This article touches upon the age-old satanic onslaught upon mankind by which the devil attempts to turn men from the truth of the gospel. Paul encountered that fact as soon as he began his missionary labours.
“And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord,” Acts 13:6-12.
It is to be noted that Paul dealt FIRST with the agent of the devil BEFORE Sergius Paulus was won to Christ!
I will be emphasising this element of God’s truth in this article.
The Lord bless you all richly,
THE CHRISTIANITY OF THE BIBLE OR THE ‘CHRISTIANITY’ OF ECUMENICAL MODERNISM — WHICH?
From the very beginning there has always been a counterfeit ‘faith’ and counterfeit ‘believers’!
Cain is, as it were, the ‘patron saint’ of ‘fake Christians’!
I. THE BIBLE REPEATEDLY WARNS OF DECEIVERS AND THEIR DECEPTION
I have mentioned Cain. It says of him, “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD,” Genesis 4:3.1
1. He was deceived about the means of atoning for sin. God had ordained a lamb as the offering that was to be brought by the truly repentant sinner. It thus symbolised the ‘Lamb of God’, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was promised to Adam and Eve as the One Who would save them, and all who by faith depended upon Him for salvation. The promise was contained in the words of condemnation that the Lord directed toward Satan because of his deceiving of Eve and Adam into disobeying God.
“And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,” Genesis 3:14-15.
The words ‘it’ and ‘his’ are a reference to Christ and His sufferings at the cross when He bruised and crushed the head of the devil. In so doing, He was bruised in His heel. It was “through death” that Christ destroyed “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil,” Hebrews 2:14.
2. Cain sought to deceive others about his spiritual state. Please note that he came to the place of worship before Abel. There was a professed eagerness in Cain’s actions that were but an attempt to have others believe that he was a fervent worshipper of God.
3. Above all, he sought to deceive the Lord. “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.” His pretended worship was intended to have the Lord believe he was an earnest worshipper of Him.
Such deceptions do not fool the Lord. “And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect,” Genesis 4:4-5. The Lord would not even look at Cain’s offering for that is the implication of the words, ‘he had not respect’.
Cain and those who ever since have followed in his footsteps, greatly insult the Lord by assuming that their substituting of their notions and opinions for that which God has commanded as the ONLY means of atonement, would indeed fool the Lord. Cain considered the fruit of his labours as sufficient to deceive the Lord into redeeming him. He believed that the Lord would accept his tainted, utterly inadequate works as an ample payment for his sins!
How can anyone think that what they may cobble together of their works and efforts may, to any degree, be equal to that which Christ paid as the means to redeem His people? Paul tells us that Christ, “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father,” Galatians 1:4. How could anyone feel that they could offer that which equalled the infinite value of the person of the Son of God?
Yes, man’s contrived religion is an utter fraud and deception yet how many preach this deception in the pulpits in this land and in the other lands of the world and how many in the pew are beguiled into embracing this lie, as the means of getting them to Heaven?
II. IT MUST BE CONCEDED THAT THE DECEPTIONS ARE VERY CLEVERLY PRESENTED AS TRUE TEACHINGS OF GOD’S WORD
The devil is the most skilful counterfeiter there has ever been. He can take his ‘lie’ and so camouflage it that it looks, to the undiscerning eyes of the unsuspecting, the very ‘truth’ of God.
1. The devil is called by the Lord, the one who deceives the nations. This is seen in the words of Revelation 20:3. “And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more.”
He was been at this work of deception since his own fall and he has embraced those angels which fell with him and mankind through the fall of Adam.
As such he is a liar. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” He “abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
Out of his lies has come the ‘soul’ murder of those who believe his lie. “He was a murderer from the beginning,” John 8:44. This description of the devil came from the lips of the Saviour.
2. It is impossible to quantify the deceptions the devil has authored. “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as 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 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: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not,” 2 Peter 2:1-3.
Even today across the world there is an innumerable number of false religions, to which number new deviations are added virtually every day.
As the Coronavirus disease seems to endlessly be transformed into new variants, so it is with the devil’s lies and deceptions. Old ungodly religions are given a coat of paint and re-emerge as ‘altogether new discoveries of truth’!
Old heresies re-emerge to be heralded as ‘soul-saving discoveries’ of ‘new’ glorious truths!
The persistence and the tenacity and his ability to reinvent himself and his lies, is horribly amazing! “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light,” 2 Corinthians 11:14. And not only he for “his ministers also” are “transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works,” 2 Corinthians 11:15.
3. The Saviour tells us just how deceptive the devil’s counterfeits are! “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect,” Matthew 24:24.
The elect of God WOULD be deceived in the latter-day displays of cunning deceptions were it not for that which makes it impossible, the intervening and protective grace of God.
Peter was warned by the Lord Jesus of the devil’s attempt to deceive him. “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat,” Luke 22:31. Despite that warning, Peter was caught by the devil and denied the Lord. “And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept,” Mark 14:72. Were it not for the Lord stirring the memory of Peter, who knows how far Peter would have gone in his denials of the Lord!
What prevented further denials was the fact, as the Saviour had said earlier, the Lord was praying for Peter. “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted (restored to obedience), strengthen thy brethren,” Luke 22:32.
Today, many who would claim to be true disciples of Christ, are found deeply involved in ecumenical and modernistic denominations. They would try to justify their presence by maintaining that they are serving the Lord within the enemy camp. Such a claim is based upon a deceit, an ignorance of the Word of God, wherein is revealed HOW and WHERE it is He would have us SERVE HIM.
Paul wonderfully sets forth this truth in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. There he sets forth God’s will for His people.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14.
He then goes on to show just illogical, unethical and sinful is the idea that we can have ‘fellowship’ with the devil’s crowd and walk with God, by a series of rhetorical questions.
“For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?”
He concludes with a defining of the path into which the believer should go in the midst of such a choice. “Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty,” verses 16-18.
The Bible’s history of God’s people provides ample proof of the vulnerability of God’s people to the devil’s deceptions. This susceptibility to deception may be seen in the lives of David, Solomon, Elijah, Jeremiah, Jonah and many, many more, recorded in the Bible.
Let us all take heed and be on our guard against the ever proliferating lies spawned by hell.
III. IT IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE FAITHFUL MINISTER’S LABOURS TO EXPOSE AND OPPOSE SUCH DECEPTION
1. Much of the Bible is given over to rebutting the devil’s lies! Yes, the prophets set forth the wonderful way of reconciliation with God BUT a tremendous emphasis is laid upon exposing the deceits of hell!
Isaiah chapter one has that wonderful gospel offer. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool,” verse 18.
But it should be noticed that BEFORE this TRUTH was set forth, the prophet exposed the ERROR of the day!
“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment,” Isaiah 1:2-6.
The error that had been embraced and the explanation of the consequences of the accepting of the lie must come before a means of deliverance is proffered.
Today’s preachers should learn this truth!
2. This methodology was embraced by the apostles. On the day of Pentecost, under the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, amongst the very first words Peter preached were these:
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain,” Acts 2:22-23.
He then went on to say:
“Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ,” verses 29-36.
The result of such preaching was glorious indeed.
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls,” verses 37-41.
Here is why preachers today should adopt such a style of preaching!
It was not only Peter who preached so. John, the ‘apostle of love’ likewise laid an emphasis upon exposing and opposing error.
“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time,” 1 John 2:18.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world,” 1 John 4:1.
“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist,” 2 John 1:7.
Paul did the same when he preached, an example of which are his words to the elders of Ephesus.
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears,” Acts 20:28-31.
Jude likewise gives preachers an example of the predominant place the exposing of error should have in our preaching.
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance,” Jude 1:3-5.
3. I believe that the failing of the pulpit today is a setting aside of a stressing of this need of contending against the deceptions of the devil. I believe that ministers should be ‘laying into’ the false prophets of the modernist churches unrelentingly. They should not be seen to give credence to compromising evangelicals who are in the apostasy by fellowingshipping with them or socialising with them! Such actions give a very wrong impression of the acceptability of that man’s compromising of God’s truth by his disobedience to the plain command to separate!
A long time ago in the old hut that housed Lisbellaw Free Presbyterian Church, I preached from Amos 7:12-15.
“Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there: But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court. Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.”
I was preaching against the attitude of many Christians who would that I should leave off denouncing the errors of ecumenism and popery. But like Amos I felt that I have been called of God to just such a ministry. At my ordination service Dr Paisley had preached from Jeremiah chapter 1. He laid great emphasis on verses 9-10.
“Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.”
Dr Paisley stressed that there could be no building or planting until there was a rooting out, a pulling down, a destroying and a throwing down.
How contrary that is to the pathetic notions of the modern preacher who feels he must be ‘positive’!
Let him ‘positively’ obey God and boldly give himself to following the instructions given to Jeremiah. After all, that is the methodology of the farmer! He has to plough in order to break up, to root out and to prepare the ground for planting. There can be no harvest without that order being followed.
As is so often the case, the Lord is ever ready to show those slow to heed His Word what it is He would have them do by writing it large in the book of creation!
Christian, which camp are you in? That of the devil’s deception of the Saviour’s truth?
Preacher, are you exercising a ministry that is modelled on the prophets and apostles or are you an insipid devotee of the modern ‘evangelical’ philosopher, who would have you think that he is wiser than God and that his methods are better than those of the only King and Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ’?
I am with Joshua.
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD,”Joshua 24:15.
Rev Ivan Foster (RTD)
3rd November 2023