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    Deception is the act of deceiving or being deceived, of misleading or being misled. An exception is something other than what's generally true, something other than what's normal. Deception that's not the exception is beguilement, that, has in fact, become the normal state of being. Deception itself is intangible, it cannot be seen with the eye, but the result of deception is a misapplication of truth, meaning a failure to apply truth altogether or to apply it incorrectly. I am saying this deception is the general rule today, it's the norm, not the exception.

    We are going to look at some passages of scripture that, I believe, give us an accurate picture of the deception I have described and also contain the result and the remedy. The first step to revival will always be recognizing there's a need for it, not in others or the world, but in yourself. God needs to do something new in us if we're going to reach this generation.

    Matt 11:1-6. This is familiar to us, it's a passage generally used to show how someone can have great faith, then leave that faith and move to doubt. I'm asking you today to consider it could show us something else as well.

    The entire passage, I believe, can be correctly understood by the last thing Jesus says to John's disciples before they return to him, “blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me”. Offended here means to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall. So an offense can be an impediment or cause of stumbling. Offended also means to see in another something you disapprove of that would cause you to fail to acknowledge their authority.
    John had been faithful to his calling, preparing the way of Jesus to begin His earthly ministry. At the time of John sending men to Jesus, that ministry was in full swing. The blind were receiving their sight, the lame were walking, the lepers were being cleansed, and the deaf were having their hearing restored, the dead were being raised up and the poor were having the gospel preached to them. Jesus was in fact who He claimed to be and who John proclaimed He was, but now John was offended, that's what Jesus said, not me. Why should John who was faithful in every way not be at Jesus' side as His right hand. John was perhaps thinking of himself and that self-interest became a stumbling block. If John was doubting who Jesus was it happened because he was stumbling over himself. Self-seeking is an instant path to deception. I believe among Christians today that's the rule, not the exception.

    Let's look at another passage occurring right after Jesus proclaims John the greatest of all prophets. It too shows us a great deception.

    Matt 11:16-19. It's interesting that Jesus uses children as the example here, it speaks of the immaturity of their actions. Notice also Jesus uses these children to describe what's happening within a generation, I believe it's still happening today. The children say, “We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented”. This is my paraphrase, “You won't do what we want you to do when we want you to do it”. Again, self-seeking is an instant path to deception. How is it that people could believe God should do what they want, when and how they want it? The truth is most don't, they are deceived into believing God wants the same things they do. Notice the rest of what Jesus says, “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners”. The self-seeking are never satisfied. You can go from one extreme to the other, it makes no difference, the deception of the self-seeker is complete. Only what they want, when and how they want it will suffice.

    Jesus ends by saying, “But wisdom is justified of her children.” Wisdom is the correct use of knowledge. Justified means shown to be righteous. Children speaks of offspring. The correct use of knowledge is shown righteous by what it produces. John the Baptist and Jesus were largely rejected, but the results of the truth they preached was evidence they were of God. Let's look at the result of deception in some other parables of Jesus.

    Matt 13:24-30. From Jesus' own declaration we know that the sower represents the Son of God, the good seeds are the children of the kingdom, the field is the world and the tares are the children of the wicked one. The tares look like wheat, but they bring forth no fruit. The tares were sowed by the wicked one, meaning the devil. The self-seeker is an easy target for the devil. The best way to deceive someone is get them self-interested, the devil is a master at that. Dennis Kinlaw said, “Satan disguises submission to himself under the ruse of personal autonomy. He never asks us to become his servants. Never once did the serpent say to Eve, “I want to be your master”. The shift in commitment is never from Christ to evil; it's always from Christ to self. And instead of God's will, self-interest now rules and what I want reigns. And that is the essence of sin.” What's most disturbing to me in this parable is what Jesus says at the end, “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn”. Trying to uproot the tares would damage the wheat. When you have a deception that's so deep and widespread that attacking it directly would damage faithful believers you have an impossible situation. The only recourse is to get God involved.

    Matt 13:47-50. In this parable the casting of the net is the preaching of the word of God, the fish caught are people responding to the preaching. From the context the preaching must include both good and bad preaching. I say that because God is not the only one who has preachers, the devil has them too, even if they don't know it, and the net is gathering all who respond. The net gathers fish of every kind and when it's full they draw it to shore and proceed to gather in the good and cast the bad away. Many are in danger of being cast away because of the great deception I've been speaking of. How many are actually concerned about that?

    It may seem to some that it's pointless for us to be concerned about the deception which is taking place in the church and our country because there's nothing we can do about it. We can't attack it directly for the reason we seen in the parable of the wheat and the tares, but we can appeal to the One who can do miracles. Let's look at what I believe is the remedy, at least a partial one anyway.

    Matt 9:14-17. Again we have a passage that begins with the disciples of John coming to Jesus. We will look at it in two parts. The first is verses 14 &15. The question John's disciples have for Jesus concerns fasting. Let's look at an example of what had happened in Israel concerning fasting. In the example we also see great deception. Isa 58:1-8, It's very plain from verse one that God is about to identify a great sin in His people. Verse two reminds me of what Jesus said in Matt 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. We have the same deception existing today, people that seem to delight in the truth of God, even asking questions to understand more clearly, but no real desire to apply what they learn. In the first part of Isa 58:3 we see an accusation by the people made against God. It seems they accuse God of ignoring their fast and the fact they have afflicted themselves before Him. In the latter part of verse three God picks apart their deception. Notice the following “in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours”. Labors speaks of things that would be a grief to others. Here we see the motivation for their fasting. They find pleasure in seeking the grief of others. Notice the beginning of verse 4, “Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness”. Their reason for fasting was because of problems they had with others, that they might cause God to smite them, taking vengeance on what they perceive as wrong. In verse 5 God ridicules their perverse motive and showmanship. I'm reminded of what Jesus said in Matt 6:16-18 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, In verses 6 & 7 of Isa 58 God tells us what a fast is for. 1. To looses the bands of wickedness. 2. To undo heavy burdens. 3. To free the oppressed, breaking every yoke. 4. To bring about change in ourselves so we will truly care for others. The result: Isa 58:8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. Rere-ward is a word which means to gather together, it speaks of the part of an army which marches in the rear as protectors from what may come up behind. Concerning fasting I put forth the question of David as he heard the challenge of Goliath and purposed to go out against him, “is there not a cause”?

    Something else I would like to note in Matt 9:14-15 is Jesus' response to the question why His disciples did not fast. He said, “Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.” Jesus ascended into heaven almost 2000 years ago after assuring our salvation, is it not time to begin?

    In Matt 9:16-17 we see two parables given by Jesus to let us know why fasting is necessary. The “new cloth” Jesus speaks of is unprepared cloth that would shrink when coming into contact with water. Sowing such a piece of cloth into a garment as a patch would be a huge mistake. Putting new wine into old wine-skins is just as perilous. The old container would not be able to stand up against the fermentation process and would burst. What can we learn form this? Fasting is necessary to prepare ourselves for doing God's work. We won't be fit for the work God has called us to do without being prepared. If we view the wine as the Holy Spirit and the wine-skin as ourselves we see that God is going to have to make us new in order to effectively fill us and use us.

    I'm not saying we need a new bible or new truth, I'm saying there needs to be a new us. Fasting and prayer done in the right way and for the right reasons can bring that about, while at the same time liberating others so they can hear and receive the word of God. Let's look at one more passage and we'll be done.

    Matt 17:14-21. Jesus, Peter, James and John had just come down from the mount of transfiguration. Jesus is confronted by a man whose son is possessed by a devil. It's interesting the man doesn't seem to understand his son is possessed, he thinks him to be sick and in need of a cure, again we see deception. Something of note is the disciples (minus Peter, James and John) were not able to cast this devil out. This may have been something unusual to them because they may not have encountered a resistant spirit like this since Jesus gave them power to cast out devils. Notice also the description of this spirit or what it did to the boy. 1. It caused him to be a lunatic, meaning mad or insane. 2. It vexed him, meaning it troubled, irritated or agitated him. 3. It sought to destroy him by throwing him into fire or water. I say to you that in America we have people and a society that are lunatics, vexed and bent on destroying themselves. Like the man whose son was possessed most think it's a sickness that just needs a cure which we can find through the right mixture of proper thinking, legislation, medicine and therapy. Is that true or is it a spirit of deception from the devil that needs to be cast out? Notice Jesus' response to the failure of His disciples, it was to say the present generation was faithless and perverse. I think in a small way it also refers to the disciples themselves. When Jesus' disciples questioned Him about why they were unable to cast out the spirit His answer was, “because of your unbelief”. He went on to say that with faith like the grain of a mustard seed they could move mountains, but the only way that particular spirit would be cast out was through prayer and fasting. In other words their faith was going to need help, they were going to have to get God directly involved.

    I believe our society, our churches and people we love are possessed by the same kind of spirit as the man's son we find in Matt 17. The only hope we have is to, by faith, get God involved through proper prayer and fasting. Without it there's no hope. IS THERE NOT A CAUSE!

    Not everyone can fast without endangering their health, but all of us can give up something to seek God's help.

  • #2

    Big fan of God's work through your writings. To settle any potential confusion, not that you are "inspired;" albeit, I believe that you are an inspired and inspiring writer. Thank you as I am convicted of self deception in a few areas of my walk and need to repent and watch out for the adversary. Excellent post. Maybe a thread on fasting from you?