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False Teaching Is Dangerous

Hebrews 13:9-10
Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.

The simplicity of the gospel is wonderful (John 3:16): truth to be believed and Christ to be received by faith (Colossians 2:6). We trust what we have heard and read, and we believe in Christ who we cannot touch. But the tentacles of religious thinking easily snare the unwary. Because we cannot see God, and we cannot now physically walk with Jesus Christ, any God-searching soul is vulnerable to teachers who offer them apparently holy things to see and touch, smell and taste (Ephesians 4:17-19).

We do not know what teaching is being referred to here but it is not Jesus-authorised gospel doctrine. However, it was attractive to people who would rather believe what they see, rather than grasp what they believe. Both Jewish-background and Gentile-background believers were used to physical objects to venerate. Ceremonial foods, either meat offered to idols (Acts 15:29) or the showbread in the temple (Mark 2:26) had no sustaining power compared to the grace of Christ won at Calvary and applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Although Jewish and pagan priests were thought of as holy people who could access divine favour, and their ceremonial performances seemed to validate their role as mysterious intercessors, they led people away from the gospel, from Jesus Christ and from the knowledge of God's kingdom. As Jesus said, "Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering." (Luke 11:52). Their teaching was attractive to unstable people but it was empty and dangerous, resulting in their eternity being at risk of being swept away (James 1:6-8).

Every generation needs to be alert to new spiritual diversions which encourage adulation of priestly characters and the promise of sensory engagement with God rather than through faith in God's Word. What one generation claims to be an aid to worship quickly becomes an object of worship in the next generation (Judges 8:27). We rightly desire the weighty presence of the glory of God (Exodus 40:34-35) but that is easily substituted by theatrical gravity and spine-tingling music. It is time to be wise and objectively assess what motivates our passion and the spiritual habits we have formed. Let us decide again not to be swept along with the latest new idea, and decide to believe and obey God's Word, allowing our spirits to be fed by His grace.

Sustaining Lord. Thank You for keeping me in Your kingdom through the grace of Christ alone. Forgive me when I fall to the temptation of exciting new teachings which satisfy my senses but drag me away from Jesus and Your Word. Please teach me again how to live the life of faith through obedience to Your Word with the help of Your Spirit. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams