Error and Deception

Neil Girrard
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Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Gen. 4:3 π Gen. 4:5 π Gen. 4:7 π Num. 16:3 π Num. 22:18 π Num. 22:32-33 π Num. 24:1 π Num. 31:16 π 1 Sam. 9:9 π Isa. 14:14 π Jer. 23:16 π Mt. 4:4 π Mt. 6:24 π Mt. 13:9 π Mt. 13:38 π Mt. 16:18 π Mt. 18:12-13 π Mt. 22:29 π Mt. 24:4 π Mt. 24:4-5 π Mt. 24:10 π Mt. 24:11 π Mt. 24:13 π Mt. 24:24 π Mt. 27:63-64 π Mk. 12:24 π Mk. 12:27 π Mk. 13:5-6 π Lk. 6:49 π Lk. 21:8 π Jn. 7:12 π Jn. 7:17 π Jn. 7:47 π Jn. 8:31-32 π Jn. 10:27 π Jn. 10:27-28 π Jn. 14:26; 2nd π Jn. 15:26 π Jn. 16:13; 2nd π Acts 20:17 π Acts 20:20 π Acts 20:27 π Acts 20:28 π Acts 20:30; 2nd π Rom. 1:27 π Rom. 8:9 π Rom. 8:14; 2nd; 3rd π 1 Cor. 2:1-2 π 1 Cor. 6:9-10 π 1 Cor. 15:33 π 2 Cor. 6:8 π 2 Cor. 12:4 π Gal. 6:7-8 π Eph. 4:14 π Col. 2:15 π 1 Ths. 2:3 π 2 Ths. 2:3 π 2 Ths. 2:4 π 2 Ths. 2:9-10 π 2 Ths. 2:10-12 π 1 Tim. 3:7 π 1 Tim. 4:1; 2nd π 2 Tim. 2:16-18 π 2 Tim. 3:13 π Tit. 3:3 π Heb. 3:10 π Heb. 5:2 π Heb. 5:9 π Heb. 5:13-14 π Heb. 10:26-27 π Heb. 11:37-38 π Jas. 1:16-17 π Jas. 5:19 π Jas. 5:19-20 π 1 Pet. 2:25 π 1 Pet. 5:8 π 2 Pet. 2:15; 2nd π 2 Pet. 2:18 π 2 Pet. 3:17 π 1 Jn. 1:8 π 1 Jn. 2:18-19 π 1 Jn. 2:26 π 1 Jn. 2:27; 2nd π 1 Jn. 3:7 π 1 Jn. 4:6 π 2 Jn. 7-9 π 3 Jn. 9-10 π Jude 11; 2nd; 3rd π Jude 13 π Rev. 2:6; 2nd π Rev. 2:15; 2nd π Rev. 2:20 π Rev. 12:9 π Rev. 13:14 π Rev. 13:16-17 π Rev. 18:23 π Rev. 19:20 π Rev. 20:3 π Rev. 20:8 π Rev. 20:10

Greek Words Mentioned in This Article
Heresies, sectshairesis – [139] π Overseer, “Bishop” (KJV)episkopos – [1985] π NicolaitansNikolaitas – [3531] π Deceive, Wanderplanao – [4105]; 2nd; 3rd; 4th; 5th; 6th; 7th; 8th; 9th; 10th π Deceive, Errorplane – [4106]; 2nd; 3rd; 4th; 5th; 6th; 7th; 8th π Wanderingplanetes – [4107]; 2nd; 3rd π Deceiver, Seducerplanos – [4108]; 2nd; 3rd; 4th; 5th; 6th; 7th π Elderspresbuteros – [4245] π Medication, Magicpharmakeia – [5331]

One Bible presents the following as an introduction to the letter from Jude:

“Fight! Contend! Do battle! When apostasy arises, when false teachers emerge, when the truth of God is attacked, it is time to fight for the faith. Only believers who are spiritually ‘in shape’ can answer the summons. At the beginning of his letter Jude focuses on the believers’ common salvation but then feels compelled to challenge them to contend for the faith. The danger is real. False teachers have crept into the church, turning God’s grace into unbounded license to do as they please.”

It is simply hard to improve upon this restatement of Jude’s exhortation! Further, it is all but impossible to read this introduction and not see the parallels and applicability to our own time. Indeed, Jude’s letter is not addressed to any particular group and may not even be written to any particular historical group but, being “transported,” as it were, in spirit to at least see in part our age, he may be writing only for the time of the falling away. ( 1 Tim. 4:1 , 2 Ths. 2:3 , Mt. 24:10; top ) Or he may be writing to some historical group whom God used as a “mirror” to show Jude what He wished said to His people in both times. But either way, let us more closely examine one aspect of what Jude said because it proves to be a “tip of the iceberg” that leads to a surprising depth in the whole counsel of God.

We could spend much time dissecting Jude’s insights that are indeed priceless gems of wisdom and discernment – and we will touch upon some – but let us look at the three names that Jude uses to portray the reason for God’s judgment upon these false leaders and teachers and upon those who follow them. Jude wrote:

“Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” ( Jude 11; top )

We could spend a great deal of time levering out nuggets from each of the stories of these men. Cain in the way of false religion took the fruit of his own labors with the ground that God had cursed and still expected God to gratefully receive his “sacrifice.” ( Gen. 4:3 , 5 ) Balaam in greed used mystical arts to bring forth God’s message about the people of Israel – and when he could not pronounce a mystical curse on the Israelites, he earned his fee by instructing the king of Moab to send the Moabite women to the Israelite camp to seduce them into sin and idolatry. ( Num. 24:1 , 31:16 ) Korah in rebellion motivated by self-exaltation opposed the men whom God had Himself chosen ( Num. 16:3 ) – a story that shows how men in man-made positions with evil motives and agendas tend to rise up against those whom God is genuinely using and tend to wrongfully usurp authority unto themselves. In the New Testament, this is called Nicolaitanism (“conquering over the people” [ 3531 ] – Rev. 2:6 , 15; top ) and is said to be something Jesus hates. The applicability of these stories to today’s “church” is much greater than many suppose and we could spend much time digging out many useful truths. Instead, let us focus on what Jude calls “the error of Balaam” because this phrase and its usage opens up to us what God has to say to those who live in the days of deception prior to His return.

A Cluster of Words

One of the greatest handicaps an English-speaking student of the New Testament faces is that it was originally written in Greek. In the late 1800s, a man named Strong assigned over 5,000 numbers to Greek words used in the original New Testament. Using this system, one could look up in Strong’s dictionary the meaning of any Greek word without having to know the first thing about Greek. There are many strengths in this idea and, because of his diligence and thoroughness and succinct explanations of Greek terms, there are few weaknesses. One inherent weakness – and this is more of a weakness of the user who does not know or think to look for such things – is that some words, which perhaps (perhaps not) should have been listed as one single Greek word or idea, were assigned to more than one number. In Jude’s phrase, “the error of Balaam,” we encounter this weakness in Strong’s dictionary. Thus this error and deception is covered, not by one word, but by a cluster of words.

The Greek word Jude uses for “error” is plane [ 4106 ] and refers to fraudulence and deception. But closely related to plane [ 4106 ] is planao [ 4105 ], planetes [ 4107 ] and planos [ 4108 ]. According to Strong’s, planos [ 4108 ], is the primary word and the other three derive from that word. Let us consider these words and their definitions in their linguistic (and not alphabetic) order:

Two of the occurrences of these words best capture the sense behind the words because they show how the words were used in a benign or more concrete sense:

“They [the ‘heroes’ of faith] were stoned, they were sawn in two, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered (Greek, planao [ 4105 ]) in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.” ( Heb. 11:37-38 ); and

“[The false leaders and teachers are] raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering (Greek, planetes [ 4107 ]) stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” ( Jude 13; top )

Just as the faith heroes wandered in the earth and the planets, particularly in comparison to the more stable, distant stars, wander across the sky, those whom these words are used to describe wander or depart from things they should follow or remain in.

Generally, these words are used:

With this backdrop of the overall usage of these four words in view, and with the understanding that this is the deception Jesus warned would be the primary sign of His impending return ( Mt. 24:4; top ), let us consider the remaining 10 verses that use these words.

The Spirit of Error

John wrote:

“We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (Greek, planao [ 4105 ]).” ( 1 Jn. 4:6; top )

What should perhaps jump out at us most is that the error and deception is not purely human. The error and deception that Balaam trafficked in involves a demonic or fallen angelic spirit. This means that, as we seek to overcome the deception in our time, we will need spiritual discernment, enlightenment and guidance in order to defeat the deceptive strategies that have been formed and laid throughout the time since Christ defeated the devil and his hordes at Calvary.

For far too long, those who claim to belong to Christ have failed to be careful what spirit they are of. Paul warned, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His… For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” ( Rom. 8:9 , 14 ) Jesus said, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you… When the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me… When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…” ( Jn. 14:26 , 15:26 , 16:13; top )

John spoke of the “many antichrists (those who oppose and take the place of Christ) [who] went out from us…” ( 1 Jn. 2:18-19 ) Paul had previously prophesied to the Ephesian elders (Greek, presbuteros [ 4245 ]) whom he also addressed as overseers (Greek, episkopos [ 1985 ], traditionally “bishops” – Acts 20:17 , 28 ]) that “from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse (corrupted, misleading) things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” ( Acts 20:30 ) Perhaps there is no clearer example in the New Testament of these men who took on the headship of a local assembly and, while still claiming to speak for Christ, actively opposed the true servants of Christ than that of Diotrephes who loved the preeminence and refused to listen to John and those working with him. ( 3 Jn. 9-10 ) Some twenty years after Diotrephes opposed John, Ignatius of Antioch wrote that God’s “divine concord” was to have “the bishop presiding in the place of God…” (To the Magnesians, c. 6), thus fulfilling the exact progression of the Nicolaitans given in The Revelation where “deeds” ( Rev. 2:6 ) become “teaching” ( Rev. 2:15; top ) The devil planted his sons, the tares, the Nicolaitans, among the wheat by creating a counterfeit institution that in English came to be called “church” and placed his men at the head of these counterfeits, protecting them from expulsion by deceiving men to falsely label the dissidents against the “church” as schismatics, heretics and rebels (like Korah) when, in truth, the bishop and his followers were the deceived schismatics, heretics and rebels against Christ and God. Consider also how “heresy” (Greek, hairesis [ 139 ], originally merely “sect or party”) in the hands of the Nicolaitans came to mean “error worthy of cruel death.”

It is in light of these “many antichrists” (whom church history most often speaks of as “bishops” or even “church fathers”) that John writes,

“These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive (Greek, planao [ 4105 ]) you.” ( 1 Jn. 2:26; top )

Many “church” adherents – referring to those who mistake the demonically designed and humanly orchestrated institutions and add-ons to be the body and bride of Christ – believe that anyone who “believes” (generally this means “has an intellectual opinion that something is truth and fact”) that Jesus is the Messiah is a member of Christ’s body. But the duality of their standard comes clearly into view when someone, like the author of this article – who indeed has a strong intellectual opinion that Jesus is the Messiah – who indeed has a strong intellectual opinion that Jesus is the Messiah – speaks out against these institutional abominations. Suddenly, faith (whether soulish or spiritual) is not the standard by which one is received as a brother in Christ and the real standard, submission to the demonic and humanly devised “church” system, comes jarringly down upon the lives of those who in ignorance had the audacity to think that God lived in the house these purported “men of God” claimed was His.

One of the aspects of Balaam’s error that is rarely if ever addressed is that of the dual nature of his life and instead emphasis is placed upon his use of his divine abilities for greed and profit. Though he was a prophet, more properly a seer (see 1 Sam. 9:9 ) and there is no Biblical record that he practiced overt idolatry (that is, Balaam specifically looks upon and addresses Yahweh as his God and Master – Num. 22:18 , etc.), he is nonetheless ruled by greed, a spiritual entity the New Testament calls mammon. ( Mt. 6:24 ) Balaam’s obedience to this other master nearly costs him his life and he is spared only because the Lord allowed his donkey to see – and speak! – more clearly than he! ( Num. 22:32-33 ) But Balaam “loved the wages of unrighteousness” and followed this other steam of spiritual power. It is this love of “the wages of unrighteousness” (that which is not right in God’s eyes) that Peter, in prophecies that parallel Jude’s, says depicts how the false leaders and teachers have “gone astray (Greek, planao [ 4105 ]).” ( 2 Pet. 2:15; top ) The dual streams of power – divine and devilish – were at war in Balaam and, with Balaam as the prophetic type or picture of the modern “pastor” and Nicolaitan “church” overlord, it is no surprise, if we are ever allowed to get to know the real person behind the pulpit, to discover a similar dual stream of power coursing through his or her life. It is a common thread throughout church history that “bishops” and “pastors” have often had a second side to their nature, a dark side generally kept from the public eye.

John wrote that we would be able to distinguish between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error – and we would know our own status (as genuine believers or deceived victims of Satan’s lies) by whether we can hear God speaking through John and the other apostles or not. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice…” ( Jn. 10:27 ) and “If anyone wills to do God’s will, he shall know concerning the teaching [which I speak], whether it is from God or whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” ( Jn. 7:17 ) One who is not His sheep or perhaps one who has stepped out of the way will not hear His voice until they repent and turn to Him. And the one who has his own self-generated desires and agendas to fulfill (a mindset produced and enhanced by adhering to the “church” paradigm) will not be able to discern whether a speaker is empowered by the Spirit of truth or the spirit of error. Only those who have spiritual ears will hear what the Spirit says ( Mt. 13:9 , etc.) and only those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God ( Rom. 8:14 ), the true wheat. All others are the tares the sons of the devil. ( Mt. 13:38; top )

Deceiving Ourselves

John wrote:

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive (Greek, planao [ 4105 ]) ourselves.” ( 1 Jn. 1:8; top )

And Peter wrote:

“For when they (the false leaders and teachers of the great falling away) speak great swelling words (flattery or lofty “high” thinking) of emptiness, they allure through the lusts and excesses of the flesh, the ones who have actually escaped or who are barely escaping from those who live in error (Greek, plane [ 4106 ]).” ( 2 Pet. 2:18; top )

There is perhaps no more devastating mindset than that of “I’m okay.” This ill-defined term “okay” implies there is no real or serous sin in my life, I have nothing of which I need to repent of, everything I do is just wonderful in God’s eyes and there is really nothing that He and I need to talk about. I’m just fine because I’m “okay.” Anyone who cannot see this progression of lies as an exceedingly dangerous slippery slope is blind and deceived indeed!

This mindset, even if it is not overtly preached from a pulpit (sometimes it is!), is propagated at most “churches.” One is “okay” because one attends there and gives money to support the “work of God” done there. Thus one is “okay,” under the tutelage of the “church,” lives in error and deception and is given sanction to do so in the name of Christ and God!

One of the first and chief associations many people make with the “church” is that of the hypocrisy so prevalent there. They say and do not do what they say. Or though they may speak against “gross sin” (many “pastors” do not do so at all anymore but openly accept all manner of abomination calling their tolerance of sin “love”), they dare not speak against speak such sins as gossip, slander, lording over, covetousness (especially for wealth) or gluttony – these sins are the personal favorites of the “pastor,” staff or moneyed few who pay the wages (of unrighteousness) and expenses of the “church.” Christ is merely a figurehead and not the literal Head of most, if not all “churches.” And all of this is “okay” with the men who say what is “okay” with God.

Another way many delude themselves about not really having any sin in their life is to believe that it’s all “under grace.” That is, one can do whatever one pleases and God is just oh so happy to forgive everything just so He can have one more child (who can only truly be described as abominably rebellious). The writer of Hebrews said otherwise: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.” ( Heb. 10:26-27 ) It is one of Satan’s most popular deceptions to seduce believers into thinking that once they are a believer there is nothing more for them to do. (see Lk. 6:49 , etc.; top)

Perhaps the most subtle way in which to deceive ourselves is to think that believing the right doctrines is alone sufficient to make one “saved.” John wrote:

“For many deceivers (Greek, planos [ 4108 ]) have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver (Greek, planos [ 4108 ) and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that you do not lose those things we worked for, but that you may receive a full reward. Whoever goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ has both the Father and the Son.” ( 2 Jn. 7-9; top )

The “church” has been eating from the tree of the (independent from God) knowledge of good and evil for so long that, in practice if not in actual preaching, anyone who looks upon the idea of Christ or “Christian” living as a good thing is “saved.”

But the gospel, the good news of reconciliation with God, goes much deeper than this. Jesus is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him…” ( Heb. 5:9 ) Again, “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” ( Rom. 8:14 ) And yet again, eternal life is given to those who hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow Him. ( Jn. 10:27-28 ) We do not have the Spirit nor follow His leadings nor receive eternal life just by eating some fact from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that is, knowing some Bible knowledge or religious “facts.” Only when we follow the Spirit of truth into the light of Christ Himself are we free from the imprisoning gates of death and darkness. ( Jn. 8:31-32 , Mt. 16:18 ) Knowing that Jesus came as both God and Man is a wonderful thing to know but it, the fact, the knowledge byte alone, is not the basis of our salvation. He alone is that basis and it is the work of the spirit of antichrist to cause us to replace Him with any it in any place in our lives that truly belongs to Him – even factual teachings about Him become the work of the spirit of antichrist if the teachings do not lead us to abide (remain, stay in and with) Him. (see 1 Jn. 2:27; top )

Strong Delusion

Paul wrote:

“And for this reason (because those who are perishing did not receive the love of the truth that accompanies salvation) God will send them strong delusion (Greek, plane [ 4106 ]), that they should believe the lie (which they prefer more than the truth), that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness (what is not right in God’s eyes).” ( 2 Ths. 2:10-12; top )

The deception which Balaam partook of was demonic in nature. The deception of those who think themselves free from all sin and its consequences was self-inflicted. Here we see God Himself giving these people over to the delusion(s) they like more than they like God’s truth. All these elements come together in the apostasy, the great falling away from the faith in which demonic doctrines are taught and followed as “truth” ( 1 Tim. 4:1 ) and the power of Satan is demonstrated with “signs, lying wonders and all unrighteous deception…” ( 2 Ths. 2:9-10 ) Babylon, Satan’s great counterfeit of the bride of Christ, is said to deceive (Greek, planao [ 4105 ]) all the nations with her “sorcery” (Greek, pharmakeia [ 5331 ], medicines, magic, drugs – the English words “pharmacy” and “pharmaceutical” derive directly from this word) and it may well be the medical industry’s “miraculous” advances which Paul and John have in view here as Satan’s deceptions that he can be like the Most High God. ( Isa. 14:14 , 2 Ths. 2:4 ) Many “Christian” hospitals have participated in developing modern medicine apart from the power of Christ and one “product” that is especially being developed to exercise control over people is the medical field. Medical “care” too will be merely another product one will not be able to purchase when “the mark of the beast” is instituted world-wide ( Rev. 13:16-17; top ) – a technology that has also just “coincidentally” come to be a viable reality.

The remedy against all the deceptions aligned against the people who truly follow Christ (and this description includes many outside of those man-made boxes commonly called “church,” perhaps more so of those outside than in!) is to love the truth. Repent of known sin and any preference toward anything that God says is unrighteous. Seek God as to how much of your knowledge is actual spiritual truth and how much is error or some combination of the two. Go wherever He leads you – even if that means going alone into some form of dry and empty “wilderness.” So long as you follow God and Christ by His Spirit, He will preserve you in your determination to exercise perseverance and endurance to the end so that you will be saved. ( Mt. 24:13; top )

Evil Men

Paul wrote:

“…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful (Greek, plane [ 4106 ]) plotting…” ( Eph. 4:14; top )

Paul is writing his letter to the Ephesians in the hopes of their preventing or at least avoiding apostasy, waiting from the vantage point of having received revelations not lawful to speak of ( 2 Cor. 12:4 ) and knowing that men would rise up from the elders speaking corrupted things so as to draw men after themselves. ( Acts 20:30; top ) From this vantage point, Paul writes his clearest and highest treatment of living the life of Christ. The letter to the Ephesians – the first half detailing what God has done for and given to us and the second half almost perfectly balancing this with an equal number of our responsibilities before God in response to what He has done – stands as the highest, grandest and noblest “mountain peak” in the writings of the New Testament. And here Paul tells us that we need not be caught up and carried away by the strategies of crafty evil men, men under the influence of demonic doctrines and power.

Paul wrote elsewhere that

“evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (Greek, planao [ 4105 ], 2x).” ( 2 Tim. 3:13; top )

It is in the nature of evil to progressively grow worse. As God warned Cain, “Sin’s desire is to rule over you but you must master it.” ( Gen. 4:7 ) It is the way of Cain to fail to master the flesh but instead seek to incorporate it into one’s “worship” of God. The false leaders and teachers who are in the way of Cain ( Jude 11 ) are those who plot how to lure you into their “church.” This deceptive plotting replaces Paul’s method of not relying on eloquence or wisdom but rather “knowing nothing but Christ and Him crucified” ( 1 Cor. 2:1-2 ) and of “[keeping] back nothing that was [spiritually] helpful… [declaring] the whole counsel of God.” ( Acts 20:20 , 27; top )

“Pastors,” “apostles,” “priests” and “popes” are lauded as good, sincere men. And indeed some have strong traits of goodness in them – and often use that goodness to excuse the dual stream of good and evil within them or to excuse the damage caused by their false and deceptive position. Sincerity and goodness are not the means by which we determine truth – nor is something true just because we prefer or like it or want it to be true. Sincere and good men can be sincerely wrong and still have good traits in them. Thus, good men who have stepped into the Nicolaitan role of “church” “pastor” will one day find that it is their work which is the source of evil that begins to creep into their lives. Subtle diversions from Christ, subtle differences from the words found in the Bible are ignored and thus begins their transformation into very useful tools of the devil. ( 1 Tim. 3:7 , 2 Tim. 2:16-18; top )

The remedy for being deceived by cunning and crafty men is to stop having one’s ears scratched by men. “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the LORD.” ( Jer. 23:16 ) If the Spirit of truth abides in you, “you do not need that anyone continually teach you [because He] teaches you concerning all things [and] you will abide in Him.” ( 1 Jn. 2:27 ) Again, the Spirit of truth teaches us all things ( Jn. 14:26 ) and guides us into all truth. ( Jn. 16:13 ) Other men can only and at best give you milk – at worst, they can give you demonically poisoned “truth” and error – the meat of the Word of God comes only from the mouth of God. ( Heb. 5:13-14 , Mt. 4:4; top )

Real Danger

James wrote:

“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders (Greek, planao [ 4105 ]) from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error (Greek, plane [ 4106 ]) of his way will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” ( Jas. 5:19-20; top )

Though the “church” and many still contaminated with its carnal and demonic doctrines propagates the “once saved, always saved” error, anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear what this verse clearly (in the Spirit) says recognizes that spiritual deception can cause a believer to wander and depart from the truth and from the faith. It is one of the realities that helps keep us close to our Savior and Shepherd Jesus Christ – we know there are real wolves and real lions real close with real teeth that do real damage real fast if we are not diligent and wary as we have been instructed to be. ( 1 Pet. 5:8; top ) No zookeeper blunders carelessly into a lion’s cage nor taunts the lion unnecessarily because the lion, no matter how tamed and accustomed to captivity, is still a dangerous beast. A wild and entirely untamed lion is even more dangerously unpredictable. The lion is the picture the New Testament gives of the enemy of our souls and it is a foolish soul who considers the devil completely de-fanged and helpless. Such a one is already his victim, having been thoroughly deceived about a dangerous foe.

Yet it must also be stated that Satan has been utterly and eternally defeated at the cross of Christ. ( Col. 2:15 , etc.) That victory, with its attending security, safety, authority and power over the enemy, however, is only available to the believer who abides in Christ. A believer who is negligent and unwary of the devil’s deceptions, who is lured away from obedience to Christ, is the very one who the devil will devour and, if possible, mold into a tool for spreading his deceptions. This is the story of many “pastors” and traveling hucksters and television and internet talking heads but few indeed have enough spiritual discernment to see that this is so. It is the folly of humankind to fail to see that God has assigned penalties to their errors ( Rom. 1:27; top ) with the intent that men would see the frightful cost of pursuing death and deception and turn in repentance to the God who freely and fully gives life.

As difficult as it is to improve upon the introduction to Jude with which we opened this discussion, let us return to it with a view toward the broad picture the New Testament gives of error and deception in this cluster of words:

Fight! Contend! Do battle against our spiritual adversaries! Apostasy on its grandest scale ever has arisen, false teachers are heaped up as never before and the truth of God is attacked from every possible angle. It is time fight in the Spirit for the faith. Only believers who are spiritually led and trained are ready for this fight – all others are not likely to survive but are most likely to end up on the wrong side of the fight. The danger is real. False leaders and teachers stealthily crept in and took over long ago and transformed the spiritual elect and ekklesia into a corrupted and carnal “church.” Under these deceivers sin is no longer sin or abomination as “God’s grace” is again and on a scale never before imagined turned into unbounded license to do whatever carnal and wicked men desire.

In the face of all this, Christ, by His Spirit and through His true servants, still comes to men and with divine authority commands them:

“Repent! The kingdom of God is near.”

The gospel of the kingdom is not changed in the slightest way by the cunning craftiness and subtle deceptiveness of men – or of demons! The truth, grace (power) and life of Christ remains available to any and all who come to Him on His terms of absolute and complete surrender. Coming to Him on any other terms is simply to succumb to the deceptive snares laid before our feet by the enemy of our souls or to present ourselves to some spiritual being who is not Him. This is the reality of our time.

Let he who has ears hear.

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