Seeing, Believing and Being Deceived
Most everyone is familiar with the old saying, “Seeing is believing”. Actually, this old saying belongs in the category of old wives tales along with the “cleanliness is next go godliness” thing. Now, we would admit being clean is good, but its close association with godliness is not in the least bit scriptural. And that, in spite of the Pharisaical practice of many washings.
Slight-of-hand tricks often fool observers into believing in magic, but there is no such thing as magic. A fellow soldier of years gone by was an amateur magician and he could pull a quarter from behind any person’s ear. He showed several of us the simple deception and, with enough practice, anyone could pull it off. Once again, though, what we saw was not the truth. More importantly, the seeing/believing phenomena can be much more serious than mere games. It can make twists and turns with implications that are far from being simply entertaining.
Deception often comes from another angle, too, such as instances where something that is indeed true is being portrayed as being false. Thus, it can bleed over into philosophy and religion with little effort, and the results can determine a person’s eternal destiny. Consider the life of Jesus.
The four gospels are filled with accounts of the life of our Lord. From His virgin birth to His resurrection multitudes witnessed not only His miracles, but His selfless, godly and absolutely perfect life. No one could question His actions or His motives. Even His enemies knew they would have to manufacture offenses and hire or force people to give false testimony about Him. Instead of a trick of some kind being portrayed as being a fact, the all together perfect life of Jesus Christ was portrayed as being insincere, false and evil.
In one instance the work of Jesus was labeled as being the work of Satan (Matthew 12:22). That a miracle had occurred was not the question. The question in the hearts of the religious leaders was the source of the power associated with the miracle. The people who witnessed it were amazed at the miracle and wondered if He might even be the Messiah. Actually, the hearts of the religious leaders were already made up regarding the person and work of Jesus, so no matter what He did they would not attribute it to God.
How could this happen? How could seemingly smart people look Deity directly in the eye and call Him evil? If rightly considered it was very easy for them to do this. And this is the part some people (even some Christians) have a hard time accepting. When a person’s heart is cold, hard, godless and filled with deception (especially the self-imposed variety) it is easy for that person to see the truth point-blank and, with a stone face, simply deny it.
A couple examples should suffice. First, consider the West’s response to Islam. There is no question whatsoever that Islam is our enemy, not terrorism. It is equally easy to see that Islam is a religion of persecution where human dignity and the sanctity of human life mean absolutely nothing at all. How many places has Islam gone and brought freedom and equality with it? What has this bloody religion from hell done to improve the lot and life of any of its slaves? The answer, of course, is none! Both their leadership and their followers rejoice in the deaths of Jewish and American citizens while they proclaim their undeniable and irrevocable goal of world subjugation.
Yet, from Europe to the U.S., national leaders kow-tow to this religion of hate. I know of not one major leader in the free world that has the testosterone to speak the truth about Islam in spite of the overwhelming evidence the whole world can clearly see. Evidence the whole world clearly sees and yet flatly denies. It is nothing less than frustrating — even maddening — to hear leaders of states that have been mercilessly attacked by Moslems in the name of Islam continue to call it a “religion of peace that has been hijacked by extremists”.
The Islamists admit their purpose and demonstrate their means. The West hears their words, sees their blood lust and responds by shaking their heads and saying, “Yes, I hear their words and see their murders, but that is just the Moslem way. If we would just become more accommodating to the Islamic faith we could all get along…” At times it is very difficult to restrain one’s fury and frustration. In fact, if it were not for the Messianic theocracy that is coming to this earth the situation would be nothing less than hopeless.
Consider also the indoctrination of our young people into the cult of evolution. In most every biology class in our land students are being force-fed the ridiculous idea that humanity evolved from lower life-forms. While every basic law of nature, every aspect of plain logic and every scrap of genuine evidence rules against it, yet this degrading and pernicious theory is not only taught, but force-fed into the minds of kids from elementary through graduate school every day the sun rises. A professor of geology or archaeology will examine an arrow head and definitively announce its human construction based upon its symmetry, purpose of design, and other evidence both internal and external. But, when that same professor examines the complexity of a living cell (millions of times more complex than an arrow head) he will, with equal intensity, announce its source as random selection.
How can this be? How generally intelligent people can look a man in the eye and call him the descendant of a monkey is beyond comprehension, yet it is done every day in the halls of the most prestigious of academic institutions. Why? The answer is actually simple. If evolution is a lie (and it is!), there is only one alternative, and that is to believe in and teach origins from the creation perspective. And that, folks, is something mainstream, secular and humanist academics would rather be skinned alive and burned at the stake before admitting.
You see, evidence means nothing. The important factor in any investigation of this sort is the condition of the heart. The heart is the key! If it is filled with even a degree of intellectual honesty the evidence is allowed to stand on its own merit providing its own correct conclusions. However, if the heart comes equipped with a sort of filter, a template if you will, that heart will void, extinguish and otherwise ignore the obvious in favor of a humanist predisposition — that is, it does not matter what God has said and done, unregenerate humanity is going to shake his puny fist in the face of God, spin on his heel and do it his way!
Once this is understood the answer to an oft-asked question is quickly and reasonably answered. At times people ask what is it that will cause those left behind after the rapture to deny the obvious hand of God in tribulation events and fall headlong into the Jesus-hating, Jew-hating agenda of the anti-Christ. The evidence that will clearly show God’s providence in those events will mean nothing to most of the earth-dwellers for two reasons. First, many will be given “...a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:11,12 NASB).
Second, many will not need to be deluded because their hearts will have already been deceived. The evidence of the rapture will be brushed off with some off-the-wall explanations such as UFO invasions, and those who will know the truth will first be ridiculed, then persecuted and then killed if they persist in declaring the truth.
It is very possible that any number of the presently deluded and hard-hearted will witness the rapture, see the post-rapture evidence, hear the truth and still deny everything as they experience the unprecedented tribulation of those days. Because the rapture of the church is imminent (and well within this generation in my opinion), there will be any number of people we may know personally going into the tribulation with their eyes and ears wide shut. As Jesus said, "Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand (Matthew 13:13 NASB).
Like many of you my prayer list has names of special people on it. In the last several months one of the specific prayers for some of them has been that they will, in faith, ask God for discernment (James 1:5,6 ). I am quickly coming to the place where I believe spiritual discernment should be among the top priorities for Christians. And, the reason is Christians are the major targets for satanic deception. Satan does not much concern himself with what unbelievers think; it simply does not matter much to him. However, if he can deceive a believer, especially one respected and admired, he can impact a multiplicity of people. The only defense is to know what God has said, to take a stand on it without compromise and to have the spiritual maturity to correctly discern what is being heard and read from any source.
As we watch Christian TV, listen to Christian radio and read Christian periodicals we must never let our guard down. Folks, and this is both embarrassing and painful to say, there is a lot of “religion” being spoon-fed to gullible people under the guise of biblical truth that is anything but biblical truth. And, it is being done by some very famous and popular Christian (?) teachers. At times it is done for the sake of being politically correct, at times it is for financial gain and at other times it is simply because these teachers do not want to offend the lost. Offend the lost?! Christianity by nature offends the lost because it declares the rottenness of the unregenerate human heart. Not what most people want to hear!
Can we possibly think God is pleased that someone who calls himself a teacher of truth will skew what the Almighty has plainly said in order to not offend someone? Can we possibly think such methods meet God’s approval? How can a so-called servant of God think for one moment this tommyrot is beneficial to a lost and dying world? Yet, it is done on a regular basis every day. Purposefully being offensive to people must never be part of our work. However, we must never forget the gospel is both a stumbling block and an offense to most people (1 Corinthians 1:23 ).
We are reminded of what Peter said about Satan, Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8 NASB). Peter is not describing the appearance of Satan — he is giving us his character and nature, for he appears as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14 ). When it comes to spiritual matters deception is at every turn because of the enemy’s efforts. Our belief system, therefore, must be based upon biblical truth and not solely upon what we might see and hear. No matter the source.