For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. — Matthew 24:24From my own experience, and in the observation of many others, we all tend to make the same fundamental errors when it comes to the discernment of deceptions. Basic to this is the tendency to believe that God thinks like we do, which He does not. Seeing as we are born with that “stony heart” that has to be replaced, we filter everything through that perspective and interpret everything from that perspective, making the assumption that God’s thought processes are similar. This is a case of making God over into our own image.
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. — Isaiah 55:7-9Another commonality regarding deceptions is that people believe that they cannot be deceived. Why? Because they believe they are too smart to be deceived. Is there a touch of pride and arrogance in that belief? What, again, did Jesus declare in Matthew chapter 24 as quoted above? That, if it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived. That is how good and how convincing the deceptions really are. Unfortunately, everyone believes they are of this elect, and as such, beyond deception.
I would point out that one needs to only look at the world scene, and see how religion has played a part of some of the most heinous atrocities committed by men, and continues to be so. Try to show those same people the insanity of their actions and beliefs in relation to God whom they claim to serve, and you will find you are wasting your breath and time.
In seeing how others of another religion act and react in regards to their beliefs, one can catch a glimmer of the underlying problem.
Hatred. A heart of stone. These are those who will kill you and believe they do God a service.
When one is possessed by a heart of stone, how can they be expected to perceive things from God’s perspective, and perceive truth from deception? It is not possible, and even given this understanding, it can lead to further deceptions. Some teachings found in Calvinism are a good example.
A person with a heart of stone is motivated by that heart. Because of this, the psyche, to use more modern terminology, is a psyche that is, in the eyes of God, corrupted. A person solely motivated by hatred and/or self interest is unable to think logically, rationally, clearly, lovingly.
Satan and those angelic beings who were swayed by him and who followed him, had their minds corrupted as a result. Their focus came off of God and faith in Him. Satan’s focus was redirected to himself. There is a clue to the human condition in all of this, where people look to themselves or to other men for validation as to how they live their lives.
When it comes to deceptions within the realm of Christianity, the deceptions that are the most dangerous are those that result in a redirection of one’s faith away from God and onto something or someone else. Quite commonly, this something else is given equal status with God. Those who are legalistic in their theology see the law in the light of it being of God and possessing the same characteristics of God, such as being eternal and never changing. To obey God to them is to obey the law. It is a subtle shift in faith, so subtle that it agrees quite readily with the warning of Jesus there again in Matthew chapter 24. Deceptions can be so convincing as to tempt even the very elect. And just what do you suppose those who have bought into deceptions believe in this regard? That they are indeed the elect, therefore beyond being deceived! It is circular reasoning, that a rational person can spot, but it goes undetected as such by those who have bought into deceptions. Why? Deceptions tend to short circuit one’s critical thinking skills, which brings up a topic that will be discussed and covered elsewhere. For now, critical thinking is a skill where one subjects their beliefs to a series of logical and rational evaluations or questions that tend to unmask deceptions and make it easier to more closely approach the truth of a matter when solid evidence is lacking to back up a particular belief.
In order for a man or a group to proffer deceptions though, they must cause those they are trying to influence to abandon their critical thinking skills in order to get them to accept the deceptions, and there are quite a variety of methods employed to accomplish this. The most commonplace methods employ what are commonly referred to as logical fallacies.
A logical fallacy generally is an argument that employs false logic, false premises, and evidence that is not truly relevant to the topic at hand. Some are easy to spot, and some are extremely difficult to unmask for what they are. The one thing they have in common, when it comes to Scripture, is that they attempt to support a belief where there is no “Thus saith the Lord.”
Another common factor when it comes to deceptions is that deceptions are used to support other deceptions, so that an entire belief system can be built on these deceptions so that, in order to dismantle the theological structure created by them, each false belief must be taken apart and exposed for what it is; a tedious and time consuming task, made all the harder when trying to “deprogram” someone whose life has been commandeered by a false belief system. For example, it took me over three years of study and work to expose all the facets of the false system I had been exposed to in the proceeding 30 years.
If possible, I would suggest that if you find yourself in the company of a person who is a member of a religious group you believe to be a cult, ask that person if they perceive their theology to be of such a nature that they cannot believe any other system of theology as workable. You will soon see that they are convinced that their way is the only way that works. What need, then, to try or examine anything else? I have long ago lost count as to how many times I have heard people say they have proved their way to be true, and that there was no purpose served to examine everything all over again. This, my dear reader, is a classic example of being dull of seeing and dull of hearing.
In order to expose false teachings and deceptions, there must be some hard fast rules that people can agree on. In other words, there must be some common ground to work from. I have concluded that the basis for determining truth from error is the following statement:
Scripture is the Inspired Word of God. As such, no man, and no church, has the right to alter Scripture or its application in any way.
All too often, ministers resort to a rationale of “principle.” Tithing is a good example. Tithing on one's wages is unbiblical, yet they will justify the practice through the rationale of the principle of the thing. However, once you compromise with one concept of Scripture, where does it stop or end? No, we need to understand that using some excuse to circumvent the Inspired Word of God is to treat that Word of God with contempt. If you desire to know and learn the truth, there can be no compromise with the Word of God.
Here then are a number of the methods of deception.
* Logical fallacies
There are a number of resources on the internet where one can study into logical fallacies. There are quite a number of types extant, and many variations on those themes. They are not only employed to proffer a false belief, but also they are employed as a means of rejecting proper evidence and those who would provide that evidence. If you can disparage a person through an Ad Hominem you can justify in your own mind the rejection of what they have to say. You can see examples of this in scripture where many of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day said things designed to discredit Jesus as a person so as to make the unwarranted claim that anything said by Him was seen as not being credible. If you don’t have a credible witness, you do not have credible evidence. You can reject the man and what he has to say with the wave of a hand.
There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. — Ecclesiastes 9:14-16In the group that I was in, it was a common practice to refer to those who left as “disgruntled ex members” and as such, anything they had to say critical of the group was summarily dismissed. A poor man even within the organization was seen as being unworthy of attention, and that his lack of success and wealth a sign of disfavor with God. In false religious groups, the opposite of love for one another is extant, but not recognized as such.
A logical fallacy attempts to circumvent the proper methods of determining the truth of a matter through a flawed rationale or logic. Often, the fallacy follows the use of a premise followed by a conclusion, where the premise is flawed, or the conclusion is not even related to the premise (a “Non Sequitur”).
When it comes to false religious beliefs, the use of logical fallacies is commonplace, and they are used as an indoctrination tool in order to produce a conditioned response when confronted with an attack upon a belief.
It is commonplace for those who have been so conditioned to respond to any claim contrary to their belief with these conditioned responses so that they are predictable as a result. These conditioned responses serve to throw up a mental barrier to contrary evidence. They also serve to block out any critical thinking in regards to those beliefs. If, for example, you confront a member of a legalistic group that Christians are not under the law; not subject to the old covenant law, two common conditioned responses result:
1. “If the law were done away, people would be free to sin; commit murder, adultery, robbery, etc. without fear of God’s punishment or retribution.”
2. That law defines sin, and a Christian is not free to sin. Sinners will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
In this case, the premise can be shown to be false for Christians. The law defined sin for one under the law, and Christians are not under that law. But again, the OC legalist cannot conceive of any other system being workable, so plain Scriptures that state we are not under the law can't be taken at face value.
There are many more examples of conditioned responses in this regard, but these two will suffice for our purpose now.
These conditioned responses are claims. For claim # 1, no real evidence is given in support of the claim, and when the claim is exposed to the methods of proper examination, it falls apart fairly easily.
Is the only thing preventing you, or the one making the claim for that matter, from going about committing wholesale murder the fact there is a law prohibiting it? I find it is useful to turn the claim back on the one making the claim. In this case, the claim is couched in an accusation, so I turn the accusation back on the accuser. I try to personalize the claim with them. When you do this though, you see another aspect of conditioning kick in, and they invariably try to change the subject at that point, where they make another conditioned response in order to avoid having to deal with a claim critically, thus avoiding being proven wrong.
Claim #2 is accompanied with the scriptural evidence found in I John 3:4 and the translation found in the KJV:
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. — 1 John 3:4
No other modern English translation contains this interpretive translation of this passage, but no matter. They simply make the claim, that this translation is the correct one, and all others are misleading, made by men who refuse to see the “truth” about the law. As mentioned earlier, one or more falsehoods are used to prop up other falsehoods.
An examination of the Greek here, along with an understanding of the linguistics of the time reveals that this interpretive translation is not correct. The Greek does not support the word, “anomia” being used in this fashion, referring to the old covenant law. In context, and in keeping with the usage of the Greek word anomia in that world and at that time, the passage is more precisely rendered as sin being “iniquity.” All iniquity is sin, but not all transgressions of that law were sin. David ate the show-bread that was unlawful for him to eat, yet he was blameless. The translation as it stands in the King James not only neglects to take this into consideration, the spirit of the law is also swept aside.
Mis-quoting, mis-application of Scripture.
Eisegesis (a.k.a. proof texting)
This is the practice of taking a passage of Scripture out of context, and focusing on it in such a way as to conclude something beyond the scope of the context. For example, sabbatarian legalists are fond of quoting Mark 2:27:
And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
The context was about Jesus explaining to the Pharisees that the “man” was not made or created for the sabbath, but rather the sabbath was made for the man, seeing as the mindset of the Jews and especially the Pharisees was one of a strict and burdensome interpretation and application of the sabbath commandment. To conclude though that the “man” in this instance is to be interpreted to mean all of mankind is to take this way beyond the scope of what was being discussed. What “man” was given the sabbath and required to keep it? The Israelites via a covenant between them and God. To interpret “anthropos” as being all of humanity in this example is to be sloppy in one’s scholarship. But when you are trying to “prove” a false belief, anything goes, and careful scholarship is the first thing to suffer. In response, I point this out:
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. — Matthew 10:22All men would rightly include other Christian believers, would it not? But the sabbatarian attempts to ignore the obvious by insisting “men” is not in the passage; that “men” is implied. Fair enough then. If men is implied, then who are these “all;” all animals? Who or what has the ability to hate? Other people; all of them. So is “all” all inclusive here, or not? Or, is the sabbatarian legalist going to resort to Clintonian semantics now?
If “anthropos” is going to be understood in Mark 2:27 as meaning all mankind, then shouldn’t we apply the same standard to the word “all” here?
What we also need to do is examine how the writer, in this case Mark, uses the same word “man” (anthropos) in the gospel of Mark in order to establish whether Mark always uses the word to mean “all mankind.”
In that same passage, Mark relates that Jesus used the term: “Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”
The word “man” here is the same anthropos. Is the “Son of man” literally the son of all mankind? No. The word “man” here is used in a more figurative sense. Already we can see that anthropos as used by Mark, does not always mean, all mankind as the sabbatarian insists.
Mark 3:1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.The word “man” here is anthropos. Again, does the word mean, all mankind? No, for not all mankind was standing there with withered hands. Mark is referring to just one man.
The word anthropos is not a rigid word. It can mean anything from a single man, to a man or men in general. To assign to it arbitrarily the meaning of all mankind simply because it is in line with one’s theological beliefs is scholastically dishonest. It is poor and lazy scholarship.
The context of Mark chapter two in regards to this example shows the duplicitous way the entire passage is used by those who are deceived. The Pharisees claim Jesus’ disciples were doing that which was illegal to do on the sabbath; picking grain to eat. The sabbatarian insists this was not unlawful, thereby ignoring the context even moreso. They claim that picking and eating grain on a sabbath was one of the many added restrictions to the law the Pharisees were renowned for, yet Jesus does not dispute their claim regarding the legality of the claim. It was indeed against the law to pick the grain, even as it was unlawful for David to eat the show-bread. To cover up this flaw in logic and reason, the sabbatarian often resorts to the excuse of the rights of kings, yet David was not at that time king, and the law did not provide a king with special privileges. All were treated equally under the law. This in itself is an example of using one falsehood to prop up another falsehood.
It was illegal for the Israelites to go out and attempt to gather manna on a sabbath, even though there was no manna available on a sabbath. It was illegal to go out and gather sticks. The flawed logic of the sabbatarian would have us believe that to go out into a field to gather grain to eat was not a violation of the sabbath commandment, yet trying to go out to gather manna to eat, that wasn’t even there, was a violation!
Let us recap. The sabbatarian quotes Mark 2:27 and makes the claim that “man” means all of mankind, and further concludes all mankind is therefore required to keep the sabbath.
By using just some of the methods of proper scholarship, we have determined the claims to be false, for the premise that anthropos means all mankind is shown to be false based upon the further writings by the same author. We also recognize the passage as being used eisegetically by the sabbatarian, and eisegesis is not a proper method of scholarship. It is one of the many methods employed in deceptions and falsehoods.
The context of Scripture shows that only the Israelites were required to “keep the sabbath” and that the sabbath was the sign between God and Israel in relation to their covenant. We can find no example of anyone prior to Sinai keeping the sabbath, nor do we find any example of anyone else being commanded to keep the sabbath, let alone all mankind. The claim by sabbatarians that the sabbath was instituted at creation is but another example of attempting to prop up one false belief with another false belief. The seventh day may well have been established as the last day in a seven day weekly cycle, but there is no evidence of Adam and Eve being commanded to rest on that day, or anyone else until Sinai. It was God who rested on that seventh day of creation, and not Adam and Eve. Adam and eve did not work the previous six days; God did. Adam and Eve were created the day before that seventh day. Strange, don’t you think, that sabbatarians would insist the sabbath day rest was instituted at creation for all mankind when neither Adam and Eve had been working! But fear not, the sabbatarians have even more false props in their sabbath arsenal.
* Redefining of Words and Terms
The most common example of this I can think of is the word and concept of tithing. Ask anyone what the tithe is, and you will likely get an answer that differs from that of Scripture.
The biblical tithe that is found in the old covenant law, was a tenth of the increase of produce and/or livestock. What the biblical tithe never was, was a tenth of one’s increase based on wages. Wage earners under the law never tithed on their wages.
One of the last people I pointed this fact out to in turn asked me to show them where tithing was not assessed of one’s wages! In other words, where does it say we do not tithe on our wages? Does the reader see the problem with that question? One of the rules of proper logic states that you cannot prove a negative, and yet those who are caught up in false belief systems require proof of a negative all the time. Example:
Where does it say in the Bible we are no longer required to keep the sabbath?
It not only requires us to prove a negative; it is also a loaded question, which is yet another of the many methods employed in deceptions.
The biblical definition then of a tithe as required under the old covenant was a tenth of the increase of produce and/or livestock, or something made from produce, such as wine. When confronted with this factual definition of tithe, rationalizations result. Rationalizations are also a method of deception. In this case, it is rationalized that we are to make allowances for changes that occur over time, or that it is the principle that matters. These responses are typical, and those who hold to tithing are invariably the same ones who claim, reading Matthew 5:17-18, that the law of the old covenant remains intact and inviolate even down to jots and tittles. So, if the law of tithing, like all else, cannot be altered even down to the strokes of the letters of the tithing law, how is it they now claim the law of tithing does indeed change way beyond jots and tittles?
Can we truly alter the meaning of Scripture, as well as alter the application of Scripture? We are dealing with the “Word” of God here. Jesus confronted the religious of Israel in this regard by telling them that they made the word of God of no effect through their traditions. In other words, they were trying to keep the law, not as God had commanded, but rather through their traditions. If God commanded something be done, or observed, He also commanded the manner in which it was to be done. Teaching people therefore to tithe of their wages constitutes a perversion of Scripture and its application.
It is the false teachers and false ministers who teach deceptions. Jesus warned that these people were wolves in sheep’s clothing, preying on flocks. Altering the tithing law, and applying it to Christians, both contrary to that law, serves the wolf perfectly. You can justify anything through principle and rationalization. Rationalizations, inferences, and assumptions can be, and usually are, common methods of deception.
I had hoped to cover the proper methods of biblical scholarship in a separate chapter, but it is most difficult to cover the methods of deception without touching on the proper methods for determining truth. Sometimes, in order to expose a deception, you need to demonstrate what the truth of the matter is. Can we then discern whether tithing is valid for Christians? The best way to start is to look for evidence in the new covenant writings that apply to Christians. Often, you see deceivers look for evidence in the “new testament” but what they end up doing is citing “evidence” from the gospels where and when the old covenant was still in force with those people. The new testament/covenant (this is the same Greek word) began upon the death of Christ, and not before. The old covenant came to an end upon that same death. Covenants and testaments have also undergone redefinition within the false belief systems.
Do we find a “thus saith the Lord” for Christians to practice tithing? No. Do we find any of the new testament writers claiming Christians are to tithe? No. Do we find an example of Christians tithing in the new covenant? No. Do we find any evidence to the contrary (which is a proper method of scholarship)? Yes we do. Paul makes mention that those who preach the gospel are entitled to support as a result of preaching the gospel. He does not however use tithing as a justification, but rather cites the example of not muzzling the ox that treads out the grain. Critical thinking would have us see that, if tithing were required of Christians, Paul would have said so, and used tithing as an example. If tithing were indeed required, then another puzzling thing happens in Paul’s writing about giving and supporting ministers of the gospel; he refused support from some churches. If tithing were indeed required, how then could Paul refuse tithes?
This whole topic regarding the use of deceptions cannot be over emphasized. Historically, church leaders used their positions as a means of dictating beliefs and enforcing them upon their members. Those who did not conform to the beliefs and dictates of their religious leaders could find themselves condemned to death.
We now have an opportunity rarely open down through history; the ability to study the Scriptures and decide for ourselves what they mean and what they teach without the undue influence of religious leaders who all to often are motivated by other forces besides the gospel.
Rationalization, Inference, Assumption, Drawn out conclusions
It can take awhile to catch on when these are being used. It is an appeal to intellect when there is no Scriptural support for an idea or belief. If a belief is important, there will be proper Scriptural evidence to support it.
Claims that cannot be verified
These are usually in association with the deceiver, and not necessarily a false belief. The deceiver attempts to set himself up as a prophet of sorts, and so makes claims of personal revelation from God, or perhaps a spirit being. There is no way to validate their claims.
Transference or substitution theology
This is taking that which was commanded or required of one group or individual and applying it to another group or individual. God commanded the Israelites to keep a covenant law. The only provision in that covenant law for one not of Israel to come under that law was to undergo circumcision. Were Gentiles required to be circumcised in Acts 15?
It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; ) Acts 17:11