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When you really love someone, and you see them making a serious mistake, there's never any satisfaction in saying, "I told you so," or in knowing that one day they're going to know that you were right and they were wrong. All that you really want is for them to correct the serious mistake that they're making.

But one of the cleverest tricks the devil has in his bag of tricks is the one where he gets you off the rails by telling you that you can blame someone else for it. Ironically, the one most likely to cop the blame is the one shouting the loudest that you're off the rails.

"Who are you to judge?" "I'm sick of your criticisms!" "Let me live my own life!" they all say, as we watch them walk away. They're not walking away from us so much as they are walking (or running) away from God.

"And now I suppose you think you're God?" they reply to that one.

Well, in a way... yeah.

Jesus said (John 13:20; John 15:20) that when we come in his name (i.e. really saying the things he said, and not just using his name as a cloak for teaching our own made-up doctrines) when we come teaching people to obey him, and they reject us, they're rejecting him.

Now we challenge anyone to show us someone who is more serious about teaching people to obey Jesus than we are.

Many have argued that they could reject us and not reject God; but it hasn't taken long before pride, bitterness, dishonesty, selfishness, and spiritual laziness have begun to flourish in their lives. We agree that people could find faults in us and reject those faults; but if they're doing so in obedience to God, then they should be showing the fruits of such obedience in their own lives.

The evidence of backsliding is almost imperceptible at first; but it doesn't take long before it can develop into a full scale avalanche of reversals in lifestyle, values, reasoning, friendships, and sentiments.

Those who start out theoretically differing with us on some small opinion matter have, by walking away from us, grown to hate even our presence, and especially to run and hide any time that we mention God.

Jesus said no one, having put their hand to the plough (i.e. choosing to work for him instead of for money) and then looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of Heaven. (Luke 9:62) Hebrews 6:4 says it's impossible, once a person has been enlightened, and had a taste of "the heavenly gift", to be renewed again to repentance after they have fallen away. Paul refers to people searing their consciences with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:2) He says that, because they tried to drive all thought of God out of their minds, God gave them reprobate minds. (Romans 1:28)

These verses sound so utterly hopeless; and we want very badly to believe that they don't mean what they appear to be saying. But all around us are people who are proving every day how true these verses are. Despite our efforts to love them and to take graciously the bitterness that they have expressed toward us, they continue to put up barriers against even discussing the teachings of Jesus.

At times we see tiny signs of hope, little gestures of politeness, even hints of friendship. We keep praying and hoping. But it seems that the ones who stand the best chance of learning from those who have left us are those who have not.

What a classic picture this is of the world as a whole. Everywhere people are sliding, day by day, step by step, closer to the cliff that will drop them into hell. We try to tell them that their jobs, their education, their wealth and their religious double-talk won't save them, but they carry on bluffing and telling us not to be so critical, not to judge.

What satisfaction will we get when they discover too late that what we have been saying is true? We don't want to see them lost. And God certainly doesn't. But that's what will happen unless they fall on their faces before God and beg for his forgiveness, promising never to treat his teachings lightly again.

And while we're on the subject, what are you doing with the teachings of Jesus these days?

(See also We're Right and They're Wrong.)

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