Deception is lurking around every corner.
Deceivers want to take something from you. Something that is not theirs, something you really wanted to keep. And it hurts when something is taken like that.
That’s right, deceivers are a lot like thieves. Why? Let’s take a look at thieves, and see if the deceiver doesn’t fit the same profile.
On a superficial level, there is more than one reason that theives like to steal. Some like the thrill of getting something for free. More like the thrill of taking, the raw power that is exercised by imposing their will upon you. And a few are simply desperate and they need what you have and feel they can’t get it any other way.
As we said, these are superficial motivations. But there appears to be a common root underlying thievery: power. For whatever reason (and for a thief, it’s always somebody else’s fault) they don’t have enough <blank>. And to get it, they need to impose their will against someone else. Power.
And when we speak of power, we don’t nceccsarily infer that there is some uncontrollable desire to make people do what they want and call the shots. We are talking about the desire to control their destiny, and to secure their lifestyle by their own means. Not necssarily power over others (although imposing your will often involves circumventing someone else’s will). But generally we speak of power over their circumstances.
So as we look deeper, we find that underlying this quest for power is a deep seated fear that their material needs will not be met. So they discard notions of moral stability and do whatever it takes.
A deceiver is in a similar frame of mind, but their concern is not so much of material needs but spiritual ones.
Now we have to be careful what we call spiritual here. I really should do a study on this, but for now let’s take a shortcut and say that by spiritual we are talking about matters dealing with the motivations of the heart. Jesus was really good at talking to people and immediately discerning what their motivations were and how to address them. He could tell what drove them to behave as they were behaving and how best to deal with that.
So when we say that deceivers operate in the spiritual realm, we mean that they have certain spiritual needs. While a Christian rests in the hope of the Spirit of life, the deceiver believes in no such thing and seeks only to gather to himself a sense of importance and self-worth by whatever means necessary. He is ruled by his belly in a figurative sense.
A deceiver can be, and frequently is, a ‘Christian’. Such a ‘Christian’ seeks what Jesus offers but is not willing to part with the illusion of control over his own life. The deceiver wants earthly life on his own terms as well as the eternal life. So in effect he is trying to steal from God.
Now the way he goes about this is by following a torturous process of self-deception. Believing himself to be important, he is able to convince others that he is, in fact, important and works to become indispensible in their organization. Then he offers to do any and all tasks, being a veritable fountain of energy. As a result, nobody needs to do anything, and they begin trusting him without verification.
A more concrete example is in order here, because I’m not trying to impugn genuinely helpful people. Suppose we have a pastor at a church. As with any organization, one man can’t do it all, so he needs volunteers to take over certain things. Such as, for instance, Sunday School for the children.
The next thing you know the kids are really liking the new Sunday School teacher and have every praise to utter on his behalf. What the pastor does not know, and what the parents do not know, is that he has been teaching the children about the Ice Cream god and how best to please him.
And it’s not a bad strategy. It teaches (he claims) about faith and respect and other good and decent moral values, so that one day when they grow up someone else can teach them about the real God. No different than Santa Claus, really.
So we begin to see the problem. How, then, do we guard against this kind of deception?
Look at what was NOT done in this scenario.
- 1. There was no supervision. The lesson plan was not reviewed, and the parents never bothered to sit in on the lessons.
- 2. The teacher’s motivations were driven by a need to get the children to accept him. Not necessarily a pedophilic motivation, but the circumstances don’t rule that out either.
- 3. The very setting of a church orgainzation is not conducive to personal responsibility. Organizations are driven by a mindset where conscience is surrendered to the group, rather than retained by the individual. Dean Gotcher teaches about this.
The best way to prevent this kind of thing from happening is, I’m afraid, not a very popular solution in this day and age. What is it? Simply, we need only to retain and exercise personal responsibility.
Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
We must study our own Bibles and not outsource that critical experience to another. We must do so motivated only by the desire to learn the truth, and not by social compulsion. Lastly, we must eschew the kind of institutional Christianity that has, shall we say, institutionalized these errors, transforming the ekklesia into the Whore of Babylon destined for hell.