This morning, we’re beginning a new message series entitled, “The Source.” In this series, we’re going to learn the spiritual truth behind that old adage, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Or, as the apostle Paul taught:
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
I’ll admit that this series is going to be taught and revealed as it is partially revealed to me. This is an issue that seems to be coming up more and more lately and as the end times draw near. Therefore, it is becoming more and more critical that we have a firm grasp and understanding about it. Although this issue is a new revelation to me, it is clearly evident and taught throughout the scriptures and isn’t such a new concern at all. In fact, when I began praying and researching about this issue, I found that author John Bevere had the same stirring and wrote his most recent book, “Good or God?” in response to what God was revealing to him. I just started reading it, but I’ll be the first to admit that some of this series will be inspired by this book as I read through it.
Most of you know my personal background and are aware that my last occupation before entering full time ministry was a lead software developer. When God first began showing me the need to look beyond what is obvious and to begin learning to discern the source of a situation, source code is the very first thing that came to mind. What you see here is literally hundreds of thousands of lines of code. This may all look very foreign to most of you, but the reality is that it is something that you’ve likely seen many times before. You may not recognize it in this form, but this is our church’s website.
What you are seeing now are various bits of source code that determine what the website will look like and how it will behave. Everything from background color, to font style and size, to images being displayed, to what happens when I hover here or click there is all determined by this code. The tool that most of us are familiar with using is known as a web browser. This tool reads these sometimes millions of lines of code, interprets them, and displays to you a website.
It is also these lines of code that drive every bit of technology. Whether you are pushing your accelerator in the car, answering a call on your phone, swiping your card at a store, booting up your computer, reading a newspaper, or looking at the screen behind me, these have all been made possible by this source code. There is very, very little in our world today that is not either directly or indirectly effected by this source code. Even the deer roaming about in the field behind us are alive because the Game Commission used lines of source code to determine how many of those tasty critters could be harvested last fall.
However, anyone who has used technology at all is also familiar that there are sometimes problems that we encounter. Out of the hundreds of thousands of lines of code on our website, if I forget to type a single character, what is known as a bug will be introduced to the website. It could be that an image doesn’t display or a link doesn’t click or text doesn’t look right, there will be some unexpected result from just that single character that is missing. It could result in a small and little noticed issue, or it could just as easily cause the entire website to be down until that bug is fixed.
There also exists out there, malicious source code. Individuals intentionally hide their own code within this source code for various reasons. Many of us have been affected by this malicious code. Perhaps you received an email or saw an ad on Facebook for a really good coupon or a free trip. You simply click that button to open it, that’s it. Without realizing it, you just chose to execute that malicious code. Now, you have popups on your computer telling you to send them money to fix their own virus. Your Facebook account is posting links and tagging all of your friends in it or messaging all of them messages that you didn’t choose to send.
Sometimes, there is malicious code on an infected website that simply gathers information about you and secretly stores it away in a database on their servers. You visit a website and have no clue that this just happened. It is a good website with good information on it and there is no indication at all that the website is infected. You would have to look beyond what is being displayed to you, beyond what is seen, to the source code to be able to discern and detect that malicious code.
That is exactly what we pay anti-virus and anti-malware companies huge amounts of money to do. We trust them and allow their code to run on our devices. We allow their code to view and analyze all other code that we access. We allow their code to be aware of every website we visit, every email we send, every application that we use, everything that we do on our devices. We trust them to inform us and stop any source code that they determine to be malicious.
No, this morning, I won’t offer you a blue or red pill to decide whether to accept or deny the matrix in which we live. You’re going to hear the truth and reality behind our existence and decide for yourself what to believe. Not to completely go there, but I find it interesting that all that exists was created by God simply speaking words and His word still accomplishes exactly what it is sent out to do. God is one awesome developer! And how does Satan tempt us? By twisting and perverting God’s words; malicious code. Perhaps there is more truth to this concept that we realize?
This morning, we’re being challenged to judge the many books of life beyond their covers. This morning, God is challenging us to go beyond mere appearances to “The Source”. Please hang in here because this series is not intended to cause confusion nor conflict within ourselves. This series is intended to bring further revelation to God’s obvious truth that we have overlooked for far too long. It is intended to reveal both the truth of God and the deceit of the enemy so that we do not fall into his snares. Especially, during these times in which we live, we must look beyond mere appearances to “The Source!”
In our Christian world, we love to make everything black and white. We like to believe that there are no gray areas when it comes to the Kingdom of God. We love to work with absolutes and formulas. We like to be able to neatly organize and categorize all things. Two of these categories that we seem to always be throwing everything into is either good or evil, God or Satan. Trust me, this next statement is stretching me beyond comfort and going against the grain of what I believe, too.
What is good and evil, what is from God and Satan is not so black and white. It is not so easily categorized. We cannot be so arrogant and prideful as to think that it is. In fact, knowing that we quickly categorize in this way is the foothold that Satan has in our lives. It is how he is going to deceive believers in the last days into worshiping him as their savior.
For example, is healing from God? Whenever someone is blind and they are miraculously able to see, was that healing from God? Whenever someone is born without a leg and that leg miraculously regenerates, did God perform that healing? We’re quick to say, “YES AND AMEN! PRAISE JESUS FOR THE WORK HE HAS DONE!”
Perhaps we haven’t read the truth of God in Revelation 13 or 2 Thessalonians 2 that teaches that beast, the lawless one has authority to heal and perform great signs and wonders? Can our enemy overcome us? We declare, “greater is the One within us than he who is in the world” and believe that we can never be overcome by the evil one. If we’re honest with ourselves, we allow him to overcome us more often than we’d like to admit. Also, perhaps we haven’t read and understood in Revelation 13:7 that our enemy will be given power to not only wage war against God’s holy people, but also to conquer them? In fact, this beast was given “authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.” That’s why Jesus said in verse 10, “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.”
Paul often wrote the phrase, “we don’t want you to be uninformed.” This morning, God does not want us to be uninformed regarding the deceit of the enemy. Jesus would often say, “those who have ears, let them hear.” In fact, He said that in Revelation 13:9 regarding this great deceit of our enemy. He doesn’t want us to stick our fingers in our ears and running around ignorant to the full truth of His word. God doesn’t want us to be easily deceived, but rather fully aware of the tactics of the enemy. In fact, Paul wrote:
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie,10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
Would God ever use His power to cause someone to become delusional so that they believe a lie instead of His truth? Well, we just read that He indeed will. Does Satan have power to display signs and wonders, to heal and prophesy and bring fire down from Heaven and bring back the dead? Yes.
We love to categorize things neatly into good and evil. However, not every “good” deed done is from God. Not every “good” person is a Godly person. Not every “good” gift is from God.
We frequently believe that in the Israeli-Egypt showdown of plagues that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened because of the plagues that God sent upon Egypt. However, the truth was that his heart was hardened because his magicians could perform the same things that God did, but by a different source. It wasn’t until the plagues of gnats that the magicians had to admit that this was indeed “the finger of God” at work.
8 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.”
10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lordcommanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.
20 Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.
22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. 23 Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart.
Jesus challenged us often to look beyond the obvious to the source. This ability to discern good at the source will help us to correctly categorize good and evil. I mean, Jesus literally told us to look beyond the obvious and go to the source:
Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.
God also told Samuel when searching out the second king of Israel:
1 Samuel 16:7
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Jesus looked beyond the outward appearance and into the source many, many times throughout His earthly ministry:
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
This statement of Jesus alone should set off a red alert for us to be cautious in what we call good. Jesus categorized God alone as being good!
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
This young man did what he ought to do, he looked good on the outside. Jesus, however, loved this man enough to go beyond mere appearances to the source and tested to see where this man’s trust and commitment truly lay. There are too many scriptures for our time to review here this morning when Jesus taught us to look beyond what is apparent and rather to discern the source. However, this one should grab our attention and give us an understanding of how seriously and intently fired up Jesus gets about those who look and do “good,” but are malicious at their source:
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it.22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and completewhat your ancestors started!
33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
This is Jesus, but not the Jesus often preached. Jesus sees through our masquerades and facades. Jesus sees straight to the source of who we truly are. However, even seeing the malicious source of these men who masqueraded as priests, teachers, and elders of God, Jesus was moved by compassion. He longed to gather them together and protect them from their enemy, who had deceived them into their perverted ways that they thought were Godly ways. He loved them, though they denied Him. He sees us the same!
You will hear many rumors about Jesus; some good, some bad. This is nothing new.
11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”
12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”
Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.”
Next week, we’re going to begin to learn about how we, too, can look beyond outward appearances and see into the source. We’re going to learn how we can clear up the confusion and rumors about Jesus that still exist today, much as they did then. These tools will help us to keep our lives free from the deceit of the enemy and to free others from it as well. They will act like anti-virus and developer tools that technology gurus use to detect and clean bugs and malicious code.
This morning, however, we are encouraged to know that though Jesus hates the work of Satan in our lives, He only does so because of how passionately He loves us. Just as Jesus loved the rich young man and had compassion on the teachers of Law and Pharisees, Jesus loves and has compassion toward us. Though the world sees our sin and defines us by it, Jesus sees who He created us to be and sees sin merely as malicious code that needs removed so that we might be clean. Jesus lived the perfectly executed life and willingly terminated it so that He might have the elevated privileges necessary to clean us as well.
If we simply allow Him access to every part of our lives, living by His code and no longer by our own, we also can live life to it’s full free from bugs and errors. This morning, if you have never given your life to Jesus, or if you need to lay down again a particular part of your life once again to Him, please rise and let’s pray together.