Watchman Warning: Deception & The Bible
Deception and the Bible
By Hal Lindsey
In Matthew 24, when Jesus taught about the end of the age, He began with a stark warning. “See to it that no one misleads you.” (Matthew 24:4 NASB)
Deception has been a primary part of human character since Adam and Eve sinned. But it is worse today. That’s partly because evil people tend to become more evil over time. 2 Timothy 3:13 says, “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (NKJV)
The other thing that makes deception worse today isn’t about human character, but the technology that amplifies human character — whether good or bad.
Today, we think of radio and television as old communications media. But in the sweep of history, they’re new. In fact, the development of the printing press is a relatively new event in the overall human experience. Think about how much the ability to deceive grew with each of these advances. Mass producing printed material instead of copying documents one at a time, took deception to a whole new level.
The telegraph made communication instantaneous across vast distances. The completion of the transatlantic cable in 1858 made that communication available from one continent to another, changing the world in a fundamental way. After that, came the telephone, allowing people to speak and be heard from one side of the world to the other. Radio and television allowed a few people to talk to the masses, and without a connecting wire — creating another communications revolution.
With the advent of the internet, it all changed again. Today, a television program can be created, edited, and made available to the world using one, pocket-sized device — a smartphone. Social media found a way to harness the power of the internet for the masses.
These tools did good things, but they also threw rocket fuel on the fires of deception. And since deceiving is a deeply ingrained part of humanity, that spells trouble. From “fake news” websites to the mainstream media, technology amplifies lying to a whole new level.
Jesus showed the human condition without Him in John 8:42 and 44. After some ultra-religious types told Jesus that they were children of God, He answered, “If God were your Father, you would love Me.… You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies.” (NASB)
The devil and deception go hand in hand. Satan is at war with God. And in any military campaign, armies try to destroy their enemy’s command and control. For Christians and the Church, God’s command and control comes primarily from the Bible. It makes sense then that the devil works to diminish God’s word at every turn. In an age of deception, expect the Bible to be attacked in every way possible.
One of Satan’s most successful ploys against the Bible has been to make Bible-reading subjective instead of objective. In churches, seminaries, Sunday Schools, and Bible study groups across the land, people are being taught to read into the Bible their own feelings and prejudices. Many Bible teachers don’t teach. Instead, they ask questions. They read a scripture, then ask, “How does this make you feel?” or, “What does this mean to you?”
But in reading anything, the first question should always be, “What meaning did the author intend?” If we give other authors that consideration, shouldn’t we extend the same courtesy to God?
The Bible will address your feelings, and it will give you feelings. But that’s not how we interpret it. We primarily interpret the Bible by reading the words, and studying the context. But you will never understand it unless you choose to make God’s thoughts paramount. He is God, after all. Psalms 100:3 says, “It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.” (NASB)
Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” (NKJV)
It’s an amazing thing to realize that “God… has… spoken.” Speaking is a means of imparting one person’s thoughts to another. The Bible is God’s word. It imparts the very thoughts of God to human beings like you and me. What a privilege!
Today, many see the Church as an institution whose primary function is to make people feel good. It follows that they try to limit the Bible to this same role. But that totally misses the point. We have the honor of bringing into our minds the very thoughts of God. Should we relegate those thoughts to self-help, or self-esteem building?
Psalms 107:20 says, “He sent His word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” (KJV)
People around the world are starving for the healing and deliverance of His word. And in a sea of babbling voices, they’re also starving for truth — not touchy-feely stuff — but built-upon-the-rock truth. And in the Bible, we have it.
Let’s use the powerful communications tools of today to export God’s unadulterated word across the world.