Truth matters: An earnest plea from the heart

By Patricia Newman
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-11

Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
Matthew 24:11

But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
2 Timothy 3:13

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9

Test all things; hold fast what is good. 
1 Thessalonians 5:21

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Matthew 7:13-14

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22
In my experience, many who profess the name of Christ despise warnings, however graciously given. But Scripture is replete with warnings; warnings for unbelievers and warnings against deception for those who profess faith in Christ. My plea here is directed to those who profess Christ.

The Bible teaches that one of the foremost features of the last days will be widespread deception and apostasy. In 1 Timothy 4:1 we read:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.
These are strong words that ought to make every professing Christian continually watchful. Have you wandered away from the truth? Are you believing a lying spirit, a different gospel?  God, in His lovingkindness, warns us to be vigilant.

Our blessed Lord Jesus cautioned His disciples:
Take heed that no one deceives you.
Matthew 24:4

He expounded:

For false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
Matthew 24:24

Signs and wonders, therefore, are no indicator that any teacher is of God. Neither is apparent "gifting". Indeed, the devil himself masquerades quite successfully as an angel of light - 2 Corinthians 11:14. The true indicator that any teacher is of God is their fruit, as our Lord Jesus taught.

Paul the apostle warned the Corinthian church with these words:
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. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted-you may well put up with it!
2 Corinthians 11:3-4

We are witnessing much preaching of “another Jesus”, “a different gospel” and the workings of “a different spirit”. Apostasy and deception abound within Christendom. It is now very hard, and in some places well-nigh impossible, to find a true evangelical assembly faithful to our glorious Lord Jesus and His word. Many churches have succumbed to the spirit of the age. They have wandered from truth and conformed to the world, contrary to God's word - Romans 12:2. Many have embraced the world's philosophies of feminism, cultural Marxism and climate change activism. 
In seeking to please the world, they have lost direction altogether.  They have fallen into apostasy.

What do we mean by apostasy and by deception? Puritan minister, Timothy Cruso, described apostasy as "a perversion to evil after a seeming conversion from it". An apostate is someone who once believed, at least visibly, the doctrines of the Christian faith but has turned away from them. A spiritually deceived person is one who believes that he is a follower of Jesus Christ but his walk and his beliefs indicate otherwise. Deception is manifested in the teaching and believing of false doctrine, and in the hypocritical lives of professing believers. Such deception is dangerous because it damns. 

Our God-breathed and God-preserved Bible teaches us true doctrine, so that we may know what to believe. The Holy Spirit, given to true believers, guides us into all truth - John 16:13.  New Christians are charged to desire and feed on the pure milk of the word in order to grow spiritually - 1 Peter 1:2. Through feeding on the Scriptures, the Christian grows into a spiritual maturity whereby he is much less vulnerable to deception, much less likely to be tossed back and forth by every wind of doctrine - Ephesians 4:14. He becomes much less likely to be beguiled by the "enticing words" of  false teachers - Colossians 2:4. Are you spiritually discerning? The Bible exhorts all Christians to discernment - Colossians 2:8, John 7:24, Hebrews 5:14. Charles Spurgeon said that deception "is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right."

How can we judge and discern between right and almost right?  Only through studying and understanding the Scriptures with the guidance of the Holy Spirit - Psalm 119:130, Psalm 40:8, Romans 8:14. Because deception is subtle and often involves half-truths and the mixing of truth with error, we must be sober and vigilant -1 Peter 5:8. In spite of clear guidance and warnings from Scripture, many churches and many believers have embraced varying degrees of false doctrine. Some even say that “doctrine divides”, and so we must not focus on doctrine, they argue, but instead on love and unity within the church. The danger and error of this position is clear in Galatians 1:8, where the apostle Paul gives this stern warning:

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
Truth matters!  False gospels will damn! Doctrine must necessarily divide. The church must be separate from the world - 2 Corinthians 6:17, 1 Peter 2:9-11, 1 John 2:15-17. The church of Jesus Christ is the pillar and ground of the truth - 1 Timothy 3:15. Many churches that claim to be Christian teach untruths and heresies, and these include Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, Unitarians, Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses, among many others. Further, here is a list, by no means exhaustive, of some current false doctrines and errors within Christendom: the prosperity gospel, the social gospel, the social justice gospel, the New Apostolic Reformation with its heretical Passion Bible translation, ecumenism, "progressive" Christianity, and Bible-denying liberalism that approves of what God abominates.

Many who profess Christ are led into a false sense of security about their spiritual state as they habitually to listen to TBN, God TV, Daystar and similar channels. Daily they imbibe half-truths and lies, with Scriptures distorted by false teachers for their own worldly ends. The Bible commands us to test every spirit to determine whether they are from God - 1 John 4:1. Do you test the spirit behind what you are hearing in the light of God's word and in obedience to the command in 1 John 4:1? If you do not, I plead with you: awake, my friend, from your slumber! Turn to the voice of God! Open the Scriptures! Truth matters! Your eternal destiny may be at stake! Note what the Bible says about false prophets as well as those who endorse them by continuing to listen to them:

They are of the world. Therefore, they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.
1 John 4:4

According to 1 John 4:4, those who listen to false prophets are themselves of the world. We know that worldlings have no inheritance in the kingdom of God - 1 John 2:15, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. In this apostate hour, great discernment is needed within the church to avoid damnable errors and heresies. We need discernment also in our engagement with the world outside of the church, so that we may be true ambassadors of Christ.

For example, many professing Christians demonstrate a woeful lack of discernment in their support of organisations such as Black Lives Matter. Show me what is Godly about Black Lives Matter. Is it their pro-abortion stance and their hypocrisy concerning the lives of unborn black babies? Is it their LGBTQ promoting agenda? Is it their cultural Marxist, anti-God stance or their promotion of lawlessness? Is this not systemic blindness and evil? Wake up! 
The Bible was given to be "a lamp to our feet and a light to our path" - Psalm 119:105. It was not given to be ignored or neglected, but that we may study it carefully to know truth and to be instructed in righteousness so as to be fully equipped for service to God - 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

In Colossians 3:16, the Apostle Paul cautioned:

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Do we take heed of this warning?  We should not believe something to be right because many equally deceived professing Christians believe it - Exodus 23:2. Neither should we believe anything because a popular TV pastor preaches it. The Bereans in Acts 17 were commended because they received the word eagerly and then they searched the Scriptures to make sure that what they heard lined up with the written word of God. The Bereans were lovers of truth and they diligently studied the word to guard against believing error.

Given the many warnings of Scripture, are we doing the same? O how we need the Berean spirit in all who profess to be Christian! If you do not know the word of God through disciplined and diligent study, you will be deceived. You are a perfect candidate for deception.
I plead earnestly with all who call themselves Christians to have the warnings of Scripture ever in view. Our Lord Jesus told His disciples:  "See to it that no one deceives you." There is, therefore, a God-given responsibility to diligently guard against deception. Will you heed the words of Jesus? Are you anchored in the truths of God’s word so as to easily discern error? We must strive against the evil of deception carried out in the name of Christ. May we not blaspheme His holy name.

Our Lord Jesus, speaking of false prophets, tells us that we will know them by their fruit:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn-bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Matthew 7:15-20
Martyn Lloyd Jones said one way we can spot a false prophet is this:

"The false prophet is a man who has no "strait gate" or "narrow way" in his gospel. He has nothing which is offensive to the natural man; he pleases all."

Yet many professing Christians love, embrace and spread this kind of gospel. Are they ashamed of the true gospel? Does not the Bible say that people perish because they have not received a love of the truth - 2 Thessalonians 2:10? Have you received a divinely imparted love of the truth? Or do you believe that which is most appealing to you? Are you going on receiving, abiding in and walking in truth? The true measure of vulnerability to deception is our attitude to the word of God. Do you treasure, study, and meditate on the word of God regularly? Do you believe in the truth and inerrancy of the word of God?

Our Lord Jesus said, in John 12:48:

He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him-- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

Irrespective of our profession, we reject Him if we do not abide in truths of God's word. God is the God of truth - Titus1:2, John 3:33. He is holy - Isaiah 40:25, Revelation 4:8. He loves righteousness - Psalm 11:7, Isaiah 45:21, Zephaniah 3:5, Hebrews 1:8. He abhors all deception - Proverbs 6:17, 19, Proverbs 12:22, 1 Peter 2:1. 
His will is that Christians walk in holiness of life. Indeed, God has ordained that His children will be conformed to the image of Christ - Romans 8:29.  A true conversion to Christ will necessarily manifest in holiness of life by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches that rebirth entails a spiritual circumcision of the heart: 
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Colossians 2:11-12
Satan, the father of lies, loves and works through deception, his chief tool. His mission is carried out through various means including widespread deception regarding the necessity of obedience and holiness of life. Consider the following Scriptures:

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
Matthew 7:21

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.
John 14:21

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5:3

Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
Revelation 14:12

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.
Ephesians 5:5-7

Whilst we cannot be saved by our works, true works of righteousness follow regeneration and prove that we are indeed born again - James 2:17. In Romans 6:22 we read:

But now having been set free from sin and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

In 1 John 3:10, the Bible says:

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.

In 1 John 2:3-4, we read:
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, " I know Him" and does not keep His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him.
1 John 2:3-4
If on the last Day, any soul that professes Christ should hear those most dreadful of words from the glorious One who shed His blood for us, "Depart from Me, I never knew you", it would mean one thing: their Christianity was fake. They would be among those weeping and gnashing their teeth. Forever. Truth matters, now and forever!

The wonderful thing is that we can know now whether we are on the narrow road that leads to life or whether we are in fact deceived and on the broad road that leads to destruction.  Remember Jesus warned that only a few find the narrow path. We can know our true spiritual condition through the blessed counsel of the word of God. How precious God’s word is! True Christians hear and obey the word of God - James 1:22. True Christians heed God’s warning to come out of Babylon - 2 Corinthians 6:17, Revelation 18:4. 

To lead people astray by failing to warn them as Scripture does is not love. Encouraging "believers" in their sin is not love. True faith, being the work of God, means purity of heart and life. The Bible says that it is the pure in heart who will see God - Matthew 5:8. In Psalm 24:3-5 we read:

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.

No obedience, no true faith. No holiness, no heaven. If you are walking in disobedience, my friend, you are on the broad road that leads to damnation, irrespective of your profession. Our hope of glory rests on our possession of Christ. The apostle Paul preached Christ faithfully, saying:

Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 1:28

True believers hate sin. True believers are as comfortable with sin as fish are comfortable out of water. True believers fear God. They know that sin is utterly despicable to a holy God.  When in weakness they sin, they confess it in line with 1 John 1:9. They do not live in sin - 1 John 3:9. Yet many that profess the name of Christ are hardly distinguishable from the unsaved. They do not manifest the fruit of the Holy Spirit. They walk in unforgiveness and anger, practice adultery and a myriad other sins. How can this be?  Those who do not obey Christ simply do not possess Christ. 

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?
2 Corinthians 13:5

Open the Scriptures and examine your life in the mirror of God's word. If your faith has been a sham, my friend, there is forgiveness with God. Hallelujah! You need not continue on the cursed road any longer. Humble yourself before God. Make no excuses for your sins!  Know that your continued disobedience separates you from God.

The Bible teaches that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked - Jeremiah 17:9. Repent and turn from your sin. If you whole-heartedly and sincerely seek to follow Christ, you will know God's unfailing, enabling grace. It is God’s gracious and loving will to save, but on His terms. 

Speaking of the heavenly Jerusalem, where the saints shall dwell forever with God, the Bible says:

But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Revelation 21:27

O for more true love to Christ, our gloriously worthy Saviour!!!

O that we may fear God, glorify Him and worship Him in spirit and in truth!

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.
Ecclesiates 12:13-14

Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”
Revelation 14:6-7

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
Revelation 22:14-15