In 2 Timothy chapter 3 Paul tells us that in the last days perilous times will come. He gives the ungodly attitudes and behaviors that characterize those who make a false profession of faith warning us to turn away from such. These are evil unregenerate people masquerading as believers; in their hearts they resist the truth. They thrive in the visible church today, causing the way of truth to be blasphemed. Their itching ears give heed to their leaders who say just what they want to hear. What makes for this type of leadership? In the gospel of John, Jesus Christ clearly reveals why these men and women resist the truth to their own destruction.
In John chapter seven we are told that Jesus went up to the temple in Jerusalem during the Feast of Unleavened Bread and halfway through the week long feast taught in the temple. His teaching provoked complaining and produced either faith or unbelief in those who heard Him. Alarmed by the reaction of the crowd, the Pharisees and chief priests sent officers to arrest Jesus, but the officers refused to seize Jesus Christ Who spoke in such an arresting manner. The Pharisees then reproached them and said, “Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?” (John 7:10-48) What was it about these religious men that caused such hard-hearted unbelief and murderous hatred towards our Savior? What is it about religious leaders today that causes them to resist the truth, blaspheme Christ, and embrace the lie? Through Christ’s interactions with and verdicts against the Pharisees in John chapter eight, the building blocks of their unbelief are uncovered.
1Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives. 2And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down, and taught them.3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4They say unto Him, “Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what say Thou?” 6This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not. 7So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up himself, and said unto them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” 8And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10When Jesus had lifted up Himself, and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” 11She said, “No man, Lord”. And Jesus said unto her, ”Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” 12Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying,” I am the light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” 13The Pharisees therefore said unto Him, “Thou bear record of thyself; thy record is not true”.14Jesus answered and said unto them, “Though I bear record of Myself, yet My record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. 15Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.” John 8:1-15
Our glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ adroitly avoided the snare laid for Him by the scribes and Pharisees, who thought to bring accusations against Him by bringing an adulterous woman to Him right in the midst of the people that He was teaching in the temple. They left in shame, however, when their own consciences accused them of sin. Jesus forgave the woman, telling her to sin no more, and then revealed Himself as the light of the world after this wonderful instance of His forgiveness and love. When the remaining Pharisees rejected His testimony, Jesus exposed them as those who are of the flesh, devoid of the Spirit, and therefore incapable of making righteous judgment. Religious leaders who resist the truth are men and women of the flesh; they are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and are therefore incapable of responding with faith when they hear the truth, because the truth is spiritually discerned.
7But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. 10But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God.11 For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:7-16
Jesus continued to uncover the error of the Pharisees as He rebuked their unbelief. He proved their belief in God was a lie since they didn’t believe in Him.
16”And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me. 17It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. 18I am one that bears witness of Myself, and the Father that sent Me bears witness of Me.” 19Then said they unto Him, “Where is Thy Father?” Jesus answered, ”Ye neither know Me, nor My Father: if ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also.” John 8:16-19
These Pharisees who claimed to be spokesmen for God did not know Him and so consequently, did not know Jesus Christ. This ignorance of God can be so great that those who claim to be religious leaders within the visible Christian church have actually promoted an atheistic position. Well at least they are consistent and honest. Most religious leaders, however, are like the Pharisees, they feign knowledge of God and all the while instead resist the truth and actually hate Him. Jesus disclosed the facets of their unbelief to the light of the truth as He continued to preach to them.
20These words spoke Jesus in the treasury, as He taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on Him; for His hour was not yet come. 21Then said Jesus again unto them, “I go My way, and ye shall seek Me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.” 22Then said the Jews, “Will He kill Himself?” Because He said, ‘Whither I go, ye cannot come.’?” 23And He said unto them, “Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 24I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.” John 8:20-24
Just as the Pharisees were separated from God because of their sin, so too today’s religious leaders resist the truth because they love their sin. They are of this world and are bound for eternal death with the rest of the world. Still, Jesus Christ reaches out to them with His truth, giving them the antidote for their deadly disease, belief that He is the Messiah. If they would believe in Him they would be saved from their sin, but they refused the truth that Jesus Christ our Lord had already taught them, so they could not recognize Him as the Messiah sent by the Father. (John 7:25-27) Jesus Christ still, despite their unbelief, shared the gospel with them and many believed what He said.
28Then said Jesus unto them,” When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things. 29And He that sent me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.” 30As He spoke these words, many believed on Him. 31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye My disciples indeed; 32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:28-32
Jesus encouraged those who believed what He said to continue in His Word because His truth set them and sets us free. But those who resisted His Word vehemently wanted His death. They hated Him because His Word had no place in them as they were children of Satan, the father of lies, and they preferred Satan’s lies to God’s truth. What a terribly tragic trade, turning the truth into the lie. That is the state of religious leaders who resist the truth and embrace the lie.
37”I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. 38I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.” 39They answered and said unto Him, “Abraham is our father. Jesus said unto them, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 40But now ye seek to kill me, a Man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. 41Ye do the deeds of your father.” Then said they to Him, “We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God”. 42Jesus said unto them, “If God were your Father, ye would love Me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me. 43Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear My word. 44Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
The Pharisees and all religious leaders who resist the truth do so because they do not belong to God and so do not hear God’s Word. Those who put man’s doctrines in the place of God’s Word bear witness that they do not belong to God. Those who spread the lies of Satan bear witness that they do not belong to God. Those who besmear our glorious Savior with blasphemous lies bear witness that they do not belong to God. Hearing and keeping God’s Word, which is the Bible, is the delineation between those who belong to God and those who belong to this world and to Satan, being dead in their trespasses and sins. Believers keep God’s Word and they shall never see death, but unbelievers resist the truth and so abide in eternal death, damnation in hell.
47”He that is of God hears God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.”
51”Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death.”
58Jesus said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” 59Then took they up stones to cast at Him: but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. John 8:47,51,58-59
Jesus plainly told them that He is God, but despite all of the many proofs that He is the Son of God, they resisted the truth and sought to kill Him. Religious leaders who resist God’s Word will do what they can to assault Jesus Christ and His beloved brethren. Don’t be surprised if your stand for the truth engenders hostility and rejection, even outright persecution. Our recourse as believers is to turn from heretics and fellowship with those who are true. Those who resist the truth do so because they reject God’s testimony in His Word because they do not believe in Him. They are of their father the devil and they love the world and their sin. God’s children hear His Word and reject the lie. We resist the devil and submit to God. We know that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior of the world; He is God the Son of God. We believe the gospel that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead for our justification. If you share the truth with a supposed brother who resists the truth and they don’t repent, then you are commanded by Scriptures to reject the divisive man. (Titus 3:10) We must leave them to God and stand fast for the truth. May God bless us as we follow Jesus Christ.