A Pattern Of Apostasy
Hebrews 2:1 "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
Hebrews 3:12-13 "Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God.13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
Hebrews 4:1 " Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it."
Hebrews 4:11 "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience."
Hebrews 12:14-15 "Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
1 Corinthians 10:12 "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."
2 Peter 3:17 "You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness,"
From these passages, we get the understanding that one can fall away from the presense of Almighty God. This falling away is due to a failure on our part to watch, wait, and take warning. The digression into apostasy does not come swiftly. It enters by stealth through those who would appear as being righteous. Let us look at the steps of apostasy. We will notice several levels. This digression is recognized by God as the Holy Spirit caused the Psalmist to write;
Psalm 1:1 "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!"
Notice the progression from walk to stand to sit. Our first step;
This is the stage in which there is no alarm bells sounding. It is usually ignored, and considered as inconsequensential. Thinking that those who uphold the truth will stop the lurking evil in its tracks.
Genesis 39:12 "And she caught him by his garment, saying, "Lie with me!" And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside."
I am sure that this caught Joseph by surprise, but when the situation warrented an action, Joseph took the right course.
1 Corinthians 6:18 "Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body."
Proverbs 5:8 "Keep your way far from her, And do not go near the door of her house,"
Proverbs 23:31 "Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly;"
Proverbs 14:9 " Fools mock at sin, But among the upright there is good will."
Proverbs 2:14 "Who delight in doing evil, And rejoice in the perversity of evil;"
Romans 1:32 "and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."
Ephesians 5:11 "And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;"
The next step is:
This is where curisoty steps in. This is where some start to consider whether it is such a bad thing as they have been taught. This is where some will fight reason, and accept the tenets of such activity, and even thinking that it may be wrong, they find a certain appeal.
Acts 17:1-3 "Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.2 And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ."
This step is where the discussion of the activity begins to be tossed around. As some will want to progress further, others will take warning and expose the potential that is there.
The next step is:
When some start to be dogmatic about holding to a form or pattern of doctrine. When God's view is not recognized, but rather if some are willing to put up with it. In this step we find those who would apologize for the exposing of such views. Some will make excuses that would act as a shield for both directions. To one side they will say, "well, it is not really that bad" to the other side "well, they are just not used to change". But does God change?
Exodus 23:24 "You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them, and break their sacred pillars in pieces.
Exodus 23:32-33 "You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods.33 "They shall not live in your land, lest they make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you."
Deuteronomy 7:2-5 "and when the Lord your God shall deliver them before you, and you shall defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them.3 "Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons.4 "For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will quickly destroy you.5 "But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire."
Deuteronomy 13:1-18 "If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder,2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,'3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.4 "You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.5 "But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you. 6 "If your brother, your mother's son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods' (whom neither you nor your fathers have known,7 of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end),8 you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him.9 "But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.10 "So you shall stone him to death because he has sought to seduce you from the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.11 "Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you. 12 "If you hear in one of your cities, which the Lord your God is giving you to live in, anyone saying that13 some worthless men have gone out from among you and have seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods' (whom you have not known),14 then you shall investigate and search out and inquire thoroughly. And if it is true and the matter established that this abomination has been done among you,15 you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it and all that is in it and its cattle with the edge of the sword.16 "Then you shall gather all its booty into the middle of its open square and burn the city and all its booty with fire as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God; and it shall be a ruin forever. It shall never be rebuilt.17 "And nothing from that which is put under the ban shall cling to your hand, in order that the Lord may turn from His burning anger and show mercy to you, and have compassion on you and make you increase, just as He has sworn to your fathers,18 if you will listen to the voice of the Lord your God, keeping all His commandments which I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the Lord your God."
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,"
Ephesians 5:11 "And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;"
Jude 23 "save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh."
1 Thessalonians 5:22 "abstain from every form of evil."
The next step is:
This is where some start to teach that we cannot know with certainty the will of God. This is where some will offer "gray areas" as a justification of not really being sure. And if they are not really sure on the matter, maybe they should not make any big disturbance over the topic under consideration. Some examples of how this is used.
James 5:19-20 "My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back,20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins."
How really sad it is when a faithful Christian will be reprimanded and called all sorts of names because they tried to bring someone back into the truth. Those who promote the truth are pictured as the vilest of all creatures. We are pictured as being cruel, unloving, unmerciful, and many other things which is non-God like. Why? Because we expose error and those that teach it. We teach that their current lust is evil, and opposed to sound doctrine. We tell them that they can't do what they want to do if they want to go to Heaven. Notice that the proponents will turn to Romans 14 for the promotion of their ways.
Romans 14:1-23 "Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.2 One man has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.3 Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him.4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand.5 One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind.6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself;8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.11 For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God." 12 So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil;17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.19 So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense.21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
But notice what was spoken just prior to this chapter.
Romans 13:12-14 "The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts."
And notice what is spoken right after Romans 14.
Romans 16:17-18 "Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting."
We are not allowed to call someone a false teacher?
Matthew 7:15-23 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.16 "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they?17 "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit.18 "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.19 "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 "So then, you will know them by their fruits.21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.22 "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness."
1 Timothy 6:3-5 "If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions,5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain."
2 John 9-11 "Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting;11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds."
1 John 4:1-6 " Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.5 They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error."
One argument is that fellowship is only to be considered in the local church. As a result, they can use a known false teacher, and fellowship that person, since they are not a part of the local fellowship. Also, they are not allowed to condemn or expose the error of someone not in the local fellowship. When we point out that we have scriptural examples, they point out that the apostles were inspired, but we are not, thus have no right to do these things. But what does scripture say? Look at the pattern from scripture.
Acts 2:42 " And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."
Acts 8:4 "Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word."
2 Timothy 2:2 " And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also."
2 Timothy 1:13 " Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 3:14 " You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them;"
1 Timothy 4:6 " In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following."
2 Thessalonians 2:15 " So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us."
The point is, we can obey the truth and we can follow the apostles examples today.
Romans 16:17 " Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them."
1 Timothy 6:3-5 " If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions,5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain."
1 Corinthians 5:3-5 " For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present.4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus,5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
2 Thessalonians 3:4-6 " And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command.5 And may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ. 6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us."
2 Thessalonians 3:14 " And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame."
The next step is:
Error is not rebuked. The local church does not feel threatened by such teaching which is contrary to sound words. New alliances are formed, and they view the authority of scripture differently now.
The next step is:
Not only is error not rebuked, but it is embraced. These folks now seek to remove the stigma of the name Church of Christ and distance themselves from those who are narrow-minded and intolerant of new, different, and other ways. The message of truth has changed to embrace everyone and is not limited only to the faithful few.
The next step is:
As the movie title goes "sleeping with the enemy". Now those who once were considered the enemies of the cross, are now embraced as brethren of the great family of God. They now exchange pulpits, and their message is as watered down as what the locals get on a weekly (weakly) basis. The righteous are ridiculed and reviled. New bolder errors show their ugly head and there is nothing that anyone can do to stop them from happening.
Isaiah 30:8-11 " Now go, write it on a tablet before them And inscribe it on a scroll, That it may serve in the time to come As a witness forever. 9 For this is a rebellious people, false sons, Sons who refuse to listen To the instruction of the Lord; 10 Who say to the seers, "You must not see visions"; And to the prophets, "You must not prophesy to us what is right, Speak to us pleasant words, Prophesy illusions. 11 "Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel."
Jeremiah 5:30-31 "An appalling and horrible thing Has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?"
Nehemiah 9:26-31 "But they became disobedient and rebelled against Thee, And cast Thy law behind their backs And killed Thy prophets who had admonished them So that they might return to Thee, And they committed great blasphemies. 27 "Therefore Thou didst deliver them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them, But when they cried to Thee in the time of their distress, Thou didst hear from heaven, and according to Thy great compassion Thou didst give them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors. 28 "But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before Thee; Therefore Thou didst abandon them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them. When they cried again to Thee, Thou didst hear from heaven, And many times Thou didst rescue them according to Thy compassion, 29 And admonished them in order to turn them back to Thy law. Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Thy commandments but sinned against Thine ordinances, By which if a man observes them he shall live. And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen. 30 "However, Thou didst bear with them for many years, And admonished them by Thy Spirit through Thy prophets, Yet they would not give ear. Therefore Thou didst give them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 "Nevertheless, in Thy great compassion Thou didst not make an end of them or forsake them, For Thou art a gracious and compassionate God.
This brings us to our last step"
Condemn the preachers of righteousness and those who would follow them. Condemn any who would promote the truth. But who will have the ultimate condemnation?
Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.22 "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness."
Matthew 15:8-9 "This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. 9 'But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men."
Matthew 15:14 "Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit."
Matthew 23:27-33 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.28 "Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 29 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,30 and say, 'If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.'31 "Consequently you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.32 "Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers.33 "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?"
God reserves judgement for all those who transgress His laws and His will. Let us take notice of these trends and take up the cause of Christ. Let us hold forth the Gospel Message in its purity. Let us maintain the purity of the Church, and rely upon the authority of scripture as our guide. May God have mercy upon us all.
from notes taken during a sermon by Larry Ray Hafley
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