Deception will always be exposed by Truth. Have you ever realized that you could be deceived and not even be aware of it? Those who are deceived will never know it unless they are confronted with the truth. Many go to their grave deceived about the most important issue we all face, and that is, locating the narrow road that leads to eternal life. Who are you trusting to show you the way and the truth to eternal life? What is your source for truth? Is it absolutely trustworthy? Will it protect you from the schemes and lies of the master deceiver? The prophet Jeremiah gave us wise counsel for choosing whom we should trust. He said if you trust in man you will be cursed liked a bush in the parched places of the desert. But if you trust in God you will be blessed. You will be like a tree planted by water always bearing fruit, whose leaves are always green. No worries or fears will come upon you in a year of drought or when the heat comes (Jeremiah 17:5-8).
Who will you trust? Many people disregard Jeremiah's advice and put their trust in religious leaders. Catholics believe that the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church accurately teach what Jesus and His Word reveal. This can be a fatal mistake. Those who disregard the objective truth of the Bible and rely only on the subjective teachings of men leave themselves open to deception. We know God would never deceive anyone because He wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (l Timothy 2:3). He gave us His Word so we could know, understand and believe the truth (John 17:17).
Would the Pope have a person believe what is not true? Maybe not intentionally, but what if he was deceived by previous popes who were also deceived? How do we know if any of the pope's teachings or dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church are true? The only way we can be 100% sure is to do as the Bereans did --- check everything with the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). If the apostle Paul's teaching had to be verified for its truthfulness, it stands to reason we must use the same standard for any religious leader. Unfortunately the elevation of tradition along with infallible teachings of popes to the same authority as Sacred Scripture has allowed deception to go unabated in the Roman Catholic Church. Popes and their teachings constantly change, whereas Jesus and His Word are constant and never change.
The Apostle Paul revealed the source of all deception, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons" (1 Tim. 4:1). You may be familiar with some common deceptions taught by religious leaders today: heaven is a reward for those who live good lives...water baptism is necessary for salvation...purgatory purges and removes sin...the sacrifice of the Mass can turn away God's wrath on sinners...God's grace can be earned and purchased. Satan has used lies like these to become the greatest "soul winner" in human history. For two thousand years, the master deceiver has perverted the Gospel of salvation by grace. His ferocious wolves, disguised in sheep's clothing, preach counterfeit gospels that seduce people who are ignorant of God's word (Matt. 7:15). A counterfeit Christianity is Satan's ultimate weapon, so he can, one day be worshipped as Christ. His worldwide religious system is taking shape and unfortunately it includes many people in our churches today.
All this should come as no surprise to those who know the Scriptures. For this scenario was revealed by Christ and the apostles as a warning of things to come. Jesus announced that right before His second coming the deception will be so convincing that even the elect might be deceived (Matt. 24:4,11,24). The deceit will come from false prophets, false teachers and false Christs, who will snare people from both inside and outside the church. Peter warned people of spiritual deception, "There will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies...and will bring the way of truth into disrepute" (2 Peter 2:1-2).
Satan uses deception to prevent people from being saved. God uses the truth to proclaim salvation to all who believe it. Man is either saved by believing God's truth (Ephesians 1:13) or condemned by believing Satan's lie. Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers by perverting God's truth through false religious systems (2 Corinthians 4:4). Any religion that teaches salvation is obtained through human effort and merit is nullifying the grace of God to its followers. We are saved by grace, "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works, if it were, grace would no longer be grace" (Romans 11:6).
The truth will set you free. How can we avoid falling prey to these subtle and scheming impostors? Our only defense is to experience the emancipating truth of Scripture (John 8:32). We must know and live the truth. All teaching must be filtered through God's Word. We are to use the Bible to lovingly correct and rebuke all teaching that contradicts God's inspired word (2 Tim. 3:16). The Scriptures must become our ultimate authority in all areas of our faith. We must cling to Jesus who came to testify to the truth (John 18:37) and who is the truth (John 14:6). We are to stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around our waists (Eph. 6:14). It is through living the truth that we are sanctified (John 17:17). Does the church where you worship submit to the truth of the Gospel? It is of vital importance to God that you worship Him in truth (John 4:24).
There are consequences for those who do not seek God's truth through His Word. Those people who blindly put their faith in religious leaders are most susceptible to deception. Many assume that religious leaders would never seduce anyone with a false plan of salvation. Yet Luke warned, "Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:30).
Other people choose not to let truth interfere with their lives. They turn away from it and listen to teachers who say what their itching ears want to hear (2 Tim. 4:2-4). Truth demands a response. The choice is to believe it and conform, or reject it and go our stubborn way.
There are people who are devoted to God, but do not know Him personally because religious leaders conceal the source and authority of truth. People who have been indoctrinated with false teaching have difficulty believing the truth. They are always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth (2 Tim. 3:7). Acknowledging the truth requires a "turning away" from all unbiblical doctrines.
It was a lack of faith in God's purpose, plan and word that separated Adam and Eve and their offspring from God. They chose to put their faith in the deceiver, which brought spiritual and physical death to us all. How divine for God to use the very instrument that separated us from Him--faith, to restore us back to Him. It is now through faith in God that we receive His gift of spiritual and eternal life (Ephesians 2:8).
The object of our faith determines who we are --- a child of the devil (John 8:43-45) or a child of God (John 1:12); how we live --- as slaves to sin, or slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:16-18); and how we will spend eternity --- under the wrath of God or in his loving presence (John 3:36). Faith in anyone other than Jesus, and in anything other than His Word will allow deception to creep into our lives. Those who follow the traditions, opinions and philosophies of men and reject Christ and His Word will be condemned on the last day (John 12:48). By contrast how wonderful are the words of Christ that those who believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Jesus and His Word teach...
The Pope and his church teach...
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