BEWARE                                                                                                                                         Andy Hollifield 2-18-17

Beware! It is a word that anytime you see it makes you stop and take a close look at the content surrounding it. That is exactly the reaction that the word is supposed to bring out of anyone reading it. It is a word that by definition is usually used imperatively as indicating a strong urgent warning. It means to be wary, cautious, or careful of something. Probably the most common warning we have all seen is “Beware of the dog.” I don’t believe there has ever been anyone that has read that sign and completely ignored it. Did you realize that the warning on those signs is actually scriptural? Philippians 3:2 says “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” As a matter of fact, the bible uses the word beware 28 times in 26 verses. The interesting thing about that is that almost a third, nine of the twenty-eight, are warnings about religious people. Five times, all in the New Testament, Jesus himself told those he was talking to ” beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” Three times he included the Sadducees and twice even the scribes. The Pharisees were a religious sect that were legalistic in their beliefs and traditions but Jesus also said their belief was “hypocrisy”. In other words they didn’t practice what they preached. The Sadducees were pretty much the same but differed in the fact that they didn’t believe in the resurrection. The way I remember the difference is this; “I would be sadd u cee, if I didn’t believe in the ressurection.” Just a little humor that might help you remember the difference between them and the Pharisees. The scribes were the copyists of the scriptures. As the scrolls which were made of goat or sheep skins begin to fade or wear out, scribes were used to copy the scriptures on new skins. Doing this made them very familiar with the Mosaic law and they had a tendency to think very highly of themselves as a result. We have a lot of Pharisees today in the respect that they believe anyone that believes different from them is wrong. I believe I am right in my doctrine and beliefs but if someone believes different than me, that is their choice but I will not disassociate myself with them because of it. We are going to share heaven with a lot of people who believe different than we do on a lot of things. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.” It is belief in Christ’ sacrifice on the cross and his ressurection and ascension and his soon return that we have to accept for salvation. We can even disagree on when he is returning and still be saved by his grace. But Jesus said “…Ye Must be born again.” (John 3:7). That is what it takes to go to heaven. Accepting his gift and repenting of your sins and accepting him as your personal Savior. He IS the ONLY way to heaven and that we all have to believe if we are going. Anything else, we can differ on.

Now back to Beware. A couple of times in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 6:12 and 8:11, Israel was warned to beware that they forget not the Lord that brought them out of bondage and also not to forget to keep his statutes and commandments and judgments. We would do well to not forget the God that brought us out of the bondage of sin and to not forget to keep his statutes and commandments and judgments as well. By the way, I know that we are not supposed to be judgmental but, God has some standards that aren’t debatable that we are supposed to judge with a righteous judgment. For example, if I am traveling and I stop to eat, am I not supposed to judge whether a particular place is somewhere I need to be? Just because you can go somewhere or do something doesn’t mean you should. You can take your family into a biker bar to eat but that don’t mean you should. If we are not supposed to be judgmental then let your teenage daughter go out with whatever little heathen walks up to your door. See the point, we are all judgmental in some respects as we should be. Judges 7:24 says “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” The term righteous judgment is used three times in scripture and this one instance instructs us how to judge. The word righteous is an adjective meaning “characterized by uprightness or morality.” That is the standard by which we are to judge. That is why you can scripturally judge the little heathen trying to date your daughter based on his uprightness or morality. We judge what food we want , what clothes we wear, what kind of car we drive, what we watch on TV, but somehow we aren’t supposed to judge reprobate behavior but are supposed to accept it as normal? That is a whole nother subject for a different day. And yes, nother is in the dictionary.

In Exodus 23:20, God told Israel to beware of his angel and to obey his voice because he (the angel) would not pardon their transgressions. He also went on to tell them how he would drive out the inhabitants of Canaan using hornets and that he would do it within a year so the land didn’t become desolate and the beast didn’t multiply against them. They would have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they had of used a little good judgment. In Deuteronomy 15:9 he even told them to beware of a wicked thought against God. In Judges 13:4 and 13, he warned Samson’s parents against strong drink and repeated the warning throughout the chapter. It would serve us well to beware of wicked thoughts and strong drink in our lives. There were multiple warnings against or to individuals and in the New Testament. Jesus warned against false prophets (Matthew 7:15) and men (16:6) and then the warnings I have mentioned previously. In Luke 12:15 he warns of covetousness and that is definitely one we, even as Christians, have a problem with today. In Luke 20:46 he warns again of the scribes but goes on to warn of their arrogance. We definitely have a church world that is eat up with that one. The scripture I mentioned earlier in Philippians 3:2 warns of dogs which were simply impure men without morals. Also of evil workers which means those deliberately doing anything against God. But the warning against the “concision” means the believers in circumcision. The problem wasn’t with their belief in circumcision but their belief that it was essential to salvation. We still have that crowd today that try to make water baptism, for example, essential to salvation. It is not. That would leave out the thief on the cross as well as folks that accept the Lord while dying of an illness they never recover from. In short he is warning against the teaching of legalistic regiments that are said to be essential to salvation. You can be baptized nine times a day if you want to but if you never accept Christ all it will get you is wet. If you accept Christ, as the thief did, and never get baptized, you will still be saved. With that said, the bible does teach that we should follow Jesus in believer’s baptism. It is to signify publicly our acceptance of his salvation and the putting away of our old nature. Paul also warns in Colossians 2:8 to beware of philosophy and vain deceit and traditions of men and rudiments of the world and not after Christ. We still have a lot of folk that hold to tradition and follow it and will break fellowship with you over it but refuse to follow the Spirit of God if it differs from what they have always believed. It is possible for us to believe wrong, but it is impossible for the Spirit of God to ever be wrong. The last warning is in 2 Peter 3:17 he warns against falling for false teachings and also getting so wrapped up in trying to understand “hard things” that you be led away with the error of the wicked. The next verse teaches that we should grow in grace and in knowledge. A good example of “hard things” is the modern-day thought that “God won’t send anyone to hell.” That is correct. But where they err in their way of thinking is that God has done everything possible to keep anyone from going there. He gave his son to be our sacrifice for our sin and all we have to do is accept his free gift. If you die and go to hell, you will go trampling over the very blood that Christ shed for you. You will go completely ignoring every warning you have heard and every invitation ever given to you. You will go refusing every time the Holy Ghost has dealt with your heart. You will go against the very will of God. 2 Peter 3:9 says in part that the Lord is “…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Although God isn’t willing for you to go to hell, he is also not willing to force you to accept something you don’t want. If you don’t want his free gift, you don’t have to accept it. But, if you want to go to heaven, you do have to accept it. Beware! He is the ONLY way. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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