Deception in the Midst of the Church
- Taken from sermon notes on ‘Deception in the Church’ I presented August 4, 2013, Lamb of God Church, Honolulu.
It is imperative to know, obey, and apply what God says in His Word to our lives. Ignorance of God’s Word is the main reason why deception is so widespread in the church today.
THE MAN OF GOD AND THE OLD PROPHET (1Kings 12:25-13:32)
Background- This Biblical account takes place after the death of King Solomon with his son Rehoboam ruling the the Southern Kingdom, and Jeroboam , the Northern Kingdom. Apostasy and idolatry which began in the latter part of Solomon’s reign continued in the divided kingdoms with religious celebrations of feast days and rituals. Jeroboam, not wanting his people to go up to Jerusalem to worship, made golden calves and put them in Beth-el and Dan. This provoked God to anger and he sent a prophet with a word of prophecy to Beth-el where Jeroboam was making an offering on the altar and burning incense.
1 Kings 12:27-13:34 King James Version (KJV)
27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
29 And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan.
30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Beth-el the priests of the high places which he had made.
33 So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Beth-el the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.
13 And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the Lord unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.
2 And he cried against the altar in the word of the Lord, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.
3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the Lord hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.
4 And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Beth-el, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.
5 The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the Lord.
6 And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Intreat now the face of the Lord thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.
7 And the king said unto the man of God, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward.
8 And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place:
9 For so was it charged me by the word of the Lord, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest.
10 So he went another way, and returned not by the way that he came to Beth-el.
11 Now there dwelt an old prophet in Beth-el; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Beth-el: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father.
12 And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of God went, which came from Judah.
13 And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass: and he rode thereon,
14 And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah? And he said, I am.
15 Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread.
16 And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place:
17 For it was said to me by the word of the Lord, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.
18 He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.
19 So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water.
20 And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back:
21 And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee,
22 But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.
23 And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back.
24 And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase.
25 And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcase cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcase: and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.
26 And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof, he said, It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the Lord: therefore the Lord hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake unto him.
27 And he spake to his sons, saying, Saddle me the ass. And they saddled him.
28 And he went and found his carcase cast in the way, and the ass and the lion standing by the carcase: the lion had not eaten the carcase, nor torn the ass.
29 And the prophet took up the carcase of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back: and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him.
30 And he laid his carcase in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, Alas, my brother!
31 And it came to pass, after he had buried him, that he spake to his sons, saying, When I am dead, then bury me in the sepulchre wherein the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones:
32 For the saying which he cried by the word of the Lord against the altar in Beth-el, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass.
THOUGHTS ON THIS BIBLE ACCOUNT
Old Prophet– Why did he want the man of God to visit with him so bad that he would lie to him? Was he just curious to meet this other prophet who was mightily used by God with signs and wonders, and he himself was not hearing from God and being out of the mainstream? Did he feel ‘dry’ and yearn for fellowship? Is this somewhat similar to Christians wanting to hear about the latest revelations, prophecies, signs and wonders, and having ‘itching ears’?
The Man of God– Why did he refuse to visit the king, but go to visit the old prophet when God told him to deliver the message only and leave by a different way than the way he came? Why did he rest under a tree instead of leave Beth-el promptly?
LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM ‘THE DISOBEDIENT PROPHET’- The Man of God
We will fall into error when we don’t believe what God has said and that God means what He says. We will then suffer the consequences of our sin of unbelief and disobedience. Romans 6:23 tells us that “The wages of sin is death.”
Don’t give Satan an opportunity to take advantage of you. Eph 4:27 says, “Neither give place to the devil.” If the man of God had gone on his way and not stopped under an oak tree, the old prophet would not have found him and tricked him into returning to his house.
Satan’s strategies include manipulating the Word of God, by adding, taking away, omitting, misinterpreting, picking and choosing certain parts over other parts of God’s Word. The old prophet changed the message God gave the man of God by claiming an angel spoke to him by the word of the Lord, not just any angel, but an angel representing the Lord, told him to visit at his home. 1Kings 13:18 says, “He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art (i.e. ‘You need to respect me and listen to me) an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied to him.”
Those likely to be deceived don’t take God’s Word seriously, don’t have much Bible knowledge and don’t know how to deal with those more knowledgeable in the Word and spiritual matters. They may often trust and respect older, more mature and experienced Christians, and those considered ‘reputable’ or known in the Christian community.
BIBLE WARNING OF DECEPTION IN THE LAST DAYS
Jesus warns of deception being a ‘sign’ in the last days. When asked about “the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world” (Mt 24:3):
“. . .Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”
“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”
“For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Mt 24:4, 5, 11, 24)
We are also warned about deceiving spirits and false gospels:
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. . .if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received let him be accursed.” (Gal 1:8-9)
The man of God respected and believed that the angel’s message was “by the word of the LORD” and that his original instructions from God had been changed, so he was deceived. This is one example of how even older, mature Christians can be instrumental in misleading other Christians through devious and deceptive ways.
THE NATURE OF DECEPTION
Who is responsible for deception? We have an adversary, the enemy of our souls which is none other than Satan.
(Jesus said) “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, . . .” (1 Peter 5:8)
Satan’s main strategy to destroy our faith is manipulating or stealing the Word of God as illustrated in the parable of the sower (Mt 13:1-23). In that parable, the Word of God does not take root and produce fruit except in a few believers. Satan causes doubt and criticism of God’s Word; he challenges our faith in God constantly.
RECOGNIZING DECEPTIVE TEACHINGS
- Take note of WHO and WHAT is the focus of the new teachings.
Is the focus on GOD or on MAN, the messenger; is it about serving God and others, or does it focus on self, having a good life, personal success, and prosperity. The Bible says by love serve one another (Gal 5:13); lay up treasures in heaven and not on earth (Mt 6:19-20); whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). Pursuing signs and wonders is also a dangerous practice that is sweeping the church world. Christians are opening themselves up to satanic deception by engaging in certain spiritual mysticism and meditative practices that focus on personal out of body experiences, supernatural manifestations of gold dust and angel feathers, angelic visitations, and visits to heaven, to name a few examples. This is what is said about end time deception from 2 Tim 4:3-4):
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” (NASB)
- Listen for WHAT IS NOT TAUGHT.
These are foundational teachings related to the believer’s faith in Christ:
Repentance from sin, salvation and eternal life through Jesus, healing and deliverance, Satan and deception, hell and judgment, imminent return of Jesus; fruit of the spirit: love, peace, joy, goodness, faith, gentleness, meekness; long suffering, temperance (Gal 5:22-23); suffering and persecution of Christians, being hated of all men; enduring to the end; warnings of deception, signs of the last days, end time prophecies and current events, etc. Are these being taught?
- TAKE NOTE AS TO WHAT IS SAID.
I heard someone say, “Write up your own plans to present to God and He will fulfill them for you. He cannot do anything for you unless you have plans of what you want to do and where you want your life to go. Trust God and give Him your plans so He can direct your path (Prov 3:5-6); i. e. No plan, no direction!”
Here lies the contradiction in the same NIV Bible this teacher refers to: In Jer 29:11, it says, “For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” WHO has the plans?! “the plans I have” (GOD!)
- CHECK OUT THE CHARACTER AND REPUTATION OF THE MESSENGER.
A true servant of God is humble and his life is a testimony of faith in God; he does not need a title to elevate his position and reputation in the body of Christ; he does not need recognition as a prophet, apostle so-and-so, or reverend because only God is reverend (Ps 111:9), “holy and reverend is His name.” Believers will know a person is operating in his calling without announcing that fact, and titles such as ‘Most Reverend Dr’, ‘The Honorable’ so-and-so are unscriptural.
“. . . all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:” (1 Pe 5:5-6)
A true servant of God is modest in demeanor and sticks with God’s Word, putting all his attention on God to give God glory. Therefore he is not likely to embellish his preaching with jokes and stories, but instead waits on the Holy Spirit to inspire and reveal to him what God’s people need to hear.
A carnal or false servant of God likes titles and takes pride in his credentials and accomplishments. As Lucifer was a smooth talker with Eve in the garden, nearly all who are false teachers and preachers are smooth, have charisma, sound very intelligent and logical and can ‘WOW’ their listeners who often are victims of mind control and will cheer them on. They will have devoted followers even though they may mismanage church funds and become involved in church scandals. In contrast to the humble servant of God, the false servant may often wear expensive and flashy clothing and shoes, too much jewelry, may even drive luxury cars like Mercedes Benz, live in a mansion, have a vacation home, have extra income from books, CD’s and videos in addition to a large salary. Some boast of being multi- millionaires with their own private jet in order to support credibility of their prosperity gospel teachings.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T TAKE WARNINGS ABOUT DECEPTION SERIOUSLY
There is a good chance that you will lose out on your blessings, lose your crown, lose your salvation, miss out on the Rapture and have to go through the tribulation, any or all of these. Rev 3:11 states, “Behold I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”
If there are no teachings about the imminent return of Christ, holiness, looking for and preparing for the return of the Lord, many Christians will miss the Rapture.
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:36)
“. . .we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. . .These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. . .” (Titus 2:12-13, 15)
“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Mt 24:44)
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM BEING DECEIVED
Don’t be ignorant of God’s Word; study if for yourself; know it and obey it. If you neglect Bible study you will be an easy target for Satan and will be gullible and fall for some good sounding new teachings someone is spreading.
Deception is about being tricked, misled, fooled into believing wrong/false teachings. Deception is about Satan causing Christians to believe his lies. These lies are errors, false teachings, manipulating God’s Word and will cause many to be misled, backslide, and lose their salvation, IF THEY DON’T REPENT.
FINAL WARNING: TRUST NO MAN.
“Cursed be the man that trusteth in man. . . Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.” (Jer 17:5, 7)
Trust God only and only what He says clearly in His Word, supported by 2 or 3 witnesses (2 Cor 13:1). To not be deceived; a person must know the Word of God for himself to recognize error from truth. No one can tell truth from error. To know what is counterfeit, one must be familiar with the real thing, like those who handle money every day can tell the phony from the genuine. You will recognize what is erroneous because of knowing what is the TRUTH. AMEN!
References on Deception: See Category in Side Bar- Enemy In Our Midst
https://heulu.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/sounding-the-shofar-satan-the-cause-of-church-woes/ Satan, the cause of church woes.
https://heulu.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/sounding-the-shofar-the-enemy-in-our-midst-satans-subtility/ Satan’s Subtility; a MUST READ!
https://heulu.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/true-love-vs-false-love-the-apostasy-of-todays-churches/ This is a very comprehensive study of apostasy and deception.
https://heulu.wordpress.com/deception-hot-line/ Deception in the church.
Google: Topics related to deception in the church are: Contemplative Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality, Centering Prayer, Emerging Church Movement, The Dangers of Contemplative Spirituality, etc.