Christianity 201

August 17, 2014

Deceivers Can Be Deceptive

 

I Timothy 4:1 (NIV)

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 

At first glance this appears to be one of several verses discussing rising apostasy (falling away) in the last days. We can read this verse on that basis and clearly understand its main point.

But there’s something else going on here in the phrase “taught by demons.”

When we think of demons, we often think of movie images of slimy creatures in dank sewers with horrific sounding voices and threatening words.

When we think of teaching, we think of well-dressed men and women in well-lit classrooms speaking perfectly in clear voices all contained within the realm of the academic life of high schools or colleges or universities, or even seminaries.

We know that some teachers can be deceived, or misguided, or badly informed, but we ought to see the phrase “taught by demons” as somewhat oxymoronic. (“He’s on a Christian TV station and he’s wearing a tie; he must be trustworthy.”)

Nonetheless, The Enemy of our souls can appear quite respectable. II Timothy 3 (NKJV) states:

1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come…   having a form of godliness but denying its power.

It speaks of very self-centered people who, as The Message Bible puts it, “make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals.

II Cor. 11:13-15 (NLT) reminds us that Satan himself can appear on your doorstep appearing perfectly honorable, even supernaturally honorable:

These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness…

Just because someone has what appears to be ‘a teaching ministry’ does not mean you should turn off your discernment filters. You need to always be on the lookout because deception is…well…so deceptive.

Similarly, the Bible describes a situation where Jesus might be said to using his discernment filters in reference to humankind. I like how the [Old] Living Bible handles verse 25 in John 2:23-25; although it amplifies one particular phrase in ways the other translations do not, it really gets the point across:

23-25 Because of the miracles he did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many people were convinced that he was indeed the Messiah.   But Jesus didn’t trust them, for he knew mankind to the core. No one needed to tell him how changeable human nature is!

If human nature is that changeable, it means that even within the context of respectable Bible teaching an individual could be led astray and their core message change from truth to deception.

Don’t let appearances fool you.

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