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One of the greatest tools the devil uses to deceive a generation is to take Biblical terminology, distort its meaning, and then replace it for the original meaning. Examples include "Jesus", "Holy Spirit", "Grace", "Truth", "Hell", "Judging", "Christian", "Church", "Gospel", "Revival", "Marriage", "Family", "Freedom", "Rights", "Tolerance", "Love", and a host of other things. The devil has worked so masterfully in this biblically illiterate age that we are living in a time when Truth is now regarded as a lie and the lie is regarded as the truth, when good is regarded as evil and evil is regarded as good, when light is regarded as darkness and darkness is regarded as light, and when those who stand for God's Truth are regarded as bigots and those who defend and promote perversion are regarded as liberators. This is the Satan's means to bring in the great apostasy among "Christians" prior to the revelation of the man of lawlessness upon the earth. I came across some notes from a graduation I attended several years ago. Judge Cynthia Kent's words are truer now than then.
"We are living in an age of distortions. People are taking foundational concepts such as the family and distorting them until they are unable to be recognized. There really is a right and there really is a wrong. We must confront these distortions by confronting them--challenging them--with the truth. The power of distortion is in who is asking in the questions.
Pick a number between 2-10.
Multiply that number by nine.
Add the two numbers in the two digits together.
Subtract 5 from that number.
Transpose the number to a letter (A=1, B=2, C=3, etc.)
Pick a country or state that starts with that letter.
Take the second letter in that name and think of a circus animal that starts with that letter and its color.
(Note: The answer is below. No peeking!)
The truth is not complicated for those who believe the Word."
--Judge Cynthia Kent, Tyler Christian Fellowship School Graduation, May, 1993
Don't be fooled by the devil's distortions! Stay true to the Word of God.
(ANSWER: Gray Elephant)
God designed our natural bodies to hunger. The LORD set certain trees in the Garden of Eden from which Adam and Eve could eat and one tree from which they were forbidden to eat. In the Old Testament God used the dietary laws to teach His people to discern between what is clean and what is unclean. Eating what is unclean made them unclean in regard to their worship. It was not for them to determine what was clean and unclean based upon their opinions, philosophies, traditions, reasoning, or experiences regardless of their intentions or sincerity. Their responsibility was to believe and obey what God said. God created us with spiritual hunger. How we choose to satisfy our spiritual hunger will determine our spiritual health. Satan deceived Eve into satisfying her hunger with forbidden fruit. Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger outside of God's will. The Word of God rather spiritual hunger is to guide our lives. Spiritual hunger should drive us to the Word of God. God uses spiritual hunger as a test to see if we will be loyal or disloyal to what the LORD has spoken. Our hunger will lead us either to truth or to treason, to discernment or to deception, to holiness or to heresy, to worship or to wickedness, to deliverance or to death. The LORD has set His table of truth before us. Don't feast at Satan's table of lies. Satisfy your spiritual hunger on the Word of God and pass God's hunger test.
Deuteronomy 8:2–3 (NKJV) "And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD."
Matthew 16:24 (NKJV) "Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'"
The Gospel is a gospel of self-denial rather than a gospel of self-fulfillment. Self-denial is opposed to the modern versions of the self-esteem or self-help gospels being promoted today in books, pulpits, and on radio, television, and internet. The self-help gospel is clearly articulated by Robert Schueller, one of the fathers of the modern self-esteem gospel, in his book written years ago, "Self-Esteem: The New Reformation": "It is precisely at this point that classical theology in its insistence that theology be God-centered and not man-centered...This masterplan of God is designed around the deepest needs of human beings. And what are those needs? Self-dignity, self-respect, self-worth, self-esteem. The pearl of great price is genuine self-respect and self-esteem...If we follow God's plan as faithfully as we can we will feel good about ourselves...God needs you and me to create a society of self-esteeming people."
That message "feels" so good! Many people are "feeling saved" by that message. But is their "soul" being saved or something else? Is this a gospel of "self-salvation" rather than "soul-salvation"? The difference is huge. Could it be "another gospel" that Paul warns us about? (2 Corinthians 11:4) Compare the self-esteem message with the message of Jesus: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me." There seems to be a contradiction here. Are we to assume that Jesus did not "get it"? Did He not understand that the "deepest needs of human beings" is "self-dignity, self-respect, self-worth, self-esteem"? Was He too negative? The great delusion of the self-esteem gospel is that good is trapped within the human heart by negative thinking caused by negative influences. The belief is that men are by nature good but are trapped in a cycle of bad behavior because of negative thinking. They will be good if they will think positively about themselves. Is that true? Is there good trapped within the human heart? Consider Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV) “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" Are we to believe that men left to themselves without law, restraint, or consequence will do what is right? Would not anarchy rule instead? Would not men become utterly wicked instead? Consider again the words of Paul: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells." (Romans 7:18 NKJV) Paul says there is "nothing good" in self. Was Paul wrong? Aren't there good people? Jesus said that there is none good except God. (Mark 10:18) Paul said, "There is none righteous, no not one." (Romans 3:23) The Bible teaches that there is nothing good in self. Self has no goodness by which to save itself. If it does, then the Cross was unnecessary. Jesus should not have come to save sinners but rather negative people. The self-esteem gospel is another gospel. It is a gospel that offers redemption of self rather than the soul. It offers salvation without the Cross. The self-esteem gospel fails to see self as the enemy of the human soul. It fails to see the utter corruption and deception of the self life. Self is by nature self-centered, self-promoting, and selfish. It is consumed with self-fulfillment. Self seeks to find a life of its own apart from God. Self counterfeits life as lust counterfeits love. Freedom of the human soul will never be found in the gospel of self-esteem but only through the message of the cross. Wherever self lives and reigns, the soul is lost: "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (Matthew 16:25 NKJV) Therefore it is no wonder that self hates the message of the cross that confronts and destroys it. It is no wonder that self seeks a gospel that eliminates the cross so it can live and prosper. Through the message of the cross God awakens a desire in the lost human soul to follow Jesus. Self rises to resist that desire. "Self" is like a husk around the seed of the human soul that must broken for new life to begin. Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain." (John 12:24 NKJV) The true Gospel is a call for men to deny self to follow Jesus. It is a call to take up the cross and die to self so that the soul might live. It is the only hope of freedom for the lost human soul.
Genesis 18:17–20 (NKJV) "And the LORD said, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, 18 since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.' 20 And the LORD said, 'Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave,'" God chose to establish His covenant of redemption and blessing with Abraham because Abraham would be faithful to teach His children the way of the LORD. It is interesting that the context in which God said this is when He was about to judge Sodom and Gomorrah for their openly homosexual practices. When a society begins to openly approve and defend homosexuality including gay marriage, it is evidenced that the society has been given over to a reprobate mind and will not turn back to God (Romans 1:18-32). Outside of people turning to Christ, the only option left to a holy God is cleanse that society of the destructive consequences of its sin through judgment. When I hear that our President made his decision to support gay marriage by sitting around the table with his wife and children and being questioned on why gay couples should be treated differently than traditional marriage couples, he failed to do what Abraham did. He missed the teachable moment. He did not teach them the way of the Lord on this issue. I am not our President's judge. I pray for mercy on him, his family, and on our nation. America is no better than Sodom and Gomorrah at this moment. It has been said that if God doesn't judge America, then He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. Rather than judge our President or other liberal politicians, it is time for us to reflect upon the state of our own heart and what we value most. Our elected officials reflect the values of those who elected them. What does this tell us about us? I believe it tells us that we are a society more interested in another government handout and political correctness than it is in obtaining the blessing of God. We have made Caesar our god and ceased to fear the Lord. Where are God's prophets who will address sin and call America back to God? Where are the godly fathers and mothers who will teach their household the word of God? If our nation is to survive then it will happen when parents begin teaching their families to keep the way of the Lord no matter what our fickle culture is saying at any given moment. I am not anyone's judge. I am among those who will be judged by God. I want to be on God's side of every issue when that day comes. God wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah. He alone will have the final say on the issue of homosexuality, gay marriage, fornication, adultery and every other sin.
In Ezra 9-10 we find an interesting account of the consequences associated with compromise and mixture. The Jews who had returned from Babylonian captivity disobeyed the LORD and intermarried with pagan wives and had children. As an act of repentance, they agreed to put away their pagan wives and the children they had with them. Think about it. Putting away a wife and children must have been very difficult and heart wrenching. They had learned to love things outside of God's will. They had developed intimacy, affection, and interest in things that God were contrary to God's covenant. So it is when we involve ourselves in mixture whether of the flesh or spirit. Our involvement with mixture bears an illegitimate fruit that we love but God hates. We are resistive to put away the "ministry" or "fruit" we have born while involved in mixture. But if we are going to be true to God, God will require us to put away our mixture and the offspring of compromise. Abraham had to do with Ishmael before Isaac could take his place. Ishmael despised and mocked Isaac. So will the children of compromise (the flesh) despise and mock the true seed (the spirit). In this sense, these "children" of the flesh will resist the true covenant work of God. It is a grievous thing to acknowledge our sin and put away false ministries birthed in the flesh, but failing to do so will prevent us from producing righteous seed who can inherit and walk in covenant blessing.
1 Thessalonians 5:21–22 (NKJV) "Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil."
One of the greatest dangers warned about in Scripture is deception. "Oh, don't worry about me. I'll never be deceived!" If that is your sentiment, then friend, you are already deceived! The reality is that deceived people don't know they are deceived. If they did, they wouldn't be deceived! The most dangerous form of deception involves mixture. For instance, at one time a person may prophesy by the Spirit of God (1 Samuel 10:6, 10) and then later the same person can prophesy through a demonic spirit (1 Samuel 18:10). Many mistakenly assume that if a person speaks by the Spirit of God on one occasion then everything else they say must be from God. Remember Peter who spoke by the revelation of God in Matthew 16:16-17 and then as a spokesman of Satan in Matthew 16:22-23. In regard to mixture, if we do not "test all things", then we will react in one of two ways: blind faith or cynicism. Blind faith focuses on the good and accepts the bad. Cynicism focuses on the bad and rejects the good. Both are wrong responses that will land us in opposite ditches along the pathway of truth. True discernment involves the process of testing by the Word of God. Testing enables us to discern and accept the good while rejecting the evil (Hebrews 5:14). We are living in dangerous spiritual times because people have drifted so far from the Word of God. As a result people have embraced false prophets who introduce doctrines of demons, lying signs, and false experiences. These false prophets first seek to gain credibility and influence among the flock as they "transform themselves into ministers of righteousness" (2 Corinthians 11:12-15) causing the simple to say, "What these men say is true!". Only then will they unpack their insidious doctrines. They first speak the truth and then bring in error to cover their own sins which they love. The true minister of righteousness will exhibit a lifestyle that agrees with the Word of God and lips that wholly speak what is true without mixture. In order to escape the deception of false prophets, we must be completely loyal to Christ, develop a love for the truth of God's Word, and never give our hearts to men or hold them in admiration. Don't be foolish, ignorant, gullible, or proud. Acknowledge your own vulnerability to deception apart from the razor sharp discernment of the Word of God. Obey the command of Scripture to test all things. Hold fast to what is good and abstain from every form of evil.
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