Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 28, 1949
NUMBER 12, PAGE 1,4b-5a

The Devil's Lures

R. L. Whiteside, Denton, Texas

Some people seem to think that a preacher is freer from temptation than other folks. Well, that is not so. A preacher has all the weaknesses that humans are heir to, and is therefore subject to the temptations others have, possibly with some added. Some of these temptations are of too delicate a nature to discuss in public print. Some grow out of this promiscuous "pastoral visiting" that some preachers like and some churches demand. Some do not pray, "Lead us not into temptation," nor do they look for the way of escape when they are tempted. "For of these are they that creep into houses, and take captive silly women laden with sins, led away by divers lusts" (2 Tim. 3:6).

The term "silly women" is a translation of only one Greek word. With the Greeks this word meant little women—little physically, and therefore weak; not strong and robust. Apply that term to moral and spiritual character, and it means women who are weak morally and spiritually. Such people often act silly, and I think the translators put the results of this weakness of character into their translation rather than the exact meaning of the word. Some people of strong intellect are weak morally, and therefore act silly—they are led by their lusts. And preachers may sometimes be as weak morally as anyone else. And an intellectual woman may be weak morally, and act silly.

"Good Mixers"

The devil has got in some effective work among churches and preachers. He has made most churches believe they cannot get along without a preacher. And many churches are drifting into the craze for good mixers. Many do not want a sound, effective gospel preacher; they want a "minister," one who will perform after the fashion of a "good pastor." Two elders, five hundred miles apart, made the same statement. It sounded like statements made from copy. "So far as I am concerned, I do not care whether our preacher can preach much or not." What did they want? A herds boy. A roustabout. They wanted one that could round up the sheep. Why? Certainly not to feed them, for they did not care whether the herds boy could feed them much or not. Well, when I was a boy, we rounded up the sheep when we wanted to shear them. When pasturage failed in the late fall, and we began feeding them, we did not have to round them up at feed time—they came to the feed place. Perhaps if we had fed them but little, and that little not very good, they might not have bothered to come. It would be well for elders and preachers to think of this. Nothing, not even a good herds boy, is so effective as good, solid, earnest gospel preaching. Try it.

Outward Appearances

The devil has deceived many good people into putting great stress on outward appearance. This is not a new thing. When Jehovah sent Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint one of his sons to be king, and Eliab, a fine specimen of physical manhood was brought before Samuel, he said, "Surely Jehovah's anointed is before him." To Samuel, Eliab looked like an ideal man for a great king. "But Jehovah said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him; for Jehovah seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looketh on the heart" (I Sam. 16:1-7).

Eliab's looks deceived Samuel. We are all so easily deceived by appearances that it behooves us to be very careful. The devil is so often pictured as a hideous looking monster it is hard for us to realize that he, to deceive good people, transforms himself into an angel of light. Notice what Paul says about the devil and certain corrupters of churches: "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing therefore if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (2 Cor. 11:13-15.

These pretenders, these false apostles, these deceitful workers hounded the footsteps of Paul wherever he planted churches. They wanted to make Christianity a mere sect of the Jews' religion. They troubled the churches, just as do their counterparts of today. Paul was severe on them. "I would that they that unsettle you would mutilate themselves." (See marginal reading in American Standard Version), Gal, 5:12. "Go beyond circumcision" leaves anyone guessing what was meantliterally, mutilate themselves. Does that seem harsh? Then call to mind what happened to Ananias and Sapphira and Elymas. And study the significance of what Paul says in II Cor. 13:1-3, 10: "This is the third time I am coming to you. At the mouth of two witnesses or three shall every word be established. I have said before hand, and I do say beforehand, as when I was present the second time, so now, being absent, to them that have sinned heretofore, and to all the rest, that, if I come again, I will not spare: seeing that ye seek a proof of Christ that speaketh in me; who to you-ward is not weak, but is powerful in you... For this cause I write these things while absent, that I may not when present deal sharply, according to the authority which the Lord gave me for building up, and not for casting down."

Paul must have referred primarily to the Judaizing imposters, who always repudiated his claim to be a chosen apostle of the Lord. The members of the church at Corinth, unless it be some who came in since he was last there, had full evidence of his apostleship, for he says, "Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, by signs and wonders and mighty works" (2 Cor. 12:12). Just what more he could do to prove his apostleship than he had done, I do not know, unless it is implied in "deal sharply." We know he did "deal sharply" with Elymas the sorcerer. We do know that the Judaizers would not accept as proof any arguments he might make, and yet he would give them proof of his apostleship; but he hoped he would not have to deal sharply with them. He must have had in mind something more than words. Through the prompting of the devil these false apostles, these deceitful workers, had lured many disciples away from the simplicity of the gospel

Itching Ears

Many professed Christians like to be petted and flattered, even when they need reproof and censure. Paul said the time would come when they would not endure sound doctrine. He was not talking about the enemies of Christ, but professed followers of Christ, for the enemies of Christ did not then endure sound teaching. But professing Christians, members of the church, "having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their cars from the truth, and turn aside unto fables" (2 Tim. 4:1-4). So teachers and preachers are not always to blame for the fact that some people have itching ears, having no desire for God's word, but they are to blame for catering to people who are afflicted with such itch.

No matter what absurd or false theory people adopt, they can at a price find some one who will be their teacher. It is strange that people will spend their money for that which is worse than worthless. Their teacher has sold himself to do evil. However their teacher gets a good living out of it here, but hell hereafter; the people get no value out of it here, and hell hereafter. It is more foolish than paying good money for counterfeit money. But it has been so from of old. "A wonderful and horrible thing is come to pass in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and the people love to have it so" (Jer. 5:30, 31). It is a pity that people who show so much zeal in promoting false doctrine do not turn their zeal into promoting the truth. And some preachers who promote false teaching are like Balaam in that they love the hire of wrong doing.

But some false teachers are themselves deceived. "But evil men and imposters shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:13). And they, like Balaam, are self-deceived. It is a case of the blind leading the blind, and both have the same ending. But if a man is honest with God, if he sincerely desires to know the truth that he may walk in it, he will find the truth and be able to walk in the light of God's word. People are too easily satisfied.