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April 28, 2009 / beidson

Beware of Beelzebub’s Bosom: Doctrinal Courage As The Antidote To Devilish Devotion

It doesn’t take much to be a coward.  Believe what is acceptable.  Don’t be extreme in anything, unless the extremity is cool.  Don’t bible1die for anything that isn’t universally cool.  Don’t stand for anything, unless, of course, everyone else stands for it too.  And don’t make moral demands from anyone; just leave people alone.  In essence, a coward is a person who doesn’t stand for what matters.  Cowards live for coolness and ease, and ironically, they will stand for these if they are threatened.  

We are all cowards, to an extent.  We are all scared to do courageous things for truth’s sake.  But we must be careful.  This kind of fear will cause us to close our ears to truth and listen instead to those who tell lies.  The Spirit says that in the end, many will walk away from the King of Truth and devote themselves to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons taught by liars (1 Timothy 4).  

Put simply, these liars are cowards because they are not thankful.  They fear acknowledging the goodness of God, lest they be compelled to repent and confess that Jesus is Lord.  But this is hard to do.  It is easier to begrudge God and to mock his goodness by creating a standard of our own. However, this goodness is demonic, whatever good it may bring.  People devote themselves to this kind of teaching because they are not thankful, and they cannot stand to be told they must be.  In their cowardice, they turn to demons and run from the Man from whom the demons themselves run.  They embrace the bosom of Beelzebub to escape the demands that the sovereign Lord requires from them as his creatures.

Here’s the thing.  We also read in 1 Timothy Paul’s exhortation to young Timothy to “put these things before the brothers” and to “command and teach these things” (4:6,11).  “These things” are not any things.  Paul is referring to truth, to biblical doctrine, to the words uttered to us by God.  There are many imperatives in this little letter, but when you think about it, you realize there must be.  After all, Paul is warning Timothy and others of the danger which comes when we walk away from truth.  But we can’t just recognize truth; we must practice it–we must devote ourselves to it (4:15).  Those who would keep themselves from satanic devotion must devote themselves to knowing and practicing truth.  They must be courageous, but the courage must be rooted in biblical truth.

Lest we think that truth is merely abstract, remember that those who will fall away and devote themselves to destruction are real people.  They are our friends and family, our neighbors and coworkers, even our church members.  They are people who do not love the truth, who have not devoted themselves to the pursuit and practice of biblical doctrine.  They become unthankful for God’s mercy and grace, and begin to see everything as a reason to curse God, not give thanks to him.  In their cowardice, they chase after a self-righteousness that does not obligate them to call God good, a pseudo-righteousness which has the form of godliness, but denies its power.  They fear God, but they fear him as demons do, because they have learned to think Satan’s thoughts after him.  They have devoted themselves to the teachings of demons, and are warming themselves off the heat of a hellish anarchist, who is Satan, that serpent of old.  Yes, this may be our grandmother or father or brother or sister.  This may even be the famous preacher, or even the pastor of a small country church.  It’s the person who doesn’t love the truth, and therefore, is not courageous enough to defend it.

This should remind us of Jesus’ disciples, who fled, every one of them, when it came time to practice the truth Jesus had for so long been preaching and demonstrating to them.  But Jesus stood firm and resolute, with his face set like a rock toward the cross.  The other disciples eventually came to embrace the truth and even gave their lives for it, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, the preeminent coward, who fled to the bosom of Beelzebub because he did not want to recognize Jesus as God’s goodness to us.

So beware.  The Spirit says that some will fall away.  This could be any of us if we are not careful to devote ourselves to growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  If we love him, we will obey him.  When the world hates us, as Jesus promised, we will not give in to cowardice and shrink from declaring the truth in our schools, offices, churches and homes.  If we love  him, we will not be cowards.  If we love him, we will recognize the voice of our Shepherd, and will not devote ourselves to demonic lies.  If we love him, we will be courageous enough to do what is right.

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