This post is long. If you study independantly, go to Revelation chapters 2-3. This is so important for anyone who claims to be part of the Christian church. I go into more explanation and detail below….
Deception in the Church?
Satan has been deceiving people since the Garden of Eden. He deceives all people whether they are of the world or are God’s people. He is a liar and the father of lies…and he is really good at it. If you have ever read through the Bible, you will see many examples of deception and Satan’s evil tactics in both the Old and New Testaments. So, it should not surprise us that people are deceived today…whether in of the world or in the church.
Yes, there is also deception and deceptive doctrine in the church. Some purposeful with intent to control people for wealth, power, and prestige. Other deception might be when sincere, good well-intentioned people have been taught what is not true and still believe it. They just pass along what they were taught. I would guess every denominational and non-denominational church or religious organization has some level of deception. People are imperfect. Deception means believing something to be totally true when it is not. Unless people seek god and pursue His Word….and He would reveal truth to them, we would never be awakened to our deception. The purpose of the counterfeit is to make the copy look so much like the real true item, that people will believe and “buy” it. It only requires a little twist of corruption or error to lead in something into deception. Jesus warns about a little leaven in a whole lump of dough.
Do you see how important it is that we really know the Truth in detail so that we will not be deceived? Being deceived leads the wrong way, which leads to destruction. No one want those consequences. No one wants their loved ones to have those consequences. That is why some people become outspoken for truth! Remember the deceptive pied piper whose song sounded mystical, mesmerizing, luring, and pleasant….and was good to lead the rats out of town (looks good, feels good, sounds good, it works….must be good(. Yet, his music ended in deceptively leading all the children away as well!
Could there be any pied pipers you hear and like the music, therefore you follow or allow your children to follow? We need to examine ourselves and those we follow against the truth in the Word of God (Bible) and with the help of the Holy Spirit. He is here to teach and guide us into the real whole truth.
Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge of My law; where I reveal My will; because you the priestly nation have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being My priest.”
Some subjects to think about….
Life is a test. Pass or fail. It is an open book test. Open the Book and find the Truth so you might pass.
The joy in my relationship with Jesus is my strength…even when life’s circumstances are not so happy…knowing He is always with me. Do you have that joy? Or are you only thinking about what makes you happy?
What primarily influences your decisions: feelings, logic, or something else?
Who and what do you believe and trust? Enough to live by it? Why?
Thinking forward to the next section…..
Why do you go to church?
Why do you do good works?
What do you spend most of your time doing? Why?
Once you are a child or God By His grace, do you ever need to repent again?
Deception: What does it mean to be “religious”?
Religion is defined as “a particular system of faith and worship.” There are many various religions and systems in the world. People may define their religion as Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Pentacostal, Seventh Day Adventist, Assemblies of God, etc. Know that atheist, humanist, New Age, and even Satanism/witchcraft are also religions. They define a person’a system of what they beleive and trust to be true and who or what they worship. It may be easy for us to see satanism as worship of Satan and practicing his religious methods. But, how can atheism and humanism be a religion? They are putting faith and worship in man or self. New Age is a combination of pagan religious ideals that worship “other” gods, as well as nature, and what man can do to elevate self on that system.
If you are a true follower of Jesus and not only a follower of religion, you will know that no “religious system” can save you or bring eternal life. Jesus is the only Way, Truth and eternal Life. God tolerates no other way.
So of primary importance, we must realize that a religious system is not the same as a personal relationship with Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. A person could be faithful to practicing a Christian religious system and not even really know God at all. Or a person could even practice a religious system as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. Yet again, a person could be someone who truly does have a close personal relationship with Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, but not practice or attend a religious system. I once heard the analogy that just because I stand in a garage, does not make me a car. These are some ways deeption can creep into a person’s life or in the body of Christ.
Matthew 7: 21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day when I judge them, “Lord Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?” And then I will declare to them publicly, “I never knew you, depart from Me you are banished from My presence, you who act wickedly disregarding My commands.”
Deception: Concerning “good works”….
Another deception in any religion is that a person has to be good and do good works to please God and be saved by Him. This can range from pagan religons requiring people to bring sacrifices to their gods all the way through Chritians who are required to give of their time and talents, as well as tithes and offerings to please God and be saved and blessed by Him. This could include religious rules of how to pray, what to eat or not eat, how to confess sin, methodology of worhsip services, as well as absolute obedience to religious leaders. If you look closely, you will even see “religion” in Charismatic chruches…the very people who claim to have left religious tradition. This is all twitsted truth and therefore deception, even in the church.
The truth is that we are saved by God’s grace through our faith in Jesus, not by our won works or according to how good we are (Ephesians 2: 8-9). Our learning to be good and do good is God working in and through us (1 Timothy 4: 5-7). We love Him so we are delighted to be and do good…and follow Him (2 John 1:6, John 15:10). Discovering and learning this real truth was the whole point of the Reformation against the Roman Catholic Church (which required works, indulgences, and offerings to be saved from purgatory).
Yet, in 2017, Catholic and Protetant leaders met at Westminster Abby on the 500th anniversary of Luther posting his Reformation theses on the door, to declare a “sign of healing after 500 years of division:. Pope Francis said that Catholics and Protestants were now enjoying “true fraternity” based on mutual understanding, trust, and cooperation.
If we are standing in truth toghert, then fellowhip, trust, and cooperation is terrific and right! But, what if there is no standin in truth? What if there is just tolerance of error for the sake of unity? What if there is just saying there is “peaces and secure cooperation” when there is none in reality and truth? What does Jesus say to His churches when they tolerate deception and error as well as allow leaders to rule as dictators/lords over them spiritually? What does Jesus say to those who put other things ahead of Him and His Truth? Read Revelation chapters 2-3.
Can you see “religious” deception in the church, the body of Christ? Do you have a solid understanding in your mind and heart concerning…being saved by God’s grace through your faith in Jesus which results in your love for Him and desire to be like Him and do good works with Him? We are not doing good to earn benefits and blessings, but rather doing good because we love and thank Him!
Are you truly the “brinde of Christ”? How often do you talk/pray with Jesus because it is your strong desire? Are all your conversations/prayers in petitions for help? If you do ask HIm for help, can you trust Him to really help you? What else do you talk with Jesus about?
Now, consider your conversations and fellowship with your earthly spouse (or best friend if you are not married)….how often do you get together and talk because you want to? What do you talk about? If your spouse/best freind says they will help if you ask, will you trust him/her? What is their opinion if you keep nagging or begging about the samet thing? Are they impressed with your fancy or flattering words and good grammer? Is there a requirement of a limit on how often or how long you can talk and be together? Do you meet them with a discussion list in hand? Do you meet with them to talk because you “have to” or because you “want to”?
We need to examine our hearts, minds, and actions. As the “brind of Christ” are we loving and faithful in our personal intimate relationship with Jesus or rather estranged and disinterested? He cares for us wtchfully and affectionately…with great love and compassion….and asks us to come knock on His door for a visit. No special words…just be your genuine “you”.
Revelation 3:20, “Behold I stand at the door of the church and continually knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with Him (restore him) and he with Me.”
Deception: Everyone will go to heaven…except the really evil people….
Another religious deception….God is the greatest love, and God loves everyone, and God saves people by His grace, and God desires that everyone be saved, and God is almighty so that nothing is impossible for Him….therefore, can we believe that everyone will be saved and go to heaven because it is God’s will?
For those reasons, some people do beleive and therefore live like everyone is going to heaven. Some people cannot imagine that if God is so loving, then how could He let anyone go to hell? Others may believe there is a requirement to believe in a ‘higher power”, but a person can call Him by many different names. Do you see how truth can be twisted?
Acts 4: 11-12, “”Jesus is the Stone which was despised and rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no ohter name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved, for God has provided the world no alternative for salvation.”
God is total greatest love and loves everyone being no respecter of persons. God does desire that all be saved and join Him in heaven. God is all powerful and did do what seemed impossibe in saving us…making a way when there seemed to be no way…and all by His love and grace. BUT, He only offers one Way to be saved and join Him in His heavenly kingdom. And that one Way was very costly for Him! The high price was paid, why should He need to make another Way? That only Way is through JESUS! That ist he whole Truth! Jesus is the only Way, Truth, and eternal Life. If a person does not join the Father through Jesus, they are not going to go to His kingdom in heaven.
John 14:6, “Jesus said to them, “I am the Way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
God greatly desires that all receive His offer of grace by putting their faith and trust and life in Jesus. BUT, God is also holy and people must have Jesus who paid the penalty for sin so that we could join a holy God. God is also wise. He knows that the only way for Him to have a love relationship with people is if He gives them the freedom to chose Him or walk away. A forces relationshp is not love. A forced relationship is slavery.
TRUTH: So, God is greatest love (1 John 4:8), almighty (Revelation 1:8), holy (Revelation 4:8), wise (Revelation 7:22), and desires all be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), so that they can have a restored relationshp of love with Him and join Him in His kingdom (John 3:16). He made the Way for our adoption as His sons and daughters (Romans 8:15) through Jesus who died for our sins that we might live eternally. He did this out of His immense love, grace, and mercy. (Epheisans 2: 4-10). but, we must decide to take up His offer and give our vow of faithfulness and willingness to follow Him in a loving close relationship. (Matthew 4:19). Some people will decline and walk away from Jesus and His offer of salvation and relationship. Sadly, they will go to hell. The consequences of sin and death are still in effect for them. (2 Thessalonians 2:10). This grieves the heart of God.
Choose wisely who you will follow and serve (Joshua 24:15, Deuteronomy 30:19)…..consequences are eternal life in heaven or eternal death in hell. Romans 1: 16-18. Romans 8.
Deception: What Does Repentance Mean?
Modern day religious deception concerning repentence can lead into extreme ditches…..people might always feel guilty and full of shame so they are always repenting, being sorry about everything, and beating themselves up….on the other hand, people might think that once they repent and turn to God and all thier sins are forgiven, there is no longer any need for repentance.
Concerning the second group of people, they believe and live as though once they pray “the sinners prayer for salvation” and say they are sorry for their sins and want Jesus to save them, then they are “born again” and are assured eternity in heaven…and then they no longer need repentance for sin. Other groups of people may make the same claims by going through baptism, confirmation, or other religious method that gains them entrance to heaven. Some of these people join church assemblies the same way they would join a club or other social organization, usually according to the one they find most pleasurable, entertaining, beneficial, or like-minded to themself.
I am not saying this is the same experience for everyone who has a “born again” experience by praying to Jesus OR for those who truly take seriously their baptism, confirmation, or other religious method as public testimony to their faith. It is really a matter of repentance with real change in a person’s heart and mind. For these expressions of faith to be true, there must be a real change in the whole heart, soul, and mind in becoming repentant, thankful, and faithfully committed to Jesus. The deception comes when both people claim a true “born again” experience or to be a true “Christian” – follower of Jesus. Some are claiming something to be true when it is not. How do we discern true faith in Jesus?
Jesus said, “Each tree is known and identified by its fruit.” Luke 6:44
Colossains 1:10, “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (displaying admirable character, moral courage, personal integrity), to fully please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing in the knowledge of God (with deeper faith, clearer insight and fervent love for His precepts)” Amplified Bible
True repentance should result in a changed life from following the world to following Jesus. Repentance actually means to recognize error and be remorseful for it so that strong efforts are made to change and go in the right new direction. Being “born again” into the family of the Father through Jesus is the primary repentance, but it is just the beginning.
John 3: 7, “Do not be surprised that I have told you, “You must be born again (reborn from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified).”
The Holy Spirit now comes into the person to work out sanctification (being set apart for God to be holy). We are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). The work of the Holy Spirit is to convict of sin, teach and train in righteousness, and judgement/discernement (John 16:8). He is always aligned with the Word of God and uses the Bible in His work in us (2 Timothy 3:16). Our part is to read the Word, listen to the Holy Spirit, REPENT when we are corrected and disciplined, learn and practice God’s ways.
So, repentance is a continual major part of a son or daughter of the Father! But, beware you do not fall into the ditch on the other side of the narrow road. There is remorse and great desire to change in true repentance, but there is no burden of guilt, shame and condemnation.
Romans 8:1-2, “There is therefore now no condemnation (no guilty verdict, no punishment) for those who are in Christ Jesus (who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior). For the law of the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus (the law of our new being) has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
We have a loving, forgiving, merciful Father! Plus, Jesus already paid the penalty for our sins. But does His grace and forgiveness mean we no longer need to repent of sin and evil? That is no reason to continue in sin – God forbid!
Romans 6: 2, 15, “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer in it?…..What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid!”
Jesus is the great reason we should quickly and confidently come to the Father when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and error and encourages us to turn to righteousness. Repentance is an amazing and wonderful opportunity! It opens the door for us to be trained and transformed so that we can think and become like Jesus!
For some people the words “repentance” and “obedience” are negative and offensive. They do not really know true repentance and the joy of obedience and discipleship. I am not sure they really understand clearly the protective and guiding love of the Father. I rejoice and give thanks for repentance and growing in obedience to God and His ways of thinking and doing! I strongly desire to keep changing and practicing to be more like Jesus! That is called the pursuit of righteousness.
Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be completely satisfied.”
And repentance requires a hear humble before God….Matthew 5: 3, “Blessed (happy, to be envied and spiritually prosperous – with life joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate self as insignificant), for their is the kingdom of heaven!”
Jeremiah 29: 11-13, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says they Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
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Revelations 2-3 Warnings of Deception in the Churches
Jesus warns about deception and error in the church (assembly of believers) in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Here is a short list of those warnings….
- Being so busy with good works and activities, even as for the Lord, so that keeping the love in relationship with His is growing cold.
- Being in worry or sorrow over poverty, persecution, and trouble in the world. Big distraction!
- Allowing, even enticing, believers into what is truly immoral…and usually because its religious leaders are saying it is OK….and members are remaining submitted to their spiritual authority.
- Tolerating false doctrine uner the lead of false prophets and false teachers. Even if these leaders are themselves deceived, they are actually teaching knowledge in the depts of Satan.
- Saying they are “Christian”, but really are spiritually dead. Still living in the world and sound asleep to the things of God. No purusit of the Word of God or fellowship with Him.
- This is the best church….keeping an open door of true fellowship with God and as a result doing His good works with Him….trying to keep His Word and perform it with perseverence and endurance….honoring His name as above all! They are told to “HOLD FAST”! Do not let anyone lead you to renounce your faith and convictions…..and lose your solid standing in Him (remember the house built on the Rock in Matthew 7?). Know that deception is designed to lead away from God by stealth, secrecy, and corrupted truth.
- Being lukewarm and “whatever” in faith and life. These people are not cool and refreshing OR warm and healing. They are self-focused. They are comfortable in their worldly riches and do not know they are spiritually poor, blind, and naked…without hope and in great need.
If you read these two chapters in Revelation, you will see that Jesus tells all these assemblies to REPENT, lest their light go out. There are consequences if they do not repent. There are rewards if they do. Jesus corrects and disciplines because He loves His people and it is best for them to be strongly united to Him.
What happens when the church assembly a person attends will not repent? What do you do then? If you speak up and tell the truth, they may persecute you…..and maybe even give you the quick “kick” of fellowship! Rejoice, God in the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit will never leave or forsake you!