Over the last few years, I have grieved deep within as I have watched believers around me get knocked off by the enemy through their negligence, lack of self-control and wrong choices. Though Satan is the author of every evil thing that happens, we can't continue to blame him for everything.
Weekly, I am meeting with ministers' wives and ministry families who haven't heeded the warnings of the Holy Spirit. Because they have neglected to cut off wrong influences or relationships, they have been needlessly sucked into a web of deception, sending their lives into a downward spiral.
In one such case, a pastor's wife related a story to me about how her husband had become attracted to a member of his advisory board. The other woman, a "prophetess," was part of an inner circle that, along with the pastor, ran the church. These were considered the more spiritual church members.
The pastor's wife, a stay-at-home mother, had become less aggressive in her pursuit of God. She wasn't reading her Bible or praying regularly.
As a result, her husband felt she wasn't able to hear God, and he wouldn't listen to any of her counsel. He was deceived.
It is obvious from reports we read and even our own experiences that the Holy Spirit is currently being poured out upon the earth in every nation. We are living in a season when multitudes are being saved worldwide.
Yet many believe this season is what 2 Timothy 3:1 describes as the "perilous times" of the last days--times in which spiritual deception will flourish (NKJV). Several passages in the New Testament warn us about a deception so widespread it causes even those who appear to be firmly established in the faith to be led away from the truth.
THE COURSE OF DECEPTION
One night in January 1990, the Lord awakened me from my sleep. Within my spirit I heard His voice.
He said, "You've wondered how the elect could ever be deceived. You've wondered how people who are members of strong churches...and appear to be stable Christians could ever be deceived in the last days.
"You will see some Christians who appear to be established and faithful church attenders fall away from Me," He continued. "Some will be restored by recognizing their sin and repenting. Others will become hardened, rejecting repentance. Their lives will be destroyed, but worst of all, they'll go to hell."
God showed me that the roots of deception are pride and self-centeredness (see Obad. 3). These were the reasons for Satan's fall from heaven (see Is. 14:12-15; Ezek. 28:12-17).
Pride cannot see its own weakness or wrongdoing. Self-centeredness sees only its own desire.
God "resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (1 Pet. 5:5). The humble are those who know how dependent they are on God.
Once pride and self-sufficiency take root, we often open the door to further deception in these four ways:
1. Neglecting time in God's Word. When we pursue God's Word as our daily wisdom, God will be able to work His will in our lives. Everything in our lives will be judged by, and brought in line with, His Word.
His Word exposes the flesh and demands that it straighten up. It also helps us discern between our souls--mind, will and emotions--and our spirits--the inner man where God speaks to us (see Heb. 4:12).
The Word of God helps us discern whether our motives are right or selfish. It convicts us when we are wrong and teaches us how to live right.
Jesus told His followers that in order to be His true disciples, they must continue in His Word. Then they would know the truth, and the truth would make them free (see John 8:31-32). To continue in God's Word means not only to read it and hear it preached, but also to make a daily decision to live by it in every aspect of life, allowing it to adjust our lives accordingly (see James 1:22-25).
2. Having no daily prayer life. Prayer is not only what we do during a daily devotional time or right before meals. It is open, two-way communication all day and night in which God and His creatures speak and listen to one another.
First Peter 4:7 warns, "The end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers." In other words, never quit praying!
The Bible says Daniel was in a habit of praying three times daily (see Dan. 6:10). For years he and his people were held captive in another kingdom, yet he kept his prayer relationship with God, and he was mighty in his influence.
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