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Truth and Deception
By David A. DePra
Jesus Christ is the Truth and He is the Light. God's purpose is that He be formed in us -- that we come into an inward realization of Him; knowledge of Him. This is not merely doctrinal, intellectual, or emotional. It is spiritual -- and it is the ONLY way in which Christians can be set free. But Satan will do all he can to abort this work of God. Christians need to be aware of his devices and understand how to continue in the light.
How could such a thing be? How could darkness and lies deceive us in such a convincing way? Because the lies of Satan will feed our natural man; our religious flesh. In short, the lies of the enemy will, in some way, give the SELF what it craves. When the natural, religious nature of man – which is centered in the SELF life – is nourished, it will FEEL GOOD. There are many people today who are walking, not only in darkness, but actually involving themselves in the occult -- who are presently rejoicing because they think they have been set free.
Of course, many of us are ignorant. But the fact is, the enemy can only deceive us if he has material to work with – he needs a ground in us that will be receptive to the lies. We all have that ground. Thus, we must come under the work of the Cross and allow God to undercut that ground – so that we might experience Christ.
All of this would certainly be scary if we were left to fend for ourselves in sorting these things out. But Jesus Christ promised to lead us into all Truth. So despite the dangers and possibilities of deception for a Christian – and those ARE real – we have Christ in us. He IS the Truth. So we need to continually seek Him, yield to Him, lose our lives to Him, and be growing to know Him. Error cannot deceive us if we know Jesus Christ.
The Subtle Lies of the Enemy
The word, “subtle,” means, “making use of clever and indirect methods to achieve something.” This aptly describes the most common device of the enemy. Indeed, the first mention of the enemy in the Bible states, “Now the serpent was more SUBTLE than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” (Gen. 3:1) And frankly, if you examine the places in the Bible where the Devil is mentioned, you will find that in many places, this evil one even quotes scripture – BUT with the intent to deceive. That is subtle – to use the Bible to deceive Christian people – to deceive those who claim to be living BY scripture.
Now, someone might ask, “How does the enemy deceive by USING scripture?” By suggesting that it MEANS something God never intended. Anyone can read what the Bible says. But what the Bible means by what it says is another issue altogether. And how can the enemy get people to accept a meaning other than what God intended? By suggesting a meaning that corresponds to some false idea that they have of God – even if it is an inarticulate one. In a practical sense, the enemy will suggest Bible meanings by giving people a meaning that appeals to them religious – to their SELF -- either positively or negatively. A positive meaning will offer people what they want. A negative meaning will threaten and incite fear. This is, of course, only possible if we do not know the Person of Jesus Christ. That being the case, then any false meaning will suffice – because it will not be the Truth.
Today in the churches, deception is everywhere. The Bible has either been abandoned, or if not, made to mean some of the most ridiculous things imaginable. Satan has accomplished much. Heresy is more the norm than the exception.
What is Heresy?
What is HERESY? Usually when we think of that word, “heresy,” we think of false doctrine – doctrine that is contrary to scripture. That is true – heresy will contradict the Bible. Or -- heresy will suggest as true something that isn’t in the Bible at all. There is a lot of that around today -- people will say, “What I believe may not be in the Bible, but there is nothing in the Bible that contradicts it either.” If we wanted to be sarcastic, we might answer, “Wasn’t it inconsiderate of God to leave so much out of His Word?” I think the point is made. You want to enter into things not in scripture? You are going to be deceived.
A look at the Greek word translated, “heresy,” gives us a little more of an idea of the meaning behind that word. The Greek word is, “hairesis,” which simply means, “a choice.” Why that word? What is wrong with, “a choice?” Well, do we realize that you and I do not get to CHOOSE what the Truth is? We do not get to invent our own Truth, and by definition, there isn’t a list of possible Truths that we can choose from -- according to our own personal preferences. Truth is not what we desire, think it ought to be, FEEL like it is, or fear what it might be. Truth simply IS. And it never changes. Rather, Truth is revealed. It is given to us in a Person, Jesus Christ. So again – Truth already IS. Thus, our, “choice,” is not as to what the Truth will be for us. Our, “choice,” is whether to embrace it in Christ.
Here is see one way in which Satan deceives. As noted, he will suggest to us a Bible meaning that will appeal to our flesh – either positively or negatively. We will then CHOOSE that meaning; believe it is the Truth. People believe what they believe for REASONS – they don’t just pull it out of a hat. And the reason we believe lies is, yes, that we don’t know the Truth – but we believe the lies that appeal to us. They correspond to us -- to our bias, fears, pride, intents, and brain power. There is a place in us in which they can find a home. Otherwise we would NOT believe them.
Unless we have seen the Truth in Christ and have been set free, we are going to CHOOSE AS TRUTH whatever corresponds to ourselves. We will do so without realizing what is happening. And if we do, this can be HERESY.
Simply put, Truth is OUT FROM CHRIST – revealed to His people – received by faith. It will set us free and adjust us to be able to walk with Christ. Heresy is OUT FROM MAN – suggested by Satan, the father of lies – and can be quite religious. Ultimately, it will result in a hybrid form of Christianity, void of the personal cross, which preserves and promotes the interests of man – the interests of RELIGIOUS man.
Can we see that much of what determines Truth from heresy has to do with the SOURCE? There is no Truth in natural man. So how can any Truth come out from him? It cannot. Even if we intellectually grasp Truth, if it is not brought alive by the revelation of Jesus within, we will turn it into that which corresponds to the flesh.
There Must Be Heresies
“There must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” (I Cor. 11:19)
One reason God allows Satan to try to deceive people is that He intends to use those very temptations to bring us into the Truth. How? Well, if we are presented with lies, those lies will appeal to our hearts and ignorance. We may not even realize those weak points. But if we have an open heart before the Lord, those lies will become clear – and we will find the Truth on those very points upon which Satan sought to deceive us. We will then be able to repent and renounce those places in our hearts that were dark. The temptations exposed those – but in finding the Truth we have become stronger in the Lord.
For example, if my natural man is given to be legalistic, Satan will play upon that. He will offer me a picture of God that will appeal to that; affirm that false picture. I may even begin to read INTO the Bible those lies. But because God is faithful, He will bring the Truth to me – through any number of means -- He will seek to uproot, not merely the lies, but more importantly, He will expose the places in my heart that gave place to those lies. I will need to repent and take my place in His Cross. And as I do repent and see the Truth, those very areas that were weak will become points of strength – I will have seen the Truth on those matters.
How many see that the issue here is NOT our ability to sort out theology? No. The issue is our heart. Do we really want the Truth? No matter what it takes? Well, if we do want the Truth no matter what it takes, then we still cannot want it more than God wants us to have it – and He has promised to guide us into all Truth. As He does guide us, He will deal with our hearts. The rest will then fall into place.
To be guided into the Truth is not merely a matter of discovering the meaning of Bible verses. It is to BE MADE TRUE unto God by having the places in my heart that are UNTRUE to God exposed. I repent of these, and seek God no matter what it takes for the Truth. Then I am IN the Truth, or better said, the Truth is in me. Jesus Christ now has a greater release in me.
Paul said that there must be heresies – that is, God will allow them in the church – so that those who are GENUINE – truly want Christ – will be made manifest. If you truly want Jesus Christ in Truth this will be proven when faced with the lies of the enemy. Your open heart before the Lord will ensure this. You may fail and stumble and fall. But in the end, your faith will be proven genuine. God will see to it.
Jesus Christ is the Truth
Jesus Christ directed stated, “I am the Truth.” (Jn. 14:6) John wrote, “Grace and Truth came in Jesus Christ.” (Jn. 1:17) Note: Jesus does not GIVE Truth. No. Jesus Christ IS Truth.
How about the Bible? Isn’t the Bible the Truth? Sure. But there is a relationship between the Person of Christ and the written Word. There is only ONE TRUTH. Jesus is the Living Truth, and the Bible is the written Truth – and thus, the two will always agree completely. What this means is that all that God reveals in Christ will be, at least in principle, found in the written Word. And all that is in the inspired written Word will tell the Truth about the Living Christ.
Herein we see the definition of TRUE Christian doctrine: True Christian doctrine is not only found in the written Word, but because it is, true Christian doctrine, “tells the Truth,” about the Truth Himself, Jesus Christ. False doctrine will lie about God and His Son, and their plan and purpose. Thus, doctrine is never a thing unto itself. It is a matter of what it says about the nature and character of God – in conjunction with scripture.
All through the NT we see the emphasis on the essential of Jesus Christ being revealed IN US. Paul’s great travail in Galatians 4:19 was that, “Christ be formed in you.” The Greek speaks of an inward realization of Jesus Christ. Paul also said that Christ was revealed IN HIM. Thus, the Bible itself – the written Truth – tells us directly that it is the desire and purpose of God to reveal Jesus Christ, the living Truth, in His people.
Put this all together and you will see that Jesus Christ must be revealed in us – and as He is, the meaning of His written Word will not only become clear, but will become LIVING. That meaning will agree with His nature, character, and plan. In other words, Truth that is revealed TO us and IN US will be OUT FROM GOD. Contrast this over and against heresy: Heresy is what comes out from people – because it agrees with something in those people. It is read INTO the Bible – the Bible is made to mean what is IN people in their darkness.
So we see that Jesus Christ is the Living Truth. The Bible is the written Truth. But there is only ONE Truth – and so the two will absolutely agree. God will never reveal anything to us by His Spirit that is not in the written Word. And the written Word will always affirm that which God reveals in the Person of Christ.
A Singleness of Heart
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matt. 6:22-25)
According to Jesus Christ, the key to seeing the Truth is a SINGLE EYE. If my eye is SINGLE my whole body – that is, all that I am – will be filled with light. But if my eye is not single, I could become so deceived that I will actually think that the darkness that is in me is light.
What is an eye that is SINGLE? It is a heart that wants God to have His will no matter what it takes. There is no other consideration. Thus, the place to start is by telling the Lord, “Lord, do whatever it takes to get your will in my life. Do whatever it takes to bring me into the fullness of Christ and get Your glory.” Even if we don’t realize what we are saying and even if there are places in our hearts which are not quite single at that point, such a commitment to God will put things in HIS hands. That is all God wants – that we lose ourselves into His hands for whatever it takes.
Certainly, this singleness of heart is the key to knowing the Truth. If we give ourselves to Jesus Christ and ask Him to do whatever it takes to bring us into the Truth – that is a single heart. But it will take time for God to do whatever it takes. Never think that coming into the knowledge of the Truth – i.e. – having Christ revealed in you – is simply a matter of understanding the meaning of Bible verses. No. It is to know CHRIST HIMSELF in an inward way – which as noted – will absolutely agree with scripture. Truth sets us free to fellowship with God.
Here again we see that heresy can only find a home in us because of an eye that is not single. Maybe we do not know the necessity for a single eye. Perhaps we are truly ignorant. But it is nevertheless a fact that all error finds it’s root in the heart of humanity – the teachings and heresies simply find a home in that heart. This is why it requires God to guide us into all Truth. His work does not being with the brain. It begins by dealing with the heart in making it single to Himself – to make a home for Himself in our hearts -- so that the whole life can be filled with Truth.
The False Gospel of ME
All of that is a foundation. Jesus Christ is the Truth. He is revealed to us. We must have a single heart towards God. Otherwise, what we believe will be from out of ourselves; a product of religious flesh. Understand these foundational principles, and you will see why there is so much heresy in today’s church.
One of the fastest growing false movements in today’s church is what might be called, “The gospel of ME.” Simply put, this is a subtle (there is that word again) – this is a subtle deception of the enemy that religiously side-steps the personal cross and seeks to establish a Christianity based on the old life – natural man. We read about the principle upon which this evil gospel is based in Matthew 16:
From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (Matt. 16:21-25)
Note that when Peter suggested that the Cross was not necessary that Jesus replied, “Get behind Me, Satan!” Do we grasp the gravity of that reply? And it wasn’t just the Cross of Jesus that was at issue here. It is just as much our personal Cross that was at issue – Jesus immediately says, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up HIS CROSS…..” Thus, any suggestion that there is NOT a personal cross, or any FALSE MEANING where of that personal cross, is likewise Satanic.
Why? Because the personal cross is the means by which we are set free from the old life – the life wherein all of the lies of the enemy can find a home. The personal cross, in one form or another, is the means by which God, “does whatever it takes,” to bring us into the knowledge of the Truth.
So many Christian people try to overcome or fix this or that problem – our intentions might be sincere enough. But we are wasting our time unless we do as Jesus said to do: Pick up our cross and lose our lives – our natural lives. Why? Again – it is because all sin, errors of the heart, unbelief, and the flesh – all of it – is found in that natural life. How can we hope to overcome what is rooted in the old life if we do not lose that old life? How can we hope to find Christ as our life if our Christianity is based on the natural man?
It is here that we MUST see what it means to be IN CHRIST. When we are saved, scripture tells us that we are, “joined to the Lord and are one spirit with Him.” (I Cor. 6:17) This is a resurrection union of our human spirit with Christ through His Holy Spirit. That union is why we are saved – Christ is then OUR LIFE. But again – that is purely spiritual. All that is outside of our spiritual union with Christ is NOT spiritual, but remains natural – our body, our brain, and our soul life. Thus, within each believer there is this separation between soul and spirit – the natural and the spiritual; the flesh and the spiritual. And the two are not only unlike each other, but they are utterly contrary to each other.
What this means is that there is going to be conflict and warfare within each of us. If we cut right to the root of things, that conflict really boils down to which LIFE will govern us. Will we be governed by the life of Christ that is present in us through His Spirit – which will progressively bring under the Lordship of Jesus our body and soul? Or will we be governed by the flesh and natural man, thus quenching the Spirit? That is the warfare.
Now, having said all of that – again, so that we might be able to understand the point before us – can we see the utter futility, indeed, the diabolical deception, if we are trying to establish a Christianity based on our natural man? Of course, we will not call it that. Here is where the subtle deceptions and false meanings of the enemy come in. A Christianity based upon natural man – with the intention of fixing, repairing, improving, and injecting life into the old man in Adam – this will not only seem like a good thing, but it will FEEL like a good thing. Bible verses will be applied – but applied to the WRONG LIFE; the natural life. In reality, this is nothing more than a denial of the personal cross. It is a saving of the very life that Christ tells us to lose – and a blindness to the Person of Jesus Christ.
Christianity today is being infiltrated by this Gospel of ME. It is a Christianity that is blind to the Person of Jesus Christ – to what it means to be IN HIM – blind to the separation of soul and Spirit. It is a Christianity that is focused upon making the natural man the best he can be. It is a Christianity dedicated to doing an autopsy on the dead old man in Adam and then trying to put him back together so that he can function like a Christian. It is about becoming, “the real you; the best you.” It is a life wherein God supposedly wants to bring out your latent greatness – wherein He wants to tap into, “your gifts,” and use them for His glory. But again – all of this is based on a blindness to the Truth of Christ within. And once that blindness is established, then the default will always be natural man. Thus, millions are operating from out of themselves – from out of their natural man – all the while thinking that they are experiencing Christ. Millions are, in fact, rejoicing in all that God has done in them. It is utter deception.
When God created Adam, he created a being that had tremendous potential in every aspect of his makeup. But when Adam walked away from God, all that he was came under the power of darkness. Certainly one of the greatest capacities that came under this power was the SOUL.
Man has a body – all that can be physically seen. But man also has aspects of his makeup that we cannot see. Primary to these are the human spirit and the human soul. Without God, the human spirit is still there – but it is corrupt and dead. The human soul consists of things like emotions, mind, etc. Without Jesus Christ in us, human beings live entirely upon the natural body and soul level. It is through the body and soul that we think, feel, perceive, and are governed.
The problem is that because of the sin of Adam, the soul realm is the territory of Satan. It is his point of access in man – and continues to be even in those born again. Why? Because as already noted, we are saved through our union with Christ in Spirit. Our body and soul are not yet saved in this age, although they need to be brought under the government of Christ. Indeed, if Christ is revealed in us, He will eventually be made unto us sanctification – He will be manifested through us – certainly in our body and soul. Note that his is not yet the salvation of body and soul. That will only happen in the resurrection.
Here is the point: If our Christianity is that of the natural and soul man, we are not only operating upon the very life Jesus told us to lose, but we are operating upon the very ground of Satan. Deception will be a guarantee. But that deception will be subtle. Those deceived will think they are free. They will FEEL great! But in reality, they will be standing aloof from Christ – they will be living in unbelief.
The soul life of man longs for gratification. To feel good about ourselves. To use God and the things of God to achieve that. We think that the alternative is to feel bad about ourselves. If left to ourselves, that is true. But we are not left to ourselves. God wants to deliver us from self altogether – it is what it means TO LOSE OUR LIFE. It will set us free from the preoccupation with ourselves and all of our efforts to fix our natural man. Our lives will then be based solely upon the Christ who is in us.
Satan will appeal to the soul life – to that which is outside of our union with Christ. His goal is to get us to live from out of that natural life, thinking we are walking with Christ as our life. To practice this or that error is bad enough, but the real goal of Satan is to get us living from out of the WRONG life – our life. If we do that, nothing else will be right.
Standing Aloof from Christ
Often Christian people have a completely wrong idea as to what it means to stand aloof from Christ -- to love darkness rather than light; to walk according to the flesh. For example, we usually think of SINNING in the sense of outward conduct, or of even inward thoughts. But at the risk of sounding like these don’t matter – they are actually secondary, and often results, not causes. Indeed, you could live what is considered to be a "clean life" -- and yet be in complete darkness. Read Galatians. Their problem was that their faith was in their own works -- in their own righteousness. They were certainly not sinning in any outward way. No. But they were absolutely sinning and in darkness because their faith was not in Christ. In fact, Paul said they were under, “another gospel.”
If my Christianity is based upon my natural man – whether my efforts come from there, or whether I am trying to fix and repair my natural man – I am in unbelief. And whether I think so or not, my faith is not in Christ, but is, to a greater or lesser degree, in myself and in my righteousness. The faith of a believer MUST be in the ONE who is "other than themselves" -- Christ -- indeed our faith must be to the EXCLUSION of ourselves, and solely in Him, not only because of what He has done, but in Him AS OUR LIFE.
If I begin to live on the basis of the natural life -- or if I have never stopped living from out of myself -- I am in unbelief. If I am trying to fix and repair the old man that God says is under the Cross and needs to be LET GO -- I am sinning in unbelief. If I am trying to find in myself or create in myself any life, rather than live from out of Christ by faith, I am sinning.
As you can see, we all do these things without realizing it. Most enter into these programs and systems of thinking believing that GOD uses them. No. He is not using them. There is just Christ. Isn't He enough? Well, we don't believe. In actuality, failing to lose our lives under the Cross to Him is the sin of unbelief, and will put everything else we do on the wrong basis. I must lose my life to find Him as my life.
I know many people who know all the words of the gospel and scripture, and who even know we must lose our lives, but who then turn right around and are using the methods of man and the wisdom of this world to try to fix themselves -- and then they say that THIS IS HOW Christ has worked with them. They say, "It worked! I am free!" No, you got what you wanted and what pleased your flesh. Can we see the subtle deception of Satan? He feeds our flesh with what it wants – with what makes it feel good, even good in a religious way. And then props it up with Bible verses. And when our deception is sealed we will be filled with darkness within and call it LIGHT.
The problem goes back to where we would not lose our lives – pick up our cross. To something we wanted to own or save about ourselves rather than lose. And that opened the door. But don’t misunderstand – these things may begin in ignorance. But God is faithful. And so often when He mercifully brings us the Truth to stop our path, people will not stop. They are invested, and committed to their error. Perhaps they have taught others and have gained admiration and a following. Maybe they have garnered from themselves a sense of importance. Regardless, we must lose it all – let it all go into the hands of Jesus. It is the only way we can come into a true knowledge of Him and be set free.
We must come to the total end of all of this nonsense. We have to realize that God has made it no more complicated than FAITH - the faith of a child that is resting directly upon the Father. It is amazing how the biggest work of God through His Spirit is to set us free from all of our self effort, confusion, and attempts to harness His power, and to bring us down to ZERO so that we can simply receive all that God has freely given in Christ. And the fact is, we WON'T receive it -- we won't KNOW to receive it or be able to live in it -- until we are reduced down to nothing. "Blessed are the poor in spirit -- those who are spiritually bankrupt in themselves -- for theirs is the kingdom of God."
God is Faithful
If Jesus had not promised to guide us into all Truth, and if God were not faithful, and if we were left to fend for ourselves, we could simply classify ourselves as victims. But this is not the Truth. God loves each of us and desires that ALL come into the knowledge of the Truth in Jesus Christ. That takes time and much living, but it is His goal. And so, if we can do nothing to help ourselves, what are we to do? Believe. And fundamental to, “believing ON,” the Lord Jesus, is to lose myself unconditionally into His hands. We have a SELF – and because we do – God tells us to do the one thing we can and must do: Surrender that self to HIM. Tell God to do, “whatever it takes,” to set us free from any possible deception and bring us into the fullness of Christ.
Jesus Christ has won ever victory over sin and Satan. But all of His victory is in HIS PERSON. Thus, it is only as our faith is IN HIM, and we live from out of Him, that His victory can be experienced. We cannot experience His victory by living out from our old man. Therefore, we see the battle – flesh against Spirit of Christ. May God open our eyes to this Truth and give us the grace to enter into His fullness.
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