In a society that proudly shouts, “No Fear,”—I believe one could say that very phrase sums up our problems in a nutshell. People have lost the fear of God. Many in our current society have no fear of being held accountable for anything. We have walked away from the Holy Bible, and the truth contained in it. We swear upon it in our courtrooms, but that in itself has become a meaningless gesture for most people. People have ceased to fear God because they have stopped believing the Bible is true.
But there is no changing the absolute truth. And it is only found in the Holy Bible. We have got to get back to the Word of God and quit listening to false prophets. How well do we know the Word of God? It is easy to be misled when you don’t know what the Bible says. We must believe and hold onto what we have been taught, but we must also continue to teach truth lest we ourselves become false prophets. False prophets are full of rotten fruit. And instead of growing strong believers they only seek to dumb down the sheep.
How do we recognize false prophets?
Matthew tells us:
Matthew 7:15-20 (NLT)
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
Unfortunately many ministers have become more concerned with numbers in the pews rather than souls making it into heaven. If nothing else, the verse below should shake us all to the core—ministers or not!
Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT)
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
I understand. It’s not easy. People no longer want to hear truth. They would rather tell us we are being judgmental or bigots. But, we have a charge to keep. We have been chosen and set apart for a Holy calling, and we have been brought to this royal position to uphold righteousness and rescue the perishing. We were never called to make a name for ourselves, or win popularity contests. Paul understood that love does not equal acceptance of sin.
Look at what Paul says about ministry:
2 Corinthians 6:3-10 (NLT)
"We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.”
And Paul endured all these things because of the truth he was preaching in sincere love. Sincere love is based on our future vision or eternal destinies—not on our acceptance or popularity. This was part of his message that caused many of his hardships:
2 Corithians 6:14-18, 7:1 (NLT)
“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:
'I will live in them
and walk among them.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
Therefore, come out from among unbelievers,
and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD.
Don’t touch their filthy things,
and I will welcome you.
And I will be your Father,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the LORD Almighty.”
7:1 Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.
Paul also struggled with speaking harshly to those in sin. But, he understood though it might be painful for a while, it would lead to their ultimate freedom from bondage and lead to the reward of eternal life instead of eternal torment.
2 Corinthians 7:8-10 (NLT)
“I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.”
I pray that God would help us by the power of the Holy Spirit to be people who fully believe the Word of God, who are not afraid to speak the truth, and who love people enough to endure hardship or discomfort as we go about fulfilling our Holy calling and leading this royal charge to rescue the perishing. Do we truly realize who we are, and Whose we are?
Yes, we must speak the truth in love. But, we cannot stop speaking the truth all together. Let us be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves as we consider our call as ambassadors for Christ.
Romans 16:17-18 (NLT)
“And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.”
(*Bold emphasis mine)
Donna Sparks is an International Speaker and Evangelist. She is the Author of Beauty From Ashes: My Story of Grace, and, No Limits: Embracing the Miraculous.