Reviewing my past newsletters, I realised that it was exactly one year ago when I addressed the issue of Deception in the July 2010 Newsletter. More recently, certain event and teachings in Christian circles stirred this concern again in my heart and I was led to preach “Many Will Be Deceived” across three Sundays at Covenant Vision Christian Church.
I made every effort to present it as systematically and concisely as I could, staying close to the Word and relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Even so, each time I took to the pulpit, there was such a sense of inadequacy and unpreparedness as I realised the immense responsibility of talking and teaching about deception. What if I myself was deceived? What if I contributed to deceiving the people of God? Oh, God forbid!
In the end, I thank God that the series was very well received. It made many sit up to consider issues they had never thought about before. It surfaced many other questions which caused some to dig more deeply into God’s Word for the right answers. More importantly, it signalled to many that we are indeed in the final days and this is not the time to be found wanting or slackening. “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive” (Matt 24:24) and take heed, even Christians will not be spared.
I wish I could share the full message transcripts with you but that would take too long. To this end, I invite you to watch or listen to “Many Will Be Deceived” at Covenant Vision Media Centre. If you’d like to purchase a set of the CDs, please contact Covenant Vision Centre at 6391 0027 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Allow me, instead to share The Deception Checklist with you … 10 questions that provoke us to seriously and prayerfully consider if we might be living deceived lives.
1. Are you accountable? Think about this seriously. We live in an age where many shun and reject authority. Christians are no different. And yet, God has put spiritual authority in place for the sake of accountability, especially in a time where teaching is so readily available. Are you checking things with your pastors and leaders? Do you have relationships of accountability where questionable and difficult issues are raised and discussed with God’s Word as the basis and the standard?
2. Are you dealing with sin in your life? When we refuse to deal with sin in our lives, we end up justifying and rationalising our position. Heb 3:12–13 warns against the hardening of hearts through the deceitfulness of sin. Over time, such hearts, like those of the Pharisees, resist and reject the Truth. Sadly, there is even a deceptive teaching that there is no longer a need for repentance. And so many have bought into it.
3. Do you have control over your tongue? James 3:2 points out that the control of the tongue is a key indicator of one’s spiritual maturity. In a performance-oriented church, we can be so deceived by our acts of service and worship, thinking it demonstrates such spirituality, only to be rendered worthless and useless by our tongue! Yet, so many are deceived, clueless, blind and deaf to this point. That’s why we need accountability partners.
4. Are you dealing with pride? Gal 6:3 says it very clearly: “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” We all know that God resists the proud, but are deceived into thinking that this does not refer to us, since we are so humble. There is even such a fine line between boasting in the Lord and self-promotion in our testimonies of faith and spiritual experiences. To be sure, we have nothing to boast about for we are all sinners saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ!
5. Are you wise in the ways of the world? The wisdom of the world focuses on success, prosperity, power, position, prestige, talents, abilities and achievements; whatever looks good, feels good and sounds good! Hey, that sounds like a great sermon series to preach, a sure crowd-puller. But wait! Compare these with the foolishness of God as expressed through weakness, humility, broken-ness, surrender and the crucified life. Do not be deceived! Stop trying to fit Jesus into the wisdom of this age. Jesus was and will always be counter-cultural. To follow Jesus is to walk right-side-up in an upside-down world.
6. How do you view money and wealth? In Matt 13:22, it was the deceitfulness of riches that choked the Word. Before you say, “Not me!”, consider: Do you equate riches with blessing and the lack of it with missing the blessing? Do you regard one who is
wealthy and rich as having more faith, as being more spiritual? Do you only read about the rich and their blessings, but promptly disregard passages about the poor or judgments upon the rich? I could go on, but I think you get the point.
7. Do you accept all teaching without question? The Bible warns against preachers and teachers who entice and deceive through empty words (Eph 5:6), persuasive words (Col 2:4), smooth words and flattering speech (Rom 16:18). Are you “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:14)? Are you reading and studying the Word? Are you capable of rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15)?
8. Do you only hear what you like to hear? We are living in the days “when [many] will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Tim 4:3,4) Embrace the whole truth and not just portions of the truth in things you like to hear. Having half the picture sets you up for deception.
9. Are you only a hearer of the Word? There is no lack of bible teaching and preaching today. Christians in Singapore are spoilt for choice, running here, there and everywhere to services, seminars and conferences. We are great hearers of the Word. But are we doers? If not, James 1:22 reminds us that we deceive ourselves. We think we know a lot of the Word so we’re ok. We see how we are like but use other verses to excuse ourselves. Instead, we use the Word to judge others.
10. Do you think that this checklist is not applicable to you? If you think this checklist is not applicable to you, you are already deceived.
I hope these 10 questions are helpful to you. Be honest and ask the Lord to search your heart. Don’t rationalise or push these away just because it is not something you like to deal with. Perhaps you might still be thinking that as long as you are sincere, you will not be deceived. Let me remind you that the Pharisees were a very sincere bunch … just sincerely wrong. Or do you think that these do not carry any eternal consequence? That’s where you have already fallen to the subtlety of the enemy’s ploy. He doesn’t present you with the obvious. He’s too cunning and sneaky to do that for you will see it coming. Instead, he deceives and misleads you one step at a time. And before you know it, you are so far off course you don’t even know how to turn back. Think about it: If you cannot be deceived out of your inheritance, why would the Deceiver even bother to deceive you? Heed the words of Gal 6:6 & 7 … “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to the flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we live in perilous times. The lines are extremely blurred and things are no longer as they seem. In the name of relevance and contextualisation, the Church has allowed the world to come right in. In the name of deeper revelations and greater heavenly experiences, the Church has unwittingly embraced new age spirituality like never before. I believe that Jesus is returning very soon. To this end, the enemy knows that his time is short and he is doing all to lead as many Christians astray from the true worship of Jesus. I know this newsletter update is lengthier than usual; but I feel it important enough to take a little more of your time and attention. Thank you for reading and for prayerfully considering every point.
It leaves me now to record my deep appreciation to all who have prayed for me, my family and my ministry. Your fervent support through prayer and intercession is precious and never taken for granted at all. And to those who have given sacrificially and joyfully, we wish to say a big “thank you”. Your love and support through finances have enabled us to focus on the work of the ministry, knowing our needs are all taken care of by the Lord through your obedience and generosity. As you have prayed and given, we believe that God will multiply to you exceedingly and abundantly!
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you
faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our
Saviour who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now
and forever. Amen.” Jude 24 & 25
In His love and for His glory!