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Caution: Ruts Ahead!

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The Truth Network Radio
May 26, 2021 2:00 am

Caution: Ruts Ahead!

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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May 26, 2021 2:00 am

False teachers and their devotees guarantee a perilous voyage and a bad finish. As Skip shares the message "Caution: Ruts Ahead!" he challenges you to live cautiously in your journey of faith and to watch out for ruts.

This teaching is from the series Rock Solid.

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You've seen the sign before that says wrong way.

It's usually red. It's a red diamond in white lettering wrong way telling you don't go this way. Essentially, that is what is in Peter's mind. He understands that we can be going one way that is the right way, but the danger of others steering us off the path is very real. When you see caution signs, you know right away that you need to pay attention and not act carelessly.

Do you pay attention to the caution signs in the Bible? Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip shares what it means for you to live cautiously in your journey of faith. But first, Skip wants to share about another way you can hear these encouraging Bible messages. Now I just want to let you know how we can stay connected on my YouTube channel. Just search for Skip Heitzig, that's Skip, H-E-I-T-Z-I-G. You'll find in-depth Bible teachings and insightful interviews. And don't forget to subscribe. Thanks, Skip.

Now we're in 2 Peter chapter 2 as we dive into our study with Skip Heitzig. Doctors will always tell you that you should never take prescription medication out of their original package. It's really simple as to why. If you have ever traveled and you pulled things out of different bottles and you need to pack them, it's a lot easier to just put them in one vessel. But it's not wise to do so because you may get confused as to which pill is which. And that's dangerous.

Whereas if you keep it in the original package, your name is on it, the expiration date is on it, what's in it is on it, and there's just no confusion. There's an interesting story about a gal who worked at a telephone store down in Jackson, Mississippi. She went away on a coffee break and came back and found her boss, Jim. Jim McGowan was sitting at her desk, his head in his hands, and he noticed her as she came in and said, Oh, I'm sorry.

I hope you'll forgive me. I took the liberty of going through your desk to find aspirin. I have a terrible headache. And so I found the pill jar and I took two of them and I feel much better.

And she said, That's great, Mr. McGowan, and you won't get pregnant either. Just as it is dangerous to have medicine in the wrong jar with the wrong label, it is also dangerous to call false prophets, false teachers, and what they say anything else other than that, that it is false. It is dangerous to do so. And it is for that very reason that Peter spends an entire chapter in this short little letter, 2 Peter, chapter two is spent entirely on placing the correct label on the bad medicine. It is a very straightforward passage, very concise, very complete, and one of the strongest in the entire New Testament on what this false prophecy is about. You've seen the sign before that says wrong way.

It's usually red. It's a red diamond in white lettering wrong way telling you don't go this way. Essentially, that is what is in Peter's mind. He understands that we can be going one way that is the right way, but the danger of others steering us off the path is very real.

I want you to notice some wording even before we read the entirety of the text. In verse 15 of 2 Peter 2, he notes, They have forsaken the right way and have gone astray, following the way of Balaam. Verse 21, It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness. That little word way means a roadway or a pathway. And the most typical form of going from one place to another was walking in those days. So the picture in the original author's mind is people walking down a roadway being pushed off the right path onto another road that is the wrong way. That's the idea behind this text. You probably also know that in the New Testament, it is not uncommon to speak about your walk as your spiritual journey, right? The word or the term your walk or the walk or the way is often symbolic of the decisions you make and your entire lifestyle. And so Peter is writing to his audience saying, Be very careful. Take great caution.

There are ruts in this road that are put there by false teachers, false prophets, and even wrong pathways that they want to take you down. This week I found an article, actually I looked for it and so I found it online, of a little newspaper in England, a publication where people would air their complaints. And it's in Surrey, England. This one town was found. And this man was speaking about a road in his county and in his town. And this local citizen writes this, This is the most dangerous road in our county. It is dark and narrow. It has deep ruts at the edges.

And I have had several near misses with oncoming traffic. And he warns at the end of his little complaint that there could be a severe accident in the future. After writing that, the council wrote back online and responded with this. There are no funds available till next year, but this remains our highest priority. Our highest priority, no money. This is Peter's highest priority.

He is about to die. This is the last recorded utterance that we have of Peter is this book. And he wants to make sure these truths are in place.

So let's look at them. Beginning in verse 15 to the end of the chapter. Continuing the theme from last time, they have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness. But he was rebuked for his iniquity.

A dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lust of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.

While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption. For by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

But this has happened to them. According to the true proverb, a dog returns to its own vomit and a sow having washed to her wallowing in the mire. I think Peter knew something. I think that Peter believed that it is profitable for all believers from time to time to stop, to pause, to consider their walk. Where they're going, how they're doing it, with whom they are walking, and where it leads. It's interesting, pigeons, how they walk.

Have you noticed? Their head moves back and forth like this when they walk. And it's the strangest thing. Honestly, I don't really care for pigeons.

I'd never have one as a pet, per se. But I've always been interested in why they do that. And I discovered, just from a little research, that they cannot focus while they're walking, they actually have their head at a complete stop.

And they focus, take a step, move the head again, focus, take a step, move the head forward, focus, step backwards, and they do it quite efficiently. And it's as if Peter says, like that, you need to stop and refocus and consider what's out there and who's out there and what it can lead to. From time to time, we just need a good Bible study on the subject, and Peter has given us an entire chapter's worth. So allow me to show you the road signs on this path. There are four cautionary signs that Peter puts out as to the ruts that are in the road. Be careful as you walk. Be careful who you walk with. Be careful what you walk toward. And finally, be careful how your walk ends.

Can I show them to you? Verse 15, be careful as you walk. He says, They have forsaken the right way and have gone astray.

Let's just stop there. He's speaking about people who were taken off course, and have you noticed, if you have read your New Testament at all, that from the beginning of the New Testament, the time of Jesus, to the book of Revelation, there is warning after warning after warning that this is a possibility. It seems as though all of the authors understood that this is a battle, and in our walks, we have to be very cautious as we walk because there are people out there that want to take you the wrong way.

Let me give you just a sampling, if I may, of those warnings. These are from the lips and the pen of Paul the Apostle. In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul writes, I fear that somehow you will be led astray from your pure and simple devotion to Christ. Galatians chapter 1, I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you, in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel. For there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. In Ephesians 4, he writes, We should no longer be children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.

The final text that I want to share with you is in Acts 20 as Paul is leaving, a city he had been in for three years, the town of Ephesus. He says this, I know that after my departure savage wolves will come. They will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after themselves. Remember, he said, that for three years I did not cease to warn you with tears. So, throughout the entire New Testament, you have warnings of ruts in the road, ruts of legalism, ruts of self-righteousness, ruts of pride, of apathy, of doubt, of anger, of jealousy, of doctrinal error.

So simply put, step number one, warning sign number one on this roadway, be careful as you walk. Now Paul the apostle said almost the exact same thing. When he wrote to the Ephesians he says, see then that you walk circumspectly. Do you remember that word? See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.

Circumspectly means carefully or with exactness. The point is, is when you walk, watch where you're putting each step. It's interesting really when a child learns to walk.

It's one of the most wonderful days of a parent's life. Look, he's walking. And we really don't care much about how they do it. But very soon after that come all the warnings. Be careful where you walk. Look both ways when you cross the street.

All of those warnings are enacted once the walking process begins. When I was a youth, we had a field trip one day at our school to the local dairy. I was late for school, which was not untypical. My dad would take me to school sometimes if I missed the bus, I missed the bus. So instead of going with all the kids to the dairy and going the proper entrance to the dairy, my dad pulled up alongside the fence where there was a pasture and we could see the kids out there in the dairy. So my dad just said, just go through the fence and join your friends. But he said, knowing what I was walking through, be very careful as you walk.

That makes sense, right? I don't have to describe much more than that. The landmines were there. It was a cow pasture. And I made sure that I walked very circumspectly through the field. But I came home later on and I sensed something. And I looked and indeed I hadn't walked that circumspectly.

But I was rather foolish in my approach to the rest of the kids. Now, in saying walk carefully, I really don't want you to become a reactionary Christian. There are some people that react automatically to everything as if there's just false prophets waiting around the bush.

I happen to believe that is true. But it can cause a person to become almost so narrow-minded as if they're the only arbiter of truth that every sermon, every book, every article has got something bad in it. And we look for certain words.

I don't want you to become the gospel Gestapo here. I simply would love it if you would learn to discern. It's a good word, discern. It means to distinguish between truth and error. That you just listen carefully and you watch carefully as you walk. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5, test all things and hold fast to what is good. Mark Twain, who can only say it like he said it, remarked that a lie can make its way halfway around the world while truth is still lacing up its boots. Seems to be so true how fast error will travel. And it also seems to be human nature to go astray.

That's why there are laws. Isaiah the prophet said, all we like sheep have gone astray. The hymn writer said, prone to wander. Lord, I feel it.

Prone to leave the God I love. So, simply said, be careful as you walk. Second warning sign is to be careful who you walk with.

Now that makes sense, doesn't it? Your company of friends is very important. Who you hang with is very, very important. Because you probably also know that the secret of doing anything and keeping your interest up in anything is to have the right company of people around you. That's why clubs develop.

There are reading clubs and knitting clubs and there's car clubs and motorcycle clubs and they have rallies and they have chat rooms and they have magazines. And it's because they know this truth that if you want to succeed and keep going in anything, surround yourself with the information and the inspiration of people who also have the same interests. Amos the prophet said, can two walk together unless they are agreed? So, find people that agree with God's truth and walk with them. That's one of the reasons we go to church. It's one of the reasons that we break up in small groups. It's because when we come together like this, we're literally on the same page. We're reading the walking manual.

And then we watch and we listen in small groups how people are applying it personally and learning to walk with the Lord. Okay, with all that said, go to your text and notice words that are repeated. I want to draw your attention to these words.

They're all third person words. They, them, those, these. Notice it, verse 15.

They have forsaken the right way and gone astray. Verse 17, these are wells without water. Verse 18, for when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure.

On and on through virtually every verse he's writing about those guys, them dudes, they. He is speaking here about the aggregate group of false teachers and their followers that comprise the they. Now normally I would tell you that it's unhealthy to have a dichotomy of us and them, we and they. It's not good to do that, especially in the body of Christ.

We're in this together. We are brothers and sisters. However, following Peter's lead, it's very healthy to make a dichotomy between those who hold to the historic Christian faith and those who pervert the gospel. And to say this is truth and there are those who don't hold to the truth and because of that, as John even said, they are not of us. It is important to have people in your life who will inspire you spiritually, to have people around you, part of your we group that love the Lord and inspire you to get better and to go longer and be stronger.

It's very important. It's also unnerving. My dad used to tell me, because we were all golfers, I haven't kept it up, but he said skip. I notice that you like to play golf with people who you can beat.

If you ever really want to get good at this game, find people who can beat you or who are at least as good as you so it's an even match because you will observe and watch what they do and you'll get better at it. But it can be unnerving in the Christian faith. I read a story that Dwight Lyman Moody, young D.L. Moody who became an evangelist and pastor, that his conversion was so radical that he would read the Bible hours a day in the Word and apply it immediately and be obedient to the Word that it actually bothered some of the older, more mature believers in his church that his rapid growth embarrassed those who had been in the faith a longer time.

Every week, D.L. Moody would come to Sunday school and talk about what God did, what God showed him and how the Lord has worked in his life and the older saints honestly felt a little humiliated by him. That some of them actually went to his uncle and said, could you quiet the boy down?

A biographer of D.L. Moody wrote this, his robust spiritual health and bounding spiritual energy disturbed their napping. He was just too much for them. So while they were sucking their thumbs, he was growing until he left them far behind. He grew more in a few years than they did in 30. When I read that, I said, God, give us more D.L.

Moody's. Give us those kind of people in our lives that inspire us to walk strong. Be careful who you walk with. So while he's talking about they and these and those and them, he mentions one particular person by name from the Old Testament, a guy by the name of Balaam. Balaam is in the Old Testament hall of shame.

He's an unusual cat, strange guy, because he was a Gentile prophet who was called upon by Balak, the king of Moab, to curse the Jewish people because the Jewish people were a sizable company and coming into the land. So he hires Balaam. Balaam comes and he knows what he is about to do is wrong. The Lord warned him.

But he goes anyway because the pay was good and the honor would be even greater. So he goes in a direct disobedience to the Lord and while he is going, the Lord opens the mouth of his dumb donkey. It says a dumb donkey spoke to him. A donkey who couldn't speak spoke. So you have a dumb donkey and a dumber prophet. You have dumb and dumber. You wonder which is dumber?

Usually donkeys are known as being stubborn. The prophet was worse. Have you ever seen Mr. Ed? Remember, I grew up with Mr. Ed. This is like the Old Testament version of Mr. Ed.

But it's a donkey. Balaam. People ask me, will there be animals in heaven?

I sure hope this one is. Now Balaam, like those with him, the they, the those, the them guys, they would use their spiritual gift purely to get rich for profit. Have you ever read those surveys asking people what they would do for a million dollars or ten million dollars or what their price would be to do certain off-color activities? Well, I found one recently that said, what would you be willing to do for ten million dollars? Listen to this survey. 25% of those who took the survey, 25% said that for ten million dollars, they would be willing to abandon their families.

25%. 23% said they would become a prostitute for a week. 7% said they would kill a stranger if the price was right. Now I want you to know what that means. That means that if you have a group of 1,000 people, there are 70 in that group who are willing to kill someone if the price was right.

Balaam was willing to do this deed because the price was right, the status was right, the honor was right. That concludes Skip Heitzig's message from the series Rock Solid. Right now, we want to share about an encouraging resource that will spark a deeper passion in you to live for Jesus. Who comes to mind when you think of great, godly women? Probably Jesus' mother Mary. Maybe Ruth, the unlikely ancestor of Christ.

But what about you? Here's New York Times bestselling author Eric Metaxas. Clearly, if God created us male and female in His image, it's leaning into who we are as women, if we're women, that is going to show God's greatness. Discover how the lives of some of the greatest women in history can show you the path to true greatness in your own life as a woman made in God's image. That's what you'll find in this month's inspiring resource by Eric Metaxas.

In every one of the seven women, I think you see a different side of femininity. Seven Women is our thank you for your gift of $35 or more today to help connect more people to God's Word. And right now, we'll also send you a special bonus resource, Pastor Skip's six-message CD collection on prominent women from Scripture. Visit connectwithskip.com slash offer to give online securely or call 800-922-1888. Do you want to see lost souls in this dark world encounter the light of Jesus?

That's exactly what you make possible through your support. Your gift today helps take the Gospel to thousands so they can experience new life in Christ. So please give a gift to share the good news of Jesus with more people in our dark and needy world. Call 800-922-1888. Or visit connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Thank you. Tune in tomorrow as Skip Heitzig shares what signs you can look for as you wait for Christ's return. Make a connection Make a connection At the foot of the crossing Cast all burdens on His Word Make a connection A connection Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-13 01:10:04 / 2023-11-13 01:19:46 / 10

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