A long time work associate has periodically reminded me that “paranoia is just smart thinkin’ when everybody’s against you.” Now, I’m not advocating a “holy paranoia” . . . not saying that suspicion should be a Christian attribute . . . but, after reading in Ezekiel and Peter this morning, we do need to know that they may be among us. The “they” I’m referring to are the false prophets I read of in Ezekiel this morning . . . “they” are the false teachers that Peter warns his readers about. And, so says Peter, they feast with you.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. . . . They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. (2Peter 2:1, 13b ESV)
The voice of those claiming to be called of God and seeking the kingdom is many voices. The stage is large of players who have found a platform to speak on behalf of the truth. It’s the television preacher . . . it’s the well known author . . . it’s the web blogger . . it’s the tweeter . . . the instagrammer . . . it’s the local pastor . . . it’s the guy, or gal, at home bible study. Our media driven world gives voice to many who claim some insight and understanding of the workings of God. And, praise God, many of the those voices are those raised up of God . . . called of God . . . gifted of God . . . and used of God to build His church and rally His people to faithful service. But, if I’m understanding something of my readings this morning, not all the voices are of God.
The LORD says, through Ezekiel, that some of these voices “prophesy from their own hearts” and “follow their own spirit” and, in fact, have “seen nothing.” Some have “seen false visions and lying divinations” and say “‘Declares the LORD,’ although I have not spoken” . . . and they are “like jackals among ruins,” says the LORD (Ezek 13:1-7). They mislead the people . . . they whitewash the feeble efforts of man . . . they speak of peace when there is no peace (Ezek. 13:10). And, in so doing, they divert people from the heart of God to their own lying hearts . . . they deceive the people into fashioning a God after their own image . . . they dilute the truth of God so that it serves the purposes of men. And what gives them such voice? They feast with you.
True in Ezekiel’s day . . . true in Peter’s day. Fueled by sensuality . . . motivated by their greed . . . “they will exploit you with false words” (2Peter 2:3). Their “thus says the LORD” is born out of their natural instincts . . . not afraid to raise their voices in the marketplace of thoughts and ideas . . . reveling in their deceptions . . . and, unfortunately, leading some astray . . . because they use our lingo . . . and mimic our practices . . . as they feast with you.
Like I said, I’m not trying to see a false teacher behind every pulpit or podcast. I don’t believe paranoia is just smart thinkin’. But the fact is, they do exist . . . and they are in our midst . . . if not our local congregations, then on the broader stage of the Christian voice.
So what’s the defense? At least in part, it is for the the sheep to know the Shepherd’s voice so intimately that the voices of the jackals are evident. It is pursuing such an abiding fellowship with the Light of the World that the darkness is readily exposed. It is cultivating the mind of Christ by personally feeding on the Word concerning Christ. It is crying out to the Spirit to lead us into all truth . . . to open our minds to the Scriptures . . . to help us navigate the many voices with discernment . . . to calibrate us to the ways of God as we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. How God’s people need to be people of the Word . . . moving beyond the milk of newborns . . . instead feeding on the solid food of the deep things of God as illuminated by the Spirit of God. For, in so doing, we will be those who “have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14).
They feast with you . . . needful to be aware of. Greater is He that is in You (1John 4:4) . . . needful to be in pursuit of! And THAT, is just smart thinkin’.