Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

      Anyone who has ever suffered the betrayal of a sacred trust knows the tumultuous after-effects. Depending on the degree, or levity, of the betrayal, a wronged individual may suffer through the initial stages of shock and disbelief, which progress downward to different levels of emotional trauma that can culminate in the final stage of deep depression and even thoughts of suicide.

       Have you ever been there? I have. It was back in the early 80’s, and I remember it well. My near-perfect little world was suddenly turned upside-down. No one, including myself, could’ve foreseen the bomb of betrayal that was about to explode in my face on what started out as a regular, normal day.

       My handsome husband and I lived in a new house, in a nice town in western Washington. He held down a good-paying job, and I was able to pursue my career as an artist, and painting teacher. I enjoyed cooking and entertaining friends. But, the most important aspect of my life was the church we both attended because it was considered one of the best teaching churches on the entire West Coast. Teaching and making disciples of Christians, in most American churches nowadays, is almost as extinct as the dinosaurs.

       Uppermost on my “list” of priorities was to know Jesus, worship Him, learn of Him and serve Him. Having a good marriage and becoming a successful artist followed suit. However, as many a married Christian can testify, you can’t change the heart of your spouse, or control their free will. If a spouse chooses to give in to his or her selfishness, the results are always destructive.

       So, on that ordinary day, sitting with my husband at the kitchen table, I was as unsuspecting, and unprepared, for the bomb that was about to be dropped on me as those who met their fate at the hands of the Japanese in Pearl Harbor. My “perfect” little world shattered into a million pieces as the matter-of-fact confession of adultery slammed me into a state of shock.

       It goes without saying that in times such this a person’s faith is tested beyond measure. I clung to the Lord, and His Word, like a drowning person clings to the side of a capsized boat. For about two weeks I struggled to work through my reeling emotions. And, then, just when I was ever so slightly beginning to move away from the precipice of destruction towards a place of healing and strength, I heard the voice. I will never forget it.

       It came unexpectedly one night when I was alone in my kitchen. As I was mechanically walking across the kitchen towards the refrigerator, my mundane thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the sweetest, most celestial voice I had ever heard. This voice may not have been audible to the physical ear, but it most certainly was audible in my mind. I knew that this voice was beyond the realm of any human voice, including my own, and that it originated, and came, directly from the unseen world. He said, “I can kill you.”

       For a moment I was so taken aback by this experience that I simply froze in my tracks. The unseen presence waited for my reaction. My mind was racing as the syrupy camouflage of these four little words gave way to truth. Yes, Satan could kill me, but only if I let him push me to suicide. His half-truth infuriated me, and I commanded him to go, in the Name of Jesus, which he did in an instant. After that incident, the Lord began to heal my broken heart.

       Because Satan is a liar, and the father of lies (John 8:44), he is proficient at twisting God’s Word into half truths in order to deceive, and destroy, those who are either ignorant or weak in their knowledge of the truth. For example, we read in Genesis 3 the conversation that Satan initiated with Eve. Keep in mind, Eve was in a state of innocence. She had no experience with subtlety, deception, lying, or evil.

       We see that the first ploy Satan used was inference. Through this device, he inferred that God was not trustworthy and truthful. Having planted this seed of doubt in her mind, verses 4 and 5 reveal his next move: “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.” Thus we see Satan’s use of half-truths in operation. Neither Adam nor Eve died physically at the moment when they ate the forbidden fruit, but they did die spiritually because the Spirit of God departed from them. Did Adam and Eve become “gods” (or as God?) No, they did not; however, they opened themselves up to experience evil, and the ruination of it, from that time forward.

       Moving ahead to Matthew chapter 4, we read of the incredible encounter Jesus had with Satan in the wilderness. Jesus was tempted in every way we are—with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Keep in mind, Satan used Scriptures, taken out of context, as the bait. Jesus could have turned the stones into bread, He could have cast Himself off of the pinnacle of the temple, and He could have fallen down and worshipped the devil. As we know, in every instance he overcame by quoting the Word of God.

       Rayola explains: “The Scriptures Satan quoted to Jesus would actually have become half-truths. Whenever a Scripture is directed at man for the purpose of proving that Satan’s twisted presentations are valid, it becomes a point of agreement. There is no truth in half-truths because they put the burden on man to set the record straight in his own power or strength. Satan has to get people to agree with him about a matter before he can gain inroads into an issue. He always puts the burden on man to defend, prove and validate what has already been established as truth in the courts of heaven. If Jesus had complied to Satan’s temptation, He would have not only come into agreement with him, but He would have been dealing with him from an earthly perspective rather than a heavenly one which states that when doubt is being put on God’s character or Word, let God be true, and all else considered a lie.”    

       We know that Satan is the one who has “blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them,” (1 Corinthians 4:4) but, what about the post- modern church? Are there specific lies, or half truths, that we can illuminate that disclose Satan’s deception among the undiscerning within today’s “churchianity”? The answer to that question is a resounding yes! In fact, volumes could be written on the deception in the Church.

       Satan has no need to audibly voice his lies and half-truths into the ears of the unsuspecting because he has, at his disposal, a veritable army of false apostles, and deceitful workers, who have transformed themselves into the apostles of Christ. (See 2 Corinthians 11:13.) Why is it that whenever someone stands up and claims to be the mouthpiece of God, or some “great, anointed prophet of the Lord,” that people knock each other down chasing after them? The gullibility of undiscerning Christians is not only an embarrassment, but it is downright dangerous! How many lost souls have been totally turned off in disgust at the hype (and oftentimes hysteria) ignorant crowds of professing Christians display? The Apostle Paul went on to write: “And no marvel: for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” 2 Corinthians 11:14, 15.

       God, through the Apostle Peter, warned us that “there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious [damnable] ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you…” 2 Peter 2:1-3.

       These “damnable heresies,” or teachings that will damn the soul if believed, crept into the early Church and have been with us ever since in varying shades and degrees. At this point, it can’t be emphasized enough that all believers, and every Christian leader, needs to educate themselves about the history of the true Church which has, through the centuries, continually separated herself out from such corruption. E. W. Broadbent’s excellent book, “The Pilgrim Church,” is a detailed historical account of the incredible journey, through suffering, defamation, cruel torture, and martyrdom, of the true Church. You can order it through The Berean Call, toll free: 800-937-6638.

       Let’s examine some of the lies and half-truths that many unsuspecting people are basing their eternal security upon, beginning with the issue of salvation. Most of us have heard the time-worn cliché given at the end of evangelistic crusades, or in churches. And, most likely, most of us have responded to it, at least once. It goes something like this: “Won’t you come now to the altar and accept Jesus into your heart? All you have to do is repeat the sinner’s prayer, and ask Him into your heart, and you’ll be saved.” I realize that this is a shortened version, but I’m sure you’ve heard altar calls along this line, even though the Bible never mentions “accept” Jesus, neither does it give people an “easy-believism” formula for salvation.

       The late Paris Reidhead, a man who fully understood the truth that salvation is a Person, not a doctrine, wrote: “Tracing the various word forms of ‘salvation’ through the New Testament, we find the verb has four tenses: (the perfect tense), I have been saved from the pleasure of sin, which is repentance; (the past tense), I was saved from the penalty of sin, which is justification; (the present tense), I am being saved from the power of sin which is sanctification and; (the future tense), I shall be saved from the presence of sin which is glorification.

       “To explain the broadness of salvation, Paul says, ‘. . . for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed’ (Romans 13:11). Again, he says, ‘For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life’ (Romans 5:10).

       “In God’s mind, our salvation was accomplished by Jesus Christ at Calvary. Potentially, salvation became ours at the point of repentance. Experientially, it is ours when we see ourselves in union with Christ. Effectively, this salvation will be ours through the endless ages of eternity. This hardly gives us a view of salvation that can be reduced to a formula, or a prayer uttered at one moment in time. We have before us a view of the heights of heaven—and of ourselves transformed into new creations!” [Excerpt taken from “Finding the Reality of God” by Paris W. Reidhead]

       When we buy into a “cheap grace,” “easy-believism” gospel, we have bought one of Satan’s greatest lies. Paul warned of those who preached “another Jesus,” “another Spirit” and “another gospel” than that which they had preached. Jesus said, “Ye must be born again” John 3:7b. John Wesley concluded: “The new birth is that great change which God works in the soul, when He brings it into life and raises it from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. The new birth is the change wrought in the soul by the almighty Spirit of God, when that soul is created anew in Christ Jesus. The Spirit renews the soul of man after the image of God and adds to it righteousness and true holiness.”

       Wesley also wrote: “So desperately wicked and so deceitful are the hearts of men that they flatter themselves by living in their sins until they come to their last breath. Thousands really believe they have found a way to live. But it is a broad way and will lead them to destruction.”

       Some believe that once you receive Christ, you are now eternally secure regardless of how rotten your attitudes may be, or how wicked and godless your life may be. Maj. W. Ian Thomas’s succinct and truthful words remind us: “The claim that you are in Christ Jesus, and under no condemnation because you have been redeemed, is only valid if it is vindicated by a walk that indicates your new relationship to God.

       “I know of no gospel in the Bible that offers you salvation from the condemnation of your sin, that does not at the same time demand a radical change of walk! A walk under entirely new management, revolutionized according to an entirely new principle of life . . .” [“The Saving Life of Christ” pg. 43] Scripture makes it clear that we are to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” We are to work out the life of Christ within us through obedience. Paul put it this way: “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” Galatians 2:20.

       Romans 12:1-2 tells believers what we must do: “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Jesus paid the price to purchase, or redeem us. We are not our own. If we are truly His, then we no longer have the right to live as we please, think as we please, do as we please, and believe as we please. Yet, Satan makes sure that we are exposed to the watered-down gospel that is humanistic to the core. He’ll subtly insinuate that God loves you, so of course He wants you to be happy. He wants you to be blessed with health and wealth. He wants you to enjoy life on your terms. Never mind that the entire Bible from Genesis through Revelation is about Jesus Christ; Satan will, through his many mouthpieces who pervert and twist God’s Word, make it all about you.

       Satan’s half-truths and lies push people into darkness, bondage and despair. His clever devices convince well-meaning, but misinformed people that going to, or joining, some church or denomination will guarantee them entrance into heaven. He deceives the unsuspecting into believing that God loves them no matter what they think, what their attitudes are, or how they live. He seduces people into believing that Jesus came to save them in their sin, rather than from their sin. He encourages the weak to lean upon the arm of flesh, instead of Christ. He lures the ignorant away from devoted study and meditation upon the Word of God by drawing them into a substitute diet of entertaining novels, self-help books, and godless psychology. He tempts well-meaning believers to obey God in their own strength, conforming outwardly rather than allowing the Spirit of God to work the very life of Jesus in them, thus causing them to become self-righteous and legalistic. And, if all of that fails, he will twist Scripture with his lies and half-truths to push people into extremes of religiosity, causes and personal agendas that result in dissension and division among the brethren.

       Revelation 12 tells us that “the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan,” has deceived the nations. Keep that in mind if you think that he cannot deceive you. Jesus warned that the deceiver will deceive many. (See Matthew 24:11, 24.) The question is has the enemy of your soul deceived you with his lies and half-truths? Ask the Lord to show you if you’ve been deceived in any way, and, if you have, ask the Lord to reveal the truth to you, for the truth shall make you free!