What we focus on says a lot about how we value truth.
I’m going to do this series a little differently, and part of that is just what has been going on today. I want to talk about Halloween, church socials and politics. Think they have nothing in common? Think again!
One thing that was planned, however, is that we haven’t yet even discussed what truth is. That is because I want to first discuss what truth is not. Definitions and explanations of what is can at times be demonstrated by what it is not. In fact, that is a lot of how God’s total plan works.
Like the guy with the camera above, focus is important. How can you see the truth if you’re not in focus? This requires some idea of what focus is not as well as a good idea of what focus is.
My one brother did not do so well in school. He had to repeat the first grade. When he entered second grade, it became evident to the teacher that he was having trouble seeing the blackboard. He had an eye problem.
He needed glasses, but he didn’t know it! He had lived with blurry vision his whole life to that point, and it never dawned on him that it was out of the ordinary. Things are a little different these days, and they have all sorts of tests and such for problems like this earlier in life. Fuzzy vision was all he knew.
He did not know what focus was. Most of the world, spiritually speaking, does not know what focus is.
Do we? I sometimes wonder, and today is one of those days.
Every year, it strikes me that one of the most evil of holidays occurs right after one of the most spiritually uplifting events of the year, the Feast of Tabernacles. This year, it strikes me even more because it is the Sabbath as well.
Of course, Halloween isn’t the only lie that happens in the year. Life Hope & Truth recently ran “Don’t Copy Pagan Ways of Worship” using the clear commandment right from your Bible.
Satan is the master counterfeiter, and the thing about counterfeits is that there are many ways to counterfeit something but only one way to make real money. The Catholic Church took many pagan celebrations and “Christianized” them. If I give you a counterfeit dollar bill which you then copy yourself, is your counterfeit of the counterfeit the same as a real bill? Of course not! Neither is a “Christianlized” pagan celebration of various gods and goddesses (and demons) made into something godly by fiat.
Many conservative denominations have long come to the realization, however, that Halloween is actually a celebration of evil. You can make all of the justifications and excuses you want, but it honestly glorifies the very thing that God hates! You can search online and see that the debate rages on within mainstream Christianity.
In spite of clear Bible verses against witchcraft, the occult and contacting the dead (ghosts), many use non-biblical excuses to celebrate it anyhow. After acknowledging this very fact and that a Christian should not have anything to do with the occult or anything demonic, one site says, “It’s just fun for the kids.” Oh, really?
Of course, their justification rests upon things like Christmas trees, and even meat sacrificed to idols (obviously stretching on that last one, as God sanctions meat overall in the OT Law, but just not all meats). An excuse of an excuse is still an excuse, and a counterfeit pagan holiday is still a counterfeit.
In reality, Halloween isn’t just for kids any more, and finally someone on Fox News last night acknowledged what I’d known for a long time. When I was a kid, Halloween really was a kid’s holiday, but today the adults spend even more on themselves with their elaborate costumes and riotous partying. It’s become big business.
“For the kids”? Maybe it should be, “I’m kidding myself because I want to have my fun, and that is that.”
Some years, local congregations have gotten together for bowling and pizza so they wouldn’t have to put up with trick-or-treaters, but this year it falls on a Sabbath, so that makes such outings a bad idea.
Some might cynically point out that it is Halloween and people are getting together, thus it makes it a Halloween party. Really? Does life stop on pagan holidays? Does your church organization have a “winter family weekend” around Christmas? Is that “celebrating” Christmas?
I hope such people fast on Christmas to show their sincerity. Not everyone can work, since the kids are often out of school, and some companies close down totally for a week or more to save money that time of year, let alone Christmas Day. Where will the kids go? Unconverted Grandma is just going to force a bunch of Christmas presents on the kids, anyhow. So, if people really think all life should stop for the day, then they should take a break from eating and drinking as well, especially since that is part of the celebration, right?
Having said that, does going to a “winter family weekend” event mean all is in focus, or could there still be fuzziness right there in the middle of the field of vision?
Church Is Not a Social Club
People join various churches for various reasons. Maybe they like the pastor, maybe they have friends or family there, or maybe it’s simply close by. Some, believe it or not, join a particular church for the business connections. They go to church seeking unrighteous mammon! Just how out of focus is that?
Yet, time and time again I keep hearing of ministers in some organizations that seem to be promoting something equally as out of focus. They stress love of the brethren, they stress coming to church, and they stress socializing.
Now, don’t get me wrong, as I too think that is important. In fact, we should be interacting with each other outside of church as well as on the Sabbath and holy days! In fact, if we did so, just perhaps we would be a little less tempted to use those days pursuing our own agendas.
If we have to flee to some Place of Safety, we had better know each other pretty well, in fact. If we do not, or even before that time, we had better know who we can trust, who we can confide in and who we cannot.
33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.
34 Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.
35 And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.
Notice that people cling to the righteous with “flatteries”. It means that they overestimated who they could trust. It means they were taken in through smooth talk.
It also means an inordinate degree of trust in people! It means they lost their focus for a moment. They were busy paying attention to creatures of the flesh rather than God.
HWA wrote in the October 1975 The Good News an article on “Local Assemblies Are NOT Social Clubs!” (bolding mine):
You have heard me say often that most of the worldly churches have degenerated into SOCIAL CLUBS.
Most of us probably would never believe that could happen to any of US! We just don’t think of ourselves in that language. Yet some of those oldest in our fellowship have actually fallen into that snare WITHOUT REALIZING IT!
When the PURPOSE of assembling in a local group departs from God’s purpose — when the METHOD of conducting the local assembly departs from the Bible instructions and example, members often are driven AWAY from God and into loss of eternal life!
So, yeah, I have a bit of a problem with the idea that some ministers are pushing the idea that we should socialize with each other because that is what will get us through the tough times. It is an important element of it, but is not the most important element!
28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
Love of man is the second greatest commandment for a reason! Love of anything or anyone that is put before or even on the same level as the love of God is idolatry!
That is what people who justify breaking God’s commandments by participating in ancient fertility rites dressed up in Christian garb do not understand. That is what some ministers who are busy promoting social activities over love of God apparently do not understand either. It is not what the world’s leaders and politicians understand as well.
Yes, good old politics! Maybe election day’s placement right after Halloween is appropriate, or at least that is sometimes what I think. It is difficult to tell which is more horrifying or more evil sometimes. One is like a slow killing cancer, whereas the other has the potential to come upon several suddenly and with ferocity hurting thousands or even millions quickly.
We are to be separate from this world. We are ambassadors in this life. We supposedly already know this. Yet, I find a lot of evidence that some have not proven it for themselves.
The kingdoms of this world are ruled by Satan.
3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
What kingdom do we serve? Satan’s? To which kingdom do we seek solutions? Satan’s?
We just came back from the Feast, yet did anyone really learn anything? Whose Kingdom should we be seeking?
The world becomes fired up over politics because many of them have no other religion. The more secular the society, the more that man looks to man for the answers. Even those who may be religious desire a man to be between them and God. Just like ancient Israel, who rejected God as king and demanded a human king.
20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.
~ 1Sa 8:20
They did not want to look to God for the answers! They wanted to look to man, just as they do now! They wanted to model themselves after the pagans instead of being an example to them, and that is the way it is now.
And, that is the way it is in some of the Churches of God too! They need a man to come between them and God, to rule over them (judge us), to go out before us (be the public face of the Gospel) and fight our battles (make our spiritual decisions for us). They need that one man to be between them and God, putting him on a pedestal, and look up at their idol.
That is the abomination called the “primacy of Peter doctrine”, and it has no place in the Church! God at various times has called up single leaders at the same time in different places, assembled people together as a nation without a leader, put in charge 30, put in charge 12, 70 and various other numbers.
Yet, in some organizations, where is the focus? On God or on the man in charge? Far too many times it really is the latter, isn’t it?
This cuts to the heart of who we are, brethren! If we say we represent the Kingdom of God, then why all this other ahem stuff? Can we really bathe in stuff and appear attractive to the world? To each other? To God? I don’t think so!
What is important is not the form of governance. That is the world’s way! “Vote for this candidate”, or “make sure you vote the party line”. The Republicans will fail you. The Democrats will fail you. The Libertarians will fail you. They are but men.
Furthermore, democracy itself will fail. It has to. Human greed alone will kill it. If you honestly look at the world, greed is what is killing most societies. We’ve been blessed with periods of somewhat relative low corruption, but there have been times when that wasn’t so, and one of those times is right now! And, it will get worse!
Dictatorships, communism, socialism, any-other-ism, can, has and will fail. Politics will fail. The Beast will wield the ultimate power and promise great things to a world desperate for change, but he will fail.
Why? Well, it is Satan’s world and Satan’s politics, so what do you expect?
So, why are so many eager to jump in with both feet into such waters? Are we really supposed to be entangling ourselves in Satan’s world? He offered Jesus rulership right then and there. Did Jesus take it?
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
~ 2Co 5:20
Was Paul concerned over the affairs of this world? Was he eagerly getting out the vote? Was he championing one “ism” over the other?
Make no mistake about it: America is not falling because of capitalism, communism, socialism, liberalism or conservatism, per se. The only thing hurting American is turning our back on Our Creator!
That is also a problem in the Church, if you ask me! It starts small. Some little thing takes precedence on the Sabbath, or our loved one needs this or that which takes our focus off the goal for just a moment. If not corrected, it eventually gets to the point we are not even facing His direction!
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
Peter took his eyes off of Jesus just for a second or so! Things were happening all around him — things that demanded attention. They were scary, life threatening things! Yet, where should Peter’s focus have been?
Where should our focus be?
Why Is Truth so Important?
What does it matter, though? Why such an important emphasis upon truth? Does it even matter?
You better believe it does! How many verses in the Bible talk about truth? Too many to list! God hates lies as well as other falsehoods (Pr 6:16-19, ESV). It would behoove us to not be on the list of people God hates!
The world constantly sends messages at us about religion, politics and morality, but the world itself is false. We must not love falsehood any more than God does, so:
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
The title of this series asks “Are We People of Truth?” Right there is what the answer is supposed to be! Not only that, but we should be filled with truth!
6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
~ 1Jn 5:6
So, if we are baptized, have hands laid upon us and are filled with the Holy Spirit, we should be filled with truth! Our standing as people of the truth is not something we ourselves whip up!
The world talks about “my truth”, “your truth”, “his truth”, “her truth” and other nonsense. Truth is truth! It stands outside ourselves. It must be true if we exist, and it must be true if we do not. Truth is independent of our opinions. We must be given truth!
That is why our focus must be on the One Who gives truth! It comes from Him and through His Spirit!
More to the point, we cannot be saved if we do not love the truth! Do you understand that statement? If you are not a person of truth, you are lost!
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
~ 2Th 2:10
Have you lost your focus? I’d highly suggest you get it back!
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
5 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
~ Dt 6:4-5