There were a number of sad and tragic events in the life of King David. A series of events began with his sin with Bathsheba. His adultery with her led to deceit, and ultimately, the murder of her husband, Uriah. After David had Uriah killed and had taken this man's wife, God told him: "Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house....Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house" (2 Sam. 12:10-11). Soon his troubles and heartaches began. His infant son with Bathsheba died; his son Amnon raped his daughter, Tamar; his son, Absalom, murdered Amnon (2 Sam. 12-13).
Surely, one of the most heart-breaking developments in the life of David was when his son, Absalom, turned and rebelled against him. He committed treason against his own father— “Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Sam. 15:6). When having to go to battle against his son, David instructed his commanders to "Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom" (2 Sam. 18:5). As the battle raged, David was asking, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" (2 Sam. 18:29, 32). When word came to David that his son had been killed, he cried out, "O my son Absalom---my son, my son Absalom---if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!" (2 Sam. 18:33). This has to be one of the saddest scenes that we read about in the Bible.
But let's go back to the beginning when Absalom started stealing the hearts of the people. He very cunningly became trusted and more popular than David. He worked hard at it; he looked for troubled people; he reached out to them; he took a personal interest in them; he sympathized with them; he never personally attacked his father directly, he just promised to do better (2 Sam. 15:1-12).
This reminds me of what has been happening among God's people today, especially to some of the young. Over the past few years, I have learned of congregations being affected by this type of thing. A young preacher (not always a preacher) comes in with false ideas, endears himself to the group, especially college students and young married couples, influences them and takes them away with his false teachings. Just recently, a friend called and told me of something similar to the aforementioned scenario that happened where he worships. A young preacher came in and preached the truth for about three years, all the while developing a close relationship with the young people. Then he started teaching error, split the church, and took about 40-50 with him—a dangerous trend that has been developing. We have great young people faithfully serving the Lord today, but some are being led astray. Yes, there are problems that often exist, but some have reacted by going to the extreme with bitterness toward those who are sincerely seeking to hold fast to the ancient landmarks of faith---the "old paths" of truth.
Here are several examples of erroneous teachings that some are promoting in different parts of the country that have come to my attention over the past few years. (1) A person is saved or "born again" before baptism---that baptism is not essential to salvation. They are using typical, Calvinistic, denominational arguments that teach salvation by "faith only". (2) Approved apostolic examples are not binding in establishing Bible authority for what is allowed or not allowed in the service of the Lord. They are saying that books such as Acts are to be viewed simply as a narrative, not as an example for us to follow today. (3) Social drinking is justified and accepted. (4) Distorted views are held on worship—particularly the Lord's Supper. Sadly, there are brethren who are being influenced and led astray by these false teachings.
In principle, the actions of those who are teaching some of the above errors just cited are much like Absalom who "stole the hearts of the men of Israel". Thus, we all need to be alert to this potential problem. We must be careful not to become bitter and unhappy, allowing ourselves to become vulnerable to false teachers and some of the dangerous trends that are occurring. Much of what has been mentioned feeds off bitterness and dissatisfaction toward the truth and God's people. Brethren are being led astray! The Apostle Paul said, "Watch, stand fast in the faith" (1 Cor. 16:13). The Apostle John said, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 Jn. 4:1). Our hearts belong to God! We are to love, serve, and obey Him with all our hearts. Brethren, especially those of you who are young, don't allow anyone to steal your heart!
by R.J. Evans
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