One thing about us humans which is very “natural” and yet of very real concern is our propensity to give our attention and our time to humans instead of, or as a substitute for, Jesus Christ Himself. This is an age-old temptation for us. We just naturally prefer to listen to and worship someone we can see here and now rather than “hearing” and “seeing” the Unseen Invisible One for ourselves.
Many today seem intent on looking at, listening to, reading from, quoting, praising and loving substitutes for Christ; whether that be books, blogs, podcasts, or the authors and preachers themselves. So many seem to prefer to hear what some person thinks and has to say about God rather than seeking to listen and hear what HE thinks and has to say to them personally or even what He has said historically in the Bible!
There seems to be not only a lack of knowing the Living Word Himself, but also His written words as well. How absolutely vital it is in these days that we know both! God says that His people are destroyed and cut off through lack of knowledge (Hos. 4:6) and we are seeing the truth of that statement today. While it is very true that mere intellectual knowledge gets us absolutely nowhere spiritually, it is also true that heart knowledge of both Christ and the Scriptures gets us where our Father desires us: in union with Christ and His Purpose. “Things are hidden temporarily only as a means to revelation. For there is nothing hidden except to be revealed, nor is anything kept secret except in order that it may be made known. If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:22,23.
There are many voices these days which can be heard, many “anointed” men and women who can be seen. Is our attention and focus on them, or on Christ? It doesn’t matter how godly or spiritual we think they are, or even how we feel about what we see and hear. Our emotions, our soul, can so very easily lead us astray!
Jesus said, “Be careful that no one misleads you, deceiving you and leading you into error. For many will come IN MY NAME saying I am the Christ and they will lead many astray.” (Matthew 24:4,5). This isn’t warning us about those who are obviously false, but those who come in His name! I know that our English Bibles put in commas to read: “For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ, and they will lead many astray.” But since there is no punctuation in the Greek, I believe it can with equal validity be read as: “For many will come IN MY NAME saying that I am the Christ…” after all, we would not give someone the time of day if they stated that they themselves were Christ, would we? That would be no deception, it would be obvious that they were false for there is only one Christ; why would Jesus bother warning us about that? But if someone comes along in His Name, as one of His followers, saying that Jesus is the Christ, that is far more deceptive because we agree with them on that vital point. These words of Jesus are warning us of people who come in His Name, agreeing that He IS the Anointed One and yet they will lead MANY astray!
Deception would not be deceiving if it were obvious error. No, deception is more likely to have a lot of truth and be very appealing to us as humans. It will make a lot of sense to our reasoning and to our minds. To the contrary, so often God’s ways CANNOT be understood and do not make sense to us! But oh, how we love it when things make sense and fall into place and appear to be so clear to us! As Paul wrote, “The time is coming when people will not tolerate sound and wholesome instruction but having ears itching for something pleasing and gratifying, they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, and will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.” (2 Timothy 4:3,4).
Why is it that we so often, almost without even thinking, rave about this or that book and tell our friends they MUST read this book… yet we hardly ever recommend someone simply read the Bible? Why is it that we often suggest to someone that they listen to this or that podcast or this or that speaker who are SO good… yet we hardly ever suggest that they simply listen to Christ for themselves? Perhaps the mouth speaks what the heart is full of…
It is a fact that you cannot be looking up at the heavens, and down at the earth at the same time. As soon as you move your focus to the earthly, you are no longer focusing on the heavenly. Perhaps this is why Paul said, “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2). As soon as you stop looking into the Person and Face of Jesus Christ, you are looking elsewhere.
Jesus warned us very solemnly: “False christs (anointed ones) and false prophets will arise and show signs and work miracles to deceive and lead astray, if possible, even the elect, those God has chosen out for Himself. But look to yourselves and be on guard; I have told you everything beforehand.” (Mark 13:22,23). Of course we would not be deceived if these ones were obviously leading us astray! We must always keep our eyes fixed on THE Anointed One and realize that even miracles mean nothing.
One great need today is discernment… not necessarily to discern errors, but to discern and see Truth Himself, to hear and see Jesus Christ, and in so doing to know when we do not see or hear Him. It is when we make judgment calls from our natural reasoning and faculties that we get ourselves into trouble…
Even the disciples of Jesus had this problem. When Jesus was revealed in His glory to Peter, James and John (in Matthew 17:1-8) Peter’s response upon seeing Jesus with Moses and Elijah was the desire to construct and make something for all three men, in honour of them. He said: “Lord, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”. That was human reasoning and relying on human ability. The Greek word for “good” as used by Peter in the phrase “good for us”, means something that appeals to our senses, something beautiful to look at, genuine, honourable, and, interestingly: affecting the mind agreeably, comforting and confirming.
Many of us today do exactly the same thing with those we perceive to be true men and women of God. We delight in looking at them, they are beautiful to us and honourable. We love to listen to them and what they say is comforting and confirming. While we may not physically build a tabernacle for them, in our hearts we may effectively do the same thing and without realizing it, be worshiping them instead of the Son of God.
Obviously Moses and Elijah were genuine, great men of God, but God’s response to Peter (and to us today) is: “THIS is My Son, whom I have chosen; HEAR HIM!” The narrative goes on to say, “And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, Arise, and do not be afraid. When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.” Through their seeing of Christ being glorified, and in hearing God’s admonition to listen to Him, and even through their fear, the end result was that they saw no one but Jesus only.
We desperately need eyes to see Him and ears to hear Him, for it is only when we truly do hear and see Him, that all substitutes will disappear and we will “see no one but Jesus only”. Oh, that we would desire and seek only Him! And in hearing and seeing only Him, be set free from the bondage of looking at man and making places of worship for them in our hearts; for who can ever compare with Him? If we are still captivated and impressed by a mere person and what a person says, then surely we have not yet had an unveiling and revelation of Jesus Christ!
May God in His grace reveal His Son to us in His glory, and may we have hearts that desperately desire and seek only Him… May we have ears to hear what our Father is saying to us: “HEAR HIM!!!” May we have the attitude that causes us to fall on our faces in repentance and humility before Him… and may we be those who lift up our eyes and “see no one but Jesus only.”
When He received honor and glory from God the Father, the voice from the majestic glory of God said to Him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:17-19.