1 Timothy 4
profane and old wives' fables,
exercise yourself rather to godliness" (1 Tim 4:7)
is the most undiagnosed disease in the Church. The worst thing about
deception is that the deceived persons will not know that they are
deceived. The number of the deceived is increasing at an alarming rate as
we approach the end of the age. When the disciples asked Jesus, "What
will be the sign of Your coming, and the end of the age?," His very
first statement in reply was, "Take care that no one deceives you!"
(Mt 24:3,4). He added that even the very elect might be deceived (v24).
Recovery from deception is extremely difficult. Prevention is better than
cure. That's why Jesus said, "See, I have told you beforehand!"
(v25). Let me suggest here a few safeguards against deception—
Give top priority to Bible meditation among the other disciplines of
devotional life. The Bible admonishes us to go to the presence of God
"to hear rather than to speak" (Eccl 5:1). God has magnified His
Word above all things—even above His Name (Psa 138:2). If your quiet
time before God is for one hour, spend 40 minutes for Bible meditation and
20 for praise and prayer. This is not the 11th Commandment to be obeyed
legalistically, but I just want to stress the importance of Scripture in
protecting yourself from deception.
Be balanced. Don't overemphasize any one truth at the cost of other
truths. Deception is mostly due to eccentric emphasis of any one aspect of
divine truth. That's why God has gifted the Church with a variety of
ministers. You must connect yourself to apostolic vision, prophetic
insight, evangelistic passion, pastoral burden and teachers' knowledge. If
you don't grow up thus "in all things," you are sure to be
deceived by the trickery and cunning craftiness of the devil (Eph
4:11-15). He commonly stops the ear from hearing sound doctrine before he
opens it to embrace corrupt.
Avoid interest in extra-Biblical revelations and experiences. What is
plainly revealed in the Bible is more than enough for us to live a life
that's pleasing to God. Secret things belong to God (Dt 29:29). Digging
into extra-Biblical stuff will land you in the "depths of Satan"
and not the "deep things of God" (Rev 2:24; 1 Cor 2:10). We are
not obliged to embrace so-called spiritual experiences which are not
taught in the Scriptures by precept and practice. "Whoever breaks the
hedge will be bitten by a serpent" (Eccl 10:8). Stay clear of all
occult practices. Evil spirits lie behind them (Dt 18:9-12; Isa 8:19).