Religious Pretenders - Part 2
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Unmasked: Religious Pretenders - Part 2
Scammers steal money, information, identity and make false promises. Learn how religion is not immune to fraud.
[Steve Myers] People are worshiping Satan. And here's the surprising part, they're worshiping Satan in Christian churches and don't even know it. So you need to be sure that you are not one of those.
[Narrator] Join our presenters from the United Church of God as we bring you help for today and hope for tomorrow directly from your Bible here on "Beyond Today."
[Steve Myers] Could you fall for a fake? Scammers are everywhere it seems. They try to steal your money. They want your personal information. They make all kinds of false promises, but they seem friendly. Don't they seem helpful? They pretend to be somebody you can trust. But if you're convinced it's true when it's not, that is deception. It comes when you get swept away believing a wrong idea. Has it happened to you?
Now it's not just about buying into some phony product. Listen, religion is not immune to fraud. Could you be taken in with your beliefs? I mean religious pretenders are everywhere. Now you might think, well I'm not deceived. But remember, deception is found when you're convinced something false is actually true. Of course, there's a power behind the scam. The one behind the scam, the ultimate deceiver, Satan the devil seems to have no equal when it comes to being the greatest religious con-artist of all. He's the biggest pretender, maybe the most accomplished counterfeiter, and he loves a forgery. He zeroes in on attacking religion, but maybe not in the way you might think.
Scripture says, "He's the god of this age who blinds people's minds." And so through deception, he's made himself the ruler and the god of our present age, and he'll do nothing short of trying to thwart God's plan in any way that he can. He wants to prevent you from developing a close relationship with God and really understanding what God's plan is all about. And he wants to keep you from attaining your destiny as a divine child of God, and he does it in so many ways. I mean, there's one powerful way that he does it. It's through corrupt religions. Corrupt religions. Over the ages, he's convinced billions of people to worship the sun, or astrology, or animals, or even their deceased ancestors, idols. I mean, there's so many false things that he's wickedly worked his way into. Sometimes it might be worshiping nothing at all, but not only that, Satan is even there among the many varieties of traditional Christianity.
What do you find in Christianity today? I mean, when you look at religion today, people are divided. They're arguing over who and what is God. They're fighting over what's His purpose, how He wants us to worship, and how we should live our lives. Hasn't the devil done an amazing job of confusing people as to what the Bible really says? And yet God's word itself tells us, "He is the ruler of this world." Now, the methods that he uses are powerful. They are effective. And in Revelation chapter 12:9, it tells us the depth of that evil effectiveness. Revelation 12:9 says, "That great dragon was cast out. That serpent of old called the devil and Satan who deceives the whole world. He was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast with him." You see, he's not haphazard about trying to do his evil business. He's got a scheme. He has a goal. Now, do you know what it is? I mean, from the very beginning, he wanted to be worshiped. It was there right at the start, and it was true thousands of years later at the time of Christ. Do you remember what he said to Christ when he tried to tempt Him?
Matthew chapter 4:9, Satan says to Christ, he says, "All these things I will give You if you will fall down and worship me." You see, that goal hasn't changed. That's what he still wants. And today, people are worshiping Satan, and here's the surprising part. They're worshiping Satan in Christian churches and don't even know it. So you need to be sure that you are not one of those. I mean, have you noticed this passage? I mean, this is an amazing passage from Christ Himself. He said, "There shall arise false Christs and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonder so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect." Now, Christ said that in Matthew 24:24. So it begs the question, could you be let astray? Could you be thinking, "Well, my church is just fine, but are my beliefs truly genuine? Are they biblical?" I mean, after all, the devil knows the Bible. He knows the Bible's true. He knows the Bible is God's word, but he's a religious pretender. He imitates the truth. I mean, after all, nobody counterfeits a fake, right? Likewise, the devil impersonates the truth and false religion is his specialty. And so, he influences religion to be well, somewhat right, partially right, sort of okay. Because he's been pretending and faking it for so very long. And he imitates and he mixes truth, and error to simulate what's right.
So when Jesus warned about false Christs and prophets, you know what He was saying? I mean, He's pointing to the fact that the devil has assembled a multitude of what you could say are human assistants. I mean, most are just followers. They do what they think is right and don't even realize what they're doing. But at the same time, there are far too many who are deceived religious teachers. They're supposed to be church leaders, but in reality, they're religious pretenders. The apostle Paul explains that connection between those teachers that are false and the devil himself.
Second Corinthians chapter 11, verse 13, Paul says, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ." And he says, "No wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore, it's no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works." So you see God's warning us, "Watch out. Beware. You better be on guard and not be duped by these false teachers, by these popular doctrines and teachings that are out there, traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation."
You see, misguided teachers are among Satan's most influential tools of deception. So have your leader's fallen for the devil's scam? Has true belief been corrupted by Satan? I mean, after all, how can you spot a religious pretender? Now, when we go back in time, after King David, the Promised Land was divided in two. Now in the south was the kingdom of Judah. The northern 10 tribes became the kingdom of Israel. They were God's chosen people. Israel were God's. But at that time, the devil used this opportunity to put on a big counterfeit. I mean, it's hard to imagine God's chosen people falling for a substitute. Now, we find this story 1 Kings chapter 11 and it's about a man, a man named Jeroboam. He was a capable man. He was a hardworking man, energetic, and you know, God himself appointed Jeroboam king in the north. And He told him in 1 Kings chapter 11, verse 38, God said, "If you heed all that I command you, walk in my ways, do what is right in my sight, keep my statutes and my commandments as my servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you." I mean, those instructions are how not to be a pretender.
Well, what did Jeroboam do? Now, he was a smart man. He was a shrewd, religious politician, you might say. But instead of trusting God, he worried he was going to lose control. And under the sway of the devil, he came up with a complete substitute, a counterfeit that he thought would be a blessing to him. And so in verse 26 of 1 Kings 12, it tells us what happened. "Jeroboam said in his heart, 'If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn back and they will kill me and go back to Rehoboam king of Judah.'" Isn't that the way the devil loves to work? He wants us to be fearful. He wants us to doubt. He wants us to be anxious, instead of trusting God. And Jeroboam took the bait. We see very clearly here. It says, "Therefore the king asked advice." You know what he did? "He made two calves of gold. He said to the people, 'It's too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel which brought you up from the land of Egypt!'" And so, we see false places of worship instead of Jerusalem, idols, golden calves, instead of worshiping the one true God.
Now, most realize God clearly forbids the making of statues and idol worship. But the reality is we see many religions today that worship idols. It's pretty clear in Buddhism, Hinduism, but yet today, how many Christian denominations ignore God's command? Now, you could fool yourself. You could justify it by saying, well, these are, they're just symbols. I'm not really worshiping them. Don't be a religious pretender. God says, "Don't make images, no carved images, no graven images." They're unacceptable. In fact, he says, "This is my command." It's the second commandment, Exodus 20:4.
Now many realize idolatry isn't just about statues, or stained glass windows, or things like that. It's so much more. Idols aren't limited to graven objects. It can be anything that takes our focus and reliance off God. It's putting something else above God himself. Today, some false leaders, they think only bigger is better, idolizing the mega, the big, the huge. That can be a cover-up for ego. And too often, church leaders set themselves up to be an idol for their followers rather than God. And so when churches and leaders brand themselves, and they turn themselves into celebrities and public figures to be praised and adored, that's a religious pretender. And it can influence even the way so many worship. I mean services in modern Christian churches, they're often more like a rock concert. They're designed for anything, but worshiping the true God. Some are more about praising and worshiping the worship team, rather than God himself.
I mean, if you're thinking about how amazing the performance is at your church rather than how awesome and amazing God is, then you're idolizing the experience and the team rather than honoring God. I mean, after all, is that how God wants to be worshiped? And that was a problem during the time of Jeroboam. Still a problem today. In fact, when we looked to that event that took place in 1 Kings 12, it tells us very specifically, "This thing became a sin." The people worshiped in false ways. Verse 31 of chapter 12 says, "Jeroboam made shrines on the high places and he made priests from every class of people who are not the sons of Levi."
So there we have false priests instead of those that God designated. We see that fulfillment of what we read earlier in Corinthians, deceitful workers that transformed themselves into looking like God's people. Did they worship the way that God wanted? Not at all. But yet today, many feel they can worship God, well, any way we want. But we find a warning in 2 Timothy 4 that really tells it like it is. It says, "The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers and they'll aside, turn away from the truth and be turned aside to fables."
You see, God is very specific. He details how He wants to be honored not the way we think is best, but the way He thinks is best. In John chapter four, verse 24, we're told, "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." And so, does your church, what you believe, does it worship the true God in the way that He wants to be worshiped? Well, Deuteronomy chapter 12 speaks to those religious pretenders and says, "You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way." Deuteronomy 12:32 shows the right way. "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it. You shall not take away from it or add to it." And so if you don't worship the true God and obey His commands, you're a pretender. In fact, in that story that we've been rehearsing, there's even more pretending that just adds on to the story.
First Kings chapter 12, verse 32, "Jeroboam ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the feast that was in Judah." And we're told, "He offered sacrifices on the altar." So what's going on here? Well, he counterfeited the true feast of God and so changed it to the eighth month instead of the seventh month as God had commanded. And so today, most people that would even consider themselves religious are unfamiliar with God's true feasts. Leviticus chapter 23 actually describes God's feast days. In verse two, we're told, "Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The feasts of the Lord which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts,'" God says. You see, it's clear. Our holy God has His days of true worship. What did Jeroboam do? He changed them. He counterfeited. He pretended it was okay to worship God any way he wanted to.
And of course, when we recognized this passage, we recognize whose feasts are these anyway? Are they Israel's feast? Are they the Jewish feast? No, God is pretty clear. He says specifically, "These are My feast." They're the feast of the Lord. And yet, most of the Christian world today ignores that and they worship their ways. They choose, most often, Sunday to worship. But like Jeroboam, that is not what God intended. That's a counterfeit.
Have you ever noticed Leviticus 23 and what it says, "the first feast of the Lord" is all about? Well, verse 3 describes it. It says, "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation." And so you have to ask yourself, "Do I worship on the day that God designed every week?" I mean, His word is clearly saying that day is the Saturday Sabbath. It's not Sunday. It's not any other day. And in fact, Jesus verified that. Jesus Himself said, "He is Lord of the Sabbath." It's not about the Lord's day that people say is Sunday. Mark chapter two, verse 28, Christ Hhimself said, "Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath" and you can search through God's word and you will not find any place where that Sabbath was changed from that seventh day to any other day. It was established that way at the very beginning of creation.
But Christianity pretends, substitutes their own days, their own holidays that can't be found in scripture. They're not mentioned in God's Holy word. And so, what we find is Satan has slightly influenced religion to ignore God's holy days that we see listed in Leviticus 23. Those days that Jesus kept. Those days that the first-century church kept, and instead like Jeroboam, they created their own. And the biggest ones, the ones that everybody seems to know about, Christmas and Easter, the biggest pretending holidays. And if you are honest with yourself and you look through history, it is well-documented how early religion dismissed the Bible, turned away from God's word, and mixed in these practices and rituals that were used to worship false gods. And like Jeroboam, oh, it imitates true worship, but Jeroboam perverted true worship. He gave them gods that they could see. And the God of this age continues to upend the truth and influence Christianity pretending that it's good. The devil loves to make religion seem, ah, it's easier, it's okay. I mean you may have heard, you don't have to keep God's commands. You don't have to worry about obeying God's law. Well, that's done away. That's too much for you. Well, isn't that what Jeroboam said in 1 Kings 12? "It's too much for you to go up to Jerusalem." Do you know how far away that was for the people? It was only 12 miles away. It wasn't that big a deal. "You wouldn't want to go out of your way to worship God." You ever heard that argument? Yet in the Bible, we find we are to come into the presence of a holy, mighty, awesome God.
Today, Christianity isn't all that different from the time of Jeroboam. Do you know what modern day idol that has a potent influence on Christianity? Well, Lifeway Research did a survey and the majority of pastors said that, "Idol was comfort." Comfort. Well, wait a second. We compare that with what Christ said. Was Christ into comfort or sacrifice? Was he into luxury or service? Was it about contentment or a covenant? You see, it's time to admit shallow Christians worship in unbiblical ways. What's more important? Convenience or conviction? You see King Jeroboam, he knew that people wanted some kind of religion. Well, even if it was the wrong kind. He knew people wanted to see some form, so they worshiped God under the form of the golden calves. It has seemed good and godly and right and yet it's no different today.
The devil wants us to worship him even though he fakes it and makes it look like it's okay, and he's all about form over substance. And yet the apostle Paul told the Galatians, "There are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ." And Paul condemned anyone who had preached a different gospel from the one he taught, from the one the other apostles taught and Jesus Christ Himself taught. And so we have this warning.
In fact, he told Timothy something very similar in 1 Timothy chapter 4, and he just lays it on the line. He says, "The spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons." Boy, it seems spiritual and it looks meaningful. But don't be deceived. It's false worship. It's being a religious pretender. And when you get to the heart of the matter, he later told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1, he said, "Know this, in the last days, perilous times will come. Men will be lovers of themself, unthankful, unholy, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Having a form of godliness, but denying its power.” He said, "From such people turn away. They resist the truth. Men of corrupt minds disapproved concerning the faith."
You don't want to resist the truth. Hopefully, you can begin to see how Christianity has been under the sway of Satan. Don't fall for just a form of godliness. You want the real thing, and I'd like to help you discover the truth and what you can do about it. And so we've prepared a special Bible study aid. It's called, "The Church Jesus Built." You can get a free copy by calling us at the number on your screen or go online to beyondtoday.tv. There, you can download it, you can read it, or order your free copy right there online. Now, this study aid will help you see through the religious pretenders that are out there, and the confusion that surrounds us in those churches today. In fact, it'll expose the real source behind those anti-biblical teachings of so many churches. Jesus promised he would build His church and it would never die out even though it's so confusing in the religious world today. So how can you find the true Church of God? Order our study aid, "The Church Jesus Built." Call us at the number on your screen or go to beyondtoday.tv. It will help you find the true church today. The one that continues in the teachings and practices of the New Testament Church. The one that Jesus Himself built.
Now, the sad truth is that so much of religion today masquerades itself as Christianity. No doubt there is really a devil, and he plays an enormous role in religion. But don't fall for the scam. Go to the heart of the matter. Go to your Bible. Examine the truth of the Bible. Jude tells us that "We should contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." So look for authentic biblical teachings. Watch out for the twist. Watch out for the scam. The misinterpretation of scripture. And remember, "To the law and to the testimony. If they do not speak according to this word, it's because there's no light in them. Next time we'll continue our series, and we'll examine the perversions of the true gospel. And look to what the real message of Jesus Christ was all about. So remember, the devil is doing everything he can to distort Christianity into Him, his image. So now's the time for you to do something about it. Ask God to open your eyes to His truth. Seek to understand the word of God. Seek the church that worships in Spirit and in truth, and choose to be a contender for the faith, and don't be a religious pretender.
[Narrator] Call now to receive the free booklet offered on today's program, "The Church Jesus Built." Jesus Christ promised to build His church. Churches today have a wide variety of approaches, doctrines, and teachings. How did they compare to those of the original church, the one Jesus founded, the one carried on by those who knew Him? How do you recognize that church? This free study aid, "The Church Jesus Built," will give you biblical keys to discerning the church Jesus calls His own. Order now. Call 1-888-886-8632, or write to the address shown on your screen.
Learn the fascinating story of "The Church Jesus Built." When you order this free study aid, we'll also send you a complimentary, one-year subscription to "Beyond Today" magazine. Six times a year, you'll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy as well as practical knowledge to improve your marriage and family and godly principles to guide you toward a life that leads to peace. Call today to receive your free booklet, "The Church Jesus Built," and your free, one-year subscription to "Beyond Today" magazine. Call 1-888-886-8632 or go online to beyondtoday.tv.
[Gary Petty] Hi, I'm Gary Petty, a pastor with the United Church of God. If you are looking for a church that encourages living what the word of God really teaches, you found the right place. Visit ucg.org to find a church near you. We're looking forward to meeting you soon.