A carload of joy-riding young people, speeding down a Missouri highway one evening, suddenly came upon a barrier with a posted a sign: "Stop, danger, road closed." The driver said, "Aw, let's go, it's probably just a bit rough, but who cares!" With a jolt they crashed through the barrier and sped on into the night. But a short distance ahead, unseen at first, the road abruptly ended at a deep gully. Going too fast to be able to stop, all five were instantly killed in a horrible plunge.
"Beware" signs are set to warn us of danger, to prevent disaster and assure us of safely arriving at our destination. God knows the danger spots in life and has lovingly set up His "beware" signs in His Word. The first was in the Garden of Eden, warning Adam and Eve, that eating the fruit of the forbidden tree would mean death (Gen. 3:1-3). They ignored it.
God's Ten Commandments (Ex. 20) are ten important warning signs. They are not set up as kill-joys to keep us from enjoying life. But they are safety guarantees designed to keep us from destruction, to preserve our well being and our fellowship with God. Although many acknowledge that warning signs are beneficial, but sadly, all too many choose to observe only those they wish to and neglect the rest. How unwise; for all are important! Ignoring any one of them can mean death (Jms.2:10).
God's warnings are not to be received as the grumbling of a mean bully, but rather as the counsel of a loving, gracious Heavenly Father, "not willing that any should perish" (2 Pet.3:9). He knows there is a vicious predator lurking, and many deadly pitfalls lie ahead in the unknown territory in which we find ourselves. But the Holy Spirit is with us to remind us of our Lord's warnings (Jn.14:26). He will protect and guide us to the right path. Hear David confidently singing: "The Lord is my shepherd...Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me" (Ps.23:4). Our God is a protector, not a destroyer.
Observe a few of God's BEWARE signs:
1. Beware of "The wiles of the devil." (Eph. 6:11,12)
The devil intends to destroy us. Jesus warned Peter, "Satan desires to have you...to sift you as wheat" (Lk.22:31). The enemy is clever, at times disguising himself as "an angel of light" (2 Cor.11:14). His smile and winsome ways have led many astray to a sad ending. His "wiles" are cunning tricks he uses, to confuse us and make us think that a little wrong is not all bad. Paul warns believers to beware, "so that Satan will not outsmart us" (2 Cor. 2:11, NLT).
It is foolhardy to ignore God's warnings. Believers are not of this world, therefore, should not be blinded by spiritual darkness, for we are children of the "Light "(1 Thes. 5:5). We are encouraged to "Watch and pray" (Mt.26:41). This daily exercise will sharpen our ability to discern the devil's lies and strategies.
2. "Beware of false prophets" (Mt.7:15)
These, are false teachers who seek to please the ear and emotions of people with philosophies and sensational predictions, but fail to lead them to worship God "in spirit and in truth" (Jn.4:23,24). They glibly promise much, but water down the truth of God's Word. "There is a way which seemeth right to a man but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Pro.14:12). The flash and flamboyance of these "prophets" may attract some people. But it is best and safest to submit to the teaching of a godly, uncompromising pastor who knows and boldly declares the Word of God.
3. "Beware of...hypocrisy" (Lk.12:1)
God is not fooled by "put-on, make-believe" religion. He sees through the cover-up of those who "talk the talk" but do not "walk the walk." Jesus told the believers of Sardis, "I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive -- but you are dead" ( Rev.3:1,NLT). What a terrible indictment! "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7). God hates hypocrisy. To the Laodiceans He said, "You are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of My mouth" (Rev. 3:15,16, NLT).
4. Beware of covetousness. (Lk. 12:15)
Sadly, such an individual is never satisfied, wants more than enough, and is jealous of others. Inevitably, this leads to complaining, to hate, greed, stealing, and even murder. It is a malignant cancer that eats the innards, and eventually destroys the person. We would do well to remember, that "godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Tim.6:6).
5. Beware "lest ye be led away...from your own steadfastness" (2 Pet. 3:17, 18)
Paul confronted the Galatians with, "Ye did run well, but what hindered you?" (Gal.5:7). Is it possible, that after years of faithfulness, one may allow a let-down of the standard of holiness, and become "a castaway" ? (1 Cor. 9:27). Unfortunately, --yes. The devil will try to get believers to be weary of spiritual discipline, urging them to let down their guard. But how does he do this? By tricking us to be slack in our daily devotions, by encouraging spasmodic attendance at church services, by suggesting a very meager financial support of the church, and submitting that we put off witnessing for Christ to a "more opportune" time. The devil will also urge us to let the world gradually put its foot in the doorway of our hearts. This and more can happen, -- when we ignore God's warning, --"Love not the world neither the things of the world" (1 Jn. 2:15). It starts with little excuses such as, "I'm too tired." "Too busy." "I'll take care of it tomorrow." "Everybody's doing it." Etc. Small potatoes? Beware, for it's the " little foxes that spoil the vines" (Song.2:15). They're tiny and cute, but destructive. They nibble on the vine until they kill it.
6. Beware "lest you forget God." (Deut. 6:12)
How can we forget Him? Without Him we die! He is our breath, our food, our energy, peace, contentment and life itself with all its joys. "The fool hath said in his heart, 'There is no God' " (Psa. 14:1). Keep your mind on the Lord. "Set your affection on things above and not on things on the earth" (Col.3:2).
The devil is a clever enemy. He sets traps and pitfalls for all of us.
We must "stand against the wiles of the devil" After that, -- the road is safe and clear!