267) 6th Sign – Religious Leaders Betray Followers

“Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me…And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him. And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” (II Samuel 15:4-6

There are two approaches to counseling – whether legal, psychological or spiritual.

  • Like Absalom, support your client’s version of who is to blame, without determining the facts.
  • Conduct a thorough investigation of the situation, including obtaining collateral witness testimony of the client’s version.

Psychologists are especially reluctant to be too frank with their clients, who have, after all, come to them to pour out their grief and disappointments and anger regarding their personal and work relationships. It’s much easier on the counselor to soothe and comfort than to point out the repeating pattern of disappointments indicating that the common denominator is the client who needs to examine him/her self.

But this approach won’t protect the provider from being found guilty of malpractice if failure to deal honestly with a client’s condition leads to suicide or harm to others. The provider has to show that

  1. the client was properly assessed and diagnosed according to DSM criteria
  2. and the treatment provided met current standards.

How much more a religious leader reassuring his clients that they don’t need to change their beliefs or behaviors to avoid eternal doom. He can really build up a client base who love his comforting style, but he isn’t helping them, just himself to their bank accounts.

It is easy to recognize the false claims of spiritual authority when, as with legal and psychological texts establishing the standards, we compare them to the Bible.

Three high priests were appointed and quickly removed by the Roman governor Valerius Gratus before Caiaphas, suggesting that he was a shrewd collaborator with the Romans [secular government].

As a member of the Sadducees, Caiaphas did not believe in the resurrectionSince Caiaphas was in charge of the temple, he was aware of the money changers and animal sellers who were driven out by Jesus (John 2:14-16). Caiaphas may have received a fee or bribe from these vendors…

His trial of Jesus violated Jewish law and was rigged to produce a guilty verdict. Perhaps he saw Jesus as a menace to Roman order, but he also may have seen this new message as a threat to his family’s rich way of life.

This group is equivalent to the wealthy, politically connected, highly respected and financially supported religious leaders of our day. Money is their god.

what-exactly-is-the-prosperity-gospel

The Charlatan is the person who uses Christianity as a means of personal enrichment. Paul charged Timothy to be on guard against him…imagining that godliness is a means of gain” (1 Timothy 6:3-5). The Charlatan is only interested in the Christian faith to the extent that it can fill his wallet. He uses his leadership position to benefit from others’ wealth…

The Sadducees

the Sadducees collaborated with the Hellenization, or Greek influence, on Israel…They tended to be wealthy aristocrats, out of touch and unconcerned with the suffering of the peasants…Sadducees denied the resurrection of the dead as well as an afterlife, saying the soul ceased to exist after death. They did not believe in angels or demons.

This group is equivalent to elite classes who attend church for social reasons but don’t believe a word of it. Praise of men is their god.

The Abuser uses his position of leadership to take advantage of other people. Usually, he takes advantage of them to feed his sexual lust, though he may also desire power. Both Peter and Jude were aware of the Abuser’s lechery: “And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Peter 2:2)…  “ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). The Abuser…works his way into women’s lives, confidence, homes, and beds. When he is not pursuing illicit sexual pleasure, he may be domineering people to gain power, abusing them on his path to prominence. He does this in the name of ministry, with the claim of God’s anointing…Today it seems that every week, we learn of another leader who has been found guilty of sexual sin with men,women, or even children….sad tales of survivors who have been abused and cast aside by a leader craving power…

The scribes

when the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity, the soferim, or Scribes, were organized by Ezra into a distinct body. These Scribes became the interpreters and copyists of God’s law…

In order to preserve the law of God, it needed to be studied carefully, and all of its precepts needed to be given application according to the ever-changing way of public and private life in Israel. By developing a system of rules for people to follow, they forgot the heart and spirit of the law. Their prescriptions did not allow anyone the freedom to truly seek the LORD.

These Scribes would read the Torah in the synagogues, give commentary, and lecture their disciples. They were…the preservers of the commentaries and additions to the law. This oral tradition accumulated over the course of time into a great mass, and was regarded by most to be equal or even greater than the law itself.

It was to these oral traditions that Jesus so often attacked (see Mark 7:5-13). Even Paul the apostle spoke of himself as having been at one time “exceedingly zealous of the traditions” of his fathers (Gal 1:14).

The Scribes also developed forced interpretations of the law, attempting to find a hidden meaning in every word, syllable, and letter. Jesus charged them saying “Woe unto you, lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge, you entered not in yourselves, and those that were entering in you hindered.” (Luke 11:52).

During the time of Jesus Christ the Jewish people were very dependent upon the Scribes. The language of the Jews was passing into the Aramaic dialect, and most of the people were unable to understand their own Torah, and gladly excepted the interpretation which was given by the Scribes.

This group is equivalent to the leaders of the masses who don’t study for themselves but depend for their beliefs on what they are told in commentaries, like dispensationalists on the Scofield Reference Bible or Clarence Larkins’ The Greatest Book on Dispensational Truth in the World.

Knowledge is Power is their god.

the Speculator is the one obsessed with novelty, originality, or speculation…The Speculator tosses aside the bulk of the Bible’s content and the weight of the Bible’s emphasis in order to obsess about…the End Times, and somehow his failed predictions dissuade neither himself nor his followers. Recently we saw him obscuring the clear message of Scripture to search for hidden codes in Scripture. Sometimes he plants himself in academia, where one of his recent masterpieces is a re-imagined God who is unable to see and know the future. Well did Paul label the Speculator acontradictory, irreverent babbler (1 Timothy 6:20-21).

For the masses who blindly follow them without checking out the biblical accuracy of their claims, sloth, the opposite of study, is their god. Ironically, the verse that tells believers to study is a foundational text for Dispensationalism because of the catchphrase “rightly dividing” which purportedly endorses dispensations.

The Pharisees

The self-righteous Pharisees came into being during the Babylonian captivity.

During the Captivity or Exile, detailed commentaries on the law appeared in the form of innumerable and highly specific restrictions that were designed to “build a hedge” around the written Torah…according to some Jewish authorities [recognize that tactic of rushing into a power vacuum?]…new legislation had to be produced from that which already existed…it was these “traditions” that Jesus condemned…

“Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat…they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men…the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren / equals.” (Matthew 23:1-8)

The Pharisees formed the largest and most influential religious-political party in New Testament times. They are consistently depicted in the Gospels as antagonists or opponents of Jesus Christ and the early Christians.

The name “Pharisee” means “separated one.” The Pharisees separated themselves from society to study and teach the law, but they also separated themselves from the common people because they considered them religiously unclean.

Middle-class businessmen and trades workers, the Pharisees started and controlled the synagogues, those Jewish meeting places that served for both local worship and education. They also put great importance on oral tradition, making it equal to the laws written in the Old Testament.

The Pharisees were extremely accurate and detail-oriented in all matters pertaining to the law of Moses. While they were sound in their professions and creeds, their system of religion was more about outward form than genuine faith…

Because they taught that the way to God was by obeying the law, the Pharisees gradually changed Judaism from a religion of sacrifice to one of keeping the commandments (legalism).

The Heretic is the person who teaches what blatantly contradicts an essential teaching of the Christian faith. He is a gregarious figure, a natural leader teaching just enough truth to mask his deadly error. Yet in denying the faith and celebrating what is false, he leads his followers from the safety of orthodoxy to the peril of heresy….sometimes by contradicting the truth and sometimes by adding to it. He may…deny the virgin birth or the resurrection of Jesus Christ…alter God’s finished word, or…add to it. Always, he boldly tampers with “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3)…

The Prophet claims to be gifted by God to speak fresh revelation outside of Scripture—new, authoritative words of prediction, teaching, rebuke, or encouragement…John offered an urgent warning about him. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1)…

The Divider uses false doctrine to disrupt or destroy a church. He gleefully divides brother from brother and sister from sister. Jude warned about him: “‘In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.’ It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit…” (Jude 18-21). The Divider is devoid of the Holy Spirit whose first fruit is love and whose special work is holding believers together in the bond of peace (Galatians 5:22, Ephesians 4:3). This false teacher brings strife, not love. He generates factions, not unity. He desires discord, not harmony.

The Tickler is the false teacher who cares nothing for what God wants and everything for what men want. He is the man-pleaser rather than the God-pleaser. Paul thought of him as the ear-tickler: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). The Tickler craves popularity and praise from the world. To maintain his follower’s respect, he preaches only the parts of the Bible they deem acceptable. Therefore, he speaks much of happiness but little of sin, much of heaven but nothing of hell. He gives them only what they want to hear…Joel Osteen, pastor of the largest church in America, who is known equally for his toothy smile and his vacuous content. He preaches an empty gospel to a packed out church. Like the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day, he and the thousands like him say, “‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).

Satan’s greatest ambassadors are not pimps, politicians, or power-brokers, but pastors. His priests do not peddle a different religion, but a deadly perversion of the true one. His troops do not make a full-out frontal assault, but work as agents, sneaking into the opposing army. Satan’s tactics are studied, clever, predictable, effective. Therefore, we must always remain vigilant. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15-16a).

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