Monthly Archives: July 2019

Subtle Deceptions of Satan: The Real World

The world seems so real. In engaging it our five senses testify to its tangible veracity; constantly compelling us to embrace the notion that ‘this world ‘is all there is. Now, of all the tempter’s nefarious deceptions, the exclusivity reality of the material world is perhaps the most ubiquitous. In it, Satan advances the notion that everything we ‘truly’ encounter is solely attributable to our material existence; materiality is all there is and all we can ever truly know. Moreover, should we in a momentary lapse, find ourselves entertaining a belief in something beyond, it is forcefully discredited by the prevailing culture as mere fantasy. Much like the myth of Santa Claus, any idea of an eternal reality beyond this present world is explained away  in terms of an idealised projection of the human imagination— something ultimately unreal!

Furthermore, the deception of the exclusive reality of  the material world is a multi-headed monster. It is a deception that is as comfortable in theoretical philosophy as it is in the local shopping mall. From the sophisticated philosophy of Emmanuel Kant, which divides reality by positing two realms of human experience; to basic practical religious ideologies such as ‘being too heavenly minded for any earthly use’; to the advertising campaigns of Coca Cola–the exclusive reality of the material world represents a threat of colossal proportions, continually assaulting the human quest to encounter authentic life beyond this existence.

Kant’s philosophy is a potent example of the mind games behind it. He posits that human perception operates in two dimensions. Firstly, the phenomenal represents existence as it is for me—how I experience the world. Secondly, the noumenal represents existence as it really is— the reality that I may know ‘about’, but never truly know! I may experience the sun rising, but how can I know that it really is; what is really happening?  Because I, the knowing subject, am trapped in an existence of my own interpretation, the objectively real, although conceivable to my mind,  is ultimately unobtainable. Therefore, reality beyond human perception is unreachable because the knower is always compelled to embrace the experience of the world through the lens of  the self—a world created by me, for me!

Now, don’t feel bad if you think Kant’s philosophy is complex; it is really designed for those with social engineering in mind. I have simply included it here to remind you that this temptation has multiple levels of complexity.

Notwithstanding the clever philosophies running in the background of our everyday consciousness, Satan’s biggest weapon in his front line assault is good old fashioned  covetousnesshuman desire. He loves to fill people’s lives up with so many material things and the desire for more and more, such that they don’t have time to consider God or the eternal consequences of life.  Through relentless streams of marketing strategies, Satan inflames the latent human propensity for material acquisition; entrapping unwitting his victims by convincing them to embrace the manifold forms of retail therapy—producing that good feeling you get when a new ‘thing’ is bought.  It becomes an addiction, so convincing that the addict sees no point in looking for satisfaction beyond this material existence.

Of course, once people become enamoured by the material, they soon become ignorant of the spiritual, the eternal, and the divine. They become ignorant of the things that are of the greatest importance. But  this ignorance is more deeply ingrained than you might imagine. Satan creates a constant state of material anxiety by increasing temptation beyond the capacity for acquisition.  Thus, when those material things are not gained, the material addict is forced into financial debt to obtain ‘the fix’. Then they have to work harder to pay off the debt, getting so caught up in working to feed the addiction that consumes their life, that there is simply no time or space in which to think about and act on the demands of God–even if they are considered theoretically true. 

Yes, even Christians, who should know better, get caught up in this; many never having time enough to realize that the existence they are embracing is actually transitory, temporal, and flawed, and that the reality of eternity is rushing toward them at an alarming pace.

You see, in using these strategies, the enemy is constantly seeking to break any real link between what might be perceived as divine/eternal and the material existence that the human senses engage on a daily basis. He is content, so long as people don’t make any necessary connection between this world and the divine realities that impinge on it. All that matters to him is that humans, especially Christians, become so inured with this present material existence that they don’t allow any thought of anything beyond it to actually change how they live—even if they believe in God. In short, he wants them to become practical atheists.

That this is a specific deception of Satan is clearly revealed in Holy Scripture, being brought into sharp relief through the Gospel’s account of Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the desert. A temptation designed to derail Jesus and his eternal destiny, prior to undertaking his public ministry in Galilee.

Temptation was always on Jesus agenda, in fact, an element of Jesus’ mission involved a necessary time of testing. So, he is led into the desert for 40 days to prove his worth as Messiah—to be tested and tempted.  God’s ‘first son’ Israel (the nation) was tested for 40 years in the wilderness following the exile from Egypt; Jesus as God’s ‘second’ chosen representative and the prospective redeemer of humanity, would also undergo such testing. Would he fail to trust his father and give into his material appetites, as the ancient Israelites did, or would he prove faithful and trust God’s supernatural provision, despite the compulsion of his dire circumstances?

Of course, Satan waited till Jesus was at his weakest; the very point at which he would be most prone to temptation. So, at the end of the 40 day trial the tempter appeared to the beleaguered Jesus, believing that in this moment of utter weakness he would capitulate to the desperate cravings of the human flesh  as God’s former ‘son’ had done. Indeed, Satan believed Jesus would allow the exclusive reality of the material to take precedent over a belief in the divine and God’s provision, ultimately compromising the mission to establish God’s eternal kingdom.

The temptation came in three waves; and it involved three subtle deceptions.

The first temptation involved a challenge to turn stones into bread; tempting Jesus to use his power to stop trusting God, take matters into his own hands and satisfy his immediate material needs. The corresponding deception being this: Attend to your material appetites when you have the power to do so—seek first your material needs and let God’s kingdom worry about itself. But Jesus saw through it. Yes, he had the power, but chose to seek his first God’s kingdom and trust in God’s timely provision.  Jesus believed his heavenly father would meet his every need when it was ‘truly’ needed. For him, his most necessary food was to do God’s will: “It is written, Man does not live by bread alone.” Luke 4:4(NIV) Trusting God and doing his will is more necessary for human existence than striving to satisfy material appetites.

Alright then, Jesus can trust God to provide food, but could he wait to receive the promised kingdom? The second temptation appealed to the impatient ego. It represented an offer by Satan of lordship over all the kingdoms of earth— ultimate significance.

Here Satan presents a grand vision before Jesus, dominion over the entire world and a chance to be lord over the entire material realm. Satan was hoping that his weakened constitution would blind him to the deception. It did not. Jesus knew that Satan only had transitory dominion of the world, he also knew that this world order was destined to be transformed by God’s Kingdom, and more importantly he knew that exclusive worship of his heavenly father was the key to appropriating this kingdom. He replied, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’ Luke 4: 8 (NIV) Jesus focus remained clear, the allurement of this transitory world faded when the vision of God’s eternal kingdom, prompted by God’s Word, came to mind.

Satan made one final attempt. This time, knowing Jesus’ reliance of God’s Word, he quoted Holy Scripture, appearing to give credibility to his challenge. This time he was challenging Jesus to prove his divine power, to demonstrate his lordship over the forces of this natural world by throwing himself off the temple and allowing the angels to rescue him. Satan said, “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully…” Luke 4:10 (NIV) Seeing though it, Jesus knew that such a spectacle would dishonour God.  Jesus’ power over nature would be demonstrated in due time, but only in alignment with his heavenly father’s purposes.  Fulfilling God’s will, at the appropriate time, was far more important than seeking popular approval. Jesus knew temporal praise was of little worth in God’s eternal kingdom; he kept his eyes firmly on the approval of God.

Through the account of the temptation of Christ, profound truths are revealed. Satan, in every instance attempts to reduce the Kingdom of God and Jesus’ role in it, to a crass material venture. He seeks to make Jesus ministry and life all about the here and now; the gratification of one’s immediate bodily appetites; the elevation of the self to short term worldly glory; and the appeal to popular approval through gestures of power.

Not only did Jesus resist, but in so doing, revealed a manifestly eternal and divine dimension to human life in the world—a life that is not conditioned by materiality but by divine eternality. Jesus revealed a reality in which God always provides for his children’s material needs if they seek his kingdom first; a reality that gives hope of an eternal glory that far outweighs any glory this world can offer, and a reality where God’s approval is worth far more than the approval of the crowd.  Proof that Jesus’ decisions were right, was validated by the angels coming to minister to his bodily needs (Matt 4:11). Those who trust in God’s eternal kingdom, who look to the resource of his supernatural power, will never fail to procure his divine provision. They will always prove the reality of eternality.

What does Jesus’ overcoming of Satan’s temptation ultimately prove, then? As radical as it may seem to our natural perceptions, it proves that the material world we encounter and the rules we are tempted to live by in it, are not final and absolute.  It proves the divine power that creates and sustains this world is available to meet all the needs (material or otherwise) of those who are willing to seek first his kingdom.  God is real, his power is real, and his kingdom is real; and not just real in our imagination—ultimately real. Moreover, it proves that this is a reality that demands a response. A response of no longer living under the fearful limitations of this materialistic deception, a response that demands a life of faith in a God who meets the every need of those who trust him (material, emotional, relational etc), a response that embraces hope in an eternal destiny, and a response of  a life empowered by joy.

As real as it seems, and contrary to everything you may naturally think, feel, or believe, the glittering promises of this material world are ultimately lies. How can we know? Well, the same way Jesus knew. He relied on God’s Word when the temptation came: he knew it and trusted it. You can only know what a lie is when you have the truth to compare it with.Want to know what is real, true, and ultimate? Let the truth of the Bible saturate your mind. I mean actually read it, meditate on it, memorize it: Not just a devotional verse every couple of days, but get into it; maybe a New Testament book or section of Proverbs.  Take time, make time, and let God’s truth inform you of what is real, what is true, and what is ultimate. I guarantee it will be the best time you ever spend.

 

 

 

Subtle Deceptions of Satan: Relationship vs. Religion

Christians hate being called hypocrites. Hypocrites are people viewed as outwardly religious yet inwardly sinful; in some cases more ‘sinful’ than many non-believers. Hypocrites, it would seem, must have no valid relationship with God.

In reaction to claims of religious hypocrisy, someone invented the saying, ‘Christianity is a relationship not a religion’. This represents a simple, straight forward, slogan that addresses the perceived hypocrisy of religiosity by distancing religion from a real devotion to God; setting up the ideas of relationship and religion as a dichotomy.

But what is a dichotomy, I hear you say?  Well, a dichotomy is a literary device that enables the logical contrasting of opposing ideas. For example, in the context of Christian ethics/life, the apostle Paul presents Law and Spirit as a dichotomy. Yet, not all dichotomies are legitimate. Just as there are valid dichotomies there are also false dichotomies. A false dichotomy is a logical separation of ideas that should not be separated, or the juxtaposing of concepts that have no valid relationship to each other. Some people advance false dichotomies out of ignorance, others create them to maliciously deceive.

Satan, as a master of deception, loves false dichotomies. He uses them to great effect leading unwitting Christians to embrace half-truths that hinder their obedient walk with Christ. That he should use such a logical device is not news; how he uses it, in this context, is definitely worthy of a fresh look.

Satan employs  false dichotomies in an attempt to provide alleged solutions to perceived errors. In so doing, he cleverly suggests a more benign error as a solution to an obviously malignant error. But in offering the way of escape he secretly offers up an equally malignant error as that just escaped. By using simple forms of logic that ‘appear’ to push the error aside, the enemy drives the unwitting believer toward embracing a more deeply ingrained falsehood. Indeed, no error is more destructive than the one that seems so right. This alleged solution may get the ignorant Christian out of the frying pan, but it unwittingly drops them into the fire!  Given the end result of such undiscovered or unresolved errors, this metaphor is particularly apt.

So let’s look at the nefarious error at hand, the commonly embraced false dichotomy of religion and relationship.  This is how Satan likes to present it: Religion is potentially hypocritical but God loves a relationship. So let’s escape hypocrisy by dropping religion and running to relationship. Focus on the relationship with God and you will never become a religious hypocrite. Simple!

Notwithstanding this error, I want to suggest that a critical assessment of the religion/relationship phenomenon is not without justification. The Bible is replete with examples of God’s people abandoning an intimate heart-felt relationship with their God in favor of following ‘other gods’, even as they continue the outward forms of religious practices that God requires. In the Old Testament, we read of God’s appraisal of this: “ These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” Is 29:13 (NIV) and again, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as obeying the voice of the Lord?” 1 Sam 15:22 (NIV)

Yes, God hates religion that is devoid of heart-felt devotion. He fervently desires his people to serve him motivated by genuine love. He wants them to want what he wants, expressing this ‘want’ in practical God-pleasing obedience. But does God’s desire for relational obedience imply that he hates religion or religious practices?

Enter Satan. In the work of playing off religion against relationship, Satan does some of his most dastardly work.  Starting from the valid notion that any religious activity that lacks heart devotion is false, but then offers up the separation of relationship and religion as the apparent solution; a way of countering the alleged falsehood of hypocrisy. By doing so, he consequentially implies that ‘all religion’ is counter-productive, or at least practically ineffectual. All religion, in this case, is anything that involves some kind of a repetitive ritual or habit with reference to God.

Consequently, practices such as regular: prayer, fasting, church attendance, reading and memorizing of scripture, are presented as being ‘too’ mechanical and dry to have any real value in creating authentic relational intimacy with God.

Can you hear the tempter speaking? “Do you really want to be a hypocrite? Someone who is always doing religious things and always failing before others? Honestly, you are just setting yourself up for criticism! Come on, just get away from that stuff, and just focus on the relationship and avoid all the hassle.”

But wait, the deception is not over yet.

Having destroyed the credibility of religion and its practices, Satan then goes to work on a clever redefinition of relationship. Predictably he redefines it in a human-oriented ‘feel-good’ way. The meaning of relationship ‘now’ becomes something: inward, emotional, and exclusively private. A relationship with God is all about you and God on your terms—a private friendship that only two can appreciate.  Furthermore, he supports these ideas with more slogans like, ‘You don’t need to go to church to be a Christian’, or ‘I don’t need formal religion, I have my own relationship with God’, just to further popularize this lie.

Consequently, weak Christians are deceived into believing that valuable and necessary practices such as: regular fellowship, prayer, fasting, bible reading, charity, and service, are much less important than attending to their own inward thoughts, emotional feelings, and private reflections about God. After all, it’s your personal inner relationship that matters most, right?

Reality check: Have you ever met anyone who has a good relationship with God, that is not regularly involved in Christian fellowship, not reading the Bible regularly, not praying  regularly,  not seeking to live consistently, and not looking for opportunities to serve God? I haven’t, and I don’t think I ever will. In fact, ironically, this relational introspection actually leads to a relationship with God that actually isn’t a relationship at all, or at least, a very unhealthy one. Which, of course, is exactly what Satan wants.

However, when we look more closely at Holy Scripture, we see that no such dichotomy between religion and relationship exists. We do find, however,  a valid critique of religion that has abandoned a heartfelt devotion to God; in essence, we see a valid dichotomy between true religion and false religion.  Yes, we do see God challenging people to stop going through the religious motions and pretending to serve him, whilst all the time they are devoting their hearts to their own interests. Most of all, we find that true religion is absolutely indispensable to a right relationship with God, and vice versa.

This may come as a surprise but Jesus was a very religious person—in the right sense. Apart from attending to all the customs of his Jewish faith, he had a very rigorous prayer life, he regularly read scripture, he spent an inordinate amount of time healing the sick, attending to the needy, and conducting regular teaching sessions on the kind of religious life that pleased God. Moreover, Jesus explicitly taught his disciples the practices of: prayer, fasting, and alms giving. He showed them how to heal the sick, drive out demons, and preach the good news, as well as sending them out on missions to do the same.

Although Jesus fiercely opposed religiosity devoid of heart devotion; by his very actions he showed that religion itself was an inseparable part of a person’s relationship with God. In fact, in challenging the Pharisee’s hypocrisy, he suggested they focus on justice and love, without neglecting their formal religious practices. (Luke 11:42)

Furthermore, when we examine the wider teaching of the New Testament, we do not see the Apostles presenting a form of Christian devotion that focuses on introspective, private, emotional relationship with God, at the expense of outward acts of devotion. On the contrary, we see many examples and exhortations to a disciplined ‘religion’ of obedience to Christ: Animated by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the context of a spiritual community, and focusing on revealing God’s message of salvation to a lost world. Moreover, we see numerous exhortations: to prayer, to scripture reading, to charity toward the poor; we also see exhortations to regular meetings with other Christians, and exhortations to the service of one another as well as our non-Christian associates. Starting to look a bit religious isn’t it?

Of course, we don’t see the legal, ritualistic religion of the Old Testament, for the simple reason it has been superseded by a new Spirit-based regime.  But we do see a new religion of love and devotion to God and neighbor, a practical life empowered by a Holy Spirit, aimed at devotion to Christ exhibited in all kinds of practical and habitual ways.

In this regard, the Apostle James’ reflections are quite instructive: “Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27 (NIV) James sees the necessity of a Christian religion that has two dimensions: The first is the practical service of others, where James gives the example of widows and orphans, because they are unable to offer anything in return for service rendered. As such, God values a religious devotion to others that anticipates no reciprocal benefit to the giver.

The second dimension involves the Christian’s personal relationship with God vis-à-vis life in the world. James is implying that devotional practices and actions ensure the Christians holiness is not corrupted by this-worldly agendas. Given the wider New Testament teaching, this would necessarily suggest practices such as: prayer, fasting, scripture reading, fellowship attendance, and so on, are necessary to promote and maintain this desired ‘pure life’.

Not only does James ‘not’ play off religion against relationship, he actually advocates a form of religion that enhances the believer’s personal relationship with God.

As you can see, the testimony of Holy Scripture strongly suggests that heartfelt belief, habitual spiritual disciplines, and practical service are intimately related. Relationship and religion go hand in hand, each enhancing and promoting the other to enable a fruitful life that edifies the self, loves neighbor, and gives glory to God.

Just as a skeleton gives the body’s organs structure, so the living organs nourish the bones—both support and nourish the other to enable a healthy person to function. True religion gives the relationship structure, strength, and form; relationship gives religion a heart and an intimate personal dynamic. Relationship needs religion and religion needs relationship. Embrace both wholeheartedly, and you will never have fear of ‘actually’ being a hypocrite, even though you may be falsely accused as such. Embrace both wholeheartedly, and be surprised at what God can do with such a powerful life of conformity to God’s will. Little wonder Satan expends so much energy seeking to divide them!

 

 

 

Subtle Deceptions of Satan: Truth is an idea

Satan is the master of subterfuge, he specializes in deceiving people into believing something is one thing when it really something quite different. He loves making a lie look like the truth and the truth a lie. He especially gains sweet delight from deceiving Christians into denying fundamental truths they actually think they are affirming. It is in his work on the Christian’s perception of truth, that he unleashes his most destructive  deception. This is a deception that undermines not only the content of  the truth, but the very nature of truth itself.

In biblical Christianity, the message of truth and the method of truth cannot be divided. Indeed, the Bible advocates that a person cannot claim to believe truth about God without allowing that truth to have a real and practical moral claim over the believing  person. In short,  faith in God’ truth must show itself as practical obedience to that truth.

Knowing this Satan makes a concerted effort to conceptually divide the believing and the doing in the mind of the believer; discrediting the value of either or both. Moreover, once dividing them, he specializes in getting the Christian to actually think that the act of believing truth is synonymous with the practicing of the truth believed. Of course, this deception is never more effective than when applied to the revealed truth presented in the Bible.

Satan, by manifold and secret means, advances the error that upholding God’s Word as true is just as good as obeying the truth it commands. As such, a theoretical belief in the truth of God’s Word comes to be viewed, by those who fall for this deception, as being synonymous with practical obedience. If it were framed in slogan form, it might read something like: Good intentions are just as valid as good deeds or it’s the thought that counts!

Do you recall the account of the Garden of Eden temptation, where Eve affirms the authority of God’s Word when tempted by the Serpent? “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” Genesis 3:2-3 (NIV) She affirmed the truth! But, no sooner had her thoughts been twisted by the tempter’s smooth deception and filtered back through her own logic, she acquiesced to the subtle temptation and disobeyed it.

Incredulously, she disobeyed the very command that only moments before she had upheld. She was duped into believing that knowing God’s command was simply enough; what she did or didn’t do in relation it, didn’t really matter. It’s the thought that counts, right? However, Eve only found out the horrifying truth of failing to obey the known truth when the pangs of her conscience drove her to hide from God’s presence, and the shameful reality of sin bit hard when she and her husband were cast out of paradise.

Not only did it not stop with Eve, but the passage of time enabled the potency of this deception to escalate. In fact by Jesus’ day, the Jewish religious elite, under Satan’s gaze, had developed this nefarious error into a sophisticated art. They could now systematically uphold the theory of scriptural authority for other people whilst simultaneously denying its personal moral claim over their own lives.

The Pharisees were so adept at subtly modifying the meaning of  God’s truth to suit their hypocritical practices, that they could, for example, affirm the letter of the law when condemning a woman caught in adultery; even as they reinterpreted the divorce requirements of that very same Mosaic Law to enable them to ‘legally’ commit adultery. In their scheme, the idea of the truth could be upheld even as the fundamental essence of it’s meaning was practically denied in the most heinous way, and this without even the crisis of conscience that Eve wrestled with!

But, let’s not be too hard on the Pharisees. Even the modern orthodox religious elite are not  immune from this deception. Especially academics who reflect on the doctrine of Holy Scripture; those who resolutely defend it by means of theoretical notions such as inerrancy. So passionate are these people that they will do anything to defend it, and in the process of defending this idea ‘at all costs’, ignore the specific moral injunctions of the truths  defended, often treating with contempt sincere Christians who don’t share their narrow theoretical framing of Holy Scripture’s revelation. Yes, even defenders of the truth can uphold the idea of scripture as truth whilst disobeying its truth content. It would be funny, if it were not tragic.

All this gives Satan the greatest delight.

Furthermore, though it pains me to say it, this this deception is also rife among ordinary Christians. Those grass roots believers who willingly agree that the Bible is true,  but allow the necessities and urgencies of their daily lives to override the fundamental belief that truth must be obeyed to be valid. They allow noble intentions toward to the truth to become a cheap substitute for the real thing. Rather than allowing the Word of God, divine revelation,  to set them at odds with the world and its agendas, the Bible’s ethical and pastoral commands are taken as optional in the face of life’s pressures: ignored, dismissed, or reinterpreted to suit the their own situational ethics.

Sadly, in downplaying the practical commands of Holy Scripture, these Christians unconsciously treat people with indifference and God’s will as practically irrelevant;  except of course on major issues that cannot easily be hidden.  To put it bluntly, they  affirm God’s truth but live how they want!

In acquiescing to Satan’s subtle modification that truth becomes simply an idea that demands no moral response, their God given role in life is fundamentally compromised. Though they may not be fully aware of it, they can no longer be assured of a favorable response from God on the final day of giving accounts.

Now, having critiqued this subtle deception and some of its implications, let us now give our attention to the truth as God sees it. God’s revealed truth as set forth in Scripture, was never intended to become an abstract doctrine, a principle to be mentally acknowledged whilst being practically ignored. Rather, it is a living revelation of divine truth that demands practical obedience: on a daily basis, in all situations, and in the most mundane of details.

In fact, Jesus explicitly warns his followers about the error of thinking that theoretical truth is a substitute for practiced truth. He does so through the parable of the wise and foolish builders—a teaching immediately following his discussion on false teachers.

He teaches that the person who hears His words and obeys them, putting them into practice,  is like the wise builder; one who lays a solid foundation of life well lived before God. Such a person has nothing to fear on the day of giving accounts. However, in contrast, the person who hears the word, recognizing it as truth, but failing to obey it, is like one whose life is without a solid foundation—having an appearance of security whilst actually having none. On the great day of giving accounts to God, this person will find out that the horrifying truth: “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘ I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.’” (Matt 7:23 NIV)

Furthermore, the apostle James makes a similar point when challenging his readers to also put their faith into practice. He writes, “Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder.” James 2:18-19 (NIV) James is asserting that claiming to trust God and his truth without putting that trust into practice is little more than a devil’s faith— that’s right, even Satan and the demons believe in the truth of God’s word!

In essence, a faith in God’s truth that does not manifest itself in practical, loving, and devotion to God and his people, in James estimation, is simply non-existent. Belief in the revealed truth of God’s word must therefore manifest itself in practical obedience to that same truth, to be in valid before God.

The message is clear: Even an apparent sound theology of the Word of God and its truth content is no substitute for obeying its revealed commands. Good intentions about divine truth do not equate with good actions. Faith in God and his Word must be actually lived out in ethical conformity to God’s will, to be counted as acceptable before God. All the good intentions and noble beliefs of the religious life count for little when it comes to giving an account to God on the final day. The only thing that really matters is, what actually was ‘done’ in response to what is ‘known’.

To put it bluntly, knowing the will of God and not doing it, is effectively doing the will of Satan! Did I just say that? Well, now the nature of the deception has been made clearer, such a statement should no longer shock or surprise us.

Therefore, the sober challenge is before us. Don’t allow the enemy of your soul to continue deceiving you with the error that noble thoughts about God’ truth equate with practically living out that truth–they simply do not. God’s truth as revealed in Holy Scripture, is actually divine revelation that demands a practical/moral response. It is not a theoretical suggestion requiring rational reinterpretation before it can be considered worthy of application. It is God’s truth, did you get that, truth originating from God the source of all truth.

Therefore, resolve today, if you have fallen for this deception, to break away from this malignant ideology and make a concerted effort to start practicing what you know of God’s revealed truth. In fact, resolve not to study any more theology about God ( in whatever form it takes) until you are willing to practically obey the truth you already know.

I want to say from practical experience, that once you overcome the fear of doing it, you may be pleasantly surprised at the joy it brings. Not only so, but the desire for the revealed truth of Holy Scripture (as divine revelation) will begin to grow in you, as your readiness to practice this truth draws you into an ever increasing thirst for God’s wisdom, and of course a love for the one who gives that wisdom.

God’s truth is not simply an idea to believe; it has hands, it has a heart, and it has a voice. It has a form that needs to be grounded in such a way as to honor God: living rightly before him and by loving those well before you.

May God bless your new endeavor to walk in the freedom of the truth.