Discernment and man-made religiosity

by Mike Ratliff

10 When I entered the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined at home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night.” 11 But I said, “Should a man like me flee? And could one such as I go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.” 12 Then I perceived that surely God had not sent him, but he uttered his prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could reproach me. 14 Remember, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these works of theirs, and also Noadiah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me. Nehemiah 6:10-14 (NASB) 

16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. Colossians 2:16-19 (NASB) 

Carefully read both passages I placed at the top of this post. In both passages false prophets have proclaimed to know something or have a message from God or have received a vision from God that is not true. In Nehemiah’s case, he perceived that the person was not from God, but from his enemies and so he refused to go. In the passage from Colossians, the Apostle Paul is giving us an example of how false prophets attempt to manipulate their followers using man-made religiosity and also by claiming to have received visions from God, but, of course, that is not true. Nowhere in God’s Word are we commanded to have fellowship with those who teach and preach heresy. No, we are to separate from them and warn the flock. In Nehemiah’s case the person attempting to cause fear was easy to discern because this attempt would stop the work God had commanded Nehemiah to do. In the second case, we discern what is wrong when we notice that the focus is never on the the glory and magnification of our Lord Jesus Christ, but on some fleshly religiosity. When we think on these things, using the discernment God has given us grounded in the Christian maturity God has grown in us, we can clearly see what is going on.

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