Tag Archives: doctrinal error

More Antidotes to Deception

As we said in the last post, abiding in the Word of God — knowing it, living in obedience to it, keeping it constantly in our hearts and minds — is the first line of defense against deception.  Here are a few more antidotes:

1.)  Guard your thoughts carefully.  Philippians 4:8 lays down guidelines for healthy thinking: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.” Conversely, we could say, “Whatever things are not true, are dishonest, unjust, impure, ugly in nature, sinful, involve ingratitude toward the Lord and complaining, do not permit yourself to think.”  We can train our minds to think right things.  Meditating on God’s character and promises as revealed in the Bible is a good place to start.

2.)  Avoid dwelling on the devil and darkness in your thoughts, speech, and prayer focus.  Yes, I know we need to do spiritual warfare and bind things in the spirit realm.  But if that’s where the majority of our prayer focus lies, and we’re forever talking about what the devil is doing, it tends to bring clouds of spiritual darkness and fear around us.  Speaking of the Lord’s goodness brings a sweet spiritual atmosphere, as heaven bends low to listen in. It works the other way, too: talk about the devil’s activity all the time, and you’re going to attract that element of the spirit realm.  If your focus is out of whack for too long, you start majoring on how big the devil is, instead of how big our God is.  A lot of Christians give the enemy too much credit, and are consequently not living very victoriously.  This is certainly deception.

3.)  Humble yourself by being teachable, receiving correction when needed, and submitting to other believers.   If we allow godly people to teach and correct us, we won’t get very far off the track before somebody helps us see the problem so that we can get going in the right direction again.

Proper alignment within the Body of Christ is a big part of being humble and teachable.  We all need some kind of spiritual covering — an apostle, pastor, or elder who speaks into our lives.  Meaningful correction most often will come from those who are over us, although we will also learn from our peers along the way.  Many people who are deceived are in that condition because they are afraid to put themselves in a position of accountability under a godly leader.  God honors accountability.  1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13 addresses the alignment issue: “And we plead with you, brethren, to know those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and correct you.  Esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake ….”  It was a given in the early church that believers were submitted and in relationship with leaders.  Lone ranger Christianity was not tolerated.

4.)  Loving our Christian brothers and sisters goes a long way toward keeping us out of deception.  Perhaps this is why loving each other is a central theme of 1 John:

He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now.  He who loves his brother dwells in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him.  But he who hates his brother is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because darkness has blinded his eyes.  — 1 John 2:9-11

We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.  He who does not love his brother abides in death. — 1 John 3:14 

If a man says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, how can he love God, whom he has not seen?
1 John 4:20 

Any soulish, selfish behavior, including unforgiveness, envy, bitterness, and hatred, will cloud our ability to know the truth.  We must strive for the mastery over such attitudes, always calling on the Holy Spirit to help us overcome them.

Putting into practice the actions consistent with loving others helps our thoughts and emotions to eventually line up with those actions.  This is not hypocrisy, because we determine to do it from a heart that truly wants to be loving.  We are training ourselves into right thinking.  That takes time.

5.)  Asking God for wisdom and truth brings it.  God delights in a heart that sincerely wants truth, and He is faithful to enlighten those who want to be enlightened.  Every one of us has areas of thinking that are a little bit off, but the Holy Spirit has a way of adjusting our thinking — sometimes by nudging us with little doubts about how we have always viewed a concept. If we ask Him to reveal the truth about something that bothers us, He will, often over a period of time.

Wisdom and truth are part of our inheritance as believers.  When we diligently pray and claim Scriptures such as the following, God answers by increasing our wisdom:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask it of God, who gives to all men generously, and does not scold, and it shall be given to him. — James 1:5

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. — Ephesians 1:17-19

What if you are already in deception, or are afraid of that possibility?  If we put ourselves in the place of humility and teachableness, and ask God to bring us into truth and keep us there, He will.  He has promised to set us back on the right path: “And your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it,’ when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).  Our God is faithful and good.  He wants us free of deception even more than we want it.

As we align ourselves with God’s Word, put our trust in His character, and activate our faith that He will protect us and deliver us from deception, we can be assured that He will.  There is no longer any reason to fear getting off into deception.  We can move forward boldly in Him, knowing that He will keep us safe.

Previous: Antidotes to Deception (Part 4) 

Related Series: Holding the Line on Truth

NewIntMan100

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries

Antidotes to Deception

“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).  The Bible is simple, yet profound.  If it is light and good, it is of God.  If something has the tiniest bit of darkness, stay away from it; it is not of God.

However, sometimes we can be fooled into thinking something is “light” when it is not, if we are not careful to measure everything against His Word.  2 Corinthians 11:13-15 warns that there are “false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as the apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  Therefore, it is not surprising if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness ….” The key is aligning ourselves with the Scriptures and examining carefully whether a person, doctrine, or word we receive is also aligned with them.  The only way we can effectively do this is by immersing ourselves in the Bible, reading it with reverence daily, knowing what it says from Genesis through Revelation.

John gives us a simple formula for staying in the truth: “Therefore, let that which you have heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, you will also continue in the Son, and in the Father” (1 John 2:24).  Paul warns, “Evil men and seducers will grow worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.  But continue in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them”  (2 Timothy 3:13, 14).  He also instructs us not to receive those who preach a different Jesus, nor to receive a different spirit or gospel from what the first apostles preached, so that our minds do not become corrupted from the simplicity of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3, 4).  He exhorts the Church to grow up into maturity, into “the measure of the fullness of Christ, so that we are no longer children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in ambush to deceive” (Ephesians 4:13, 14).

So, the number one antidote to deception is living in the teaching of the Bible, and when new teachings come along, measure them by the Bible.  Since false teachers can twist the words of Scripture to make their ideas sound biblical, we must also ask ourselves whether “new” teaching lines up with the accepted teaching of the Church over the last two thousand years.  This is what John and Paul meant by abiding and continuing in what we have heard from the beginning – basic, core, doctrinal beliefs that the true Church never compromises on.

God’s Word washes and cleanses us (John 15:3), and renews our minds (Romans 12:2).  Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32).

The Word is our first line of defense against deception, but there are some others.  We’ll discuss them next time.

Previous: Open Doors to Deception (Part 3) 
Next: More Antidotes to Deception (Part 5) 

NewIntMan100

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries

 

Open Doors to Deception

Believe it or not, some Christians are deceived because they have openings to the occult in their lives.  I discussed this at greater length in one of my previous posts, What Well Are You Dipping From?  If we have not repented of and renounced past occult dealings, there can be a door ajar in our lives for deception to sneak through.  I have known prophetic people who were so eager for revelation that they were not fussy about where it came from, as long as they got it.  We must not desire knowledge at any price.  Adam and Eve were tempted by the serpent with illicit knowledge, and the result of them caving in to that temptation was deception and death (Genesis 3).  Deception always results in some form of death.

Pride is a huge entrance for deception in our lives.  Obadiah 1:3 says, “The pride of your heart has deceived you.”  The devil’s rebellion against God was brought about by his pride: I will ascend … I will exalt my throne … I will sit … I will be like the Most High” (see Isaiah 14:12-15).  His pride deceived him into thinking he could actually depose God Almighty and usurp His throne.  He didn’t stand a chance! – but he was so deceived that he didn’t know it.

We must be humble, teachable, and accountable if we are to stay clean of deception (or get free from it).  We must be willing to receive correction.

Feeding on things written or spoken by those who make it their “ministry” to criticize and “expose” other Christians opens us up to deception, because the spirit of the accuser of the brethren is behind these materials.  The authors of them follow in the footsteps of the one who “accused them [God’s saints] before our God day and night” (Revelation 12:10).

There is a valid place for apologists who inform us about cults.  Unfortunately, there are many who cry “cult” and “heretic” about everyone who does not interpret Scripture from the same viewpoint as theirs.  How do we identify those who are accusers and differentiate them from true ministries?

1.)  They are consistently critical, not only pointing out error, but trashing the person, rather than exposing a spirit.

2.)  They want to talk about negatives, but don’t have positives to offer.  Yelling, “It’s dark in there!” doesn’t do anything to dispel the darkness.  You have to turn on the light.  God wants us to spread light to the lost and live in Christ-likeness, not grouse about how bad other Christians are.

3.)  There is no spirit of love, grace, and mercy.

4.)  There is an attitude of mocking, scoffing, and sarcasm.

Fearing deception opens us up to it.  Fear it and you will find it.  The fear of error can so paralyze us that we are unable to walk in God’s truth.  God is able to keep us from deception if we trust Him to do so.  More on this when we get to the post on antidotes to deception.

Second-guessing words or impressions we receive from the Lord brings confusion and an inability to hear God rightly.  He has promised to speak to us and to help us recognize His voice.  Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Read John 10:1-29 for a fuller understanding of this promise.

Allowing oneself to think and say what does not line up with truth and God’s Word is a surefire way to succumb to deception.  Doing this brings destruction in many lives.  “God doesn’t love me.”  “I can’t do that!” (when God has given you a gift or task).  “I am not as good as so-and-so.”  “God doesn’t want to heal me.”  “God may do things for others, but He won’t do them for me.”  Please stop that!  If you keep saying it, you will believe it and thereby neutralize your destiny.  It is not the truth.  It is deception.

Refusal to acknowledge, confess, repent of, and renounce sin in our lives flings the door wide open to deception.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). 

Unforgiveness, bitterness, and lack of love for others will always lead to deception as well.  “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now.  He who loves his brother dwells in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him.  But he who hates his brother is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:9-11).

We need to regularly ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts for any hidden sin or unforgiveness issues, and to reveal these areas to us so that we can repent and be clean.

Next time we will talk about some antidotes to deception.

Previous: Deceived or Not Deceived? (Part 2)
Next: Antidotes to Deception (Part 4) 

NewIntMan100

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries

 

Deceived, or Not Deceived? — That Is the Question

I mentioned in the introduction to this series that there are warning flags that can tip us off that we are deceived.  I’ve often heard the teaching that deceived people don’t know it.  I’m not so sure that is completely true.  God does give us some clues to help us figure these things out, if we’re just willing to listen.  He wouldn’t be a good God if He didn’t. Here are some indicators to watch for:

1.)  Are you consistently not peaceful inside?  I have known people who claimed to be in right relationship with Jesus, yet they admitted having no peace inside, and even turned to yoga in an attempt to achieve peace.  Romans 5:1 tells us, “Therefore, being justified [declared righteous] by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Peace is part of our heritage as believers.  When we lack peace on a regular basis, usually it is a sign that the Lord is trying to speak to us about something, and we don’t want to listen.

2.)  Do you feel confused a good deal of the time?  “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace,” according to 1 Corinthians 14:331 Corinthians 2:16 tells us that believers “have the mind of Christ.”  Jesus was not confused in His mind at any point.  The enemy is the author of confusion, and if we are in that state most of the time, deception in our minds is probably the culprit.

3.)  Are you unwilling to be connected with a church fellowship and sit under a pastor’s teaching?  There are a lot of unchurched people who think they know so much about the Bible that there is no reason for them to listen to a pastor preach and thereby learn something.  Paul had an answer for this attitude: “If any man thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:2).  I have also come across unchurched people who say they have a deeper relationship with the Lord than they did while connected with a church fellowship, yet five minutes’ conversation reveals that there is grave biblical error in their thinking that they do not perceive.

Why are you unwilling to be part of a local church?  It is a question demanding an honest answer.  The root problem needs to be faced before the Lord.  He is the One Who said not to forsake the assembling together of ourselves (Hebrews 10:25).

4.)  Do you refuse to take correction from your pastor?  An unteachable heart harbors pride, and as we will see in our next post, pride is a major open door to deception.  God exhorts us, “Obey your leaders, and accept their authority. They take care of you because they are responsible for you …” (Hebrews 13:17).

5.)  Are you blaming other people and being critical all the time?  When someone is busy pointing the finger at others, or trying to shift blame, they’ve got something to hide, something they are afraid of having exposed.  Or, they think they are superior to their fellow believers, which is deception in itself.  “For I say … to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think …” (Romans 12:3).  The root of this one can also be feeling grossly inferior and insecure, and wanting to feel superior to others as relief from insecurity.  This is deception, because God has already assured us that every one of us is immensely valuable to Him (Luke 12:7), that He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), and that each of us has a unique place to fill (1 Corinthians 12:14-26).

6.)  Do you  avoid reading the Bible and make excuses for staying away from it?  (Do you  read books by Christian authors and tell yourself that you get enough Bible through them?)  Avoiding the Bible indicates a fear of the truth.  The deception inside does not want to be exposed.  Jesus said, “…Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light … for everyone that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, for fear of his deeds being reproved” (John 3:19, 20).

7.)  Do you  shy away from intimate quiet time with the Lord?  The Holy Spirit has a way of bringing to our attention things that God is not pleased with in us.  When we avoid spending time communing with Him, there is likelihood that we are uncomfortable about something in our lives that we would prefer to hang onto and keep hidden.  We are afraid He will put His finger on it.  But the proper response to God is laid out for us in Psalm 139:23, 24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Anytime that we want to hide from ourselves, our God, or other people out of fear of exposure, there is deception going on.  The Lord wants us to be able to “walk in the light, as he is in the light” (1 John 1:7).  There is complete freedom in the light.

Next time, we’ll talk about ways deception creeps into the Christian’s life.

Previous: Avoiding Deception — Intro (Part 1)
Next: Open Doors to Deception (Part 3) 

NewIntMan100

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries

 

Avoiding Deception — Introduction

Deception — it’s the problem nobody wants, yet it is a trap most easily fallen into. And the tricky part is, when you are already there, it is hard to perceive that you are deceived — although there are some definite warning flags.

Paul comments that, “in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1), and “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine … and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3, 4).  John tells us that we are already living in the last times, when the antichrist spirit infects many (1 John 2:18).  Jesus warned that in the last days false Christs, false prophets, and false signs and wonders would abound, so that “if possible, they shall deceive even the elect [chosen](Matthew 24:24).  What are we to do, to keep ourselves from deception?

In the next few posts, we will discuss how people get into deception, how to get out once we’re there, and how to keep out of it in the first place.

I have been surprised, as I’ve prepared for this series, to find out how much time was spent by the apostles putting out fires of deception.  Deception is a major theme throughout the New Testament.  Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, and Jude hammered away at this topic.  Avoiding deception seems to have been the uppermost topic in Paul’s mind when he wrote his two letters to Timothy.  If it is that important to God, it had better be important to us as well.

We can be encouraged in knowing that God has provided ample instruction to keep us out of trouble.  It is possible for us to “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7) without fear of erring into darkness.  We can be confident that God will keep us from error, or pick us out of it if we start to go there, because He loves us so much.  It is only when we resist His promptings that we stay in deception.

Next time we will talk about some indicators that deception is going on in our lives.

Next: Deceived, or Not Deceived? (Part 2) 

NewIntMan100

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries