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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spiritual Purity - Rejecting False Jesuses

Spiritual Purity
Canyon Shearer
8 December 2010

Text - 2 Corinthians 11:2-4

Beloved, it is such a pleasure to have the opportunity to address you this evening. I pray that I have adequately prepared this lesson, that it will impact you and drive you towards the truth, and that if you are offended, it will be the truth doing the offending and not myself. I am very glad to have an opportunity to talk about this topic today, the topic of a spiritual purity, a doctrinal purity, a theological purity, because if we get this right, it will bring everything else into line and this youth group will continue in the truth and will be utterly consumed with Christ. Let's pause here to pray to the true Christ and ask that he sends his true Spirit to enlighten us.

Just last Sunday I taught briefly on the importance of sexual purity in Christ's church, and as important as this is, it is far more important than we are pure in our understanding of Christ. You're going to see in a bit that Paul draws a straight line between physical purity and doctrinal purity. So please turn to Second Corinthians 11, if you don't have a Bible, we have Bibles up here. If you don't own a Bible, please see us before you leave and we'll make sure you get a Bible. Our first lesson before we talk about anything is that this Book is how we know anything about God, it is how he speaks, it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error for its content.

Now, a little background before we read our passage. Second Corinthians is the follow-up letter to First Corinthians. It's a funny coincidence that the second follows the first...but both of these letters were written by the Apostle Paul after he planted this church in AD 51 with his friends Timothy and Silas. After they left, this church became the worst church ever, they broke up into little cliques, they worshipped knowledge more than God, they were falling into all sorts of sexual sin, forbidding marriage for some and requiring it for others, living according to all sorts of silly rules, like what could and couldn't be eaten, getting drunk during communion, making fun of people who didn't have their same giftings, rejecting love, and it all came together in their church services where everything was out of control. They'd have several people preaching at once, some in real languages, others in made up tongues, everybody was praying in "concerts of prayer" where everybody prayed outloud at the same time, and Paul said, "QUIT IT!" He called for the service to be a time of building up, prayer outloud for the sake of edification, and tongues to be outright heresy and totally worthless. A lot of this was led by crazy preacher ladies and Paul told them to sit down and shut up.

Now, why was this church so wrecked? In chapter 15 it tells us it was because they were worshipping a Christ who lived and died and saved them from Hell. They missed the fact that he defeated death and proved a resurrection and that when we die, our bodies will die, but our souls will live forever. They denied the resurrection, and First Corinthians is written to fix all of these problems.

Second Corinthians is written to follow up, and lo and behold, this church has repented. They've become a pretty decent church. In chapter 3 we see that the dude in First Corinthians who was sleeping with his step-mom has repented and has been welcomed back into fellowship. We see in chapter 7 that Paul is super happy that his first letter made them repent, saying it didn't just make them feel bad, but it showed them they had sinned against Heaven, they had blasphemed Christ's name. This church isn't yet perfect, they're still sort of being legalists, coming up with rules instead of principles. One thing they are doing in chapters 8 and 9 are still holding to a rule of a tithe, of a tenth of your money being mandatory to the church. Instead he says you ought to give out of your abundance, this may be 1% or 10% or 99.8%, and he's very clear that if you're not giving, you are robbing both God and yourself. And of course this isn't just to the church, I don't get paid by the church so I can say this, but I highly encourage you to take Paul's advice and give away money for the ministry of the kingdom.

In chapter 10 Paul changes gears to address some false teachers who are still in the church. Guys that are trying to say they're super amazing and better than Paul. Paul attacks the idea that he's not a true Apostle, that he's bold in letter, but weak in presence. I can imagine some of the angry false teachers in Corinth writing to Paul and saying, "Why don't you say that to my face?"

The false teachers are preaching about the name of Jesus, but they're not talking about the true Jesus. I want to show a video clip of some modern day versions of these guys and see if it doesn't make you mad, because it definitely makes God furious.

These are similar to the false prophets in Corinth, making up a Jesus they like more than the true Christ. Let's read our passage,

2 Corinthians 11:2-4 I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

Our first point that we need to see is that there are indeed different Jesuses, who though they share a name, have nothing in common with the true and living Christ. Let me tell you a story to really drive this point home. About six months ago I was driving to work at 10pm on a Friday. I know it was a Friday because on Friday's I made it a point to stop at my favorite Mexican restaurant to grab lunch before I went to work. As I was walking in I passed three teenage skaters hanging out on the sidewalk. I thought momentarily, I should witness to those guys. I decided, if they're still there when I come out, I'll witness to them. Well I ordered and my conscience got the better of me and I told the waitress I'd be right back. I went outside and they were still there and so I struck up a conversation and took them through the good person test and they found out they were lying thieving blasphemous adulterers at heart. They were sure they were on their way to Hell when I asked if they knew what God did so they wouldn't have to go to Hell. They didn't know, so I told them, "2,000 years ago, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ..." One of them interrupted and said, "Hey, that's my name!" I said, "Your name is Jesus Christ?" He said, "No, it's Jesus." I said, "Good, then your name will help you guys to remember this." And I finished the gospel for them and hopefully they've repented and gotten saved by now.

There are a ton of different Jesuses who aren't the true Jesus. For example, the Jesus of revisionist history was just a charismatic rabbi, the Jesus of Mormonism is the brother of Satan, the Jesus of Islam was just a prophet, the Jesus of Catholicism is unapproachable but has a soft spot for his mom, the Jesus of Philips Craig and Dean is schizophrenic and morphs from being the Father to the Son to the Spirit, but never at the same time, yet prays to himself. Cult leader David Koresh claimed to be the second coming of Jesus and many died because of it, Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda claims to be the second coming of Jesus right now in Miami, and I expect before it's over it will die in a mass murder-suicide. There are no lack of false Jesuses. Similarly the Holy Spirit is called everything from a force, or a personification of goodness, like Jack Frost is the personification of winter, to a girl, to an it. False Jesuses and false spirits abound.

I was open air preaching once at Kennesaw State University and a girl said, "My god would never send anyone to Hell." I was standing on my little box and replied, "You're right, your god wouldn't send anyone to Hell, because he can't, because he doesn't exist!" And when I said that I fell off my box.

Paul sees a tendency for this church, and indeed every church, to be led astray into false doctrine and away from Christ and ultimately into sin. We see these extreme versions and think, "I'd never be led into the idea that Jesus was anything less than God, and definitely not that he is the brother of Satan." And that's great, but we also have to look for smaller errors in our view of who Jesus is.

For example, it's popular in bumper-sticker theology to say, "Jesus loves you." Or in that crazy song, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." That song would be much better sung, "Jesus has a long-suffering sacrificial lovingkindness towards me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

Turn to Hebrews 1:8-9, in Romans 12:9 it tells us that true love hates wickedness and holds to the truth, that a person that truly loves good also has to hate things that aren't good.

Hebrews 1:8-9 But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions."

Right there it says he hates wickedness. And that leads us to our next different Jesus, the Jesus who hates sin but loves the sinner. Be turning to Psalm 69. Let me give you an analogy, say there is an assassin who kills someone you love very much, let's say your best friend. Are you going to hate the bullet, but still love the assassin? Beloved, the bullet, the sin, is nothing apart from the assassin, the sinner, to put it into action. As Pastor Aaron said, God doesn't send sin to Hell, he sends sinners. Let's see somewhere where Jesus very much hates a very specific audience. Psalm 69 is Jesus' prayer from the cross, he is near to death and has been beaten beyond human recognition, he has looked for friends but they have all abandoned him, he has looked for pity but found none. He is dying for a very specific purpose, to pay for the sins of all who will trust in him. But for those who will die in their sins, he has a much different response. Read with me from

Psalm 69:19-33 You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you. Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink. Let their own table before them become a snare; and when they are at peace, let it become a trap. Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see, and make their loins tremble continually. Pour out your indignation upon them, and let your burning anger overtake them. May their camp be a desolation; let no one dwell in their tents. For they persecute him whom you have struck down, and they recount the pain of those you have wounded. Add to them punishment upon punishment; may they have no acquittal from you. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous. But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high! I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.

This is what is called an imprecatory prayer, and it's coming straight from the heart of Jesus Christ. He asks his Father to add punishment upon punishment and to not forgive them. This then leads us to another false jesus, the one who we think loved us so much that he would rather die than live without us, or the jesus who concocted a world in which the largest number of people would be saved of their own choosing, the jesus who loved us "this much." I can't say it any worse that a song which by and large is a fantastic song, but concludes at the end with, "And thought of me, above all." Just as Pastor Aaron said a few weeks ago, this is a lie from the pit of Hell; on the cross Jesus Christ was thinking utmost to the glory of his Father. If you ever have an opportunity to play or sing that song, I highly encourage you to substitute for that last line, "For his glory, he gave all." Jump back a few verses in Psalm 69,

Psalm 69:6-7 Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that dishonor has covered my face.

Check out Matthew 19:4-7 "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."

Jesus never condemned homosexuality. Hmm...right there he did, have you not read that God created them male and female? That a man should marry his wife? Yet there is a false jesus of Elton John who thinks homosexuality is the greatest thing ever.

So, we've talked about the person of Christ, what he loves and hates. Let's move on to the work of Christ, where likewise there are no lack of false Jesuses. In that Ricky Bobby movie we see that some people would rather have a baby Jesus; this Jesus they think is impotent and not able to judge or condemn and might grow up to be anything. Let's take a quick rabbit trail to make this is a Christmas sermon. After Jesus was born he was taken to the temple, a man named Simeon, my hero, took the baby and recognized that this was the Sovereign Lord of the Universe. Check this out, Simeon was holding the Baby, and the Baby was holding every molecule in Simeon, in the world, in the universe together.

Thirty-Three years later Christ was crucified. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates this weekly with a crucifix in a masse when they RECRUCIFY Christ. The Jesus of Catholicism cannot save totally, he cannot make his saints perfect, he must continue to make payment which hopefully is added to your own goodness which along with Purgatory will see you into Heaven...hopefully. This is a false jesus, unable to save to the uttermost those who draw near to him.

Three days later, he rose, he defeated death, beloved, the tomb is empty. But if you're a Jehovah's Witness, it's not. They believe jesus was raised spiritually from the dead, that his body is still somewhere on earth, hidden though so that we can't find it. The church at Corinth made this same mistake, believing Christ died to save us from Hell, but could do nothing to save us from death. But beloved, death is swallowed up in victory, death has lost its victory, death has lost its sting, for the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The true Jesus was born as a baby, grew into a man, was tempted in every way we've been tempted, yet without sin. He willingly went to the cross, crucified on the charge of claiming to be God, he paid the whole price for the sins of his saints, he was buried in a borrowed tomb, and on the third day he defeated death and ascended bodily into Heaven. He lives this day to make intercession for his saints.

Paul sums this up in 1 Timothy 3:16, I love this verse because beloved, this is the verse that got me saved. I was standing in Hyde Park in London, which is a famous place for all sorts of people to yell at people, everything from religion to politics to hunting to whatever. There was an absolute loony preaching there that the reason the world is going to Hell is because women are allowed to speak in church. I don't believe this man's jesus was the true Jesus, but he was preaching, and I was listening for a laugh. But beloved, somewhere in his sermon and completely out of context of the rest of the message, he preached 1 Timothy 3:16, that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh. That one verse rocked my worldview, I'd never heard it before and it became a whole different issue that Jesus wasn't just some guy dying on a cross, but was the King of Heaven stepped into human existence to pay for the sins of his creation.

1 Timothy 3:16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated (proved holy, innocent, and undefiled) by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

This true Jesus will set your doctrine straight; because he counted others as worth more than himself, so will you. Because he gave all glory to his Father, so will you. Because he entrusted himself totally to his Father who judges justly, so shall you. Because he loved righteousness and hated wickedness, so shall you. Because he sent his Spirit to be your helper and counselor, he will guide you into all truth.

False gospels will become abhorrent to you. You will hate it when people say there is salvation in any other name than Jesus Christ. You will hate it when baptism or circumcision or church membership is added to the completed work of Christ for salvation. You will hate it when sin is made beautiful and hides Christ from the people, that many who think they are ok because they believe in someone named jesus will be turned away from the gates of Heaven for rejecting the true King of Righteousness for an impotent and imaginative false savior.

It was to this effect that Jesus could scream at the Pharisees, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single convert, and when he becomes a convert, you make him twice as much the child of Hell as yourselves."

Beloved, you have two options, you can reject these false jesus' and trust in the King of Heaven who lived and died and lived again, who gave all for the glory of his father, who in a single sacrifice perfected all who are being sanctified, or you can follow after a Jesus that comforts your conscience, who doesn't hate sinners, who only tries to save, who needs your consent to accomplish his will. Let's conclude with two verses, choose this day which Christ you will follow.

Hebrews 3:12-14 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

Or to those false jesuses, let's let Paul tell us their fate,

2 Corinthians 11:12-15 And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Their end will correspond to their deeds. A false Christ, a false savior, is not savior at all, and they will die in their sins and be judged with great strictness. It is for them that the gloom of the worst parts of Hell are reserved.

A church that trusts totally in the true Christ will accomplish his mission and its members will be welcomed into Heaven on the phrase, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master." This church will have unity of mind, unity of purpose, and unity of love.

But the church that trusts in its own understandings, which makes up a Jesus to appease their consciences and allow them to boast in their works, who can say, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?" will be turned away at the gate, and hear, "Depart from me you worker of iniquity, I never knew you."

Beloved, I pray that this will be none of you. Let's pray.

Lord Christ, maker of Heaven and Earth, we with boldness approach your throne of grace seeking help in our time of need. Many deceivers attack us on every side, trying to tell us you are not who you say you are. Set our hope on you, set our affections on you, you are all we have in Heaven and on Earth, you are the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. Sanctify us in the truth, your word is truth. If there are any here who have not repented and trusted in you, I pray that this day you grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, that you would transform them into new creatures able and willing to do your will. And Lord Jesus, I pray that we forever remember that you came as a humble baby, gave your life in substitution for ours, and defeated death, and that we would see that there is an empty cross and an empty grave, that death is beaten and you have won the day, that we would all shout it out that you are alive. And King Jesus, I pray that one that final day I would not hear it just once, but that for each of these students I would have the extreme privilege of hearing you tell them, "well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master." Let us do all things for your sake, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever, amen.

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