Aloha Friday Message – October 28, 2011 – Surprise Beginning

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A Thousand Blessings On Your Head on this Aloha Friday! I will begin by saying thank you to those who wrote back comments about last week’s Guest Columnist. Ever since last Friday I have been studying the readings for Sunday, October 30, 2011. I have been using the Lectio Divina process for Bible Study, and I just didn’t feel anything “pop.” There was, however, another passage that kept nudging around the back of my head back there where That Little Old Guy lives – you know, the one who keeps telling you what to do until you do it.

It turns out that this week I’m not going to write about the Sunday readings. I’m going to write about the events of the three days that follow. It will be hard to write, and for some of you it will be hard to read because it will be very conservative and also strongly Catholic. For those among the MBN membership who are non-Catholic, I ask for your forbearance in the spirit of ecumenism. I will also try to be fair and point out what non-Catholics say about this passage as well, so if you’re a Catholic, you listen with the spirit of ecumenism, too, please. For those of you who are thinking, “This is going to be way too preachy,” now is the time to bail; but I’d appreciate it if you’d stick around anyway or at least come back later. With that out of the way, here is the passage:

1 Timothy 4:1-2
1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

Monday is October 31. Some of you out there may be expecting something about kids and celebrating Hallowe’en. Not this time. I just want to look more closely at this passage – “verse by verse, phrase by phrase, precept by precept” as is often said.

“The Spirit clearly says …”
The Greek words used here – ῥητῶς rētōs – means “expressly,” explicitly, deliberately, and unambiguously. “Rētōs” is a pretty strong word! St. Paul wants Timothy and his church to have no doubt whatsoever about the authority behind what he is telling them. The early church was already dealing with multiple heresies – in fact that seemed to be the way of it from the day after the Pentecostal visit of the Holy Spirit, and it continued with many variations throughout the churches Paul had helped start. This letter to Timothy contains warnings about a false type of asceticism – self-denial and austere abstinence – that forbade, among other things, marriage and certain kinds of foods. Paul is telling Timothy and his church, “Nonsense! These things are gifts from God, created and instituted by God, and are for the glory of God.” Paul says the people claiming to have these “clearer understanding” of Jesus’ message are liars. Not only are they liars, but they are liars without consciences. Their ability to discern right from wrong, their conscience, has been seared – scorched to death with no chance of revival.

“… in later times …” Some commentaries say this perhaps does not apply only to “the latter times” in the eschatological sense of “the end of the world times,” but in the nearer times as well. Paul could see that the heresies and those who promoted them would increase, “in times to come.” In other words, “this ain’t over yet!”

“… some will abandon the faith…” ἀφίστημι aphistemi {af-is’-tay-mee} The idea here is that people will revolt, flee, fall away, even contradict the faith-teachings Paul and Timothy share. Their teaching is through the authority of Paul’s apostleship, while the heretics are basically pulling it out of the air. Their falling away has a cause that Paul warns Timothy about in very clear terms. The folks pretend to be religious and they pretend well, but what they preach is self-serving and not of the Spirit because their consciences are dead.

“… and follow deceiving spirits …” Some English translations use the word “seducing” and others say “deceitful.” The word Paul chose was πλάνος planos {plan’-os}. Some English translations use the word “seducing” and others say “deceitful.” It is a word that means “of uncertain affinity (kinship, attraction, origin).” These are spirits – evil spirits – that are like spiritual tramps. They don’t have any allegiance to the person they are guiding. Their whole purpose is to misguide. They are imposters, and deceivers, corrupters of the truth, especially the Truth of the Gospel. They take the Good News and make it the Bad News. They turn the Joy of Faith into the Sorrow of Fear. They are apostates – renegades who denounce Truth.

” … and things taught by demons …” δαιμόνιον Rather than listen to and obey the Spirit of God, these false teachers are peddling doctrines inspired by, influenced by, or actually taught by demonic beings – yes, real demons. Your KJV Bible will say “doctrines of devils.” The source of the false teachers’ information is the exact opposite of Divine Revelation; it is Demonic Deception. And Paul is telling Timothy, “These are people who started out as believers, who had accepted the Truth, the Word, and the Way. Now they have not only turned their backs on us, but they also have taken up positions opposite what we have preached.” This is called “apostasy.” It is the renunciation of belief and a refusal to accept anything connected with those beliefs. If you’d like to know more about apostasy from the Bible, start with these passages: 2 Peter 2:20-22, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, John 6:6, Luke 8:13, and Hebrews 4:8. There are many others and you will find them by following cross-references in your Bible.

“… Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” We’ve covered what Paul meant by liars and what motivated these heresies. Paul was warning Timothy – and everyone else (including you and me) – that it’s easy to believe these deceptions because they sound reasonable. Take a look at how Jesus described these folks in Matthew 24:24 and Mark 13:22. In fact, one of the best ways for these demonically-inspired teachers is to lull us into thinking they really aren’t so bad after all. Now that is where this lesson is going.

Satan has literally flooded our lives with entertaining little examples of what a great guy he is. Through movies, mediums, astrologers, cartoon characters, gurus with meditation tricks, and even right-in-your-face fantasy worlds inhabited and ruled by demons. Demonic possession is made to appear cool. Sin is downplayed as personal choice and it is politically incorrect to even mention sin. Satan has the World telling us religion is poison. (Hence Karl Marx wrote: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” Everywhere the faithful can find contradictions to The Truth. Even among Christians there are doctrinal divisions so starkly in contrast that an outsider might wonder if Christianity is really any different from Marx concept of all religions.

As a Catholic, I often see or hear things that make me wonder how Christian Christians are. Some Catholics don’t understand their faith at all. Many Christian Evangelicals don’t understand that Catholics really are Christians. Growing up I can remember being warned against “those idolaters.” The fact that those divisions and contentions exist is not as important as the source of those positions! Christianity has had some spectacularly bad moments – years, decades, even perhaps centuries – and yet it endures, it spreads, it grows in knowledge and wisdom, and it sustains Life by proclaiming Truth. In this era of Mankind – which many are beginning to believe are indeed “the latter times” – the advancing tide of evil claims billions of innocent lives through abortion, euthanasia, war, genocide, and – sadly – just rampant indifference. Satan wants us to believe it’s hopeless, wants us to believe he’s an OK guy, wants us to believe nothing else matters but our own comfort; and then he works as hard as he can on making us uncomfortable with everything that is Truth.

Think about that over the weekend and then continue to think about it October 31 through November 2. We have Hallowe’en, All Saints, All Souls, and Dia de Los Muertos celebrations during that period. Some have ties to pagan celebrations, and those influences are used by Satan to help us welcome him into our homes, even our hearts and minds. Now that you know where the invitation originated and why it was sent, I hope you will turn him down flat when he knocks on your door. When that happens, just say, “Jesus, could you get that for me, please?”

This just in: Matthew 24:10-12 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

If you are really, really intent on turning your back on the Lord and spending eternity in Hell and adamantly insist upon having it your way by departing from the faith and desiring instead the iniquity of the World, I believe God will allow you to make that choice and to live – and die – by it.

Share-A-Prayer
Please continue your prayers for Polly Faso. Her vital signs and metabolism are stabilizing, but she’s still having a pretty rough time of it. She keeps saying, “It is what it is.” What a trooper!

Please also pray for our friends battling or recovering from cancer – FO, MG, GW, CW, EL, JJ, as well as the friends and families, and for everyone you know with cancer.

Beloved, pray like crazy for the people who have given their lives to Satan by refusing to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I guess we’re not supposed to tell people they will end up in hell. I can’t help it. I don’t want to go there nor do I want anyone else to either. Pray for the conversion of sinners everywhere. Ask Jesus to help them to nurture and cherish the spark of His Spirit that dwells in every living soul.

Pray for SC and PC for an increase in faith and for an increase in health and safety.

Pray for your pastors, priests, elders, deacons, missionaries, and all clergy, religious, and laity who spread the Gospel. They will be victorious despite Satan’s plans for them.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

chick

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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