It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one's own glory. - Proverbs 25: 27 (ESV)
Satan is a master at appealing to our flesh. At appealing to what we value by creating false narratives that sound pious to our deceptive hearts. Maybe if we say the name of Jesus enough, we can fool ourselves into thinking our work is about Him when it really is about us. Maybe if we engage in enough spiritual transference we can avoid having to deal with our own wicked motives. I often refer to the story of Simon the Sorcerer because there is so much deep theology within this short tale from the Book of Acts. Simon performed magic in the area of Samaria. Perhaps it was just as dazzling as the false signs and lying wonders we see performed by such popular and false teachers like Bill Johnson from Bethel Church. Bogus glory clouds, tales of feathers falling from the sky and magical gold dust apparitions all designed to make the audience enthralled. Sure the claim is these are holy spirit manifestations but anyone with an ounce of discernment knows that is total nonsense. Because the Holy Spirit is in the business of bringing glory to Christ alone. The magic Simon performed was so good, those who were captivated by it assumed that he was from God:
They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the power of God that is called Great."And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. - Acts 8: 10-11 (ESV)
I have seen this manifestation today as I am sure many of you have. Someone claiming to be a prophet or apostle comes to your church and starts acting like they are employed by the Psychic Network. They start performing for you. They wrap it up in pseudo-piety by pretending they are "prophesying" by "laying hands" on you but really they are engaging in modern day clairvoyance. Parlor tricks and mind games disguised as a move of God. They are actually prophe-lying to you. But like the Samaritans before us, we eat it up. We assume it must be a move of God. We assume the false prophet is a man of God because he amazes us with his magic. How tragically sad.
That would be enough theology if the story ended there but it doesn't. When Phillip comes to town it says that Simon believed. It says that he was baptized and saw the great and real miracles of God. Yet we can lie to ourselves forever but God will always bring the truth to light. Eventually, Simon offers Peter money for the ability to impart the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands and now we see the truth for what it really is:
But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gallof bitterness and in the bond of iniquity." - Acts 8: 20-23 (ESV)
Beloved, I say this as the backdrop today because we continue to see the rise of many like Simon the Sorcerer in the popular Christian circles today. People who are gifted speakers but their heart are not right with God. People who can dress up the most carnal thing in reverent piety and play everything off as if the Holy Spirit is moving. The Apostle Paul was not known as a great orator. He made it abundantly clear that his intention was not to build himself up:
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. - 1Corinthians 2: 1-5 (ESV)
In modern day churchianity we see the opposite. We see entire ministries built on the loftiness of speech craft offered by the pastor. Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, Joseph Prince and their ilk are not only huge heretics but they are gifted speakers. The power of their messages do not rest on Jesus but on themselves. Their entire ministries are built on the plausible words of wisdom resting not in the power of God. That is why you cannot have a sound theological discussion with any of their adherents. They do not want to talk theology because any word of critique is taken personally. The speaker is what matters to them, not the God they claim to be speaking about. Like the Samaritans of old, they believe that their man is the power of God that is called great.
We see this a lot in the younger church movements. Those that appeal to youth are often breeding grounds for what we are discussing today. Hillsong, Jesus Culture, IHOP, and their like are rife with abhorrent false doctrines. They teach an experiential Christianity that trumps doctrinal faith. Those that want to interject Scripture are labeled as legalists or Pharisaical in some matter or another. One of the pet phrases I have noticed from these similar groups is this notion of "making Jesus famous." In the opening scene of the absolutely heretical movie, "Holy Ghost," you hear director Darren Wilson exclaim that his mission with this nonsense is to "make Jesus famous." I have heard similar exhortations from Carl Lentz at Hillsong NY, at Jesus Culture revival shows and the Onething Youth Conference held annually at IHOP. When you peel away the religious veneer however and the pseudo-righteous Jesus-speak, you are left with the same thing that was left when Simon the Sorcerer was revealed. Impure motives, impure heart, and a bond of iniquity.
Let us deal with the absolute insanity of the comment. That the Son of God needs a press agent. That the Holy Ghost needs a movie. That if only we could create the right hashtag then so many more would get saved. If we can get the right combination of smoke machines and club lighting, then we could do what 2000 years of Gospel preaching could not. What about that Gospel anyway? Oh we will get to that in sound bites and Facebook updates. Making Jesus famous? Hardly. What we actually see is nothing more than self-glorification wrapped up in a Bible that is either ignored or mangled to fit their needs. I thought the Proverb cited as the key verse fit this phenomenon quite well. It is not good to eat too much honey. This first part deals with our tendency to not only self promote but to surround ourselves with sycophants to tell us that we are the power of God that is called great. I have seen the most absurd and theologically moronic Facebook posts get 100 amens because the one offering it is a preacher or self appointed prophet. Here is just one example from Joel Osteen in 2014:
"God said in Numbers 11:23, 'Moses, is there any limit to My power?' He was saying, 'Moses, you saw Me part the Red Sea, stop the sun for Joshua, keep three Hebrew teenagers safe in a fiery furnace, don't you realize that I can bring water without rain?' There's no limit to God's power."
I feel bad enough that the man who pastors the biggest church in the country seems to think that Exodus occurs after the Books of Joshua and Daniel but I feel worse for the over 317,000 likes and 52,000 shares the post received before Lakewood Church pulled it down. That's an example on a grand scale but we all see it locally too. The amount of pastor worship and church worship these days is exponentially growing. That is because the purpose driven church model draws attention to the vision casting leader and not the Savior of the World. The vision casting leader is deified and that Jesus guy? Oh yeah He needs us to make Him famous. The guy who changed the entire world in a three year ministry? Yeah we need to make Him famous. The guy who rose people from the dead and defeated the grave Himself? Yeah, not famous enough. The guy who was so famous, the world restarted the counting of years based on His birth?
Are we getting the point? The sheer lunacy of thinking there is anything we can do to bring fame to the Savior of the entire world. How unbelievably arrogant of us. How fancifully egotistical of us. When you hear things like this you must realize who we are trying to make famous and it is not Jesus. Who are we truly trying to draw attention to? How much more honey can we gobble up. It sure tastes sweet going down but it makes you very sick.
If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it. - Proverbs 25: 16 (ESV)