Friday, June 09, 2006

Perception and Deception

…the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil
(Hebrews 5:14 – NASB)

Unfortunately, many in the church today seem to think that all one has to do is “trust in Jesus” and you cannot be lead astray. They will say things like – “If you love Jesus, and you keep your eyes on Him, you can’t go wrong.” The problem with this is that while it seems to be solid advice, and it is, it is only applicable if we actually do have our heart prepared and we actually do have our eyes set only on Jesus.

However, many times we may feel like our motives are right, but not accurately judge them in light of God’s Word, or we believe that we know God’s will when we do not. Wanting to do the right thing does not mean we are actually doing it, just as believing something does not make it so.

There has been, and continues to be, many individuals, churches, movements, etc., that have lapsed into error, heresy, and even outright blasphemy – all in the name of God. To presume that just because we want to do right (or think we do) does not mean we are doing so. We are not all given a spiritual sixth sense that bypasses the mind.

Nowhere has this presumption been more evident in recent times than in the area of spiritual power, i.e. gifts and manifestations. Hordes of believers are flocking to wherever the current “scene” or “move” is. The problem is that many seek only an outward manifestation, a sign of the power of the Holy Spirit at work extrinsically, rather than an inner transformation, a sign of the power of the Holy Spirit at work intrinsically. This leads to an inconsistent spiritual life, where one keeps getting moved by the Spirit but does not get moved within their spirit. They may soon become dependent upon continual “signs” to keep them in the flow spiritually (emotionally / psychologically).

As a consequence, the believer seeks to imitate or duplicate this “power” within their personal life, and begins to rely on feelings, impressions, etc., believing that they are being Spirit-led. A wrong view of God develops, and God becomes a projection of their best feelings. They bring God down to their level, and presume their intentions to virtue are God given. But our own righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), and we must depend on the continuing counsel of God’s Word, not on our feelings. The Psalm of David needs to be prayed “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins” (Psalm 19:13).

Nevertheless, when addicted to signs and wonders, the perception of God becomes distorted for many, and they are easy targets for deception. They see their deliverance as needing to come from the outside, as a move of God, moving their particular problem out of the way. But the deliverance that they desire is not the deliverance that they require. What they need is reformation in their lives; but what they seek is a so-called revival.

In this scenario, because of now depending on outside manifestations for spiritual food, the believer is deceived into thinking God will supply all their needs (really just their wants) from the “outside”, as a result of supernatural power. They begin to look for those who will “tickle their ears” with talk of God meeting their every financial need (desire) and so forth. The merchants of the microwave miracle come calling and they are more than willing to answer. They are all too easy accommodated by those who prey upon the weak.

Primarily, this comes from so-called men and women of God who sell these dupes a warped view of the Gospel, playing to the fleshy desires for gain, promising peace, success, and longevity on earth, as if this is what the Gospel is all about. Certainly we have hope for a better life here (see 1 Timothy 4:8), but our focus must be heavenward and not earthbound (see Colossians 3:2). C.S. Lewis said, “Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in, aim at earth and you get neither.”

These people are soon “all the way in”; they believe that they love the Lord, they have seen His power, and they trust that He will “just take care of me”, without any proper semblance of a maturing and diligent relationship with God. They just go and get their fix, as it were. Don’t let this be you.


Exist-Dissolve said...

even so--

A quite penetrating and rightly leveled critique of many segments of American evangelicalism. I especially appreciated the brief psycho/emotional analysis which you provided re: "signs" and manifestations of the Spirit and how this improperly shapes the mind for what the true mission of the church is to be.

With that said, in what ways do you see an alternative (the "reformation" of which you speak) manifesting itself in the life of the church, both on an individual and corporate level?

BTW--I absolutely loved the phrase, "merchants of the microwave miracle"!

Even So... said...

Thanks for the encouragement.

We will be exploring the differences in upcoming posts, but suffice it to say, individually and corporately it would mean a return (or a start for that matter) of an ongoing biblically based relationship, marked by an increased hunger for God, manifested in weighty prayers, rich scriptural study, hearty, God centered fellowship, and God entranced worship.

IOW, more God, less me.

Less "what I will do for You", more "how great Thou Art".

More "though He slay me, yet I will trust Him", less "I am believing for my healing".

etc., etc.

Thanks again, and stay with us...have a wonderful Sunday, and see you Monday...

Anonymous said...

These last couple of missives have been topics that have been heavy on my heart for a long time. How is this to be combatted (practically)? I am not very good at articulating my thoughts and so I am looking forward to ya'll exchanging thoughts on these topics...what is it going to take for us (Christians) to wake up??

Quite often my preacher will say, "I'm just going to go there". So I'm looking forward to ya'll "just going there".


Even So... said...

Me too!

What say you ('yall that is)?

We will be getting into it a lot coming up soon, as this topic will be covered scripturally for several weeks, so stay tuned...