to spiritual maturity and son ship, he warns us of them. “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies…And many will follow their destructive ways…” (2: 1-3 Read all of II Peter and Jude for the full picture).
In lieu of the many deceptions put forth by imposters–however sincere they may sound and appear–Paul warns us to not be spoiled through man’s philosophy and “vain deceit.” Young Christians can be deceived by man’s traditions “after the elements of this world” system. Being deceived comes from believing corrupt man’s spin on the Christian life. This comes from pagan traditions soldered onto Christ’s gospel (Col. 2: 8).
One need only thoroughly study out the major holidays of Easter, Halloween, and Christmas in order to see how man’s traditions have dominated “Christian” things the masses hold dear. It is astounding how deceived the oceans of people are, never questioning the source of their traditions. Sometimes I want to cry out, my arms stretched wide, my heart saying, Why do you persist in following pagan rites and traditions super-imposed upon Christian sounding observances? Even the History Channel has broadcast documentaries exposing the error of our holidays! And yet we slosh on and on, mired in the same false mudslides of the fetid river of lies. When will we ever learn as a nation, as a people?
But I know that the remnant of God’s people are learning. They know and discern the deceitful doctrines, and when they do, they turn away from the intoxicating fumes of those falsehoods about God. Kenneth Wayne Hancock [to be continued]