Summary: If we're going to remain vital in our churches and in our own spiritual lives, we must watch out for the false doctrine of self-help spirituality and instead feast at the table of God's Word along with exercise in the gym of good works.
Chuck Swindoll tells the story of a young lady who loved playing practical jokes. She had just graduated from a gourmet cooking class. So at an elegant student reception in a physician’s home near Miami, she decided to put her new cooking skills to the test.
She took dog food and put it on delicate little crackers with a wedge of imported cheese, bacon bits, an olive, and a sliver of pimento on top. Then she served them up – hors d’oeuvres a la Alpo.
She put those miserable morsels on a couple of silver trays and with a sly grin, watched them disappear. One guy couldn’t get enough. He kept coming back for more. When they broke the news to him, he probably barked and bit her on the leg! He certainly must have gagged a little. (Swindoll, Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, p.147)
Do you know: Satan does the same thing to us. He dresses up a lie and makes it look so good, and if we’re not careful, we swallow it hook, line and sinker, or maybe I should say, dog food, crackers and olives.
Now, we might gag on dog food if it were fed to us, but Satan’s lies are no joke. They are deadly poison, and they will destroy the spiritual vitality of any Christian or any church that indulges is such deceptive delicacies.
The question is: How can we avoid being taken in? How can we keep from being deceived by teaching that sounds so good, but is absolutely deadly to the soul?
Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to 1 Timothy 4, 1 Timothy 4, where the Bible warns us about deceiving spirits and how to keep them from destroying our churches and our own spiritual vitality.
1 Timothy 4:1-2 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. (NIV)
The Bible warns us that we must WATCH OUT FOR LIARS IN THE CHURCH especially in these last days before Jesus comes.
We must be careful lest false teachers lead us astray. We must be on the guard against deceiving spirits who can make a lie sound so true.
Nearly 25 years ago, Randy Hunt, in his book, The Seduction of Christianity¸ wrote: “Christianity may well be facing the greatest challenge in its history: a series of powerful and growing seductions that are subtly changing biblical interpretations and undermining the faith of millions of people. Most Christians are scarcely aware of what is happening, and much less do they understand the issues involved.
“The seduction is surprisingly easy,” Hunt said. “It does not take place as an obvious frontal assault from rival religious beliefs. That would be vigorously resisted. Instead, it comes to some Christians in the guise of faith-producing techniques for gaining spiritual power and experiencing miracles and to others as self-improvement psychologies for fully realizing human potential that are seen as scientific aids to successful Christian living.” (The Seduction of Christianity, Hunt & McMahon, pg. 11)
Randy Hunt wrote that nearly 25 years ago, and he was right on! Now, more than ever, the Christian church is in danger of giving up the power of the Gospel for the impotence of a self-help spirituality, which depends on human effort and “believe-it/achieve-it” rituals. A lot of Christians are no longer looking to Christ and the Bible for answers. They’re looking to “feel-good,” pop psychologies, which tell them that they are no longer sinners in need of a Savior, but super human beings with unlimited potential, if they can just learn to tap into that potential. It sounds good, but it is an absolute lie, which will destroy us in the end.
It’s like the man who decided he was spending way too much money on oats to feed his mule. So he decided to slowly substitute sawdust in the mule’s diet. Everything went fine for a while, but by the time the mule was satisfied with sawdust, he died.
Well, that’s what happens to churches and to individuals when they substitute the sawdust of error for the nourishing diet of God’s Word. They die.
American Methodism at one time recorded one of the most astounding growth records in the history of Christianity. They exploded from a membership of 14,988 in 1784 to 7,729,791 in 1939! That’s because they believed the Bible and had a simple faith in the gospel of salvation. (Luke Tyerman, The Life and Times of the Rev. John Wesley, 3 vols, 3:519)
Then the liberal theologians took over their seminaries. They denied the inerrancy and authority of God’s Word, and taught Methodist pastors to do the same. Now, with the rare exception of a few pastors, they teach a man-centered religion, which does not satisfy the soul, and in the last hundred (+) years, Methodists have closed more churches than those that remain today.