The words that make up the title for this article are a direct quote from the Bible. Consider first the context from which they came. Because Solomon had failed to faithfully follow God as did his father David, God told him that he would take the majority of the kingdom of Israel from him and give it to another. This He did, giving ten tribes to a man named Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, leaving Rehoboam, the son of Solomon only one (I Kings 12-13). One might think that Jeroboam would be so grateful to God that he would do his best to follow God, but he did not. Instead, he made two golden calves and set them in Dan and Bethel, and build altars to offer sacrifices to these gods (I Kings 12:28-33). God sent a young prophet to prophesy against the altar at Bethel while Jeroboam stood by to burn incense (I Kings 13:1-2). This young prophet had been commanded by God to prophesy against the altar and then leave by a different route. He was to eat no bread, nor drink any water while there (I Kings 13:9). This young prophet followed the instructions given by God and rejected the kings invitation to stay and received blessings from him (I Kings 13:10). Now, here is where we find our topic for this lesson. An old prophet, dwelling there, intercepted the young prophet in his journey home and told him that God had told him, through the words of an angel that he was to bring the young prophet home with him and give him food and drink (I Kings 13:18). The last five words of this verse are: “But he lied unto him”.
The young prophet heeded the words of the old prophet and returned to his house with him and did eat and drink. God spoke to him there, telling him that because he had disobeyed Him, he would never reach home alive. After leaving, God send a lion to slay him (I Kings 13:20-24). There are many great lessons that can be gleaned from this account, but the one great lesson that we wish to focus on in this article and one that is apparently much needed in this day and age, with the great disparity of doctrines and churches, all calling themselves “Christian”, concerns the real fact that one cannot believe every one, or everything that one hears when it comes to becoming and living as a Christian. In this high tech internet age, it has become obvious to at least a few that this is true about any and every subject one is bombarded with on the internet. Such a truth is also apparent from our Bible text, concerning our learning of and obedience to the word of God.
Of course, if one will read the Bible, he or she will find multiple times that we are warned that not everyone who speaks concerning God’s will is speaking truth. It was Jesus who said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15). The apostle Paul warned the Ephesian elders, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). The apostle Peter wrote, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies…” (II Pet. 2:1). The apostle John warned, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1).
People can speak error without intending to. Apollos was preaching error until Aquila and Priscila took him aside and taught him correctly. In both the account of the old prophet and those wolves that Jesus spoke of, they knew that they were not speaking truth. The scripture says that the old prophet lied and Jesus said that those wolves were wearing sheep’s clothing, thus they both knew they were not speaking truth. It really matters not whether one is telling a lie or if he is just mistaken, the end result will be the same. It is sad when people are taught wrong and die lost because of such false teaching. However, even sadder is the fact that all too often, people want to be lied to, they want to be told things that are not true. The prophet Isaiah said of the nation of Israel in his day, “Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isa. 30:10). It is hard to imagine that one would want to be lied to about God’s will. Yet, Paul told Timothy, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3-4). That prophecy given by Paul was filled many times over the years and is apparently filled yet again in this our age. People shop around looking for a church where the teaching they will hear is what they want to hear rather than what God has said. In other words they seek preachers who will lie to them.
There is really only one safe course. The safe course is to seek the truth and the truth only, for it is the truth that will make you free (John 8:32), and that truth is found in the word of God (John 17:17). It is up to each of us to study it for ourselves lest we be lied to. (Send any questions or comments to: [email protected])
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.