False Religion; June 5, 2021

Nehemiah 6:14 Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who have been trying to intimidate me.

It is interesting that there was a group of “spiritual” people in opposition to Nehemiah. That includes Shemaiah, talked about in the four verses just before this, who had been hired to “prophesy” against him! This is just one of many examples of this sort of thing in the Bible. Just because someone puts on pious airs doesn’t mean they are following the Spirit of God! I am reminded of Bibi Netanyahu, and before him, Donald Trump. Anyone who is actively promoting things that thwart the devil’s activities is going to have some religious people arrayed against them. Religion is no guarantee of a genuine connection with God! It is very dangerous to forget how devious our enemy is. We need humility as well as conviction, seeking our Father’s will by His Spirit so that we won’t be deceived. One of the clear lessons of the Bible is that false religion is a major trap, and that’s not limited to things that are clearly pagan. There are many places where religious leaders of all sorts were distracted at best, and completely co-opted at worst, by the devil, and that’s not limited to the Old Testament, either. And the difficult thing is that the same person can be on different sides of the fence from one moment to the next. Jesus told Peter on one occasion, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Mark 8:33) and even Caiaphas gave an accurate prophecy of the redemptive work of Christ Jesus. (John 11:50) We need discernment so that we won’t be among those deceived. We need to let God show us people and events through His eyes so that we will know what He is doing and what He wants us to do. That again is why familiarity with the Bible is so essential, because as Paul reminds us, even the devil can seem like “an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14)

I must not get holier-than-thou about this. I have doubtless been a purveyor of false religion at times myself. The more I am used by God, the more I must do so in absolute humility, not trying to bend things to suit me. I took part in a discussion just yesterday in a Missionary Kid Facebook group, involving those who have given up on church and those who haven’t, and even some who have given up on faith. I have certainly been burned by false religion with a Christian label, but I must not let that turn me away from my devotion to the Lord. I must not allow myself to get “hired” by those who might sound noble but who aren’t seeking God and His will. I am to speak the truth in love at all times, even when people insist that my words are “hate speech.” I must never presume that I have a monopoly on God’s truth, but be willing to hear Him any way He wants to speak to me, allowing Him to show me when it isn’t Him speaking.

Father, thank You for this encouragement and caution. Help me indeed discern whether something is from You, and follow You alone, for Your glory alone. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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