Friday, April 11, 2008

The Symptoms of Apostasy (part 3)

In Hosea 8:1-14, God reveals the symptoms of apostasy as seen in the apostasy of His people in that day. The symptoms are: (1) Apostates depart from the Word of God (1-7), (2) Apostates defile themselves with the world (8-10), and (3) apostates deceive themselves with their works (11-14). As we reason from the Scriptures and search them daily to see if these things are so we will begin to see and understand the dangers of the Postmodern Movements of our day that are fanning the flames and fueling the fires of apostasy in our days.

Apostates Deceive Themselves with their Works (Hosea 8:11-14)

Since apostates depart from the Word of God which is the first symptom of apostasy, the next logical outcome is that they defile themselves with the world which is the second symptom of apostasy, and the next and final logical outcome is that they deceive themselves with their works which is the third symptom of apostasy. God's Word shows us how this dangerous and deluding deception works!

First, apostates multiply worship centers (8:11). Apostates confuse the multiplication of false worship with the blessings of God – “Since Ephraim has multiplied altars for sin, they have become altars of sinning for him.” Today it is all about the numbers gained and the churches started. Apostates have forgotten the laws of God in the physical realm and the Word of God in the spiritual realm – weeds are more proficient in multiplication than useful fruit plants, dangerous organisms multiply faster than useful ones, and only a little leaven leavens the whole lump the mystery of iniquity.

Next, apostates misapply God's Word (8:12). "Though I wrote for him ten thousand precepts of My law, they are regarded as a strange thing." To apostates, God's Word is to be twisted and toyed with in an attempt to make it relevant and not strange. Apostates believe that the Word of God applies to those outside the church and not to the church. Apostates want to impose God’s demands in the courthouse but not in the church-house. Apostates believe that the judgment of God does not pertain to the church but to the pagan, forgetting that judgment begins with the household of God first!

Then, apostates misapply God's sacrificial gift (8:13). Apostates partake of God’s sacrificial gift with no intention of changing and with no deep heart gratitude for God and His Provision for the forgiveness of sins. Apostates offer a Jesus who will save you but not rule you. Theirs is a utilitarian Christ - a "magic genie" to get you out of hell and let you remain in your sin and idolatry. Therefore, they turn the grace of God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (Jude 4). Misapplication of God’s sacrificial gift results in sins not being forgiven and the anger and wrath of God still abiding on the apostate. "But the Lord has taken no delight in them. Now He will remember their iniquity, and punish them for their sins; they will return to Egypt." Because apostates misapply God’s sacrificial gift, they are still lovers of self, lovers of money, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power (see 2 Timothy 3:1-5).

And finally, apostates multiply bigger buildings (8:14). Apostates think that “bigness” equals “blessing.” If it is big then God must be pleased and the bigness is a sign of God’s blessing. Apostates judge by appearance rather than making a righteous judgment based on the Word of God. Apostates are very pragmatic - they have no other recourse for determining truth. Apostates believe that quantity is everything and they strive to obtain it - even resorting to opening a "wide-gate" that is warned about in Scripture!

Because apostates "get results" by departing from the Word and defiling themselves with the world, they deceive themselves and many others also with their works. This in turn produces a counterfeit revival of which we are warned in the Bible - "Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him....Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed...." (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).

There is a coming counterfeit revival!

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