“Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies. Love those who hate you, and you shall not have an enemy. If someone takes away your cloak, give him also your coat. If someone takes from you what is yours, ask it not back, for indeed you are not able… Give to every one that asks you, and ask it not back… Be not a liar, since a lie leads the way to theft; neither money-loving, nor vainglorious, for out of all these thefts are engendered.
“You shall not exalt yourself (Luke 18:14), nor give over-confidence to your soul… Be not a stretcher forth of the hands to receive and a drawer of them back to give… You shall not hesitate to give, nor murmur when you give. You shall not turn away from him that is in want, but you shall share all things with your brother, and shall not say that they are your own.
Concerning False Prophets: “[a] Let every apostle that comes to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain except one day; but if there be need, also the next; but if he remains three days, he is a false prophet… [b] When the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread until he lodges; but if he ask money, he is a false prophet… [c] Not every one that speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; therefore, from their ways shall the false prophet and the prophet be known… [d] Every prophet who teaches the truth, if he does not what he teaches, is a false prophet.
Concerning Gross Sins: “You shall not covet the things of your neighbor (Exodus 20:17), you shall not forswear yourself (Matthew 5:34), you shall not bear false witness (Exodus 20:16), you shall not speak evil, you shall bear no grudge… You shall not be double-minded nor double-tongued. Your speech shall not be false, nor empty, but fulfilled by deed… You shall not be covetous, nor rapacious, nor a hypocrite, nor evil disposed, nor haughty… You shall not take evil counsel against your neighbor. You shall not hate any man; but some you shall reprove, not in anger, but in peace; …and concerning some you shall pray, and some you shall love more than your own life.
“The way of death is this: First of all it is evil and full of curse: murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, witchcrafts, rapines, false witnessings, hypocrisies, double-heartedness, deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness, filthy talking, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness; persecutors of the good, hating truth, loving a lie, not knowing a reward for righteousness, not cleaving to good nor to righteous judgment, watching not for that which is good, but for that which is evil; from whom meekness and endurance are far, loving vanities, pursuing requital, not pitying a poor man, not laboring for the afflicted, not knowing Him that made them, murderers of children, destroyers of the handiwork of God, turning away from him that is in want, afflicting him that is distressed, advocates of the rich, lawless judges of the poor, utter sinners.
“Let not your fasts be with the hypocrites (Matthew 6:16); neither pray as the hypocrites… In the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate (Matthew24:11-12); for when lawlessness increases, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another (Matthew 24:10), and then shall appear the world-deceiver as the Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning.”
I look around me and see all these things happening over and over, more and more. I see the greed, the self-righteousness, the lack of compassion, the self-aggrandizement, the power plays, the deceit, the “taking of the Lord’s name in vain” (as in using religion to justify selfish actions and pursuits). I’m not arguing for the advent of Armageddon—history is full of similar (and worse!) examples. However I wonder: is there still time to mend our ways, or are we headed straight towards another period of Darkness? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all heeded these teachings, and stopped behaving like the 40-year wanderers of the desert?