OK, have we finally gotten it into our heads just how ticked off God is towards false teachers/prophets? These charlatans spoke in God’s name, and he hadn’t sent them. This wasn’t a game. Peoples’ lives and souls were at stake. My friend, I make it my business to make darn sure that I make a very careful distinction between what the Lord has clearly said and my personal opinion. I try really hard to be dogmatic on a subject in direct proportion to God’s clarity on it. That’s because my Lord takes a very very very dim view of someone presuming to speak in his name.
But what about those deceived by these hucksters? Does God hold them accountable as well?
If you don’t know the answer to that question, apparently you don’t read the Scripture verses I place at the beginning of the devotional. The Lord makes it abundantly clear from today’s passage that he holds those who buy into this mess as culpable and guilty.
Why would he do that? Doesn’t he have compassion on people who are tricked? Well, yes and no. Jesus told us that he’s going to judge based on the light that person has received. So I would suppose that he’s not going to punish someone deceived as much as the one deceiving them.
But they don’t get off scot-free by any means. When it comes to punishing people who rebel against him, there's plenty of wrath for everyone.
To see why, let’s ask some clarifying questions. Were the people just lost in ignorance? Had he made his will known to them? Um, yeah. It was called the Torah, which is translated as “Law” or (my favorite) “Teaching.” He spelled out exactly what his expectations were. He spent several chapters in Deuteronomy in particular laying out very specific blessings for obedience and punishments for disobedience.
They had men calling themselves “prophets” who were telling them contradictory things. One set told them that God is fine with idol worship and sexual immorality and child sacrifice. The other set—a much smaller number—told them the exact opposite, that the Lord was extremely angry with their behavior. Which one to listen to? Well, the Lord had already addressed this in his word. In fact, as we discussed before, even if a “prophet” made a right prediction, they were still obligated to compare what he said versus what God (thru Moses) had already said.
Let’s be clear about this. The Lord never leaves himself without a witness. If someone is led astray, it’s because they want to be led astray. If they paid any attention to what the Lord had already told them, he'd lead them to some more revelation, until they're either redeemed or turn away from him.
So how does this apply to me? Despite the cliché, ignorance is not bliss. The Lord will hold you accountable not only for what you know, but what you could've known if you wanted to. You're responsible before him to know as much as you can and to act upon his truth.
Please take this to heart.
Father God, my problem is not—and has never been—that you aren’t speaking to me. It’s that I haven’t been listening very well. Please grant me a soft heart, listening ears, and the willingness to act on what you’ve told me.