“Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:30)
“Distort” is to pervert. People do it in order to influence others and lead them away thus creating an audience for themselves on somebody else’s foundation.
In this scripture apostle Paul talks not about members of a church, but people close to him. People whom we do not know are not able to let us down. It is important that people we trust are reliable because there is a possibility that betrayal may occur.
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer.17:9)
The most horrible betrayals are committed by the closest people. Betrayal comes from those:
– with whom we have common business,
– we count on,
– whom we trust,
– who are close to us.
Only those whom we trust can betray us.
There is a source of distorted talk. When people commit betrayal they automatically have to justify themselves because betrayal is looked down upon. It is difficult to accept treacherous actions, which is why people have to tell stories asserting opposite. Hence distorted talks and lies may appear.
Paradox: love is separated from hatred by one step. People react to miracles of God when done by the hands of usual people. When Paul and Barnabas arrived to Lycaonian cities of Lystra, and began performing signs and miracles, people started to idolize them.
“When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!”
Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.” (Acts 14:11-12)
THEY COULD NOT BELIEVE THAT GOD CAN ACT THROUGH USUAL PEOPLE.
The gist of paradox: those who “fall in love” with people so strongly to the extent of raising them to the level of God the same way start to hate them. Very often LOVE IS TRANSFORMED INTO HATRED. Those who screamed “Hosanna!” yesterday today are ready to crucify you.
Beware of people who idolize you, stop their actions of idolizing as soon as possible or later they will hate you.
Example: when people come to a church for the first time they are mesmerized: “If only I could touch this man!” After having contact with him, they find out that he is only a person through whom God is acting.
Why God allows it?
He just wants the people who are anointed and seem to be the best to understand they are still only man. No matter how God acts through us or what miracles He does through us, He places weaknesses, infirmities, and human nature into us which disable ourselves from imagining that we are able to do anything without God.
All the glory must be given to God.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Cor.4:7)
Everyone must realize that his pastor, leader is not a perfect and an ideal person, if we forget about this then it is easier to fall into condemnation. God will permit us to see that leader is only a person whom God uses like “jar of clay” with hidden treasure of God within.
God wants us to remember that we are sinful people who received mercy from God, and we cannot pretend to take the place belonging to only God.
“I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.”(Is. 42:8)
People can be grateful to us, but all glory belongs to God.
God will never allow somebody to take His place. He will never let people to make idols for themselves. If they do make idols, they will eventually be disappointed in them. It happens because the only one they should be relying on is God.
The danger of inordinate praise and pride.
If one forgets that a man of God is only a human being, it automatically becomes easier to break the law of subordination by showing familiarity. Often people say: ” If he is a man, I am not worse! Why should I follow him, why he must be the head?”
Maybe you are a better, but God chose and placed another person in leadership. God saw something in that person, that is why He could trust this man, and you probably need to grow. It does not matter what weaknesses he has, God has called His leader. We need to remember this, otherwise we will constantly stumble over human nature and anointed people.
“The strongest hatred is a result of the most powerful love” (Thomas Fuller)
What pushes people to betrayal and distortion of the truth?
1. Love to himself
Any fall and betrayal is based on the following statement: “How am I worse?” This is the reason why Lucifer fell.
“How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.” (Is.14:12-16)
Signs of betrayal
The person who constantly talks about himself, opposing himself against the current leader whom God placed or another person, sooner or later will fall down and become a betrayer.
Egocentrism brings the following reasoning: “If I am not worse than him, but he who is standing above me, so I have to throw him down in order to prove that I am better him”.
The only way to conquer egocentrism is to DIE TO YOURSELF.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
We have to give up on our own ambitions, desires, and totally rely on Him thus becoming true Christians.
Who are true Christians?
True Christians are people who:
– deny themselves,
– do not look for something for themselves,
– live only for Him,
– know that they died in Jesus Christ
They are the people who are not seeking something for themselves, but only what pleases and glorifies Him, seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
What is dangerous?
SURROUNDING YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE SAVED, BUT HAVE NOT DIED TO THEMSELVES. They are the kind of believers, but they have not really done Jesus what He did as their God, they have not become possessed by God.
When a person becomes a disciple of God?
A person becomes a disciple of God when he has reached the state when he is ready to lose:
– everything: marriage, education, prestige and reputation only for the reason to please God.
Such a man made a decision: “I live only for Heaven, this is my highest priority, and I am ready to lose my life for its sake”.
Criteria of disciple of Jesus
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Lk.14:26-27)
“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” (Lk.14:33)
One of our main tasks is to help to Christians undergo the way from a new-born Christian to a disciple; not just for people to attend a church, but become disciples of Jesus Christ. Not having fulfilled this transition they will stay baby Christians who are never able to get out of problems and hardships. The Kingdom must be the highest priority to a person.
We should store up our treasure in Heaven.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:19-21, Lk. 12:33-34)
The hearts of some people are consumed about getting married, and then in spite of the fact that they are attending a church, they can be lost as soon as the right person appears in their life. The reason why this happens is because their heart is actually far from God.
It is necessary to lose everything for the sake of the Kingdom.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (Mt.13:44-46)
A person will always be seeking something for himself, even if he has everything he will be stuck to it until he reaches the state when he will be ready to lose everything, or to sell everything for the benefit of the Kingdom.
Example: values of pastor Sunday: They can take his house and cars, but these do not define the essence of the pastor. He does not lose sleep because these things are not priority to him. What he values is hidden inside – Jesus Christ. For him neither his wife, nor his children are the main treasure, because in this life anything can happen. Often people have heart attacks, strokes so even loved ones die. This is why it is wrong to only value these things. ONLY JESUS SHOULD BE OUR BIGGEST TREASURE.
There is a process when growing from a newborn Christian to a Disciple.
For some people it takes weeks, months, years, decades, or even a life-time, some of them never reach it. Everything depends on the person’s decision – to die for himself totally by giving his life to God and living only for Him. Even Jesus had a tough task raising disciples from the crowd that followed Him. He used different methods to try and deliver disciples from the “treasures” hidden in their heart.
In most cases people are not ready to abandon something that is valuable to them.
A person can:
– say a repentance prayer,
– be an active member in a church, even preach and love God,
– have a desire to serve Him.
But all that lasts until hardships come into his life. PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW THAT ALL ARE “WHITE AND FLUFFY” IN THEIR HEART UNTIL TRIALS COME.
When temptations come?
People are being attacked by the thoughts especially when there is a reason: “I have seen him do a wrong thing!”
“Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.” (Lk.17:1)
The problem is not whether temptations come or not, they will always be everywhere. Somebody will always be doing something that tempts you. But mature and devoted people to God will not fall under the temptation of somebody else’s actions.
Most people use temptations as an excuse for their betrayal. Such people distort reality in order to accuse, blame and betray.
Example: Jesus said that He “will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another” (Mk.14:58). He really said it, but people used it as a”pretext” for accusing him as the Son of God in blasphemy.
The only guarantee that a person will not betray is when he has died to himself.
It is easy to define; this is someone who always tries to find a reason and an excuse why he cannot do something to die to himself. Such people need to sleep more, visit their mother, take care of their child etc. He always finds reasons for his business to be in the first place, and put God’s in second place.
It is not possible to be deceived by the fact that a person:
-says the right things,
– knows the Word of God.
“they distort the truth” (Acts 20:30) – they not only knew the Word, were preachers, but they had their own opinion different from God’s one.
What is danger in having your own point of view that is diverse from the opinion of God?
When a person has his own point of view or values that are different from God’s, sooner or later it will become evident to others. It is important not to give such people a big responsibility, duty, or ministry, if they are:
-not totally dedicated,
-have not died to themselves,
-always have their own plans
When they are given much of power and influence over people their delusions will eventually impact people who surround them.
Betrayers always seek support from people.
To justify themselves, people look for an audience to find compassion, understanding and support in. Example: Absalom went against his father, and even he found adherents who did not notice his wrong deeds. Apostle Paul worried that people bringing under delusion took others away.
When you give someone power, it is inevitable that they will delegate, hence causing warm-heartedness and weaknesses.
It is not possible to suspect all people within closed doors, but there is a need to prepare people, making them disciples that would die to themselves and make God their biggest treasure. What really matters is how much a person wants to work on themselves. It is necessary to give responsibility taking into account the extent of person’s dedication to God and level of discipleship.
Trust has different levels:
It is significant to look what level of trust a person is worthy:
– somebody deserves more, somebody-less;
– someone does not deserve five talents, but only one;
-somebody is entrusted two talents, somebody –ten, because he managed with one, two, five talents, so he can be entrusted with more.
Example: betrayal of Judas.
Judas betrayed Jesus, anyone could have done it though, and why was it Judas who betrayed Jesus? It was inevitable, but not obligatory that Judas ought to become a betrayer. Jesus knew it was God’s plan, and He could not hinder it.
Judas had something impure in his heart, no dedication, he did not die completely for the earthly things, and there was self-interest in his heart and desire to get something and become rich.
Did Judas have a choice?
He had weakness, but it was not fatal and it was not his calling. If Judas truly understood the motives of Jesus Christ, he would not have betrayed Him. Other disciples did not know Jesus well too, but their devotion was indisputable. Their heart and soul completely belonged to Jesus, He became their treasure.
Summary: We will be dealing with betrayal. If Jesus perfect man and has experienced it, all the more we who are far from being perfect.
“Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.” (Is.1:2)
God allows it and warns us through His Word.“FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED.”
Even if we are betrayed this is not the reason to become hardened.
If people betray us it does not mean that we should start hating him or treat others negatively. It is normal and such things will take place in relationships with people. We should not become comfortable with the thought that that betrayal only happens to other people.
When a person is forewarned it is easier for him not to fall into anger and offense. There are people who are offended by whole world, they hate all people just because somebody betrayed them. If we know that such things can take place, then we are able to forgive people, receive grace from God and move forward.
IN ANY CASE IT IS NECESSARY TO FORGIVE PEOPLE!
To not to forgive and walk in anger and offense is worse than betrayal. By keeping offense and malice, we fall down to the same level as a betrayer. There is no reason to ignore people.
We must have hatred only towards the devil; not people, “for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph.6:12)
1.” I like to be good in the eyes of other people”. – What must become my value instead of this saying?
2. “I do not like when people scold me”. – What position should substitute this saying?
3.” I worry when people do not admire my work” – What thoughts should this?
4. “I always make excuse”. – What kind of behavior does a person of the Kingdom have?
5.” First of all I have to work on somebody else, not myself”. – What is the correct attitude and behavior?
6.” I demand undeserved respect”. – What is the better attitude and reaction?
7.” I am already 23 years old, but I am superficial and shallow”. – What shall I do in this case? What should my attitude be in this situation?
1. Acts 20-30 – How do you understand this scripture with respect to betrayal and love to the truth?
2. Who is the source of betrayal in most cases?
3. Why is love transformed into hatred?
4. What are the most common reasons of betrayal?
5. How does temptation make excuses for betrayal?
6. If I am betrayed what kind of attitude should I have toward this type of person?
Leadership School #7
October 9, 2013 in Kiev
Press service of the Embassy of God church
Translated by Valeria Granova
Edited by Philip Isaacs