Monday, March 19, 2018

"Seed of Deception"

"Seed of Deception"

It may just be me and my particular focus at the time, but it seems I'm seeing much being written these days on deception. I keep coming across testimonies of people who have believed things for years, only now to discovered they were deceived.

This is a subject very close to me, as I have found myself believing things for years I now believe differently. My particular views about God and religion have changed drastically over the years. This resulted in my leaving a church I had attended for nearly 30 years. It also caused enough friction that fellowship has become difficult with some of the people I was associated with, people who I love greatly and for whom I held great respect. As a result, the seriousness of this subject is a very real thing to me. For this was a difficult and painful thing to experience. It has caused me to ponder how this can occur in people's lives and how we can avoid it.

As I look back over the years, I can now see areas where I was blind, areas that could have been avoided if I had a little more light. {John 11:10  But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.}  It is in these dark areas where the seed of deception are sown. These are the seed that grow in darkness, for light makes manifest. Seed require their environment to germinate and produce their fruit, these seed require an environment of darkness. This is not a darkness of some great evil, but a subtle shading of our understanding that keeps just enough light out to allow these seed to grow. If you will be patient with me, I would like to appeal to you with a few words concerning this subject. I hope they will help us lighten these shadowed areas and dry up any seed of deception.

This is not talking about the natural process of growing and learning that we all experience throughout life. We naturally become more familiar with and understand things better as we grow and mature. Nor is this to suggest that spiritual things can be understood simply by applying certain principles alone. When it comes to spiritual matters, it is the teacher, the Holy Spirit that must open our understanding when any principle of understanding is applied. {1Co 2:14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.} This is simply to point out some things that can help us avoid providing a place for these unwanted seed to grow.

One thing that can help us discern truth and avoid deception is hard work. {Pro 24:27  Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.} We must understand that truth will not just fall out of the trees and take root in our minds. It will require effort, sometimes much effort depending on the environment in which we find ourselves. We must be willing to do our own studying, willing to spend a great part of our lives reading and meditating upon the scriptures. {Mat 22:29  Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.} We must make use of the available tools, commentaries and expositions of those before us to aid in our understanding. We must become familiar with the Creeds and Confessions of the Church to see how those scriptures were understood throughout history. This will take time and effort and must be applied with prayer, but it will give us a working knowledge of the Christian faith. It will reveal the struggles that have always existed maintaining the truth; and will give clarity to the resulting damage that has and can occur when truth is shaded.

But this hard work must be applied correctly. One can study hard, but study wrongly. In your zeal it will be possible to apply yourself to much study in wrong doctrine. {2Ti 2:15  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.} That is why it is necessary to become familiar with church history. It is much easier to see the error of the past generations where the path has already been cleared, than looking into the weeds of our present time. Most of the error we are confronted with has already been dealt with in past generations, they can help us identify the weeds that need to be avoided. {Isa 58:12  And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.}

{Jer 6:16  Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.} 

When suggesting this strategy, it is common for someone to ask the question, "What do you do when you look to saints of the past and they don't agree?" This of course is a defense, they are positing themselves to disarm you. It is a way to weaken your argument and strengthen theirs. Point being, "You and I disagree, but I can still hold to my belief because the truth can not really be known." We all must acknowledge that disagreements do exist in Christianity, for men are sinful and disagreements are inevitable. {Act 15:1  And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
Act 15:2  When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.}
The Scriptures delivered by the Holy Spirit through Prophets and Apostles are infallible and our only source of faith and practice. But the Creeds and Confessions
help guide us in a clear path to help keep us in an orthodox belief of those Scriptures.

Another thing to avoid is letting our feelings and emotions guide us in our understanding of God and what He requires in worship. I have heard Scripture read with the question posed, "Well, what does that verse mean to you?" Depending upon you current state of mind and experiences a said Scripture could invariably mean any number of things to you. But whatever comfort we may perceive from a particular verse, the only real value it has lies in what the text actually says; and from the context derive how it is to be applied to our lives. 

As fallen beings, we are fickle in our emotions, they are an uncertain guide. A particular form of worship may touch our feelings and make us feel good and raise our spirits so to speak. But that form of worship may be entirely unscriptural, and following our emotion can lead us into error and worship displeasing to God. Scripture gives us a sure and steadfast guide to understanding God and what he requires of us in our worship. Certain techniques can be induced by men to manipulate our emotions and deceive us. {Act 8:9  But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
Act 8:10  To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
Act 8:11  And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.}
Simon appealed to the emotions, his techniques bewitched (amazed) his hearers. He was perceived as being a godly man, but his form of worship was corrupted. There are no new ways of worship, only inventions of men. The approved practices of Scripture cannot be improved upon. When we rely upon the Scriptures and find in Church history orthodox worship guided by those Scriptures, we can know we are upon sound doctrine. 

Lastly, and the most difficult, is the influence of family and friends. It is most difficult for us to see them as a danger, someone leading us into harms way. Yet many times they are the very ones to deceive us. 

We are lead astray because of the love and trust we place upon these relationships. Very seldom is this deception intentional. Most often they are friends and family who genuinely have a love and zeal toward God. Pastors who genuinely love and care for the flock. But who themselves have become victims of deception. This makes them all the more dangerous because of their perceived sincerity. We are left feeling secure knowing such loving people would not lead us astray. And thus we all fall into error. {Luk 6:39  And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?}  Everything and everyone must be weighed against the test of Scripture. 

Let's apply these things in an example: You have a person who has professed faith in Christ. They have the influence of their family and friends who were instrumental in helping them make such a profession. But they are a bit slack in their efforts to study and simply rely upon what their family and friends tell them. Perhaps they are excellent students, but the material they are given is provided only by their particular circles. They are able only to view the Scriptures through that lens of interpretation. They do feel good being with their family and friends in worship, and therefore assume that God must be blessing their services. In this environment, a person could go on for years with a misunderstanding of God and true Christian worship. 

Seed of deception were being sown in the first and second century church and they are still being sown today. There are also certain events and practices that were unique to the first century Church, a misapplication of those events and practices has lead to much confusion. But if we are diligent in prayer and the study of the Scriptures, while making ourselves aware of our history; we can provide a suitable place for truth to grow. The light of the Gospel will then dry out the seed of deception. 

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,


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