Spiritual Survival (Part 13)

Deviation
by Rayola Kelley

As I watch the present age winding down to the coming of Christ, I often meditate on what it will mean to survive these end days. Even though there are many Christians throughout the world suffering persecution, my main concern for believers, especially here in America, is whether they will survive the tidal wave of delusion rolling through the various kingdoms of the world, including the religious realm.

It was also Jesus’ main concern in Matthew 24. He stated if it was possible even the elect would be deceived. Matthew 24:13 states that only those who endure to the end will be saved. As believers we must endure the travailing of this present age caused by wickedness, whether it comes in the form of persecution or delusion.

It is hard to grasp the extent of the deception that exists. After all, who in their right mind would prefer or set out to be deceived? Yet, the warnings in Scripture about many being deceived, even among those who call themselves Christians, are numerous.

Deception points to deviation from the truth. We must ask ourselves how far away from the truth can we afford to stray before we will totally miss the mark and fall into the abyss of delusion? The harsh reality is that any deviation from the truth puts one on the broad path of falling into the abyss. We cannot afford to deviate from the truth without putting ourselves in danger of falling prey to the destructive ways of the kingdom of darkness. We must always keep in mind that there is no darkness or variation to the truth. It will not downplay what is real, nor will it be toleratant towards that which constitutes a lie, and it cannot be forgiving or compromising towards that which is contrary to its light.

Scripture is clear that the truth will remain standing when all else has collapsed due to faulty foundations. And, as the darkness of deception grips this world in greater ways, it is obvious that truth is becoming extinct in many arenas of the world. As this spiritual darkness becomes greater, the contrast between light and darkness also becomes more distinct. In a sense, it is as if a line is drawn into the sand. This distinction will force many to make a decision because they can no longer hide in the grey shadows of compromise and hypocrisy. They will be forced to choose light or darkness. The prophet Joel put it well, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision; for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14).

The question is how can we be assured that we are not being carried away by some form of delusion? Jesus gives us the first clue that we must be part of the elect, in other words those who are saved. As the elect, we have been appointed to a certain life, purpose, and destiny. We must live according to the life given from heaven, ensure God’s plan for our life is being realized, and be preparing for the glory of the next world.

In order to be part of the elect, we must be born again of the Spirit. The Spirit is the one who seals or identifies us until the fullness of redemption is realized. The way we are born again is we believe what the Word of God tells us about our spiritual plight of sin and death and by faith receive God’s provision of His Son, Jesus Christ who redeemed us from the curse and judgment of sin and death.

The next thing we must discern is the environment. Through the years, I have studied the dynamics of deception in regard to how it takes root and eventually manifest itself. Its conception, development, and impact will be determined by the environment. Here are some examples of how deception finds its target and is brought to fruition according to the environment.

Divided Heart: People who have a divided heart between the devotion of religion and the attractions of the world are susceptible to delusion. Such a heart points to idolatry and carnality. The reason that those with a divided heart can easily fall into delusion is that they must justify the carnal preferences in their lives. Each justification will not only prove to be treacherous to the truth but it will silence the religious conscience of the heart. If a person justifies the deviation in his or her heart long enough, he or she will end up searing it to the point that it will become indifferent to the sweet conviction of the Spirit (1 Timothy 4:2).

Arrogance: Another environment that is conducive to deception taking root and being developed is arrogance. Those who think they cannot or will not be deceived, are most likely already deceived. As we know, any type of pride comes before a fall, and there is nothing that can create the greatest heights of delusion from which to fall as arrogance. It is the board in our eyes that keeps us from seeing the foolishness that reigns through personal pride(Matthew 7:1-6). This pride is the product of the fallen condition of selfishness which prefers its own take on truth. It will deny or adjust truth to maintain its idea of reality, while the intellectual conceit of arrogance will actually pride itself that there is no way it can be deceived in its present understanding. This is why we are warned that knowledge alone will exalt itself. Often such knowledge produces vain imaginations that will actually pay tribute to its personal ideas of God and religion (Proverbs 16:2, 1 Corinthians 8:1; 2 Corinthians 10:5). In an environment like this, a person’s understanding about God may become reprobate. It is for this reason that we are told not to think more highly of ourselves than we should and not to mind high things, but condescend to men of low estate as a means to avoid becoming wise in our own conceits(Romans 12:3, 16).

Flesh: In our fallen condition we are naturally bent towards attractions of the world that would make us feel elite in our association and superior in our understanding. Due to this bent, we are prone to be manipulated by those who know how to use such attractions to entice us. It is hard for many to believe that the flesh makes them vulnerable, but Jesus said the flesh was weak and put its perverted preference in perspective when He asked what does it profit a man to gain the world, while losing his soul. Instead of buying truth and gaining wisdom and understanding, many sell their souls to gain some place in the world and recognition from it(Proverbs 23:23; Matthew 16:25-26; 26:41).

Half-Truths: Many people who operate in delusion do so from the premise of half-truths. They believe that because there is some truth in a matter, they can maintain the integrity of the situation. However, half-truths are nothing more than forms of propaganda. Propaganda’s goal is one of indoctrination that is designed to take one away from all truth into complete delusion. It is about subtly changing the worldview or viewpoint of someone. Truth taken into extremes will prove to be an utter lie in the end as it reverses one’s thinking, but half-truths are laced with bits of poisonous lies, like a small bit of leaven, which will taint what is pure, defiling it as a whole. In the end, the person will believe a lie.

      Unbelief: We must embrace all truth by faith. We must approach it to believe it is so. If we fail to believe truth, we will go into unbelief about the matter. Unbelief causes a hard heart towards the truth. It will prove to be obstinate in its ways, always erring in its attitude and understanding about the matters of God’s kingdom. Such unbelief will cause a darkness to cloud the mind as it succumbs to the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:8-14).

Last month I made mention of how false religions will manifest themselves. They are based on a faulty foundation of lies and deception. As believers, we must keep in mind there is only one true religion. James 1:27 tells us how it will express itself, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

Religion that takes on fleshly attitudes and actions will manifest itself in paganism. Paganism is worldly in attitude and sensual in practice. It operates from the sensual height of emotional hype as it dances in and out of the aisles of religious fanaticism. It gives the appearance of godly devotion as it clothes itself in the robes of religious rituals. However, it is profane before God. He will never be found in such foolishness.

The next type of false religion subtly exalts man in some way. Whether it is exalting some type of goodness in man, his practices, knowledge, or abilities, man becomes the center of attention. We know there is no goodness in man apart from God. His best is filthy rags, his practices are pagan, his knowledge tainted, and his abilities limited.  In spite of the fact that man is far from righteousness, he is subtly raised up as a standard as to what is right and acceptable to be admired. However, such an environment is man-centered. The reality of such exaltation is that it is amoral in attitude, proving that it is nothing more than humanism. True Christianity is Christ-centered, not man-centered. Any environment where man is exalted produces an antichrist atmosphere in which man takes on the nature and position of deity in some way while denying the one true God and His truth.

The New Age has made many inroads into Christendom. It presents itself as beingmetaphysical. In other words, it promotes the supernatural. It often combines every god and religious belief while cleverly denying the one true God of heaven. It wears a cloak of mysticism to appear spiritual in nature, but it is a door into the occult. It heavily relies on experiences. Such experiences become more real to these individuals than the truth of the Bible. People who have such experiences cannot imagine that they are wrong because their experiences not only seem real but they often bring so-called “spiritual enlightenment” that seems to make sense to their present understanding. However, the spiritual enlightenment is nothing more than a false light that blankets these people’s soul, blinding them to the truths of the Bible. Sadly, this false light has blanketed many in the church with heretical religions such as Scientology and Unity, as well as rides on the heretical shirttails of such beliefs and movements as Positive Confession, Kingdom Dominion Theology, contemplative prayer (soaking), and the Signs and Wonders Movement to name a few.

The final false foundation involves the occult. The New Age and the occult have similarities. The greatest similarity has to do with so-called “spiritual enlightenment.”  The difference is that the New Age pursues experiences in order to possess some type of “spiritual enlightenment”, while the occult pursues hidden knowledge that often results in experiences. For this reason many of the heretical teachings and practices mentioned above ultimately take on the nature of the occult. The main goal of the occult is to change the reality of people in order to seduce them into utter deception in regard to God. Needless to say, the god they end up serving and worshipping is the god of this world, Satan.

One popular occult practice that has taken root in the church that is changing people’s reality is journaling. Some Christians have opened themselves up to this practice to “supposedly” give the Holy Spirit opportunity to reveal “hidden truths” to them. However, the Holy Spirit has already supplied the necessary truth that we as believers need to know to obtain everlasting life, and it is found in God’s Word. What these Christians do not realize is that their show of unbelief towards the Bible as the only trustworthy word from God is opening them up to the occult. What will come through the door of their understanding is a demon and not the Holy Spirit. Granted, they may walk away with what they perceive to be “greater” wisdom, knowledge, and experiences but it will all be based on an utter lie.
The Bible is clear that believers must operate according to Spirit and truth. Christianity is not some belief, experience, occasional practice, or something you must conjure up in the mind; rather, it is a life that must be lived, a walk of faith that must be executed daily, a truth that will not be manipulated and changed, a way that is steady, and a hope that is sure. Christianity changes a life with repentance and salvation, transforms the mind with truth, and renews the spirit with Living Water. It is not top-heavy with arrogant, vain knowledge, weighed down with oppressive burdens of useless religious exercises, or swinging from branches of unrealistic experiences. It is practical, real, beneficial, and eternal.

What about you? Are you surviving the great wave of delusion because you stand on the foundational truths of God’s Word, and will you withstand it because you love the truth with all of your heart? Our prayer should be simple, “Lord, shake all faulty foundations underneath us until they lay in ruin, gird our minds against the temptation to think there is more than what You have already provided us through Your Spirit and Word. Give us a love for truth that will cause us to flee all things that would prove to be contrary to it. Help us to hide in You, knowing that it is You who will fulfill the promises of Your enduring, eternal Word.”