Because Robert E. Lee esteemed loyalty to his native state of Virginia above some of the basic principles he believed, his misplaced loyalty cost multitudes their lives. Many Christians likewise justify their actions, which are in basic conflict with the Scriptures and the nature of the Lord they claim to serve by esteeming loyalty to their nation, denomination, or other institution, above the basic principles of the faith.
This is not to in any way imply that loyalty to our nation, denomination, or even our company, is wrong. Loyalty is a noble characteristic found in every truly noble soul. However, we must esteem loyalty to our God above all of these or they have become idols. We must always obey God rather than men when there is a conflict between the two, if He is truly our Lord.
Many have probably compromised the basic tenets of our faith in this way because they do not really know the basic principles of the faith, having failed to search the Scriptures for themselves. Every nation that goes to war will try to fan the flames of religious zeal on behalf of their cause. Few things are a greater motivation than religious zeal for the devotion and sacrifice required to win a war. Many are duped for the cause of evil in this way. What can we do about it?
If you are wondering where this is leading, I am actually trying to keep you from taking “the mark of the beast.” Many have simplistically thought that it will be easy to refuse the mark because they believe if anyone tries to put it on their forehead or hand, especially a mark that includes 666, they simply will not take it. However, a study of this quickly reveals the probability that this mark is far more subtle. It is not just having truth that will keep us from being deceived, but having a love for the truth, which we read in 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12:
“And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.”
Robert E. Lee was a remarkably Christlike man in his daily life and demeanor. He once got down from his horse to minister to a wounded Union soldier who had just cursed him. Several times his top generals failed to carry out his orders at the most crucial point in several major battles, in two cases probably costing him a decisive victory that could have won the war. Even so, he never publicly berated his subordinates, but took all of the blame upon himself. He once got up early to personally serve a meal to a junior officer that he had misjudged. He refused throughout the war to sleep in anything but a tent, sharing all the same hardships that his soldiers did. While Union soldiers burned fields, farms, and towns throughout the South, when Lee marched through Union territory he severely punished any who damaged the property of his enemies, and he made his generals pay the full price for any provisions they took from farmers.
Lee was so noble and steadfast in his basic character that few generals have ever inspired their men to suffer such hardship, and to fight so hard. With little to eat, marching sometimes hundreds of miles with no shoes, suffering the news of their homes being burned and farms destroyed by ravaging Union soldiers, rarely in history have any fought with more valor against greater odds, or for a worse cause. Hundreds of thousands of these great and noble souls died fighting for wrong because of their loyalty to Lee.
Loyalty is a wonderful and glorious motivator, but if we are loyal to any person or entity more than we are loyal to the Lord Jesus and His truth, we too will be in jeopardy of fighting for wrong regardless of how noble or valiant we are. In history there have been great spiritual men and women who have led great movements, motivating multitudes to sacrifice and valor for the sake of truth and righteousness. There have also been many with seemingly noble character and courage, who have likewise motivated many to sacrifice and valor for doctrines of demons. Being noble in character is important, but it does not negate the need for a devotion to the truth.
I personally have a great concern for Christians in these times. Too many are like sheep who are possibly being led well now, but it is obvious they could easily be led astray because they lack depth in their own convictions. They have not dug their own wells. They have not come to know the Lord’s voice, or His ways, for themselves. In John 10:4, we are told that the Lord’s sheep follow Him because they know His voice. They know His voice, not just the voice of a pastor, teacher, or writer. We each have the responsibility to know His voice for ourselves.
We must each dig our own well. We all must go deeper. We must build our lives on sound biblical truth, established in our own hearts. There was a time when Jesus asked His disciples: “…Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13) Of course, men were debating that He was the resurrection of many former prophets and righteous men. Then Jesus asked them who they thought He was. When Peter answered that He was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Lord responded with:
“Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it” (Matthew 16:17-18).
The Lord was not saying that He was going to build His church upon Peter, as some have asserted. Jesus alone is the foundation of the church, and the rock that we must fasten our foundation to is the revelation from the Father of who Jesus is.
It is not enough for us to just believe in who our parents say Jesus is, or even who our pastors say He is. We must have our own revelation from the Father of who Jesus is. We will never be able to cast out demons, “by Jesus whom Paul preaches.”
The Jesus whom Paul preached was true for Paul, and all of Paul’s writings are true and accurate for doctrine, but we must still have more than that — we must have our own revelation of Him, and even our own conviction about Paul’s writings. We will not get to heaven because we are close to someone who is born again, or is growing in Him — we must be born again, and grow up into Him.
~ Pastor Rick Joyner
|Pastor Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church.|