27 June, 2013
A Warning To Believers-Part 3
"Let no man beguile you of your reward."
The Apostle gives us this warning, "Let no man beguile you of your reward," reminding us that these persons are very likely to beguile us. They will beguile us by their character. Have I not often heard young people say of such and such a preacher who preaches error? "But he is so good a man." That is nothing to the point. "Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." If the life of the man should be blameless as the life of Christ, yet if he preach to you other than the gospel of Jesus Christ, take no heed of him; he weareth but the sheep's clothing, and is a wolf after all. Some will plead, "But such and such a man is so eloquent." Ah! Brethren, may the day never come when your faith shall stand in the words of men.
What is a ready orator, after all, that he should convince your hearts? Are there not ready orators caught any day for everything? Men speak, speak fluently, and speak well in the cause of evil, and there are some that can speak much more fluently and more eloquently for evil than any of our poor tongues are ever likely to do for the right. But words, words, words, flowers of rhetoric, oratory--are these the things that saved you? Are ye so foolish that having begun in the spirit by being convinced of your sins, having begun by being led simply to Christ, and putting your trust in him--are you now to be led astray by these poetic utterances and flowery periods of men? God forbid! Let nothing of this kind beguile you.
Then there will be added to these remarks that the man is not only very good and very eloquent, but that he is very earnest--he seems very humble-minded. Yes, and of old they wore rough garments to deceive, and in the connection of the text we find that those persons were noted for their voluntary humility and their worship of angels. Satan knows very well that if he comes in black he will be discovered, but if he puts on the garb of an angel of light, then men will think he comes from God, and so will be deceived. "By their fruits ye shall know them."
If they give you not the gospel, if they exalt not Christ, if they bear not witness to salvation through the precious blood, if they do not lift up Jesus Christ as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, have nothing to do with them, speak as they may. "Let no man beguile you of your reward." Though it should happen to be your relative, one whom you love, one who may have many claims on your respect otherwise--let no man, let no man, however plausible may be his speech, or eminent his character, beguile you of your reward.
Recollect, you professors, you lose the reward if you lose the road to the reward. He that runs may run very fast, but if he does not run in the course, he wins not the prize. You may believe false doctrine with great earnestness, but you will find it false for all that. You may give yourself up indefatigably to the pursuit of the wrong religion, but it will ruin your souls. A notion is abroad that if you are but earnest and sincere, you will be all right. Permit me to remind you that if you travel never so earnestly to the north, you will never reach the south, and if you earnestly take prussic acid you will die, and if you earnestly cut off a limb you will be wounded.
You must not only be earnest, but you must be right in it. Hence is it necessary to say, "Let no man beguile you of your reward." "I bear them witness," said the Apostle, "that they had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge, but went about to establish their own righteousness, and have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God." Oh! may we not be beguiled, then, so as to miss the reward of heaven at the last!
But I must pass on, especially as the light fails us this evening; I hope it is prognostic of a coming shower. Here is a second rendering which may be given to the text:-
II. LET NO MAN DOMINEER OVER YOU.
This rendering, or something analogous to it, is in the French translation. One of the great expositors in his commentary upon this passage refers it to the judges at the end of the course, who sometime would give the reward to the wrong person, and the person who had really run well might thus be deprived of his reward. Now, however close a man may be to Christ, the world, instead of honouring him for it, will, on the contrary, censure and condemn him, and hence the Apostle's exhortation is, "Let no man domineer over you."
And, my brethren, I would earnestly ask you to remember this first as to your course of action. If you conscientiously believe that you are right in what you are doing, study very little who is pleased or who is displeased. If you are persuaded in your own soul that what you believe and what you do are acceptable to God, whether they are acceptable to man or not is of very small consequence. You are not man's servant, you do not look to man for your reward, and, therefore, you need not care what man's opinion may be in this matter. Be just and fear not. Tread in the footsteps of Christ, follow what may. Live not on the breath of men. Let not their applause make you feel great, for perhaps then their censure will make you faint. Let no man in this respect domineer over you, but let Christ be your Master, and look to his smile.
So not only with regard to your course of action, but also with reference to your confidence, let no man domineer over you. If you put your trust in Jesus Christ, there are some who will say it is presumption. Let them say it is presumption. "Wisdom is justified of all her children," and so shall faith be. If you take the promise of God and rest upon it, there will be some who will say that you are hare-brained fanatics. Let them say it. They that trust in him shall never be confounded. The result will honour your faith. You have but to wait a little while, and, perhaps, they that now censure you will have to hold up their hands in astonishment, and say with you, "What hath God wrought?" Your confidence in Christ, especially, my dear young friend, I trust does not depend upon the smile of your relatives. If it did, then their frown might crush it. Walk with your Saviour in the lowly walk of holy confidence, and let not your faith rest in man, but in the smile of God.