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Can a godly man be deceived?
- Jacob Ninan
We just have to look around to see the way spiritual deception is growing around us. What everyone knew as sin is now being seen as acceptable. Jesus came with the only way of salvation but even Christians are beginning to think God is the same as other gods. Christian teachings, apparently based on the Bible, are turning the focus to earthly wellbeing rather than to freedom from sin and eternal welfare, grace is being exaggerated to give the impression of an unrealistic freedom, people are taught that they can now exercise power just like God, etc., just as Jesus predicted (Mt.24:24,25).
But many believers seem to think that since they have the Holy Spirit in them they will not be deceived. Think of how Jesus was tempted by Satan to move away from God's ways. Of course, Jesus saw through the deception and defeated Satan's attempt. But if Jesus could be tempted in this way, there is no guarantee that we will not be. So we can't take our victory or protection for granted. Peter fell to Satan's suggestion and told Jesus to avoid suffering on the cross (Mt.16:22,23). Peter could later see through Ananias and Sapphira (Ac.5:3), but Philip was fooled by Simon the sorcerer (8:9,13). The Holy Spirit may warn us (Is.30:21), but we may not recognise His voice, or we may neglect to pay attention to it. So we can't just assume that since we have the Holy Spirit we will be automatically protected from error.
Peter and Philip were godly men. Just because they made this mistake it didn't mean we should reject them as ungodly people. In the same way, even godly people who preach and teach nowadays may make mistakes here or there. We can't accept whatever they say just because they are godly people. Have you noticed that as we study the Bible some new ideas come to our mind? Can we accept those ideas just because we were prayerfully studying the Bible at that time and we think the Holy Spirit has revealed those 'truths' to us? No. Isn't it possible that some of those ideas came to us from deceiving spirits (1Ti.4:1)? Don't we need to check every new idea with the word of God before we can accept them?
If Satan is able to get a great Bible teacher to accept 'one' false teaching in the midst of his great and edifying teachings, isn't he (Satan) going to be able to deceive a lot of people through this one teacher? Even though we can't deny the fact that this teacher is an anointed man who has helped us greatly in our spiritual life, don't we need to recognise that this particular teaching was wrong?
As we individually try to listen to God, don't we need to remember that every thought we have is not necessarily from God? Shouldn't we be more careful in future to check with the Bible before passing on ideas to others as "God spoke to me," or "The Bible says"? A lot of 'prophecies' these days seem to be coming merely from human ideas and some also from evil spirits. Let us ask God for more discernment and a sober mind.