The New Testament speaks time and time again about false doctrine, false teaching, false shepherds. We don’t really pay a whole lot of attention (as a larger community) to these issues, which the Bible emphasizes pretty heavily.
The Book mentions “false signs and wonders” only ONCE, but that’s the thing that gets the attention. And the definition has been expanded: “If you experience _____ during your intimate times with God, that’s a false sign! It’s of the devil!”
The false teachers that those apostles were warning us about had one thing in common: they wanted to add some form of “works” to the message of grace. It came in various forms:
§ “Obey the Law!” (Or “Obey this part of the law.”) or
§ “Don’t eat meat!” (or some other dietary restriction) or
§ “Respect these Jewish holidays!” (or “…these new [age] holidays”) or
§ “Don’t drink alcohol!”
Fundamentally, the false things that the New Testament writers were warning us about generally were limitations to the freedoms that Jesus brings his people into! It was exactly this context into which Paul writes, “do not submit again to a yoke of slavery!” and he goes on in that context to say, “I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.” (See Galatians 5; it’s really quite graphic.)
This was the greatest danger to the new Church, and the one that so much of the New Testament epistles were specifically written to combat: that there would be people come into the congregations (called “savage wolves” in Acts 20:29) who would want to draw people away our freedom in Christ.
By contrast, we have very large numbers of congregations, where the leaders teach their favorite part of the Law (note that I did not mention tithing!), or about all restrictions about what good Christians should or shouldn’t do. Often, they preach an even more restrictive law to their leaders.
And many of them are warning their followers against what they’re calling “false signs and wonders,” but is really just brothers & sisters getting free.
Freedom. What a wonderful thing when we experience it. It’s jumping and dancing and celebrating; it’s shaking and falling over and being rocked by love; it's worshipping with abandon; it’s healing the sick and casting out demons; it’s falling in love with the person of Jesus.
This is what we were made for! This is exactly why God said, “Let us make man!”: we were made for relationship!
We're warned against these things, as if they were “false signs.” Nah. It's just freedom. And freedom is our goal.
I don’t understand why this is sticking in my spirit so strongly today. Perhaps someone needs “permission” to hunger for God (if it matters, you have permission!). Maybe you’re asking why all the “Do this, don’t do that” rules are not fitting you well. This would be why: they’re not for you!
It’s easy: It is for freedom that Christ has set you free! Do not submit again to a yoke of slavery!
And maybe let me know if I was writing for you today?
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