The Mocking Beguilers
Michael L. Ford, Th.D.
When you go to seminary you take courses on how to preach. The authors of books of preaching, who are usually famous pulpiteers will tell you there are certain rules by which you should get a topic for a sermon, for instance they will often say you must have the Scripture before the body of the message, not have a message and try to make the Scripture fit. This is true as far as it goes, but to engrave such things in stone limits the working of the Holy Spirit.
Every sermon must have a burden, a pressure on the preacher whereby he must speak. A man who does not speak with a concern on his heart whether it be for menís souls or for the spiritual life of the believer, or some other reason, does not speak with the holy unction that should rest upon the man of God.
The reason I am telling you all this is because I am about to share an unusual experience in giving birth to a sermon that has happened to me over the weekend and then I am going to give you the sermon. It is my hope that in understanding how this sermon came and the many things God brought together to inspire it you will have better appreciating for the importance of the message.
It was late on Friday night that I began to feel the pressure inside me that I have learned is intended to move me toward putting together a new message from Godís Word. This is distinct from the several hundred messages I might preach as the Lord leads that are each time updates of themes I have preached before. I am not saying I am preaching something no preacher has preached before but God is taking me to a place where I am preaching where I have not preached before. Anyway the burden began to grow on Friday evening and it hung on me like a lead weight throughout Saturday.
I studied Scripture; read articles both secular and religious; prayed for those on my prayer list, and still the burden of preaching hung on me. But I had neither text nor subject. What I had was only the knowledge that something needs to be said to Godís people of profound importance. Finally in the afternoon the pain from my thorn in the flesh forced me to lie down a bit. It was then the phone rang and my friend C.W. Boling was on the other end. He was much burdened by the people who were coming on the television pretending great concern for those mourning because of the latest tragedy. People would bandy about the Name of God and sound all pious and religious when it was obvious from their lives they were only saying those things to try and influence the Christians in their audience. It was right then I knew C.W. was the messenger from God telling me what I should preach.
Not only did I realize he was Godís messenger to tell me what I should preach I also realized, though he did not know it, God was going to use him to give me Scripture and verse. Perhaps I knew it because He did not immediately pop the Scripture into my head as C.W. talked, I donít know, I just knew C.W. was Godís instrument to accomplish this. So I charged him to produce me the text and within the hour he and his wife Karen had produced for me six passages related to the subject, and by then God had given me a seventh that all fit together to formulate my thinking process.
So today I am here by the leadership of God sent through the use of his people to preach against the mocking beguiler and to warn you to beware of such as you go about your daily lives.
Turn in your Bibles to the book of Jeremiah chapter nine and read silently as I read out loud the words of the prophet:
1 Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!
2 Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men.
3 And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD.
4 Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders.
5 And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.
6 Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD.
7 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people?
The first thing I want you to know is that we can learn from the prophet that assemblies of treacherous men are not something new.
The second thing you should learn from the prophet is such people, in whatever sphere they operate only serve to increase peopleís sorrow.
The third thing you should pick up on is there is no getting away from them.
And, the fourth thing you should learn from Jeremiah is that they have consciously rejected God so His judgment must come down upon them at some point.
There are three areas of life that I see The Mocking Beguilers who utter words treacherously to use you as most common:
- The first of these is on the religious level. I think the religious deceivers are the very worst sort of Mocking Beguilers because they are directly acquainted with the truth but have chosen to use peopleís hungering and thirsting after God for their own ends.
- The second of these is the Mocking Beguilers at the government level. They may or may not have an acquaintance with the truth but they have chosen to use the religious beliefs of others as a tool of manipulation, control, and enticement.
- The third sort of Mocking Beguiler is the person you run into everyday who acts oh so Godly when it suits them, but, and you know the sort, you can never turn your back on them.
I do not know about you but I am almighty tired of these people and would love to get away from them but I find theyíre everywhere, they are everywhere! No wonder the prophet Jeremiah would like to have gone out in the wilderness and pitched his camp to get away from them. They vex the spirit and try the soul when you catch on to their phoniness and superficiality. Once you identify them for what they are and then see them talking about praying to God concerning the trials of life it depresses and saddens beyond whatever evil they might otherwise be doing. That is the thing about life you cannot run away from it and you cannot hide yourself away from what is going on in the world. If you try to it just pursues you.
Speaking of Mocking Beguilers of the religious sort. This week I read one of the funniest things I had come across in a while. It seems a prominent homosexual bishop of the Episcopal church told its parent Anglican church that homosexuals were essential to its survival. Imagine that, the bold barefaced claim that sodomites were essential to what is supposed to be a Christian organizationís survival. Now folks that is bold, but one thing you can say about sexual perverts is that they are nothing if not bold these days. The only problem is some people believe that claptrap. If they are truly essential to that organizations survival the last vestiges of Christianity has disappeared from its structure.
Homosexuals, child molesters; females in preaching ministry and deaconate are great reasons for many people to be leaving mainline churches in droves. But before these people ever got in you had the Mocking Beguilers present who took the salaries as pastors and spiritual leaders who made occasional religious noises but undermined the church by their very presence, not to mention their actions.
We have people leaving churches for other reasons too. We have the formation of Mega churches many of which are peopled by those who are religious but not saved. People are breaking away from these organizations seeking to form fellowships of the believer where true Christian brotherhood and fellowship continues. In many churches today the Mocking Beguilers have given the masses what they want, religious entertainment instead of worship. They have substituted self-forgiveness for the forgiveness of God. And, the spirit of the discerning aches while the flesh of the deceived is catered too. The Mocking Beguilers are constantly coming up with new plans for getting people in and keeping them awhile, anything but the Gospel cry, ďThou must be born again.
Peter warned of these people when he said in 2Peter chapter two verses 1 thru 3:
∂ 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, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
The subject of Mockers in the church is so broad I could continue in this line for an entire sermon but it is important we press on and touch on some of the two other areas where these people vex our spirit during this message.
So next we come to the Mocking Beguilers who seek to convince people they care about the concerns of their fellow man but not only do they want us to think they care but t hey want us to think their concerns come from a religious foundation.
Let me tell you a story that will help me get to my point: Not too many people, even those living in South Carolina remember there were two Thurmonds in politics. Most remember Strom Thurmond, who died several years ago, because he was still serving as a Senator at the age of 100. I remember about his father, John William Thurmond, only because the great preacher R.G. Lee had him as part of his congregation and spoke of him as a poor tither. But I met his son, the Senator, many years ago when I was living in South Carolina and there was a joke about his political campaigning I would like to share. You see, during those days it was an ongoing joke than an announcement that the Senatorís wife was pregnant came with each time he was coming up for reelection. Strom needed to get reelected because he was going to have one more mouth to feed. And who wants to vote against a man who is running for office with a pregnant wife? South Carolinians love to make Strom Thurmond jokes and Strom did not mind because they went to the polls and voted sympathetically for him.
Now some people in government treat Christianity the same way some of the humorists thought Strom Thurmond treated his wife having children. They get all religious at election time or any other time it furthers their purposes. But the rest of the time they go their merry way without a trace of the true faith in them. And, because these people are using and manipulating religious people they hold them in contempt because they can do so.
I listened to one Republican candidate the other day, who has been criticized by his Catholic church say that while he was personally opposed to abortion he would not do anything to do away with it because it was the law of the land. One of the things Christian people want to see when they vote for candidates I thought was that these candidates would do away with bad laws enacted by the antireligious, irreligious, and non religious. But by saying he is opposed to abortion and finds it personally unacceptable then he does not understand why I as a Christian should not want to vote for him.
Then there is a Democratic candidate, who says that even though part of his upbringing was as a Muslim he is a Christian. Only the supposed Christian Church he is a member of has a pastor who hates white people. Some said he was genuinely surprised to find this out. Maybe he is only a member there and really does not attend. But if he is only part of a church for appearances what is he?
I could go on about individual candidates until I had finished giving you something about each one to tell you why a Christian should not vote for them. But the subject of my message this morning has to do with the pretence of faith for the subject of misleading the faithful and getting their support even while they go about undermining Christianity. The reason I call them Mocking Beguilers. The spirit of such people is different from the spirit of the servant of God. To see the genuine Christian spirit of servitude we have but to look at 1Thessalonians chapter 2, where Paul says:
1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:
2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:
4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:
6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
Now I am sure the politicians would say that is fine for the preachers, but listen to me. If they had the genuine spirit of Christian servitude that a true follower of Christ has, they could also say it of themselves. But they cannot because they are Mocking Beguilers who can turn their tears on and off for the cameras and can casually use Godís Name to seek to further their own causes. They make me sick, and I think they make God angry, and one day He will repay them or the words of the Prophet Jeremiah in our key Scripture is not true. And, I am convinced that while the false prophets of government, those Mocking Beguilers are not Christians, I am equally convinced God will repay them for the evil they have done while claiming to be people of faith.
Now we come to the subject of the persons you run into everyday that put on a show of being oh so Godly when it is to their benefit, but their lives and relationships do not bear out their proclamations. When you get an inkling that you have someone like that among those you know relationships you understand what Jeremiah meant when he warned us to take heed of our neighbor, against though who will slander your name and reputation. Every one of us knows people like this, who will lie about people they know. Jeremiah said they would work themselves to exhaustion trying to commit iniquity. I have heard some folks like this described as people who have no life of their own so they try to mess up the lives of others as much as they can.
Pity the poor fellow who works with a person like this; more to pity them when that person is in charge or something or the boss. I long ago lost track of the number of people who had complained to me about things someone they should have been able to trust had cost them - underserved loss of pay, promotion, or even the job itself for no reason they could see other than that they had the power to do it.
How can a person claim to have the salvation of Jesus Christ alive in their lives and not seek the well being of those around them? Even more this should be so when both are supposedly of the household of faith. They make a mockery of the Gospel of Christ when people see how these people conduct their lives. It is hard for me, having been regaled with accounts of these kinds of deeds for the better part of my life, to believe that so many people are going about doing harm to others oblivious of the impact their actions are having.
The absolute worse characters are those who beguile people into doing things they would not ordinarily do in order to cause them problems. I have seen this sort of thing happen during my years in the military and also after I returned to civilian life. I saw people do things like that in law enforcement and have had many stories shared with me from other occupations. The result is I have become convinced itís a phenomenon common all over. Paul writing in Titus chapter one may have had this sort of people in mind when he said:
9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:
11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.
When someone wants you to do anything that is, not necessarily wrong but might be questionable you always need to ask yourself what would be the impact of your actions in the eyes of people around you who might not be saved? Of others are not concerned about how their actions might be perceived by the lost you need always to be.
During the last few minutes we have been talking about the mocking beguilers that exist in three areas:
The first of these are the ones who are in religious leadership. They do great damage to the church and to individuals in the church.
The second was the politicians and people in government leadership who put on a faÁade of Christianity in order to manipulate Christians into supporting them.
And finally we looked at the people around about us, people in our neighborhoods, work places and our own church pews who make a pretence of Christianity in order to do things for sometimes inconceivable purposes.
The sum total of this is we who want to hold to the faith and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives need to beware of them all. Beware the Mocking Beguilers wherever you find them.
Let us bow our heads in prayer and pray with sincerity the words of the Psalmist found in Psalm 5.
8 Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.
9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.
10 Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.
11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
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Buchanan, Georgia 30113