It’s always interested me that in the book of Galatians Peter was publicly rebuked by Paul because Peter reverted to a gospel of works when the Jewish contingent arrived. In other words, no matter how well-renowned the speaker or author is, even his words and actions must conform to the Bible.
The reason for public correction is illustrated here. When people are misled, one way for them to understand the truth and the error is for them to become publicly aware of the errors they were taught. There is a book on the market that is incredibly successful; it also contains much error. Instead of being influenced by the Word of God, the book is heavily influenced by another book that is also known to be riddled with error. There were millions – yes, millions – of people who daily read this popular book, and are therefore influenced by not just one book with errors, but two. Like the story above with Peter and Paul, it is important for error to be recognized publicly, since it affects people publicly. The Word of God is the only true foundation and standard of truth.
It was not earthquakes and wars and famines that Jesus said over and over in Matthew 24 would be the signs of the end, but deception. When Matthew 24:24 states that if possible even the very elect can be led astray, the grammar means that it is indeed possible.
The whole chapter of Deuteronomy 13 is a warning about deception, but perhaps the most alarming verses are 1-3:
“1. If a prophet arises among you and gives you a sign or wonder 2.and the sign or wonder he foretells comes to pass and if he says, Let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and let us serve them. 3.You shall not listen to the words of that prophet; for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your mind and heart and with your entire being.” (Deuteronomy 13: 1-3 AMP)
Note: the man called himself a prophet of God. He came from among them, like the tares are among the wheat, like error comes alongside truth. And, incredibly, what he said came to pass! It looked good! Yet, in Deuteronomy 13: verses 8 and 9, God says not to listen to him; on the contrary, He says that the prophet is to be put to death for talking rebellion.
The Lord says all this deception is sent as a test to know whether we love Him totally. Interestingly, the remedy for deception is for us to do our own “testing.” In 1 Th 5: 21 we are commanded by God to “prove all things until you can recognize what is good; to that hold fast.” The word “prove” in Scripture is a metallurgist’s term. It is referred to in Jeremiah 6: 27-30. An assayer or prover is to test ore closely because fool’s gold looks so much like real gold (it “looks good.”) Once the assayer tests the ore and discovers it is gold, he then tests it further to see how pure that gold is – 10k, 12k, 24k, Interesting isn’t it? God tests us to see if we are gold and how pure gold we are, and we are to test all things to see if they are gold and how pure they are. In Acts 17: 11 the Bereans were commended as being “more noble” because they took the Scriptures so seriously that they even tested the teachings of Paul. Notice that they did not use the fluctuating criteria of emotions or experiences in their testing; they used the only one reliable, trustworthy, infallible standard – the Word of God.
Isaiah 8:20 commands: “Direct people to the teaching and the testimony; if their teachings are not in accord with this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
Where is the purest gold found? in the City of God (Revelation 21:21). We are only fit for this Golden City as we, too, are purified and immerse ourselves in pure teaching. In John 17:17 Jesus Himself said: “Sanctify them by the Truth. Thy Word is truth.” Not our emotions, not our experiences, not by how “good” it looks or sounds or feels…by Thy Word.
Deception is the sign of the end times. So says Jesus in Matthew 24 in v. 4, 5, 11, 23, 24. So says Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. One of our preachers at church was speaking on the end times and he said emphatically “ if you ever would covet anything, covet the gift of discernment.”
How often have we been hearing lately about “miraculous signs and wonders”? The problem is that whenever signs and wonders are mentioned in the Bible in relation to the end times, they are called LYING signs and wonders! So says Jesus in Matthew 24:24 and Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 ( see also 2 Peter 2). Jesus in fact warns strongly against signs and wonders in Matthew 12:39 and 16:4 –“An evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Then why are so many today being applauded for the “signs and wonders” in their midst?
We cannot test what we see and hear by our emotions or by experience. The only remedy for deception is the truth, the objective truth of God’s Word. We must discern what is light and what is darkness. We must test the origins of any revival, its teachings and its total conformity to Scripture. Only by testing can we know what is true and to be embraced and what is deception and to be avoided.
Our criteria for truth, therefore, is not if it looks, sounds or feels good. Partaking of the tree of the knowledge of GOOD and evil was our first sin – thinking we knew what was good. The remedy for that sin in the Garden of Eden was “Yes, God HATH said!” Today, the remedy is still the same – has God said in His Word that it is good. Let our prayer be that in Isaiah 11: 2-3:
“(That) the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon ( us), the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the reverential and obedient fear of he Lord. And make us of quick understanding, and let your delight be in the reverential and obedient fear of the Lord. And (let us) NOT judge by the sight of (our eyes) neither decide by the hearing of our ears…Nor by how “good” it looks or sounds or feels. Amen.” (Isaiah 11:2-3 Amplified Version).
Have you ever viewed a book – especially a best-selling book – with a discerning eye? Have you ever thought of consulting discernment sites to view critiques of a book you are thinking of buying? Most importantly, have you gotten into the habit of praying for discernment about books you read or speakers (old or new to you)? Might you now? Click Here to go to the assignment page and select
END OF LESSON
Written by Barbara Wilhelm with much-needed assistance from Michelle Arrington, Ariel McGarry, Carol White, JPWilhelm and Tracy Yoder
Featured Image: “Moloch”. Image from page 222 of “The pictorial Bible and commentator: presenting the great truths of God’s word in the most simple, pleasing, affectionate, and instructive manner” (1878) https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/14577460999