Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)

If you are sober and vigilant, Satan will not be able to devour you or destroy you. He may roar, make noise, try to induce fear, but in the end you do not need to fear his roars if you are walking with the Lord. You have the promises of God.

We are not to get drunk on alcohol – or even on the things of this world. Although I am sure it is fine to have a sense of humour, we are to be sober – not flippant, concerning life. We also have to be vigilant. That means we need to make an effort to stay aware of what kinds of thoughts are coming at our mind – either from the world, the flesh or the devil – and resist such thoughts. We need to be aware of what kind of temptations Satan might be using to weaken or compromise us. Often it is the temptation to be discouraged when something isn’t going right. We need to take heart by meditating on and considering the promises of God, even in the face of setbacks. Don’t give up! God loves you and is on your side. If you are sober and vigilant Satan may roar, but he can’t destroy you.

On the flip side, if the verse above means anything, it means that if you are not sober – if you are careless and foolish you might well be devoured by Satan. Jesus Christ taught his own disciples repeatedly that they must be spiritually ready in order to be safe (see Matthew 24, 25; Luke 12). That is why we have to watch out! We have to be vigilant. We need to be awake, not asleep! A person who is awake is sensitive to what is going on around him, and can respond appropriately. A sleeping person doesn’t care. They don’t see it, they don’t hear it, and they can’t be bothered.

At the present time, a lot of Australians both in and out of the church are in this condition. They need to be woken up – but it won’t be with doctrines that tell them that “It’s all good”. Lukewarmness is the result of a mixture of hot and cold. A mixture of truth and error. A mixture of sin and righteousness. Jesus will reject the lukewarm (see Revelation 3:15-17). They won’t make it to heaven. So the situation is not good – especially in Australia and other western nations like the USA, Canada and Great Britain. It is desperate.

Some influential teachers within the vast evangelical industry that has grown up around us in the West seem to tell believers that they can never be devoured by Satan, no matter how carelessly they live. But beware! The fruit of this false easy-believism teaching is that multitudes HAVE been devoured already, and many more are in the process of being lured away to their destruction.

Over the centuries, people within the visible church have had to make a decision whether they will trust what the Bible says, or what the clergy say. Often, the two are not the same – on certain important points – even on points that relate to your eternal salvation and what is required by God. Clergy generally group themselves into certain camps or denominations – and some of these clergy are not even born of the Spirit of God. There is a great temptation for clergy – even the ones that ARE born again – to say what will bring in the money and what will gain acceptance for them and minimise trouble,  whether it is true or not. We all have blind spots, but the greatest blindness is the one where people teach that what Grace means is that it is safe to go on sinning deliberately (see Hebrews 10:26ff). Whether it is a drunk Orthodox or Roman Catholic priest who believes he has special grace because of his ordination, or whether it is a casual evangelical Christian who believes he has saving grace because he believes he has, there are many who believe they are doctrinally correct, but will be LOST because they are overcome and enslaved by sin. Jesus taught this in more than one place. So did Peter the apostle and Paul the apostle. Study it for yourself.

Not all who expect to go to heaven will enter the Kingdom. Many are fully expecting to enter heaven when they die – but tragically they are deceived and will perish in their sins. Why? One reason is because they despise or explain away the warnings of Jesus Christ and His apostles. It would be good for us, if we want the true faith that Jesus imparts, to listen to the words of Jesus to his own disciples. These words of warning in the Bible were not primarily given to outsiders, but to the people of God . They were given to disciples even (for example in Matthew 7:21-23, Luke 12:5, 43-48) – not to the uncommitted, or to those who are Christians in name only .

the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:50-51)

The commentators writing in my NKJV Study Bible cannot bring themselves to say that this is hell. They merely say that being cut in two is a form of judgment used in the ancient world, and that weeping and gnashing of teeth indicates the remorse of those who have suffered great loss. This kind of commentary leaves the door open for someone to jump in with the idea that they are only losing rewards – something that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 3 where it says that people will suffer loss, and be saved as through fire. This kind of thinking is part of  a powerful theological current in the evangelical world which leaves people quite comfortable in their sin. But are you comfortable with the idea that you might be cut in two, assigned a portion with the hypocrites, and have weeping and gnashing of teeth? Are you hoping Jesus is talking about a lower grade of heaven, or purgatory, or something like that? Be careful.

That passage was talking about what Jesus will do to servants of God, specifically pastors and “priests” who mistreat the people of God and do not restrain their carnal appetites – whether it be appetites for food, alcohol or sex. If you are such a person, you must repent. Thank God you are still alive, you have time to repent, and you are not already in hell.

Being a pastor won’t get you to heaven.

Being a miracle working evangelist won’t get you to heaven (See Matthew 7:21-23)

Being a prophet won’t get you to heaven (Matthew 7:15, 21-23). Remember prophet Balaam, who wished to die the death of a righteous man (Numbers 23:10) – but obviously didn’t.

Only the application of the blood of Jesus will get you to heaven. It is faith(fulness) – same Greek word, and ongoing repentance which leads to a remaining or abiding “in Christ” that make you Christ’s own possession  and will get you there (John 15:1-6). It is living in the light (1 John 1:7). Repent from everything that is not an expression of divine love. Then the blood of Jesus will wash you.

 Jesus Follows Up with a Warning that we Always Need the Holy Spirit

Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom[a]is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

(Matthew 25:1-13)

Dear God. we should be trembling in our boots.

Everything Jesus says here should be considered also in the light of what Paul said about not being drunk, but being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)

Jesus is not allowing us here to believe that people who simply agree in their minds with some gospel facts are going to be OK. No way. Let us be honest enough to see what Jesus actually IS saying in the Matthew passage above about the wise and foolish virgins. 

The ones who are going to enter eternity with Jesus in His Kingdom when He returns or when we die are those who have the oil of the Holy Spirit in extra vessels. Enough oil not only to make light in the darkness for a while (that is the point of a lamp after all). We need extra oil so that when the oil in our lamps runs out – perhaps through weariness and the pressure of the world, we can draw on an extra supply and shine again at a moment’s notice.

Even if you are “a virgin”, even if you are waiting for the coming of Jesus (any many are not – they are only interested in what they can do in this present age)  – this does not guarantee that you will be OK. This is a parable, so we should not extrapolate from it too far. But if it is saying anything, it is saying that we must be ready. We must be ready to shine at a moment’s notice – even if there are times we do fall asleep. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit that we need. We need extra reserves. We need to seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit every day to be truly safe. We cannot afford those things which dim the light of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We can’t afford to be slack about seeking God. 

God help those preachers who make doctrines to reassure the ones who are not diligent in their pursuit of the Lord. A good pastor will encourage people wisely, and not drive people away with harsh exhortations on a regular basis. But still, there is this danger of seeking to please the people and increase the church resource base by toning down the requirements of the Lord and presenting only a comforting message. We do not need any more Laodicean preachers or Christians in these last days. Jesus has got no use for such people anyway unless they repent.

The kind of diligence we need is not that we try to work harder without God’s empowering presence. The whole point of this is not to multiply good works. It is to pursue and yield to the Holy Spirit more and more. He will actually guide us in doing good works – acts of love and service. But we cannot put the cart before the horse. If we do, we may burn out.

“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master … blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.” (Luke 12:35, 37)

I wrote in another place about the importance of Living Ready. This is God’s requirement for us in these perilous times in which another World War could break out at any time, and many church leaders even are forsaking even the most basic standards of righteousness in order to please the world. 

Do not think that merely having correct opinions will save you in the Last Days. You need to be passionate for the Lord. You need to pursue God. You need the Holy Spirit every day. You need to be vigilant. Be on your guard against things that grieve the Spirit – for it can end badly if we drown out the voice of conscience or listen to false comforts from popular preachers or teachers. If you need to repent and re-consecrate yourself to the Lord, do so now. If you are sorry about the way you have been living, don’t wait for a better time to make a change. God’s forgiveness and grace is still available while you live. So take hold of it.

 

Michael Fackerell