"...Fool's Gold"

The “Gold Rush” in America during the mid-1800’s brought prospectors from every corner of the globe on an exciting quest for wealth and riches thru the discovery of gold. From riverbeds to creek banks to the dark depths of mining shafts, the great proclamation of the Greek word “Eureka!” would be bellowed out ever so often, signifying that a gold strike had been found. But how quickly that spirit of jubilation would come tumbling back to earth as many would soon learn that not everything that looked like gold was  truly gold. Many times these adventurous prospectors would find iron pyrite  which quickly became known as “fool’s gold” for it had a very similar appearance to real gold. Prospectors needed to be able to discern the difference between real gold and fool’s gold, so they devised two simple tests. The first test involved simply biting the finding (“gold” nugget). Real gold was softer than the human tooth, while fool’s gold was much harder and even brittle. A chipped or broken tooth typically meant that one needed to keep digging. A second test – which was much easier and less painful for the prospector – involved scraping the rock onto a white stone or piece of potter (i.e. clay ware). True gold would leave a yellow streak, while the residue left by fool’s gold would be greenish black. Miners relied heavily upon these tests to authenticate their findings because their fortune and often their future depended upon the accuracy of being able to discern between real gold and fool’s gold. Similarly, many today believe that they have discovered the golden treasures of heaven when in reality, they have erroneously taken hold of beliefs and teachings that are merely “fool’s gold” that have been peddled to them by false teachers /preachers thru the timeless and effective practice of deception. In Spiritual-Israel, Pastor Doug Batchelor with Amazing Facts Ministry speaks to this spiritual deception of the heart, “Millions are toting around heavy bags bulging with spiritual “fool’s gold.” They are rejoicing, believing they have discovered something to make them rich. It sparkles on the outside, but when they get to the bank of heaven, they (will) discover this currency is worthless.” From the Internet to TV to print publications, false teachers today are effectively leading the hearts of many people away from the inerrancy of the holy scriptures and toward false, empty promises that distort God’s Word in pursuit of selfish gain. Like a crooked car salesman trying to sell you a “lemon,” theses false teachers seek to point out the “shiny” elements of God’s truth in their teachings, yet “beneath the hood” of their enticing promises lie a powerless engine (i.e. an empty, false gospel) that will not carry one home (to heaven) and will leave its followers stranded at some point along life’s roadside. Throughout the New Testament, God’s people are strongly warned of these “fool’s gold” peddlers, “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don't be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook.” (Matthew 7:15-16, The Message) The New Living Translation of that same verse reads, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised (“dressed up” CEV) as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves (“who have come to attack you” CEV). You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act (“what they do” CEV).” The apostle Paul similarly warns that these false teachers would subtly creep their way into His church in the Last Days, "I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following." (Acts 20:29–30 NLT). Jude 1:16-18 (NLT) describes these spiritual conveyors of ‘fool’s gold’ as “grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want. But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said. They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires.” 2 Peter 1:3 teaches us that these false teachers will recruit followers who are so easily deceived that they can no longer discern the difference between right from wrong, “There were also lying prophets among the people then (early Israel), just as there will be lying religious teachers among you. They'll smuggle in destructive divisions, pitting you against each other—biting the hand of the One who gave them a chance to have their lives back! They've put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed-up followers who can't tell right from wrong. They give the way of truth a bad name. They're only out for themselves. They'll say anything, anything, that sounds good to exploit you.” (The Message) Did you catch the phrase “pitting you against each other?” Isn’t that a sad, but accurate description of much of His church today – divided and foolishly arguing against each other (2 Timothy 2:23). Mark 3:25 (ESV) reminds us that “a house … divided against itself … will not be able to stand (“will fall apart” NLT”) That is exactly Satan’s plan through these false teachers – to undermine and destroy (John 10:10a) the witness and effectiveness of God’s people (His Church) before a watching world that so desperately needs the saving hope of Jesus Christ. This is why we need to take this issue of false teachers with the upmost seriousness so that we are not deceived by anyone (2 Thessalonians 2:3) and so led astray from our personal devotion / obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3). The key to recognizing these false teachers is not trying to learn every false teaching today because there are simply to numerous too count. The true key of discernment lie in our personally knowing real / authentic truth (the Word of God / Jesus; John 1:1 & 14:6). Hebrews 4:12 declares, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (NLT) We need the spiritual discipline of the Bereans in the First Century Church who “day after day … studied the Scriptures to see if these things were true.”  (Acts 17:11, CEV) Proverbs 4:23 admonishes us to “guard (our) hearts above all else, for it (the heart that) determines the course of (our) life.” (NLT) Listen closely - our hearts and minds have the crosshairs of Hell placed upon them by Satan and his demonic army (Ephesians 6:10-12). As the scriptures affirm, although Satan’s destiny is already sealed in eternal defeat by Jesus, he remains very much alive today and on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8) and he should never be taken lightly nor should we underestimate or dismiss his evil power.  John 8:44 describes Satan as “always hat(ing) the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” The Apostle Paul warns that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (and) his servants … disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15, NLT) Like the prospectors during the 19th Century Gold Rush, every believer must “test everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22) against the unchanging, inerrant truth of God’s Holy Word so that we are not deceived and led astray by Satan and his demonic servants of unrighteousness who peddle their spiritual “fool’s gold” to the unguarded hearts of those easily mesmerized by a watered-down / false gospel. Pastor-Evangelist Greg Laurie shares this false gospel is rampant in our self-focused, materialistic culture today - “Some have believed in what we might describe as a watered-down gospel. This is a gospel that promises forgiveness, but rarely tells you of the need to repent of your sin. It’s a gospel that promises peace and plenty, but never warns of persecution. It’s a gospel that God wants you to be healthy and wealthy, and never have any problems (sufferings/ trials).” (Daily Hope for Hurting Hearts, pp. 4) We all need to be Biblically-equipped and spiritually prepared in these Last Days. We need to know His truth, because only then will we be able to discern / recognize anything that does not align with the Holy Scriptures. Every believer needs to “study (God’s Word so that they may) rightly (accurately / skillfully) handle the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) because “a time is (surely) coming (and many believe that time is TODAY!) when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths (false teachings that will be devoid of divine truth & promises.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, NLT) Matthew 24:24 warns His Church that in the Last Days, false prophets (teacher) will arise and they will show great signs and wonders so as to deceive and lead astray, if possible, even the elect (God's chosen ones).” Although His Word tells us that no one will no the exact time of Christ return (Matthew 24:26), the increasing prophetic signs provoke within the hearts of many believers today a growing sense of spiritual urgency (Romans 13:11-12) that the midnight hour is approaching ever so quickly.  So dig deeper into God’s Word (Colossians 2:6-8) so that you will be fully equipped (2 Timothy 3:17) to distinguish between the ‘fool’s gold’ of false teachings and the divine gold of His heavenly truth today!   …Selah!
Today's Spirit-led video is by CCM artist Chris Sligh (whose ministry music career was launched after reaching the Top 24 in Season #6 of American Idol) is entitled "Empty Me" (<--click on song title).  

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