“Even though we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8,9).
The devil, that master of falsehoods and creator of fake religions, is no fool.
He knows that a manmade religion has to look and feel right if people are going to buy it.
So, he keeps tweaking it until he finds the right combination to achieve that “aha!” moment when everything falls into place. He blends a mixture of doctrinal teachings that sound impressive, emotional incentives that feel good, and outlandish rewards out in the future that entice the unthinking alongwith a certain amount of history which he has either created out of whole cloth or tampered with to make it say what he wishes and a fellowship of the deceived-and-deceiving so the seeker can be locked into the system.
When the seeker is combing over the details of this new religion and suddenly finds it all snapping into place–a “lego moment,” if you will–two things are true:
1) It feels like he has made a discovery of something new and known only to a select few.
Christopher Columbus with his “New World” knew no greater thrill than the one surging through our duped friend at this minute.
2) It feels like orthodox Christianity has no answer for this, like he has cornered “Truth.”
Mark my words, he will not be calling the home church pastor to get his response. That man just doesn’t “get it,” he knows. In fact, the church where he was raised feels like a sham which needs to be put out of business for its poor representation of reality. He has only pity for his former church friends.
Conversion to a wonderful heresy can be a heady feeling. (We use the term “wonderful heresy” intentionally. Finding this lie feels great, like one has stumbled into a new world.)
But like the Lego-world of the movie, it’s all artificial. Manmade. Plastic. Done by smoke and mirrors, computers and fantasy. In the case of the doctrine, created in the bowels of hell, even.
A good heresy, just like that movie, is smart and impressive, stunning in its attention to details, but artificial and wrong and deadly.
Anytime you are taught a different way of achieving salvation and eternal life from the one in Scripture, you will want to keep in mind several things….
1) The devil is a master of deception. If he were a magician, no amount of sleuthing by investigators could find how he pulls off his tricks. Jesus called him “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). He disguises himself as “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
You come away singing, “This is so beautiful and feels so good; it can’t be wrong.”
2) There is something corrupt and warped about us humans that likes to believe everyone else has been deceived and we alone possess the Truth.
Satan plays to that foolish, sinful nature. We are as much a “mark” as the most gullible and unwary of tourists in the French Quarter on a Saturday night.
3) The biggest clue has always been what that doctrine does with Jesus. Now, the New Testament makes a great deal of Jesus. “The Trinity dwells in Him bodily” (Colossians 2:9). “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). And, Jesus paid the entire debt for my sin, once and for all (see Hebrews 9:12 and 10:12). “Without shedding of blood, there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).
Watch this new doctrine, however. It will marginalize Jesus. True, it will applaud Him as a great Person, a wonderful example, and a hundred other things. But the significance of the cross has been greatly diminished. What He did on Calvary is not what you’ve been taught.
4) The other clue–almost an infallible giveaway–is what the new teaching requires. The New Testament goes to great lengths to establish that faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone is required for salvation. “The just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11). “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). “By grace are you saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). But watch closely. The heresies will always make faith “something nice to have,” but not the essential requirement.
To get in on salvation in the “new way,” you will be doing various works, exercising certain disciplines, making great sacrifices, devoting yourself to studying teachings. And do not be surprised if the teachers use the language of faith, but fill the words with new meanings.
5) Believers need to keep two scriptures uppermost in mind as guideposts in these matters, and never veer from them….
a. Two times Galatians 1:8-9 says anyone teaching another way of salvation–“a gospel contrary to what you were taught”–should be accursed. Not one to mince words, Paul lays it out there.
b. Thankfully, we know what that gospel is which “you were taught.” It’s the Epistle to the Romans. This 16-chapter letter is literally “The Gospel According to Paul.”
So, there you have it!
No matter how perfectly the artificial, manmade, and plastic religion snaps into place and how balanced it seems and how impressive the result, if it does not line up with Romans, dismiss it. In fact, trash it. Curse it, Paul says.
Question: what does Romans teach?
I’m glad you asked.
Short answer: Read it for yourself. If your eternal salvation is of any value to you, the least you could do is get the New Testament down and become acquainted with what it teaches.
Longer answer: You will find that this epistle teaches that receiving salvation is all about two huge factors:
–facing and admitting your own sinfulness. (See the first 3 chapters.) Result: repent.
–putting faith in Jesus. (See 3:21 through the next few chapters) Result: saved!
Everything else in the epistle either elaborates on these or deals with related questions. Some of it is deep and you may be tempted to quit, but read on. You can do this. (We must not wimp out. This is the most important matter in the world, and the next world!)
The Lego movie was made at great expense and through incredible effort. The result, I hear, is impressive and fascinating. However, when all is said and done, what we have is a piece of plastic called a DVD. There is nothing there. It’s all done by computers.
Anyone putting faith in a man, in a system, or in a “sacred” literature other than the Bible itself, is buying into the deception of the master deceiver himself.
Because everything snaps into place does not make it true.