It’s pivotal that we take this cautionary advice seriously.
By Lesli White
Warnings are statements or events that indicate a possible or impending problem or danger. Too often the most ignored warnings are those from God. The first warning given by God was during creation. Man ignored this warning and that came at a great cost. God’s warnings are for our benefit – to help and guide us. These are also ways that God tries to get our attention. Jesus warned His followers against sin and evil. He said: “Watch out! Be on guard” (Luke 12:15). He also warned His followers against false and hypocritical religious people and leaders: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.” These warnings are for our safety, issued because of God’s great love for us. Here are six important things Jesus warned us about.
We are supposed to avoid sin but this can be quite a task because we are sinful beings. As much as we don’t want to, we still sin in our daily lives because of the sinful nature that was injected into us through the fall. Because God is holy, He cannot tolerate sin, and our sin separates us from him, becoming a barrier to our fellowship with Him and even causing us to lose the joy of our salvation. Isaiah 59:2 says, “Your iniquities have become a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that He does not hear.” Jesus had many sayings that warn us regarding the nature of sin itself. A few of these include, “Sin is a master to whom we become enslaved” (John 8:34), only the truth will set us free (John 8:32) and “For the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). The seriousness of sin should make us realize we cannot tolerate it or give sin any ground in our lives.
There are certain satanic strongholds that imprison us each day that we must be aware of. The battles are taking place every day and the devil uses them to break us down. Luckily, Jesus warns us of the devil and his advances. One way the devil tries to attack us is when we’re alone. We can see this in Matthew’s writings. He does this because he knows we are most vulnerable when we’re at our weakest point. The Bible tells us, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). He knew Jesus was alone and he tempted Him. The devil can detect when you’re feeling alone. In these moments of attack, he wants you to believe that you’re all alone. At times when you feel like the devil won’t leave you alone, it’s important to remember that God is with you!
When Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19), the term “lay up” is often believed to mean “having possessions.” But it did not simply speak of having possessions, but of your possessions having you. The term “lay up” is better understood as a hoard. In this passage, Jesus is not saying that it is wrong to have things as many often believe. He was warning against becoming materialistic or letting things become more important than God. God created us to love people and use things, but a materialist loves things and uses people. Jesus did not lift up poverty as some great virtue. In fact, only one time did He tell someone – the rich young ruler – to sell his possessions and give to the poor. The rich young ruler was possessed by his possessions. When Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21), the Bible says that he went away sorrowful. This was a test to see whether God was more important to him than his things.
Those Pretending to Be Christ
Christ appeals to Scripture, but false christs don’t appeal to Scripture. They have an entirely different appeal. There is often a monetary motive involved or an entirely selfish motivation. It’s important that you pay close attention to their message. “We have the word of the prophets made more certain and you will do well to pay attention to it” (2 Peter 1:19). God has spoken, and Christ appeals to His Word. The false christ makes a rather different appeal: “By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error” (2 Peter 2:18). Ask yourself what kind of message is this person delivering? If you feel like any part of their message isn’t aligned with God’s message, they are a counterfeit and you need to be aware of it.
People often believe that Jesus is saying in Matthew 7:1-5 to not judge. This is usually in the context of someone committing some wrongdoing, and the person responding with “Who am I to judge?” We’re all sinners and God calls us to judge not, right? Not quite. Contrary to popular belief, Matthew 7:1-5 is not a prohibition against all judgment. These verses are a warning against hypocritical judgment, not judgment in itself. Jesus is saying we can’t judge others when we are guilty of the same sin. What people fail to realize is when they interpret this verse in this way, they are declaring a judgment on the person who they are claiming is being judgmental. If you dive further into the passage, Matthew is not forbidding judgment but hypocrisy. This is why the context is so important. You have to read the surrounding text to understand the verse. What Jesus is doing in this full passage is passing judgment on those who improperly judge. We know from continuing to read the verses that we will all be judged by the same measure that we use. If we can’t apply this standard to our own lives, we can’t apply this standard to others.
Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Most Christians interpret ‘poor in spirit’ to mean a false piety cultivated by poverty of personality or material wealth, when it actually means we must be humble in our spirits. If you put the word “humble” in place of the word “poor,” you will understand what He meant. In other words, when we come to God, we must realize our own sin and our spiritual emptiness and poverty. We must be self-satisfied or proud in our hearts, thinking we don’t really need God. If we are, God cannot bless us. The Bible says. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
It’s interesting note that Peter closed his writings with a warning to believers: “Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory now and forever! Amen” (2 Peter 3:17-18). Here, Peter is emphasizing how important it is to place our trust in Jesus. When we put on the full armor of God and protect ourselves from the ways of this world that counter Jesus.Lesli White is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth with a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications and a concentration in print and online journalism. In college, she took a number of religious studies courses and harnessed her talent for storytelling. White has a rich faith background. Her father, a Lutheran pastor and life coach was a big influence in her faith life, helping her to see the value of sharing the message of Christ with others. She has served in the church from an early age. Some of these roles include assisting ministry, mutual ministry, worship and music ministry and church council.