Our beagle Sparrow often suggests that I try to find her a job at a chicken farm (well, she doesn't actually say it. But I can read her request in her big, brown beagle eyes). She assures me that the flock would be safe in her paws, but with her culinary love for the tasty fowl, I'm not so sure...
"I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses 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 16:16-18).
If there is a devil - and there is - and if he is a deceiver - and he is - one might expect his most effective ploy against God's trusting children would involve placing false prophets and teachers in pulpits or behind broadcast microphones. This is precisely what he does. Indeed, many people lend instant credibility to a man who introduces himself as a preacher. I can think of fewer more grave errors a Christian can commit. Personally, my spiritual antenna goes up as soon as I am introduced to someone who refers to themselves in ministerial terms (I can suggest and practice this since I also affirm this calling). This does not mean that I immediately hold the person in suspicion. No, I just remember our enemy, and that from the early days of the church, Satan knew the pulpit would serve as a conveyor not only of God's light, but of devilish darkness.
I would suggest this same caution to all. "Does he serve the Lord Jesus? Or is he seeking to fill his own belly?" Moreover, "Is his message faithful to the doctrines of Scripture, and is he devoted to their authority and to the supremacy of Christ they affirm?" We must keep these questions constantly in mind if we are to avoid being sheared of our wool - or worse - by wolves that cloak themselves in the garb of shepherds. Such deceivers abound, especially in a media generation where those possessed of the ability to smoothly exude "good words and fair speeches" can instantly reach the ears and pocketbooks of millions. We don't want to be among "the simple" who fall prey to their cunning. So, I'm sorry, Sparrow, you won't be working as the guardhound at a chicken farm. Nor, by God's grace, will I allow myself to be swayed by those who similarly promise "ministry" when they're actually seeking a meal, and far more.
"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; whose end shall be according to their works."
(II Corinthians 11:13-15)
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