Satan's Weapon of Deception
Rock of Offence Commentary
As I began to study about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, I recognized the need to constantly compare the teachings of the modern church with the Bible--God's standard for truth. Over the years, I've listened to Christians from various different religious backgrounds explain their faith in God. I find that a majority of professing Christians have a faith that is strongly influenced by unbiblical religious traditions, denominationalism and human philosophy rather than on the Holy Scriptures. I realize that even a small minority of the religious community could never agree upon much of what is shared here. Recently I was reading about the division occurring in some mission boards. They could not even discuss the "basics" of the salvation doctrine without having strong disagreements among the members and for the sake of holding the organizations together the subject was avoided! It is a serious situation when Christians cannot agree on something as basic as Salvation.
Jesus said that a house divided couldn't stand. Today the institutional Church is a house divided. There are fundamentalist groups that claim to hold to the beliefs of "historic Christianity," which is used as a cover for the continued propagation of some doctrines that are based on religious "traditions" rather than the Word of God. Some claim a belief in the Bible's inerrancy, but their teachings can distort a believer's conception of God and keep them in a place of powerlessness, while still providing the necessary truth for salvation. This makes me concerned about new believers and the access they have to these teachers through radio, television, books, and tapes. I'm not against fundamentalism; I consider myself a fundamentalist. I just don't agree with the definition that it carries in the Church today.
The term "fundamentalist" refers to a person who believes in the basic, primary essentials of the Christian faith. There are groups within the church who pick out sections of these basic fundamentals to explain why they don't apply anymore. The victims are believers who unconditionally accept these teachings. These teachers are a sincere and committed group of people possessing impressive educational credentials. I believe their "sincerity" is what makes them so believable and so dangerous. But, sincerity and "credentials" doesn't always equate to truth.
I get concerned about the magnitude and complexity of the problems honest, truth searching Christians face when looking for God's will and purpose. I recently engaged in a conversation with someone who was challenging me to prove Christianity was the only true faith. They pointed to the other world religions that also claim to be true. This is a difficult task when the Bible isn't accepted as the source of truth. I reminded them of what Jesus said..."I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE" and that "NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER (GOD) ACCEPT THROUGH ME." Jesus established His claim as "the truth" by being resurrected from the dead. Jesus did not say He was one way to God, but said He was THE WAY TO GOD. All the other leaders of different world religions are still in the grave, but Jesus left behind an EMPTY TOMB. The point of this conversation was all the different "good things" these religions produce and, since they all had some "good things" along with the "good things" Christianity produces, why does it matter who's right? Those of us who are followers of Christ know that only Christianity (actually not a religion) provides true salvation and eternal life. Some of the other religions say they give salvation and eternal life, too, but have nothing to back it up with except the teachings of some spiritual leader who died and is still in the grave. As Christians, we have an EMPTY TOMB to which to point.
If you're looking for "good things," there are lots of choices. If you're looking for "the truth," there is only Jesus Christ and what He taught. If you have made the choice to follow Jesus Christ, there is yet another problem. While we know that Satan works hard at maintaining the deceptions found in all other religions, he concentrates more on trying to deceive and throw Christians off track in their faith. Satan truly fears Christianity because it has the power within it to destroy and expose his works for what they are...lies. When two nations go to war, the targets of greatest priority are weapons that can do the most destruction. Within the Christian Church, one of these weapons is known as the Word of God--or the Bible. Jesus used this weapon against Satan time and time again by saying..."It is written" and it defeated him. Christians are commanded to use this weapon in the same manner that Jesus did. Is it any wonder Satan has made his number one priority to distort, pervert, and discredit God's Word and those who dare to preach it? If Satan can change what God has said to us, he can destroy any hope we have of eternal life. Without the truth of God's Word there can be no knowledge of salvation. If someone receives salvation (becomes a Christian), Satan can do damage control by tricking them into believing a lie and keep them in a place of powerlessness and defeat where they can be of no danger to his kingdom.
ONE OF SATAN'S METHODS OF DECEPTION IS THROUGH THE USE OF COUNTERFEITS. When dealing with people in the world, the general counterfeit of "good things" are enough to be appealing to most people who want a little "religion" to make them feel good. Many wrongly come into Christianity for this reason. It's just a matter of which "religion" fits your lifestyle the most. Among Christians, Satan uses more specific counterfeits to draw them away from the truth. If something that blatantly contradicted the Bible were presented to most Christians, they would immediately reject it. But, if it was "hidden" in something that appeared logical, reasonable, intellectual, and godly, most will accept it. It's like going fishing. Not too many fish will bite on a bare hook, but cover it with the right kind of bait and you will catch a fish! Satan uses different types and amounts of bait in his fishing. With new Christians, he might use just a little truth formed over the tip of the hook to make his catch. With more mature Christians who have some experience with God's Word, he might have to use a lot of truth mixed with a little error just to get a bite.
My concern in this area is with our understanding of good and evil, truth and error. The majority of the Christian Church believes evil is always perceived as the opposite of good. Many Christians trust their ability to tell the difference between good and evil because evil is obviously bad and can easily be identified by a simple comparison. While this is true in a few situations, overall it is not true. In II Corinthians 11:13-15, the apostle Paul warns us about one of Satan's most devastating weapons of deception....
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works."Some Christians approach truth in a way they wouldn't approach money. What if I went into a store one day and made a purchase and gave the cashier a fifty dollar bill, and received two twenty dollar bills and four one dollar bills for change. Later I discover that one of the twenty-dollar bills was a well-made counterfeit. After notifying the store where I made the purchase, I decided to call the treasurer of the United States to inform him that we need to get all twenty dollar bills out of circulation because they're no good, and I proceed to tear up all twenty dollar bills in my possession. Wouldn't that be crazy? Yet this is exactly what some Christians do with spiritual truth. A counterfeit comes along and they throw the whole thing out. When counterfeits show up we ought to pay close attention. There's probably a powerful truth hidden nearby that Satan is trying to destroy.
We have sections of the Church that reject the gifts of the Holy Spirit because they look like something the occult would use. Because these gifts will reveal something about a person that only he or she knows, it appears like "mind reading." Because of this, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are labeled as "demonic" by some church groups because of the similarities with the occult counterfeits, even though Jesus moved in these gifts all throughout His ministry. There are many similar examples. Satan presents error as a close counterfeit to truth...not an opposite. The reason Satan uses this tactic is because it works. It causes carnal Christians to react to the similarities and reject the truth because of them. The reason it works so well is because so many Christians view truth and error as OPPOSITES. They are rarely viewed as a look-alike.
There is much wrong teaching circulating in the Church. The reasons are many, but the prominent one is due to the emphasis on "unity". To achieve this unity, pressure is applied to receive almost any teaching that calls itself "Christian" and, with Satan and his ministers masquerading around as "ministers of righteousness," it becomes difficult if not impossible to deal with it. Some of this false teaching has been around for a hundred years or more and, in some Christian denominations, is received on an equal level with the scriptures.
We have leaders in the church skilled in "Christian apologetics" that have the job of defending the Christian faith. Some do this faithfully and correctly. Their skills help us to defend the Gospel against many other kinds of ideologies that assault the Church on a regular basis. But what if these skills of apologetics are applied to defeat a truth God is trying to restore to His Church? Much of Christian apologetics is based on our present intellectual understanding of God's Word (and unfortunately tradition as well); and, if we aren't careful, we can find ourselves not only at odds against the Holy Spirit but robbing Christians of something God wants them to have. The assault on truth is made easier today through Christian radio, television and satellite communications. This happened in the mid 1800's with a man by the name of D.L. Moody who was used of God to restore the truth about God's love for the sinner. He was persecuted by the "apologists" in the Church of his day and even received death threats on his life for presenting a Biblical truth that didn't fit the "theology" of the time. Today this truth is widely accepted among Christians. Martin Luther, who was used by God to restore the truth of justification by faith, was fiercely persecuted by the Church leadership of his day. In the 1900's, Charles Parham, a Methodist minister and later W.J. Seymour, an ordained black minister, were used of God to restore the truth of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts to the Church. All these people and more withstood open hostility, renunciation and the threat of physical harm from "leaders" in the Church. Jesus had to endure this same thing in his ministry...and He was the author of truth. The spiritual "leaders" of His time were His biggest obstacle. This same age-old battle is going on today. For this reason you cannot just blindly follow religious leaders because of their knowledge and convincing arguments. You have to have a relationship with God and know His Word for yourself.
It becomes apparent that we need something more than our intellect in order to discern truth. This "something more" is the Holy Spirit. We don't throw away the intellect, but we give it a helper or a guide...the Holy Spirit is to "guide us into all truth" (John 16:13) especially when our intellect fails us. Learning to discern truth from error is something only spiritual maturity brings. In spiritual matters, evil is usually presented to us as a close looking counterfeit to good, and almost never as an "opposite." Satan cannot originally create anything. He always takes a truth God has created and perverts it into a counterfeit.
"But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."In this study, I have tried to stay with what Scripture teaches and resist the temptation to build a doctrine around situations on which the Bible does not directly comment. Also, I am not coming from any particular denominational slant. Nor are subjects avoided simply because they may offend anyone's theology.
The apostle Paul warned Timothy the time would come when people would not be able to hear sound doctrine. Now that we are living in the last days, I am convinced that this scripture applies to us today. The Gospel is under fire like no other time in history and the "enemy" seems to be among those in the Church.
God is looking for a hunger for truth and righteousness in His people. This goes way beyond the act of sitting in a church service. Because many leaders in the institutional church have lowered the standard of truth, we see various people who call themselves Christians but who do not walk in God's ways.
Let's decide now, that at the very least you will be willing to do whatever the Holy Spirit shows you, understanding that the Christian life is a life of repentance where we are constantly laying down what we think and want and taking up what God says as the Holy Spirit gives us light. This is a secret place in God's Kingdom. It is a place where the eagles dwell.