CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Deception: One of the Strongest Forces in the Universe

Aug 4, 2016

I want to discuss one of the most powerful – albeit negative – forces in the universe. A Christian would likely suggest that Satan fits the bill here. And that he does, but I want to narrow things down a bit more. What is one of the things Satan uses to real good (or rather, bad) effect?

I refer to the enormous power of deception. All forms of deception can be immensely powerful and controlling, and self-deception is certainly one of the most worrisome among them. The ability of people to deceive themselves, or be deceived, seems almost limitless.

And once someone is in the throes of deception, it can be very hard indeed to break people out of that. It is like some great force has taken over that person, and they become almost unreachable. It is as if they are now under the control of someone else. And spiritually speaking, they are.

As mentioned, there are different types of deception. Mass deception is another sort that is frightening to behold. The power that demagogues and charismatic leaders can have over the masses is all too familiar. Whether it be a Hitler, or a Jim Jones, or some other cult leader or political personality, masses can be easily led – and deceived – by these leaders.

I see this happening again in large measure with what can only be described as the Trump cult, with millions of people willing to believe his every word and follow his every command. I have had to personally deal with countless of these individuals, and they have been among the spookiest folks I have ever encountered.

Even those who claim to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ can have their heads and hearts turn to mush as they hold this guy up to be some messiah figure. They are quite happy to jettison core biblical values such as humility, righteousness, godliness, integrity, honesty and decency as they shill for this guy as if he were Jesus Christ.

That in my books is mass deception of a high order, and it is one of the most shocking things I have had to deal with in recent times. But individuals can and do become deceived quite easily as well. It happens all the time. A friend was just over to my place for a visit and we discussed one such sad case.

teachable 3We had known a young couple with young children and had visited them now and then, sharing our Christian faith together. Because they lived a ways away, we did not see them that often, but kept in touch via social media, etc. But sadly it seems they have now lost the plot altogether – and that includes losing the faith.

They had not been in any regular Christian fellowship it seems, and were not attending any church. But over time they started drifting into the weirdest and most bizarre cultic and heretical stuff. They evidently had a bit of spare time on their hands so they did most of their “learning” by looking at various YouTube videos.

Now checking out some videos can have its place, but the first port of call should be of course the Bible, and then godly and well-trusted teachers and preachers, etc. But if your discernment levels are not very high, and your biblical knowledge is not really up to speed, that makes you a prime candidate for falling into deception big time.

And that is how most cults and aberrant groups pushing heretical and dangerous doctrines get most of their members: those who are not really biblically literate, and those who are not grounded in the faith via good fellowship and sound teaching.

So as the months went on, we saw some of the most ridiculous, fanciful and downright cultic stuff being shared and promoted by these folks. A number of us tried to reason with them, plead with them, pray for them, and share Scripture with them. But it was all to no avail.

They became increasingly hardened, arrogant and angry. They refused to heed godly counsel, they refused to accept clear biblical teachings, they refused to accept that anyone else might have a bit of truth, and they just kept getting harder and more arrogant as they got further into crazy teachings.

They lashed out in anger as a number of us tried to reach out to them in love. They had become calloused and closed to admonition, to correction, to counsel. That is usually how the cultist becomes. He loses all humility and with it a teachable spirit, and becomes proud, resistant to truth, and closed to reason. Such folks can only be prayed for at the end of the day.

And Scripture speaks to this so often – how could they miss it? God resists the proud – we find this taught throughout Scripture. Those who are proud, arrogant and closed to the possibility that they might be wrong simply cannot be taught or corrected – they have an unteachable spirit.

And all this comes down to deception. There is plenty of self-deception going on here, as well as satanic deception coming in via false teachers, cultists, and religious whackos. As I said, this is one of the most powerful forces in the world.

Good ordinary people who were once good Christians have now completely gone off the deep end and derailed their faith. Indeed, not only have most of us been unfriended by these folks and told we are not wanted in their lives, they have now gone even further, declaring themselves to be atheists!

Yes, from Christianity, to deception, cultism, and now the full renunciation of the Christian faith. Wow, the power of sin and the power of deception. I of course do not mean to pick on this couple – there would be countless other folks in the same boat. I know of so many who have gone into weird and dangerous teaching and cults, and they are now quite lost.

All we can do is pray for such folks. They hate receiving any form of instruction or correction. As I said, they have one of the things we should all fear like the plague: an unteachable spirit. Humility and being teachable always go together. Pride and a refusal to be taught and counselled always go together as well.

That is why I tell my students over and over again that the best place they can be is on their knees in brokenness and humility before almighty God. That is really the only safe place to be in. A craving for the truth, coupled with humility and a teachable spirit will almost always ensure that you stay on the straight and narrow.

And I know a bit about this. I too was once part of a dangerous and wild cult. But our cult leader made one serious mistake: he told us repeatedly that we should keep praying to know the truth. Well, I for one did – constantly. And as a result I and the others were eventually set free from this cult.

And I still pray that prayer today: “Lord, please, let me never wander from your truth”. The best thing I can do is keep seeking the truth, keep asking God to break me when needed, and help me by his grace to remain humble, with a teachable spirit.

I have said that one of the most powerful forces in the world is deception. Well, there are other powerful forces. Truth is one of them. The truth can break the most powerful bondages. The truth can liberate us. As Jesus said, the “truth will set you free”.

Or as Alexander Solzhenitsyn once put it, quoting an old Russian proverb: “One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world.” Amen. Truth, coupled with humility and brokenness, may be the most powerful force the believer has. Let us use these and pursue these with all our heart. Not to do so puts us all at risk.

[1329 words]

13 Responses to Deception: One of the Strongest Forces in the Universe

  • I’m not aware of many people being overly enamored by Trump. Its just that they detest Clinton & Obama even more.

  • Thanks Steve. Maybe you move in narrower circles than I. I am aware of far too many folks who are overly enamored by Trump. Sadly I come across them on a daily basis.

  • Amen Bill. One of the emanations of deep deception employed by Satan is that regarding creation and the lie that is evolution. This philosophy is so deeply embedded in our culture that Christians have a very hard time understanding where they draw the line between trusting the Scriptures, especially in Genesis and all of Christ’s references to them, and secular science which demands belief in an old earth formed through timeless random chance processes for no purpose or point… I wonder whether, deep behind those who follow after cult leaders (secular or parachristian) there isn’t an element of secular evolutionary philosophy and a higher trust in naturalistic material scientism? What is your take on this?

  • I believe God is shaking this world to bring to light where people’s hearts really are. It is heartbreaking when people who seemed to be strong in their faith start going down the wrong path. We do seem to be in a real age of deception. That is why we should not neglect to meet together and encourage one another in the faith, every day if possible. Keep praying for your friends, Bill. It is probably all you can do at the moment by the sounds of it.

  • Thank you again Bill,

    You always teach and encourage in a meaningful way and I appreciate the regular doses of reality and scriptural truth-checking that is installed in your articles. Keep on course, sailing a straight line full of love and encouragement as you do. You help many many more than you will know, that may never write you with their appreciation. Keep up the good work. God Bless You and Yours.

  • I so much appreciate Bill’s article and the above comments. I personally have not seen such political turmoil and unrest among the public since the civil rights movement of the early 1960s, when most people of white, working-class America felt their way of life was being threatened. Today, conservatives and Christians are reacting the same way to liberalism and the ungodly social, moral, and political changes in the U.S. and around the world. Mr. Trump has more or less promised to bring back the 1950s and “Make America Great Again,” and this claim has led to certain people seeing Mr. Trump as a Messiah figure. However, people should question how he plans to make America great and if he can do it. So many people see the 1950s as a Golden Age when the world was rising from the ashes of World War II, an age of prosperity and progress they thought would last forever. I believe what these people really expect from Mr. Trump is security through materialism and success, and they need to realize this is a worldly view of success that has been around for a long time. In fact, a sort of success was part of the temptation in the Garden of Eden: “You shall become as gods, knowing good and evil.” The health and wealth gospel also feeds into this desire for prosperity and a return to innocence, but nothing good can be achieved by leaving God and his Word out of the picture. People need to examine themselves and realize they are following a man and not the Lord when they have so much allegiance to a political leader.

  • It is incredibly disappointing that Trump is the GOP nominee. I would never vote for either Clinton and certainly not Obama. In New Zealand, the people I have voted for years have not won office, nor even won a seat in Parliament. Out of 8 elections, my vote with others returned to elected office four times.

    I would have a write-in candidate if I were in the US elections and choose Ted Cruz. After listening to all the debates, reading the articles, praying, reading the Bible and discussing with friends, family and others (like yourself Bill and your fellow commenters on your site) I then have to face the Lord one day and answer the question did I make the right choice. I cannot be held responsible for other people’s votes bringing in a person I do not support. If we all had the courage of our convictions then Ted Cruz, or someone like him, would have a reasonable chance.

    A wasted vote is not a wasted vote if, having done all, your conscience is clear before God. His Son is the one to whom we will all appear before one day.

  • Trump’s bad. Clinton’s worse.

    But then, I’m bad, Bill’s bad, Matthew Webster’s bad. If you will only vote for a truly Christian candidate, then you’ll find someone will be able to pick a hole in that Christian life. That’s why we’re called sinners and Christ is our Saviour.

    Vote for the lesser of 2 evils.

    Trump. Well I would if I were American.

  • Thanks Graeme. But telling us something we don’t already know would be much more helpful. Of course we are all bad. What does that have to do with anything? What we are talking about here are two corrupt liberals running for POTUS, and how conservatives should vote in the light of this. There is no reason in the world why I must choose either one of these evil Democrat characters. I am a Christian and a conservative, so I will choose those who most clearly embrace my worldview. And as I stated plenty of times already, I would be just as happy to run with a non-Christian who has some solid and consistent Constitutional conservative principles and integrity than a Christian who does not. Neither Trump nor Hillary are conservatives in the least, let alone Christian, so of course I will not vote for either one of them.

    And the tired, foolish ‘lesser of two evils’ argument I have answered far too many times already. These two are both equally evil – there is no lesser evil here. And to force me to choose a Stalin so I do not get a Hitler is not how I as a Christian and a conservative do politics. It is not how any true Christian and conservative should.

    And yes it is clear you are not American since you are still thinking of the US election in terms of Australian elections. But that is comparing apples and oranges, a common error I find far too many Australians committing. As I explain here, there are plenty of other options available to American voters than these two lying NY liberals: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2016/07/26/5-common-myths-us-elections/

  • I’m not enamored by Trump. I’m not a Trumpster and I certainly don’t see him as the savior of our nation. I agree with Steve. I’d just rather go with someone who’s showing small signs of a change of heart than someone I know is all evil all the time. Since the convention, though, I’ve begun to wonder if Trump was a GOP Establishment Kingmaker’s plant all along. I believe the majority of Americans are gullible, grasping at straws, willing to settle for a candidate they think will help them maintain their lifestyles (with freedom of speech and religion, home ownership, a modicum of safety). I guess that’s me right now, because I do not know if I can really trust Trump to deliver even half of what he’s promising. BUT I do agree with his call for halting Muslim immigration temporarily, at least. True peace-loving Muslims and all their enablers should be able to understand why Americans don’t want their peaceful neighborhoods to turn into Beirut!

  • Thanks Judith. But I am always a bit curious when some folks seem to have divine powers to fully discern a human heart. As I have said before, they will grab at anything – ANYTHING – in the vain hopes of believing Trump might somehow be a bit “better” (whatever that means) and might be redeemable, but they write Hillary off as totally unredeemable. For the Christian at least, we either pray for everyone in the hopes that God can turn them around, or we pray for no one.

    As to Trump and Islam, I will say it again: why anyone would believe a word he says on anything is utterly beyond me. He changes his tune as often as he changes his shirts – or wives. He of course has so many business deals with Muslims and Middle Easterners that only a dreamer would believe he will jeopardise these. Sorry, I cannot go for strychnine even if it might possibly be a tad better than arsenic. Both will kill you and I want nothing to do with either one thanks!

  • Sometimes I get the feeling that we are just preaching to the choir, much of the time. But, we must continue to persevere against many odds to go forward with the Gospel message and warnings about the “god of this world”

    Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor. 4:1-6)

    The best line in your article, Bill, is: “Lord, please, let me never wander from your truth”. Thank you.

  • The greatest deception of all time is the use of the word ‘gay’.

    John Abbott

Leave a Reply