Overcoming Deception with Truth
|By: Mike Gendron; ©2002|
|The Roman Catholic Chruch claims to be the one true church founded by Jesus Christ. But is it really? Or has it become Satan’s most cleverly disguised counterfeit? Mike Gendron gives guidelines to help us sort out truth from error.|
Overcoming Deception with Truth
The Roman Catholic Church claims to be the one true church founded by Jesus Christ. But is it really? Or has it become Satan’s most cleverly disguised counterfeit? To the casual observer the Roman Catholic Church appears to be genuinely Christian because it upholds the basic fundamentals of Christianity. Keep in mind however; the most deceptive counterfeit is the one that most closely resembles the genuine article. Catholicism’s veil of truth covers a false gospel—a gospel of works. It is “good works” that Satan uses in all of man’s religions to thwart the saving power of God’s grace. The great lie of Satan is that man can appease God’s justice and wrath by performing good works. It is a most deadly lie, because man’s works nullify God’s grace—the only means by which God saves sinners (Eph. 2:8-9).
Thus, the battle for the eternal destiny of souls is ultimately a conflict between God’s truth and Satan’s lies. Satan seduces humanity with cleverly created counterfeits that blind people from the truth. “The god of this age [Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4). As the prince of the world, he holds men captive with his lies. Only the truth of God can set men free (John 8:31).
In order to overcome Satan’s deception, we must study and understand his character, his mission and his weapons as they are revealed in Scripture. Jesus described Satan’s character as “a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me” (John 8:44-45). Satan’s mission from the beginning has been to deceive. “Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning” (2 Cor. 11:3). Peter warns us of the danger he represents. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Satan uses many counterfeits to deceive the world. He himself is a counterfeit god. “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thes. 2:4).
Satan also deceives the world with a counterfeit Jesus and a counterfeit gospel. The deception is so clever that the church puts up with it. “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough” (2 Cor. 11:4).
Another counterfeit Satan uses is idolatry in the place of true worship. This occurs when people exchange the truth of God for a lie (Rom. 1:23). Roman Catholics worship the Eucharist because they have been taught it has become God through the miracle of transubstantiation. They believe Jesus Christ has become physically present in the wafer. Counterfeit worship occurs when people do not know the true God and His Word. “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:22, 24).
Given that the Eucharist is a counterfeit Christ and transubstantiation is a counterfeit sign, we are not surprised when the Roman Catholic Church calls its Bishops the successors of the apostles. The Bible warns us that Satan uses false Christs, false prophets and false apostles, empowered by counterfeit signs and wonders, to deceive many.
- For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people (Matthew 24:5, 11).
- For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect, if that were possible (Mat. 24:24).
- The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders (2 Thes. 2:9).
- For such men are false apostles, deceitful workman, masquerading as apostles of Christ (2 Cor. 11:13).
- But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute (2 Peter 2:1-2).
False teachers will deceive and confuse many because they appear as servants of righteousness. Paul warned us that these deceivers would even come from within the church. “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).
- There will be false teachers among you (2 Peter 2:1).
- Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:7).
- It is not surprising, then, if his (Satan) servants masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:15).
Many people are deceived because they seek teachers who appeal to the flesh and who tickle their ears. One of the great Catholic myths is the teaching of purgatory. Catholics are taught that many of their sins are not serious enough to warrant the eternal fires of hell but only the temporal fires of purgatory.
- For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons (1 Tim. 4:1).
Deceptive religious leaders control people by holding them captive with legalistic tradition. “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people” (Rom. 16:18). Paul warns us about these deceivers. “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Col. 2:8).
One of the most deceptive schemes of Satan has been the use of apparitions. In 1531 apparitions of Mary began appearing in various parts of the world. The best known are Guadalupe, Mexico 1531, La Salette, France 1846, Lourdes, France 1858, Fatima, Portugal 1917, and Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina 1981. One apparition of Mary gave this message; “To save people from going to hell, God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to my immaculate heart. If people do what I tell you many souls will be saved and there will be peace.” Another apparition said, “Many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them.” Knowing that Satan can appear as an angel of light, we must test every spirit. It is inconceivable that Mary would ever preach a different Gospel that would deny the sacrifice of her Son. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned” (Galatians 1:8).
We can learn from Jesus in the way He responded to Satan. He used the Scriptures as the authority and a powerful weapon to rebuke the devil. After each of Satan’s attempts to deceive, the Lord responds with “it is written” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10).
With all these biblical warnings about Satan and deception, how can we discern which teachings are true? We must heed the exhortation of Jesus and follow the example of the Bereans.
- Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
- Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).
Once we know certain teachings are false or deceptive, what are we to do?
- We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).
- Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales (1 Tim. 4:7).
How can we avoid being deceived and seduced by the schemes of the devil? We must follow the exhortations of Paul. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved… who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). And most importantly…
- Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Eph. 6:11-12, 14-18).