Since the dawn of human history there have been frauds, crooks, and cheats. The digital age makes ‘scamming’ others an international effort. With a phone call, that crook looking for your elderly mom’s bank information can reach out from Nigeria. Hackers who hide in safe remote countries work at gaining access to our financial information with emails that look ‘just like’ the one from our bank. And, many of us have received that call from the ‘IRS’ in which an accented voice tells us that we are about to have our accounts frozen and all we need to do is provide some information.
Learn to protect yourself! Know who you are talking to. Have even a shred of doubt?
Hang up! Think that email could possibly be fraudulent, don’t click on the link to find out!
Christianity is plagued with scam artists, too. It is not a new thing. Faked miracles, con artists posing as preachers, and insincere ‘promises’ of divine favor in return for some gift or donation have been part of church life for as long as the Church has existed. St. Paul warns us about ‘teachers’ who love to speculate about angels and demons, who are always writing about the next ‘crisis’ foreshadowing the Second Coming, who ignore love and holiness while debating proper modes of baptism, ad nauseum. He knew these ‘teachers’ well. He says. “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8, NIV) Don’t get scammed!
In the last few years far too many Christians have been tricked into believing that salvation will come from electing a leader who will ‘restore America.’ Electoral politics have taken on the fervor of a religious revival. People that disagree demonize the ‘other’ side, no longer content to say their ideas are wrong. Now those who have a different opinion are ‘purely evil.’ In this polar division, it is tragic to note that a significant percentage of Americans, many of whom are Christians, agreed that they would elect a leader who of ‘strong convictions’ who could ignore our rule of law to ‘make things right again.’ Christian, whatever your politics, IF you have believed the lie that your personal security or salvation will come from government – you have been scammed!
Our only Savior is Christ Jesus. “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7, NIV) We are saved by grace, received by faith. We ‘work out’ our salvation, day by day, growing in the likeness of Jesus. There are no shortcuts, no quick formulas, no easy roads to spiritual maturity. That preacher who wows you with his amazing story and then reaches for your wallet is not your friend. That ‘school of miracles’ that teaches you that you can turn God into your own personal servant acting at your command is not to be trusted. The Christian life is lived one day at time, in full faith, trusting the God Who loves us but Whose ‘ways are higher than our ways.’
There is a different kind of Christian ‘scam’ that points to human effort. “Do right things. Discipline yourself. Work hard in ministry. Go to church whenever the doors are open. Read your Bible. Say your prayers. Be rigidly moral. Wear a certain kind of clothing.” There is an endless list of rules that purport to make us into ‘good Christians’ that actually rob the Gospel of power and majesty.
Yes, friend, as attractive as all those rules may seem in this chaotic world, they have no power to truly transform us nor will they lead us to ‘life to full,’ or to eternal life. Religious systems that promote denial of food, rest, on endless works of service, or giving large sums of money actually appeal to our pride because they allow us to measure ourselves against others. But, they are a faux spirituality. Human works replace matchless and scandalous grace of Jesus with slavery to self, to prophets, to social pressure.
This passage is lengthy but packed full of Truth.
“You were dead because of your sins … God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. In this way, God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross of Christ. So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new-moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules were only shadows of the real thing, Christ himself.
Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on self-denial. And don’t let anyone say you must worship angels, even though they say they have had visions about this. These people claim to be so humble, but their sinful minds have made them proud. But they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For we are joined together in his body by his strong sinews, and we grow only as we get our nourishment and strength from God. You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the evil powers of this world.
So why do you keep on following rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle, don’t eat, don’t touch.” Such rules are mere human teaching about things that are gone as soon as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, humility, and severe bodily discipline. But they have no effect when it comes to conquering a person’s evil thoughts and desires.” (Colossians 2:13-23, NLT)
Don’t get scammed by those who would own your soul or your stuff!
Keep your focus on Christ alone! In Him, our salvation is complete and hope is secure. Keep step with the Spirit, faithfully listening and obeying where He leads. If some teacher, prophet, or author turns your attention from Jesus, from the Cross, and the hope of the Resurrection – walk away. No, better yet, run!
Here is a word from the Word. “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead!” (Philippians 3:8-11, NLT)
Lord, give your holy people discernment. Open our eyes to the religious frauds that seek only to exploit.
Let us live in peace, contented in You, inspired by Your majesty.
Captivate us with the Gospel that you save us completely,
by grace, through faith, and help us to love You more each day. Amen.
(worship and pray to rest your life on the Solid Foundation)
Worthy of ev’ry song we could ever sing
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You
Jesus the name above ev’ry other name
Jesus the only one who could ever save
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You We live for You
Holy there is no one like You
There is none besides You
Open up my eyes in wonder and show me who You are
And fill me with Your heart
And lead me in Your love to those around me
I will build my life upon Your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in You alone
And I will not be shaken
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