Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Are You Being Deceived?

In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus warns of the destruction of the Temple and the desolation of Jerusalem; but He also warns of a deception that would come to the believers as well. 

And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass? And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.  [Luke 21:5-8]

The characteristic of the times in the days of Christ, and even today, would be that there would be false Christs. There were false messiahs in His day, and today there are those who claim supernatural power. Although they talk a great deal about Jesus, they move themselves into His place and take to themselves the glory that should be His. I think there are quite a few false Christs walking about, and certainly false religions abound.

“And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ;” [Luke 21:8a].

In this passage of Scripture, Jesus warns His disciples that there is a deception coming and they need to be careful that they are not taken in by lies. The disciples had questioned Jesus about the end times and He was explaining the events leading up to the end. We now can see that the events He described are all around us and they are becoming more intense. His words were meant as a warning to Peter, John, and those who were first with Christ, but also these words are a warning to us. Throughout the ages many have come claiming to be Christ and we need to be alert to the deception, especially because we are in the very end time. “and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.” [Luke 21:8b]. As always, the words Jesus spoke are certainly true. Many people over the years have claimed to be “The Christ”. The Greek word “polys” is translated into English as “many” and means: multitudes, huge throngs, masses. How many more will show up making the same claim? Jesus says multitudes. Don’t be deceived by these people.

Those who follow these pretenders obviously haven’t read the Bible. This same warning which is recorded in Luke 21 is also cited in two other Gospels. “And 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.” [Matthew 24:4-5]. In Mark’s Gospel we’re given the same admonition. “And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” [Mark 13:5-6]. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all recorded Jesus’ words in order to advise the brethren to be alert, to be ready for the deception because the deception was beginning even then. The word “planaō” is translated “deceive” and “deceived” and means to cause to stray, to lead astray, lead aside from the right way. If we are not alert, the deception will lead us astray and we will follow a false Christ…a false teacher and false doctrine. Jesus doesn’t say the deception might happen, but that it will happen.

The disciples wanted to know about the end times. Jesus told them about the wars, earthquakes, and famines saying they would start gradually but would intensify as the end nears. Knowledge of the end days has been revealed throughout the Bible a little at a time.
  • Daniel was given information about the future and wrote of the end times, but he was not allowed to reveal all he was told “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased”. Daniel 12:4. Although Daniel had been given prophecy concerning the time of the Great Tribulation and the end, he wasn’t allowed to write all that had been revealed to him. 
  • When the disciples asked Jesus about the end He revealed more to them with the warning to “be not deceived”. The disciples weren’t told everything, but after Christ was crucified and conquered death by His resurrection, a bit more was revealed. A new “entity” was created – the born again, Spirit filled group known as Christians. 
  • Then more of God’s plan was revealed through the Apostle Paul when he told of the “Harpazō” – the “snatching away”, or Rapture
  • Finally, John would be shown the horrors of the post-Rapture end times and write it all down in The Revelation. Satan knows his time is getting short and is hard at work to deceive as many as possible before he is bound for a thousand years. 
We who are not deceived by Satan’s lies can see that Jesus’ arrival must be on the horizon because the events are getting closer together with greater intensity.

Many today, have a distorted view of this one called Satan. To be perfectly clear, this fallen angel is a created being – a cherub. Not just any cherub but “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” [Ezekiel 28:14-15].

Satan has a hatred for all humans – the entire human race is in his sights for him to deceive and to destroy. He has been working his lies since the Garden of Eden when he deceived Eve. Eve made the mistake of talking to Satan and he was able to convince her that she and Adam had been deceived by God, who had told them not to eat the forbidden fruit because it would bring death. Satan lied and said their eyes would be opened and they would be as gods. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil”. [Genesis 3:4-5]. Adam and Eve found out who the liar is. God had not deceived them at all, but Satan had. Why is it that we continue to buy into Satan’s lies? We have God’s truth given to us in the Bible, yet we continue to question it. People who worship Satan haven’t a clue about how evil and deceptive he is. They are "spiritually blinded". He hates those who follow him just as much as he hates those who follow Jesus Christ. We cannot possibly understand Satan’s hatred, but we need to not listen to his lies.

Satan has always had it in for Christians, ever since he was de-throned, and Christ instructed His followers to "to go into all the world and proclaim the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Satan will do all he can to deceive us and stop the spreading of God’s word.

One of the most damnable heresies from the pit of "hell" is  “All religions worship the same God” and “You are a good person so surely you will go to Heaven”, along with many more such deceptions. He has supplanted God’s truth with his version of events and his lies are now boring holes into the hearts and minds of many. The deception is great. “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.” [Galatians 1:8].

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”. [John 14:6].

There is only one way to the Father, and that is Jesus Christ. He is the truth.

How can we recognize deception? I believe the "key" is found in God's Word:
  • “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11. 
If we know God’s truth we will not be deceived by lies. As we study God’s word we need to pray and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us and help us learn. Everything that we do in our lives should be seen and done through the lens of Scripture. That is how we can know for certain that we are following the one true God. If we don’t respect God’s inerrant word we will undoubtedly follow the god of this world – the father of all lies.

Everyone who does not follow Jesus Christ is already following the deceptions of Satan and a false Christ. If we are to “be not deceived” then only God’s truth can keep us from that deception.

Jesus has told you to be on the watch for deception, stating that it will come. You nor I have any idea who might head off track and begin to offer a substitute Gospel. So we are instructed to "be not deceived."

And, although we cannot know the exact timing, we know these things for sure;
  • The Rapture will happen very soon. 
  • After that there will be the most horrendous time of Judgment known as the Great Tribulation. 
  • Then comes the millennium. 
“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.” [Revelation 20:1-2].

Satan knows that his time is drawing very near, and he will try every conniving trick he can to deceive as many as he can before he is bound. Don’t be deceived by a false Christ, but listen to Jesus’ words and “Take heed that ye be not deceived”.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Dealing With Bitterness

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.—[Hebrews 12:15]

A lot of people, today, are very bitter. It doesn't take very long to se it. I have noticed it more over the last few days than normal, sitting in the mall, and having to listen to conversations of those around me. I say "having to listen" because no one talks quietly any more. Between conversation with someone face to face or on the phone, you hear every last detail of the conversations.

Bitterness has a tenacious way of taking root deep within the soul and resisting all efforts to weed it out. Bitterness occurs for many reasons. It might come from deep hurts you received as a child, hurts you cannot forget. Time, rather than diminishing the hurt, only seems to sharpen the pain. Bitterness can result from the hurtful words of a friend or coworker. Often the person who hurt you is unaware of the extent of your bitterness. You find yourself rehearsing the offense over and over again, each time driving the root of bitterness deeper within your soul, while the one who did it to you seems to be having "so much fun."

Bitterness can derive from a sense of being unjustly treated. We will tell ourselves that we didn't deserve what happened. We try to figure out why it happened, all the while only hurting ourselves more. Bitterness will lead to depression that will kill us if not death with.

Dealing with bitterness is a lot like pulling weeds out of your yard and flowers. And no matter how much weed control you put on your yard, you still have to bend over and pull the weeds out. Weeds will grow where you least expect them to. It is an every day chore.

I have noticed in my own life that bitterness is easy to justify. And, you can become so used to a bitter heart that you are even comfortable with it, but it will destroy you. Only God is fully aware of its destructive potential. There is nothing so deeply imbedded in your heart that God's grace cannot reach down and remove it. No area in your life is so painful that God's grace cannot bring total healing. No offense committed against you is so heinous that God's love cannot enable you to forgive.

When you allow bitterness to grow in your life, you reject the grace of God that can free you. If you are honest before God, you will admit the bitterness and allow God to forgive you. Bitterness enslaves you, but God is prepared to remove your bitterness and replace it with His peace and joy.