â€œWoe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.â€ (Matthew 23:15)
Among the eight â€œwoesâ€ in Matthew 23 is this frightening possibility that false teaching will produce double wickednessâ€”a multiplying effect that redounds to terrible consequences. Jesus said that these self-righteous and hatefilled Pharisees were of the devil (John 8:44) and were so intent on resisting the truth that they were ready to kill if they could silence the message of liberty. Paul condemned Elymas the sorcerer as â€œfull of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousnessâ€ (Acts 13:10).
During a great revival in Iconium, â€œthe unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethrenâ€ (Acts 14:2). And they were not content with that. When Paul and his fellow helpers fled to Lystra, the God-hating group from Iconium followed them to Lystra and â€œpersuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the cityâ€ (Acts 14:19).
Make no mistake about this issue; those who hate truth and God will turn their hate against the people of God. â€œIf the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you . . . because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. . . . If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours alsoâ€ (John 15:18-20).
Our country has enjoyed some 250 years of liberty while centered on righteousness. But rising atheistic and secular favor has given boldness to the enemies of truth. May God grant us boldness to speak His Word (Acts 4:29) amidst â€œmany adversariesâ€ (1 Corinthians 16:9). HMM III