Submission and Obedience


Danger! Deadly deception ahead! These are the watchwords of two tiny books in the New Testament epistles written by the Apostle John. While written to real people thousands of years ago, they have application to the Last Days in which we now live. Listen to what John said "to the chosen lady and her children" in verse 8 of II John:

"Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward."

In the previous verse, John said:

"...many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist."

In John's day the spirit of antichrist was already raising its ugly head. False teachers tried to get Christian believers to deviate from the path outlined to them by John. It was a true message John received from the lips of Jesus during his three plus years of walking with Him among the people. John warned that those who deny Jesus in human flesh are deceivers! Had He not come in flesh and blood, Jesus could not have redeemed mankind from sin by the sacrifice of Himself on the cross.

The "lady and her children" needed to be on their toes to avoid and reject those who did not acknowledge that Jesus came in the flesh--that He was only Spirit. They were to utterly turn their backs on such false teachers.

Today many people who know we're in the Last Days are on the look-out for THE Antichrist that will rule the world. In the meantime, they forget that the spirit of antichrist has been afoot since the days following Jesus' return to heaven, seeking to dethrone Him and rob Him of His Creator authority over sin, flesh and the devil. It was with that in mind that John penned his letters.

Talk about today! We are in the last of the Last Days. It's OK to mention God by name. But it's another story when and if you refer to Jesus or pray in His name! The world hates Jesus' name! It hates Jesus...period! It's because the devil hates Him. Jesus is the One who defeated the devil, death and hell at the cross. Satan knows that his time remaining in control of this world is running out!

However, John emphasized to the "chosen lady" that it was she who had to watch out for herself and not allow any deception to take root in her mind and heart. If she was not careful and fell for a lie, she would lose the precious salvation she had found in Jesus.

Anyone---hear him---ANYONE who did not promote the correct teaching about Christ was not to be received by her, a believer in Jesus. If she would give that one any welcome at all, she made herself a participant in their deceptive practices. Look at what John said in verse 10:

"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting."

In John's day, that meant she was not to offer any sort of hospitality to a person who did not abide in the true teachings of Christ. She should not give a drink of water, a meal, or any lodging whatsoever, no matter how pitiful he or she seemed to be or how convincing their words were. How does that translate into today's culture? We see it in many forms.

First, some false teachers go door to door, trying to get a foot in the door by using verses of the Bible or 'Christian jargon or watch words' to make themselves sound Christian. Then they offer literature that explains some of their principal beliefs, trying to convince the person who opened the door that they are solidly Christian. John tells us we are not to give them the time of day. Do not listen to their spiel! Theirs is open deception.

However, many deceivers are more clever than that. Some use one or more forms of technology to spread their lies. Usually most of what we hear during the course of a week does not come from a person standing on our doorstep or in a church. Instead, we see it on television, X, Youtube, Instagram, Facebook and other social media sources. We run into it on websites via our computers, phones and tablets. We subscribe to printed materials and purchase boooks, podcasts, DVDs and more. While each of those mediums has good and beneficial uses, many are used to declare false and delusional messages and arguments that are blatantly wrong, but that sound so correct.

Deception is not always obvious. Subliminal suggestion is encased in what appear to be regular movies and videos. Those hidden messages appeal to the subconscious mind and we can be totally unaware of their influence over us, our beliefs and actions.

Yet another tool for deception is gaining popularity among students, newscasters and business personnel, for starters. Called AI (artificial intelligence), in a matter of a minute or two AI can produce a well-written essay, draw up a contract with all the bells and whistles with not a stone left unturned, or produce a video with real characters, plot and scenery. Available right now at ChatGPT.com, a user can type in a request for AI to accomplish and generate a reply in seconds. AI can incorporate all the information given to it to produce an amazing, well-worded document that would challenge an English teacher to improve!

Already news programs on TV are produced using AI. Viewers have no idea that what they're seeing isn't the 'real thing.' How AI will be used in the future to convince viewers, listeners and readers that what they are taking in is really taking them in? Cleverly disguised misinformation will cause the majority of people to believe it wholeheartedly and veer from "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" Jesus carefully described for us to follow.

Be careful of what you allow into your living room, family room or bedroom on TV or other media. If you have the least bit of concern about being fooled, get rid of TV and other mediums that can can lead you astray. Remember that Paul said in Ephesians 2:12:

"You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.""

Satan rules the air waves over which we hear TV, radio, music and other forms of entertainment. He will use them to bring down and destroy the faith of believers if we give him an opening. Guard your eyes and ears!

Currently, students who know about a computer application like ChatGPT use it to write papers for school or at least to edit what they themselves have composed. That being the case, scholars don't need to be scholars anymore if they use AI. Students won't need to study much of the material given to them by lecturing professors. AI will produce for them all the subsequent papers a student needs to pass the course! However, AI is leading them down the primrose path to not thinking analytically and exerting self-discipline in learning a subject well. Good grades based on the output of AI is not the same as gaining an education. How easily non-thinkers will be led by abusers of AI to fall for lies purported to be true by the enemy of their souls.

In his next letter, III John, the apostle John went ever more explicitly into what he meant will happen in the Last Days:

"Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God." III John 9-11.

Deception attacks leaders in the church to destroy their influence for the Gospel of Jesus. As was the case with Diotrephes, he was so misled that he turned on the people who had won him to Christ. Dear John, who loved Jesus so deeply, became the brunt of Diotrephes' false teachings and accusations against him.

A falling away from the truth, apostasy is a sign of the Last Days. Diotrephes went so far as to excommunicate church members who received the truth and those who taught it. He corrupted the church and turned against the very ones he once called brothers.

Diotrephes became an apostate. He protected his leadership position by removing from membership those believers who clung to the truth and threatened his authority by exposing his deception. Concerning today's church, if leadership brings heresy into the church, believers are not to give that pastor or denominational leader any hearing. As John told the "chosen lady," shut the door on them, even purposely withdrawing from membership in that church. Recall John's warning: " Watch yourself!" No one else can do it for you.

The question arises: How are you to recognize deception when it occurs? Deception is subtle. How can you distinguish truth from error? For John's answer, turn to I John 5:5-6.

"Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth."

You are a true believer if you confess that Jesus if God's Son, true God, true man, and have fallen on His mercy for forgiveness of your sins. That confession rises in the heart of a sinner who has truly repents of his or her sins in the fear of God and calls on Him for mercy. God's forgiveness and cancelling of guilt brings the 'new birth' Jesus told Nicodemus about (John 3:5-7). New life comes in the Person of the Holy Spirit who makes the repentant sinner a new creation within (II Corinthians 5:17).

A believer becomes the enemy of the devil and a target of his lies. While the devil cannot force a believer to 'unbelieve,' his attackes on the mind try to implant lies that challenge that person's faith in Jesus.

All that being said, how can you discern if something you hear from a pulpit, read in a book or hear on a DVD is truth? John pened Jesus' words farther in John 3 where He said:

"For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the Light comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.""

You can immediately bring that questionable thought, notion or teaching to the Light, who is Jesus (John 8:12) in the person of the Holy Spirit. He is the One who indwells us and is our Guide into all truth (John 16:13-15). Recall what John wrote as quoted above:

"It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth."

It becomes obvious that three things must be in place in our hearts and lives in order to tell truth from error:

  1. We must know the Holy Spirit and be filled with Him
  2. We must know the Truth, who is Jesus, and who is the Word, written for us as the Bible.
  3. We must walk in immediate, complete obedience to what the Word and Spirit make clear to us.

First, we must be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Ours is not to be a casual relationship with Him. He must fully possess us, so that we know His voice and can be sensitive to His directions and signals. He will alert us to truth versus error.

Next, we must be people of the Word. The Bible, God's word, must be sweet to us, and we must be very familiar with its teachings and imperatives. Obedience has to be the standard of our walk with Him. Recall that in Ephesians 2:1-2 Paul called those of the world 'sons of disobedience'. It is the disobedient who will be fooled by the Antichrist or the spirit of antichrist. The teaching we question must line up with the Bible in every way or we must reject it. When you know the Bible, God can bring verses to mind that prove or disprove what we wonder about. Romans 8:16 says:

"The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God."

There must be agreement in our spirit with His Spirit about the teaching in question or it is false and to be rejected. Paul went on in Romans 8 to say that we walk according to the Spirit. We follow Him and His direction.

When we live according to the Spirit and His Word, we will not fall prey to deception, no matter how clever and convincing it may be to the world. Regardless of what others do that we consider trustworthy, if their actions do not follow in accord with Scripture, we must not walk with them to maintain a friendship or good will. Our first and only allegiance belong to God and to Jesus.

God keeps those who are His with His peace-peace. Isaiah 26:3 says it this way:

"The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You."

Fill your heart and mind with His words so that the Spirit will be able to lead you safely to heaven. You can always tell if a stick is crooked by laying it next to a straight one! The Truth is you straight edge! Use it!

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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®
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