The Expansion of Apostasy
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 9/28/03
We have been studying apostasy. Simply stated, apostasy is the deliberate departing from the faith.
We have been looking at the four dimensions or aspects of apostasy. Three of them are mentioned in Jude 1:11 "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core."
In this message we are going to examine the third dimension of apostasy, the Rejection of Godís Standards as illustrated by "the error of Balaam for reward."
As we begin today, I want you to turn with me to Psalms 19:7-14 "The law of the LORD is perfect [without spot; undefiled], converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure [permanent; established; lasting & to be believed], making wise the simple. 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean [pure morally and ethically], enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. 12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. 13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer."
Psalms 111:7-8 "The works of his hands are verity [true; faithful; right] and judgment [divine law]; all his commandments are sure. 8 They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness."
God has established His standards of morality and conduct and these are recorded in the Bible. These standards are not relative but absolute, and as we have read, they will stand forever. One dreadful dimension of apostasy in our day is the overt rejection of our Lordís standards of morality and conduct by those who claim to be Christians. Here is an example that I received in a email report I get from David Cloud.
The article goes on, "We have all learned to challenge Romans," said the Rev. Mari Castellanos, referring to St. Paul's letter that, among other Scriptures, is critical of homosexual behavior. Castellanos leads the Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ. "We must do likewise with all texts that go against our brothers and sisters that are being claimed as the unerring Word of God."
It is clear that Godís standards of morality have been rejected by these so-called Christians and Christian organizations. They are apostate after the manner of Balaam.
The natural question is, who is Balaam? He professed to be a prophet of God but was hired by Balak, the king of Moab to cures the Israelites (see Numbers 22 through 24). It is clear from three New Testament passages that he was an evil man. Turn with me to Jude 1:11 "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." The first mark of the apostasy of Balaam was his greediness. He was willing to prostitute his high office, as a professed prophet of the Most High, for money. He secretly wished to comply King Balak and curse Israel, but he knew if he did, God would kill him. Turn with me to 2 Peter 2:15-16 "Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet." Peter is referring to the account in Numbers 22:21-34 where the ass Balaam was riding had more spiritual discernment than the alleged prophet did. The beast of burden saved Balaam life.
Is is easy to see that though Balaam professed to love the truth, he actually served money and sought prestige. His love for material gain and the honor of man darkened his heart to the point that he deceived himself into thinking he was actually right with God while disobeying God.
Letís move on to the second mark of Balaamís apostasy. He enticed Godís people to compromise and disregard Godís command of separation and mingle with the world. Turn to Revelation 2:13-14 "I know thy works and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication." Here is what happened. Balaam taught King Balak how to seduce the Israelites into pagan worship and immorality. Jewish writer Jonathan ben Uzziel, wrote this about Balaam counseling Balak, "Come, and I will counsel thee, (speaking to Balak,) go and set up inns, and place in them whorish women, to sell food and drink at a low price: and this people will come and eat and drink, and be drunken, and will lie with them, and deny their God; and they will be quickly delivered into thine hands, and many of them shall fall." (see Numbers 25:1-2 & 18).
This all adds up to the dimension of apostasy that compromises and rejects Godís standards particularly His standards of morality and personal conduct. Balaam taught God's people to mingle with the world and thatís what is being pumped into the heads of Christians today. Today we see the doctrine of Balaam being promoted within Christendom. Spirituality is being replaced with sensuality. Worship is being replaced with worldliness. Consecration is being replaced with carnality.
We would do well to read and heed the Word of God.
1 Corinthians 10:7-10 "Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer."
James 4:4 "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
1 John 2:15-17 "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."
1 Peter 1:15-16 "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."
1 Corinthians 6:15-20 "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. 16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
Titus 2:14 "Who gave himself
for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself
a peculiar people, zealous of good works."