Merchants of Darkness

Merchants of Darkness
Robert Wurtz II
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: “Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. (Job 38:1–3 NKJV)
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8 NKJV)

I recently read a quote online that got the wheels turning in my head a bit. A person, almost in passing stated, “The focused, educated, and wary will always recognize the folly of the masses who are deceived into issues that don’t exist.” Almost immediately the two passages above came to mind. Between the people who insist on misapplying truths to people and the rest who deliberately misrepresent facts (they do lie), we have before us a great reason as to why all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. In other words, what Job’s friends were saying were generally truths — they just didn’t apply to Job and his situation. God said that the more they spoke the darker the situation was getting. So He broke in and “shed the light of truth” on the topic.

Edward Bernays was one of the first people to exploit the fact that people tend to move like a herd. They are moved by their unconscious desires and are generally irrational in the process. So if a deceitful person can figure out what will move people they can exploit them in droves. This is what a liar does and liars come in many forms. The greater the platform the greater the potential is for damage. I have always said that someday God is going to expose all lies and liars and when He does we are going to be shocked at how much of our thinking process was based on false information. It may take us a million years to come to terms with some of the ways that the lies we believed impacted us during our earthly life. Are you starting to understand yet why all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death? It is impossible to measure the impact that lies have on people as individuals and society as a whole.

I recall some twenty-five years ago on a Sunday afternoon, as a young Christian, doing research on atheism and macro-evolution at a local library. To my surprise, a gentleman was sitting at one of the large tables editing a new edition of a high school earth science textbook for Holt, Rhinehart and Winston. Being the kind of straight-shooter I was in those days I asked him, “Sir, may I ask what you are doing?” He explained that he was a retired science teacher from a local high school and edited for Holt, Rhinehart and Winston part-time. Pointing out a nearby window I asked him, “Do you think all of this got here by accident?” He explained that he believed that God created it, but he didn’t know how. He even told me that he had attended a local church that morning. I was shocked and disillusioned. How could a man go to church on Sunday morning and then teach macro-evolution to children? I realized then that being a Christian in the school system may be worse than not being there at all. To participate in the propagation of such a damnable lie was to me unconscionable. But again it helped me understand why all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. This man influenced a great many impressionable children with lies.

On August 21, 2017, my hometown Kansas City, MO was ground-zero for one of the most spectacular events in modern history. It was high-noon when the Sun went completely black for a few minutes. Even the crickets were deceived as they chirped away for about five minutes. And just in case you missed it we have another Solar eclipse scheduled in about seven years. I have to admit that it was a bit frightening. As powerful as the Sun is… it was being eclipsed by something and on a massive scale. Darkness at noon? People who love darkness got a taste of it. It got the wheels turning in my head a bit. What is God trying to illustrate to us?

Lies and deception are to the truth what the moon was that day to our sun. And these are the times we are living in. There is more information and access to the truth now than there has ever been. But there are also forces at work to darken counsel by words without knowledge.We are all going to give an account someday for the false words of our mouth. Even when we may be saying things that are generally true, but do not apply in a specific situation. We need to be very careful. Sometimes we can only know the truth about something or someone by specific God-imparted discernment. Job’s friends were counselors — they were not prophets. This was their downfall. Perhaps the Psalmist said it best, Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3).

Debased Gold and Diluted Wine

Robert Wurtz II

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:1–4 ESV)

 

Paul refused to interpret the scriptures like modern liberals interpret the US Constitution — as if it were a living document. The world defines living document (dynamic document) as a document that is continually edited and updated. Since the wording of the Constitution requires amendments to change the easier thing is to alter the interpretation. Liberals typically want an interpretation that shifts over time as the culture changes. On the other hand, originalism seeks to understand and interpret the Constitution based on the original intent and meaning of the Framers. This was similar to Paul’s approach to the scriptures. He refused to tamper with God’s word. 

 

Paul’s approach is effective because it agrees with man’s conscience. The Law of God has been written in the hearts of men from birth. The conscience enforces that Law. When God’s word is preached it resonates in the hearts of men like the proper sound resonates with the corresponding frequency of a tuning fork. He writes, We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” A person’s evil heart may rebel and even make snide remarks about God’s word, but their conscience agrees with it. This is why old-time preachers spoke of preaching to the conscience. It is designed to agree with God. So preach the word because you have a “friend” (the conscience) living inside everyone who hears — sort of like God’s own “amen corner.” If a minister tampers with God’s word the conscience will warn the hearers accordingly. 

 

The Living Word of God 

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12–13 ESV)

The way the world makes a dead document a “living” one is to constantly update it or reinterpret it so as to fit the immoral whims of the people. Contrarywise, God’s word is a living document that is forever settled in heaven. It cannot be amended. It is “living” in the sense that it carries within itself the grace (power) to accomplish what God has sent it to do. it has the power to expose utterly peoples’ motives and will be the measuring rod of all people at the Great Judgment. Jesus said, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will never pass away. 

 

Notice how Paul characterizes the practice of tampering with God’s word… calling it disgraceful and underhanded. In modern times we deal with professing Christians who adulterate God’s word as did the crooks of ancient times debase gold and dilute wine. Snark artists lie in wait to mock God, His word, and the messengers who would preach it undiluted. Sifting through the message for anything they can find to discredit or dismiss it all together. God is hip to their ways just as Paul was unmoved by such disgraceful antics. He would preach the word to people until nobodies blood was on his hands… no matter how many assaults or insults he endured (physical, verbal, or any other means). Both Jew and Gentile tried to kill Paul because he preached the truth undiluted. 

 

 

False Professors of Christ

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1 ESV)

Peter is warning us. Understand that no-one is a Christian who does not agree with God and His word no matter what they profess. In fact, these people are dangerous! I have often said that the threat of the future for genuine Christians will be false Christians. I expect to see false Christians begin persecuting true Christians in the very near future. We would see it already if true Christians were more outspoken about God’s word. False Christians are people who actually believe they are Christians and believe they have received His Spirit — but are in fact agents of the enemy. Just as the sinful false prophets of old told the Israelites lies — there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. They agree with the world rather than God on a host of topics and berate ministers who actually preach the truth. When these false believers preach or teach — it’s debased gold and diluted wine. Always bear that in mind. 

 

How Can This Be?

When people refuse to agree with God they are playing into the hands of Satan. Paul continues his thoughts, And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:1–4 ESV) The “god of the world” is clearly Satan. He is blinding multitudes of people still today. However, Paul was commissioned of Christ to open the eyes of those who were in darkness. That is to say, to undo the blinding effects of Satan and his lies. This would have been impossible to do if he had tampered with God’s word. 

 

Paul was forever having to deal with deceived people who corrupted the Gospel. This was true all the way to the end. They were deceiving and being deceived. We read in 2 Timothy about Alexander the Coppersmith. Here is a man who did Paul, “Much evil” by preaching falsehood about topics like the resurrection. For that, Paul turned him over to Satan that he would learn, “not to blaspheme.” After that and all other measures failed, Paul said that God would reward him according to his works. No matter what Paul did to bring this man to repentance — nothing worked. He was blind and he blinded others with his errors. He was a “debaser of gold” and a “diluter of wine” as it were. He tampered with God’s word and as best as we know is paying for his crime with his everlasting soul.