Can You Spot the Counterfeit?

2022-02-12 The Counterfeit Looks So RealMany years ago a friend took a job as a bank teller at a bank in Rhode Island and for the first week after her initial training in bank procedures, almost all the bank had her doing was counting money from other tellers’ tills.  She began to wonder how long this would go on, if she would ever have her own till.  I do not recall how many days she sat there counting, but one day she noticed a bill that simply ‘felt’ different, she said.  She showed it to her manager, and he commended her for catching a counterfeit.  She counted a couple more tills and each one had at least one counterfeit bill and some had more!

Her manager explained as he again commended her, that each of the tills she had counted after her first week had been ‘seeded’ with a counterfeit bill.  She had finally begun to ‘feel’ them and was given her own till.

Within the past year I have encountered lots of blogs with false teaching, some very subtle, some not so much, some that really do not matter, some that matter very much.  Note that many genuine Christ-followers may participate in one or more of these false teachings.  Not all incorrect doctrines come from wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Simply, not all believers see eye to eye on many important topics (i.e., KJV Only, Water Baptism, etc.), but that does NOT make them false teachers.  It certainly does not mean they are going to hell‼️  It is exclusively up to Father to determine the heart of anyone who calls on the Name of the LORD.

The following Top 20 list will give you an idea of what you may encounter “out there:”

  1. Baptism in water should have ended in the first century as it was a Jewish custom, and not for the Church.
  2. You are not saved unless you have been baptized in water.
  3. If you have enough faith, God is required to heal you and make you wealthy.
  4. God does not answer prayers as He did in Bible days; that closed with the completion of the New Testament.
  5. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are no longer functioning as that ended with the completion of the New Testatment.
  6. The Church has been ‘raptured’ already spiritually, and continues with everyone who accepts Jesus; there will not be a literal “Return of Christ;” or Jesus has already returned.
  7. The Anti-christ has already come.
  8. God does not send anyone to hell for eternity, but only until the ‘lost’ learn their lesson or have paid for their sins; or more simply, God does not send anyone to hell.
  9. You must observe the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath since it is one of the 10 Commandments.
  10. The Sabbath does not need any kind of observation.
  11. Following Jesus means we do not need to obey the 10 Commandments.
  12. Since the New Testament church held everything in common, followers of Jesus should not own their own personal property anymore.
  13. The Bible ‘contains’ the Word of God, but one needs to identify it from the legends or errors.
  14. We need to identify and call out anyone who teaches false doctrines.
  15. God has forgiven all your sins: past, present and FUTURE.
  16. To get extra help with prayers, you should pray to angels or to saints who have gone before us.
  17. Mary was born sinless and is a co-Redeemer with Jesus.
  18. The ‘name’ you have for God is not significant as long as long as you believe in something that makes you a better person.
  19. Mother Nature or the Universe is the same thing you call God.
  20. Porn may be good for you, especially if you do not have a committed partner, as it can keep you from actual adultery or fornication.

2022-02-12 Wolves in Sheep's ClothingAnd this is just a sampling of the wolves among the sheep.  It is more than anyone can reasonably address in a single blog to refute each of these false teachings, but there are common threads that run through them.  Like my friend at the bank, the best practice is to regularly read and study the Bible the way she had to count bills for so much time.  Recognizing false teaching becomes easier if you have ‘handled’ the real thing enough, if you know Jesus as your savior and Lord, and if you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

False teachers can most easily be recognized by certain traits.
First, they are most often motivated by pride and seem to need ‘followers’ who agree with every detail of their false teaching.  There is little tolerance for disagreement.
Secondly, this follows that they are inclined to emphasize ‘special doctrine’ that sows controversy and disagreement.  They are argumentative and will not let you rest until they decide you are beyond hope or you change to agree with them.
Their ’special doctrine’ is, of course, not called that, but is un-Biblical and is contrary to a major teaching of the historic Christian church and its consistent self-examination against the teachings of Scripture.
Many can be recognized by an obvious desire for cash, prestige or special privilege indicated by special garments or magical/theatrical styles.

Like Job, we can approach God in all righteousness and genuine faith, but when we see Him face-to-face, we will each (yes, even I will) say:

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;  therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”
  Job 42:2-6 (ESV)

Rated R: The Mystery of Marriage

The word “mystery” in the Bible does not mean what most people seem to think.  The first definition of the word is anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown.”  However, other definitions are more fitting: “an event that remains unsettled until the very end,” or specifically, “any truth that is unknowable except by divine revelation.”  I.e., a mystery is not something about which we are still in dark; it is something that is being or has been revealed, though it was once hidden.

Now to the singles reading this, I will offer very little to aid you in your sexuality, other than to note that Jesus was a young adult single.  I can offer (in another blog sometime) advice on this matter, but only as an observer and student of Scripture, because I am “the marrying kind.”  Jesus, the apostle Paul and others, both men and women, were not, and they lived fulfilled and purposeful lives without spouses, and with complimentary relationships without sex.

As for the MPA Rating, the R is a slight overstatement.  Spoiler: there is no lewdity, nudity, or excessive foul language or violence, but the subject matter IS something which you probably don’t want children to read without parental input.  If you have come here for the R rating, please stick around for a few minutes and read about the mystery of a marriage.  Regarding Same-Sex marriage, I refer you to an earlier blog.

Consider for a moment what most modern American marriage relationships look like.  Now this a VERRRY broad generalization and not to be taken as a model for how a marriage must work, but just an observation of how most in our nation work.
He mows the lawn, maintains the vehicles, does minor repairs around the house, works outside the home, and sometimes shares some of the housekeeping or cooking.  He maintains the checkbook, figures their taxes and spends some time with the children.
She does most of the cooking and housekeeping, organizes vacations, makes reservations and is primarily responsible for raising the children even though she may also work outside the home.
And he shows love to his wife and she shows respect to him, and they satisfy each other sexually.

If they are more affluent they may hire a landscaper to maintain their lawn, and they will take their autos in regularly for maintenance.  If anything in the house needs attention they just call a repairman.  They may hire a CPA to do their taxes and may even have a personal financial manager to pay their bills, and tell them how much they can spend on amenities each week. 
Perhaps they will employ a cook and a housekeeper or order meals from a service that provides on time delivery.  The cook may do the grocery shopping and the housekeeper maintains their cleaning supplies.  They may sign up for a cruise or tour group and leave the travel arrangements entirely to the tour company.  A nanny could be hired to come in daily, or an au pair may live with them and share meals with the family.

All of these services can be hired without incurring any personal guilt or judgement from society.

However, if they indulge in sexual infidelity, there will be consequences.  These may involve separation, legal actions, social stigmatism, and maybe divorce.  There will be changes in family relationships beyond the couple, including children, in-laws, shirt-tail relatives and family friends.  There may be job losses or changes, housing rearrangements, financial hardships, and a complete reorienting of their lives.  All because of violating one feature of the marriage relationship.

This suggests that there is something unique about the sexual relationship in a marriage that makes it apart from all of the other intimacies and details of the “normal” marriage.  The Bible supports this idea in 1 Corinthians  6:18: Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” 

The husband who does not tend to his wife’s sexual desires risks pushing her away, either into the arms of another or into volunteerism or vocational obsessions.  The wife who does not tend to her husband’s sexual desires may find him falling for promiscuity, prostitution or pornography to gratify them.  The unique thing which elevates their marriage above every other relationship a husband or wife may have is their sexuality, specifically their sexual fidelity.

Every marriage is as unique as the couple involved.  No two are exactly alike, but there are certain commonalities that can be recognized in any successful and pleasant marriage. 

The first is a common faith, a recognition that the marriage is not just for their happiness, but is a “mystery,” a reflection of Christ and the Church. (Ephesians 5:31-33)

Let’s reveal this “mystery!”  Jesus said the pattern for marriage was laid down by God at the creation: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh.”  (Matthew 19:4-6)

Problems in marriages come because none of us is completely sinless as Jesus was (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15).  So when you put two fallible people together and tell them to love and respect each other (Ephesians 5:33), there will inevitably be conflicts, as each of them needs the other to discover where their selfishness lies.  It is in the curing of that selfishness that married couples become a model of Christ and the Church.

2021-04-17 Marital FidelityThe second is a developing intimacy that will increase and expand as they live together.  Sexual expression will likely be a part of that intimacy even when age or illness deteriorates the actual sex act of consummation.  An acceptance of a spouse’s body in the same way one sees his or her own body will grow in this intimacy (Ephesians 5:29).  Just as one looks at his or her reflection in a mirror and tolerates developing wrinkles or extra body fat or minor defects, loving and respectful husbands and wives will become more comfortable with each others’ bodies, and can enjoy physical intimacy that reflects what the Scripture means when it says “the two shall become one flesh.”  (Genesis 2:24)

Note the inclusivity and exclusivity of this expectation:  Nothing is forbidden in the marriage sexual relationship as long as it is mutually agreed and not harmful.  However, it is ONLY for the two committed to the marriage.  (See for more about this.)

As books have been written on these subject, I will simply refer you to some of best I have encountered and encourage you to explore this wonderful subject of what makes cohabitation a marriage by reading a couple of these references:
Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman
The Gift of Sex by Dr. Clifford and Mrs. Joyce Penner
The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick
His Needs, Her Needs by Dr. William Harley

See https://www.marriagebuilders.com/ for an excellent online resource from Dr. Harley.

Mystery solved.  Revelation resolved.