HOW CHRISTIANS CAN AVOID BEING DECEIVED

As we enter the end times we are told repeatedly not to become deceived by what we hear. If you do not believe the end times are approaching turn on your TV and listen to the latest news. Wars and rumors of wars, Ebola outbreak, draughts and food shortages and increased earthquakes are happening as the Bible predicts. Russia and Iran are working together militarily to fulfill Ezekiel’s prophecy in chapters 37 thru 39.

Galatians 1:6 – 9 – “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!”

Paul says there are characteristics of false teachers: They are children of the devil, they are deceitful, they are perverters of the gospel and they are enemies of righteousness. Many times Satan and demons do deceptive work through religious leaders and others. As Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and his servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.

When Paul left the Galatians’ church, they were sound doctrinally. It did not take long until they started listening to religious leaders that were teaching a different gospel. They were teaching that you must work your way to heaven as a number of denominations teach today. As a result the church was becoming very legalistic. There were a number of things they had to do and things they could not do before and after salvation. It isn’t unusual for those who become saved to want a list of the do’s and don’ts of living a Christian life.

Throughout Jewish history, priests and prophets compromised God’s truth and would follow idolatry and pagan practices. False teachers, claiming to preach the gospel, were most successful at deceiving the early church. Even today, we hear false teachers in the church who turn Biblical theology into various forms of modernism and liberalism. However, the most damaging to Christians is false doctrine.

You may hear religious leaders claim they have received a message from God. They preach that some Christian ministers are making salvation too easy and they are only doing it to win them to the church. They claim they water down Christianity so that they can win popular support for their ministry. They criticize, growing churches who are teaching the Bible, that they only preach what people want to hear.

In the Old Testament, the Jewish religious leaders were fanatical in their desire to keep every minute detail of the law. They had 613 laws that they believed everyone had to follow. This is the difference between legalism and grace.

We were discussing, how do we know when we are hearing the truth whether it be a preacher or a politician? Any more, it is hard to know who or what to believe because there are those who are continually trying to deceive us? The Apostle Paul in his writings makes it very clear. You can tell what a Christian is saying is truthful or deceiving by one’s character. By their fruits you will know them. Paul is talking about the fruits of the Spirit as given in Galatians 5:22 – 23. Do you see in them love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? I see very few politicians that I believe live by Christian principles and possess fruits given by the Holy Spirit. If a person says they are a Christian, the Holy Spirit will produce the fruits of the Spirit in one’s life and the Holy Spirit never fails to do this. The fruits of the Spirit may also be an indicator of one’s salvation. You may count on seeing these fruits as an outward expression of Christ dwelling in the life of a believer.

John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Christ did this for believers. This kind of love comes from the Holy Spirit within us. This is a love that wants to unite us and not divide us. True peace comes from obedience to God. Peace is more than freedom from strife. It means justice between people. When any person, a minister or a politician tell you they are a Christian, you can know how to spot who is telling the truth and not be deceived. Do you see the fruits of the Spirit evident in their lives? If not, chances are they are only professing to be a Christian. Then what they say could be coming from a spirit masquerading as an angel of light.

This is not saying that anyone who does not possess the fruits of the Spirit is demon possessed. Hopefully, it is pointing out who you can recognize that are professing to be a Christian and using it to deceive others. This could be a salesperson using Christianity and trying to sell you something, such as the Brooklyn Bridge. A person’s character will tell us a lot about who they are inside. Do they follow Christ or the world’s ways? The world’s ways are apt to deceive! Be aware!

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