March 12, 2023
“You must be careful to do everything I command you; do not add anything to it or take anything away from it.”
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“If a prophet or someone who has dreams arises among you and proclaims a sign or wonder to you, and that sign or wonder he has promised you comes about, but he says, ‘Let us follow other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us worship them,’ do not listen to that prophet’s words or to that dreamer. For the Lord, your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.” Deuteronomy 13:1-3 (HCSB)
You have probably heard the term “con man.” “Con man” is an abbreviation of “Confidence man.” The best con men invoke confidence in their victims, usually by promising something a little cheaper, faster, or better than otherwise possible, something slightly outside of conventional methods. Bernie Madoff is, perhaps, the most recent successful con man in history, and now he’s just a “con,” as in “convict.” I hope he becomes a “con-vert.”
The person being conned has to simply be convinced to step outside of righteousness for a moment. That’s all a good con man needs to rob you. It’s impossible to con an honest person. In order to con someone, they have to have a spark of “con” inside them already. And we all have that potential. There has to be the willingness to cheat in order for someone to get lured into the con man’s scheme. We’ve got to want something a little faster, cheaper, and bigger than normally obtainable.
Directly following God’s command to stay completely within His Torah (not straying to the “right or left”) are His commands concerning how to handle false prophets: spiritual con men.
Assumed in Deuteronomy 13 is that Israel would stay completely within God’s Torah instruction. That being the case, it would be 1) Completely within their capacity to spot a con man and 2) Impossible for Israel to be conned into following false gods.
The best way to sway a nation’s morality is to sway the morality of leaders. This is accomplished by slowly, subtly, yet deliberately steering those leaders away from God’s Commands. By the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Israel’s complete devotion to Torah had been mainly replaced by devoutness to the teaching of the rabbis, supported by Torah. See the subtle yet definite diversion from complete Torah observance?
With the spiritual “true north” perverted by the vain opinions of men, is it any wonder the religious leaders sought to destroy Jesus? The fact that Jesus performed miracles meant nothing to them. God predicted false prophets would do this to Israel. In the opinion of the religious elite, Messiah Jesus fit all the criteria for a Deuteronomy 13 execution! When our theology is perverted, our zeal is perverted.
Zeal check: Are you searching the Bible in order to honor the Lord by living according to His Word, or has your lack of Biblical knowledge increased the potential to become a victim of the latest religious con?
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©Steve Wiggins 2021