Countless individuals are being misled by religious charlatans and religious institutions that have hijacked the gospel for their own deceitful purposes. Those purposes always entail prosperity, power and the perversion of the truth. Jesus Christ warned His followers to be aware of those who would try to deceive them. This warning can also be shared with others who do not believe in Jesus Christ, who is revealed to us in the Scriptures, so they can avoid being deceived, turn from being deceived, or aware that they have been deceived, to turn to Jesus Christ the true Lord of glory and Savior of our souls.
1 Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” 2 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked Him privately. 4 “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?” 5 And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 6 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many.” Mark 13:1-6
The disciple who pointed out the temple most likely was in awe of the beauty and glory of that temple. It was a sight to behold. Though the temple should have represented the true knowledge of God through belief in the truth revealed in the Scriptures, it had become a symbol of the religious deceit foisted upon the common Israelite by their man-honoring religious leaders. That is the way of man. They always make impressive edifices to themselves to bewitch and beguile the gullible so they will follow their lies. Jesus Christ wasn’t impressed with the temple because He knew what it had been corrupted to represent, and this false way was going down to destruction. Unlike man-made religious guile, Jesus Christ’s way is the way that leads to the true knowledge of God and eternal life for all who believe. However, we have to follow His way as it is revealed in the Bible so that we don’t become included in the statistics of those who have been misled by religious deception.
It is important that we understand the agent behind this duplicity so that we can properly instruct those who have been lied to about the way of life and truth. These acts of treachery that turn precious souls away from the truth found only in Jesus Christ have their origins in the will and work of the devil. He is subtle in his deception and makes sure that his evil workers have an appearance of righteousness. These false workers always try to give a facsimile of the truth of the gospel, but it is smudged with their crafty lies meant to lead the unwary into perdition and damnation. Paul fought with these evil workers the entire time of his ministry, and was always urging his beloved brethren to beware.
1 Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it! 5 For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. 6 Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things. 7 Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you. 9 And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows! 12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. 16 I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive me as a fool, that I also may boast a little. 17 What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in the confidence of boasting. 18 Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also. 19 For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise! 20 For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face. 21 To our shame I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold—I speak foolishly—I am bold. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren….2 Corinthians 11:1-26
Satan’s workers preach a false Jesus, have an evil spirit, and care about appearances rather than preaching and teaching the truth. They boast about themselves often and they are sure to receive remuneration for their services. Paul contrasted himself with the false apostles by emphasizing his commitment to the Corinthians through his faithful ministry and refusal to receive monetary support from them. Workers empowered by the devil love themselves and their ministries. They want others to spend themselves for their benefit and prosperity. Paul spent himself for the furtherance of the truth without any regard to his own well-being. He was motivated by love for Jesus Christ and the love of the brethren in all that he said and did. Religious deceivers will have an appearance of righteousness but their selfish behavior will give them away. They will always only be concerned about themselves, reject the truth about Jesus Christ, and lead any who will follow them away from the simplicity that is in Christ, in knowing Him as their Lord and Savior. The gullible who follow religious deceivers will find themselves in bondage, taken advantage of, spitefully used, abused and mistreated. There will also be abundant evidence of wicked fruit from religious deceivers involving doctrine and practice that contradicts the Word of God the Bible. There will be an abundance of sexual immorality, greediness, hate, evil speech, and an obvious lack of love. We can see these evil fruits abounding in many “Christian” denominations, traditions and churches. As those who are genuinely born again through repentant faith in Christ, our wonderful Lord and Savior instructs us in the tactics we should use to help liberate the deceived from their deception. We can find those instructions given in 1 John 5, Galatians 6, James 5, 2 Timothy 2, and Jude. May God bless us as we seek to oppose the lie and encourage all with the truth that is in Jesus Christ through His glorious Word by His powerful Holy Spirit.
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. 16 If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. 1 John 5:14-16
1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2
19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20
23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:23-26
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen. Jude 20-25