Truth For Today

RESPONDING TO FALSE PROPHETS

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
~ MATTHEW 7:15

In Jude’s brief letter to believers, the apostle firmly warns against false prophets and tells us how to respond to them. “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). Our primary response to false teaching is simply to be right with God in the first place, to make sure we are in fellowship with Him and receiving His blessing and power. Then we can “have mercy on some, who are doubting” (v. 22, NASB)—believers who doubt their faith because of false teachers need reassurance.

Another necessary response might be to “save others, snatching them out of the fire” (v. 23, NASB)— unbelievers bound for hell after hearing false teaching need to be rescued before it’s too late.

Finally, Jude tells about a third response to false prophets: “On some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh” (v. 23, NASB). We sometimes must confront false prophets and their followers, doing so with a special dependence on the Lord and being careful not to get contaminated by their false teachings.

Truth for Today

DISCIPLESHIP IS SERIOUS

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost.
~ LUKE 14:28

You can pay nothing to earn salvation; yet living for Christ is a serious matter of discipleship. To be a Christian means to rely on Christ’s power rather than your own and to be willing to forsake your way for His. Being a Christian can mean facing persecution, ridicule, and tribulation. Jesus forewarned the disciples, “‘If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you’” (John 15:20).

But with His warning about the cost of discipleship, the Lord promised that your heart would rejoice “‘and your joy no one will take from you’” (John 16:22). And He also told His followers to “‘be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’” (16:33). You won’t escape the difficulties of discipleship, but Jesus will enable you to handle them.

Truth for Today

THE REPENTANT LIFE

Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 
~ JAMES 2:17

If you have turned away from your sins and turned toward God’s way of righteousness, you will live a changed life. The theme of 1 John is that the truly redeemed person will demonstrate a truly transformed life. “Whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:5–6).

Those who teach that repentance and the repentant lifestyle aren’t a necessary part of the gospel are not presenting the gospel Jesus offered. Such a gospel of self-satisfaction and self-righteousness is from the world, not God.

Truth for Today

CHILDLIKE DEPENDENCY 

Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

~ MATTHEW 18:3

When speaking of genuine salvation, Jesus made an apt comparison to the characteristics of young children. To be saved, you must come to Christ with the dependent attitude and outlook of a little child: simple, helpless, trusting, unaffected, unpretentious, and unambitious. 

It’s not that children are without sin, but that they are naïve and unassuming, dependent on others and free from selfish claims to grandeur. They submit to the care of their parents and other loved ones, relying on them to meet all their needs. That’s the kind of humble and dependent attitude anyone must have who seeks to enter the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Truth for Today

OVERCOMING EVIL WITH GOOD

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
~ ROMANS 12:21

Returning good for evil is one of the most difficult obligations a Christian has. Yet from Old Testament times, that has been God’s command to the godly person: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you” (Prov. 25:21–22).

The expression “heap coals of fire on his head” referred to an ancient Egyptian custom. A person wanting to show public contrition would carry on his head a pan of burning coals to symbolize the burning pain of his shame and guilt. When you love an enemy enough to truly endeavor to meet his needs, you hope to shame him for his hatred toward you.

To avoid being overcome by the evil done to you, you must first not allow it to overwhelm you. Second, you must not allow your own evil responses to overpower you. In either instance, the evil itself must be overcome by what is good.

Truth For Today

NO FAVORITISM ALLOWED

For there is no partiality with God.

[ROMANS 2:11]

It is a sin for a Christian to show favoritism to people. That is, he should not be prejudiced for or against another person simply based on position, wealth, influence, popularity, or appearance. The clearest, most practical New Testament teaching on impartiality is in James’ letter to believers:

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes . . . have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? . . . but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors (2:1–4, 9).

If God never plays favorites, shouldn’t you strive for the same virtuous character, “doing nothing with partiality” (1 Tim. 5:21)?

Truth For Today

BIBLICAL HOSPITALITY

Given to hospitality.
~ ROMANS 12:13

True followers of Christ should not only meet the needs of believers and unbelievers whom they encounter, but they should also look for opportunities to help those they don’t know. That is the scriptural definition of hospitality. Hebrews 13:2 instructs us, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”

You should view any opportunity to demonstrate hospitality as a happy privilege, not a drudging duty (1 Pet. 4:9). Gaius undoubtedly had that sort of righteous attitude in his hospitality toward itinerant teachers, because the apostle John commended him: “Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well” (3 John 5–6).