“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I will also ignore your children.” (Hosea chapter 4, verse 6).
Let me set the scene.
A call is sent out from a leader to his followers, asking – no – instructing them to come to the ark because a flood is coming and whoever is not inside the ark will be destroyed. They are told to leave their cell phones at home wrapped in aluminum foil. His followers call him father and he refers to them as his children. Did I mention the organization that he’s leading? He’s the “pastor” of a “church”.
Oh, another important fact – he has managed to convince his followers that he is God, complete with the ability to resurrect them from the dead. And it was with this knowledge that a certain lady essentially consented to her throat being slashed, because of course, she was anticipating being resurrected. No to be callous but I believe she’s still on ice right now.
I didn’t make this up, nor is this the plot of some poorly written sci-fi or horror movie. This actually happened in Montego Bay, Jamaica a couple weeks ago. And this was just a glimpse of a long and bizarre series of events that left the entire country shaking our collective heads.
More questions than answers
This has certainly left us with more questions than answers. Did they not have bibles? Did they have no idea of who God is as told to us in His written word? What about the many red flags that should have been raised when these followers saw that a lot of the teachings coming from their leader did not line up with Scripture? But the number one question that I’ve been asking is “How?” How could people have allowed themselves to be so easily deceived by this blatantly false doctrine?
There are so many takeaways from that series of events but there are two major issues that I want to examine.
Placing trust in an entity that has not earned it
Knowing God through others
Trusting in man
There was a time when people would tell me that I have trust issues and I would readily agree. After all, in my experience mankind have proven themselves to be untrustworthy, unreliable, dishonest and downright evil. Therefore, it was not the easiest thing for me to take someone at their word. It took me a couple years to realize that nowhere in the bible did I ever see any mention of trusting in man.
According to Romans chapter 13 verse 8 “Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” I am required to love you come what may, not trust you. Now don’t misunderstand me, there is some level of trust that we place in our fellow men. You hope and trust that the chef at the restaurant didn’t poison your dinner in the same way that you trust that the captain in charge of your flight is actually a trained pilot who has the competence to get you to your destination safely.
But if you see something moving on your plate when you ordered roast chicken, you will be alarmed irrespective of how many stars the restaurant has and how highly recommended the chef came. Well, I hope you would be alarmed.
It should be no different when it comes to people professing to be ministers of the gospel and servants of God. As a matter of fact, it is most important to not merely be aware of red flags but to act on them when it comes to spiritual things.
Take your leaders off that pedestal
The only one who belongs on the throne of your heart is God. No exceptions.It is ok to respect our leaders, it is ok to admire their service, their zeal or whatever it is you see in them that reflects the love and grace of our Lord and Saviour. But it is never ok to think that they are any more or less human than you are. It is never ok to think that they are without fault, without the same limitations you have. It is downright dangerous to think that these are perfect people who can do no wrong.
The minute you begin to revere these mortal men to the point where you never question their words or actions, you have effectively equated them to God, making them an idol and this is absolutely dangerous territory. The second you realize that your church leaders are ordinary people chosen by an extraordinary God to be His representatives here on earth it will help you to look at them with the right perspective.It is even more important that you are able to discern who actually belongs to the Church.
What if you found out that your pastor was homosexual? Or the director of the women’s ministry was having a relationship with a fifteen year old boy? Will you turn a blind eye? Or would you convince yourself that these abominations are somehow now acceptable?
Or maybe you would go the route of distancing yourself from not only the individual who was caught in a transgression but the entire Church. And by Church, I mean the entire body of Christ.
Anyone who associates with Christianity would now become persona non grata to you irrespective of where they live or worship, whether or not they are known to you either in person or by reputation.
The very principles you used to live by would now be called into question every time they are mentioned. All because you had this one person so highly placed in your eyes that you are unable to reconcile the fact that the actions of your self-appointed idol are not a reflection of the God you claimed to love and serve.
If this is you, then you need to ask yourself why you were there to begin with. What falling out did you have with God? How has He failed you that should abandon your faith? Were you there because of the charisma the pastor exudes, or the notes the worship leader can hit?
When the reason behind your faith is God and the redemptive work that He did to secure your eternity, the entire assembly of believers could be failing you, your mother and father could forsake you, the building could be burnt to ash, you will be firmly anchored to the Rock of Ages, the Lord of your life who is completely able to keep you from falling.
Try the spirits
Jesus did a complete work of salvation on the cross so He’s not coming back to save anyone. He’s not coming back as a man to walk among us, but as the King of kings and Lord of lords that He is. He is coming back to finish what was started in Eden many years ago.
Just as He promised, like a thief in the night His coming will not be announced.Anyone who says otherwise is not a messenger of God.
We were toldin Matthew chapter 24, verse 11 that “and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”
Jesus warned us again in the same chapter and other places in scripture to be on our guard and be aware of the tactics the enemy of our souls will employ to deceive us into losing out on our heavenly inheritance. We therefore should not be at a disadvantage when these things happen.
“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time.” (Matthew chapter 24, verses 22-25).
It is critical to examine the actions and words of people who profess to be of God to see how their doctrines line up with God’s word. God will not send a messenger to give you instructions that are contrary to His written word. Someone who is acting in a manner that brings glory to themself instead of God is not a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God is not double minded to give us written instructions and then turn around and tell us through His servant to do the opposite.
As children of God, we have the Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us in all things just as Jesus promised and once you are connected to the Holy Spirit, He will tell you when something or someone is not adding up. Do not ignore Him. Do not wait to see how red the flags will get because it could literally cost your life and even more tragic, your soul.
It is important that your idea of God comes from the scriptures and from your personal relationship with Him. It is vital to know the attributes of God as He has shown us in the Bible. We cannot as children of God abandon spending time with Him in prayer and the reading of His word and rely on our pastor to tell us what the bible says.
If the members of this congregation were doing as John and as the Lord Himself warned us, they would not have been this easily deceived and defrauded. My encouragement today is to know God for yourself and the only way to know someone is to spend time with them. So spend time with Him, get to know Him for yourself because there is great power to be found.
“Dear friends, 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. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (1 John chapter 4, verses 1-3).
“With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.” (Daniel chapter 11, verse32).
Natasha Young is an accountant and mother of one from the land of wood and water (Jamaica) in the West Indies who feels like she has missed her true calling which was to have become a teacher, or writer/director (or all of the above!). She is the only person she knows who works with numbers everyday but had English as a favourite subject in school. The most used app on her phone is Kindle so you know what that means. She is a lover of music and can oftentimes be heard belting on the top of her voice even though singing is not a talent of hers. But ultimately, she is just a sinner saved by grace who believes we all have a responsibility to use our gifts for the growth of God’s people and His glory.