Publication:Pastoral Letter, May 2019
Dear Friend in Christ:
My purpose in this letter is to strengthen us against deception. In the story of Creation and the Garden of Eden, Genesis 3:1 tells us, “Now the serpent was more subtle.” The serpent was the embodiment of Lucifer, God’s arch-enemy and ours, who was beguiling Adam and Eve. And how did the serpent do that? First, he gave a false description of what God had said. Then he gave a false promise of what disobedience would do for them. And finally, he appealed to their taste and ego. The fruit was pleasant to their senses, but the result was death.
The enemy’s plan has not changed very much since the Garden of Eden. He still distorts or ignores the Word of God. He still makes false promises. He still appeals to our egos and senses, but the end is still destruction and death.
Proverbs 7:21-23 talks about the issue of seduction, “With flattering (persuasive) words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.” Regardless of who is doing the seducing, the process is always the same.
What They Loved Most
I was recently reading through the Gospel of John 12:42-43, which tell us that many rulers among the Jews believed in Jesus but would not confess it because they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Their issue was not praise of men, good reputation, or honor; their issue was that they LOVED it more than the praise of God. The enemy knows what we love more than God’s favor and that is what he will use to seduce us.
Physical seduction is a metaphor for spiritual seduction. They both work the same way – flattery, ego, self-fulfillment. Jesus warned to watch out when all men speak well of you because false prophets were lauded in history while true prophets were often killed (see Luke 6:26). The problem with false prophets in many cases was that even if they knew the truth, they loved the praise of men. The people wanted “smooth sayings” so they gave them nice words (see Isaiah 30:9-14) False assurance, when repentance is needed, is from one who has been seduced to those being seduced.
My mother was from the bayous of South Louisiana and came from a family of 12 children. Her father was a land-grant sugar cane grower and maker of syrup. She grew up cutting sugar cane and working hard. Her small community did not have a high school so she later got her high school diploma by mail.
Mom was not “well-educated” in the academic sense but she was very difficult to fool, as I discovered. One day a young man was saying some very nice things to her about her, when she interrupted him, “You are a flatterer!” Years later, that young man was in prison.
From Illusion to Delusion
An illusion is an erroneous perception of reality. A delusion is a stubborn clinging to unreality in the face of obvious evidence to the contrary. We have illusions, but delusions have us. We have all had some illusions but hopefully lived through them and moved on to seek the truth. Illusions come from our ignorance, naïveté, or fantasies. Time and seeking truth will disabuse us of illusions if we love truth.
But if we prefer an appealing lie and stubbornly cling to it, God will give us what we prefer. When He has confronted us and we rejected Him and His Word, He will send us a delusion and enable us to continue in the lie (see 2 Thessalonians 2:11).
Seduction is not limited to sex or theology; it happens on a massive political scale with deadly results. A case in point is socialism which promises “free stuff” and equality for all. Socialism was born among secularist God-deniers. It has not worked in Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela, and other nations. Yet people continue to embrace it and socialism’s sister, communism. This embracing continues even among the “educated elites.” How does it continue to be embraced? Simply put, it comes from appealing false promises.
Placing personal responsibility on someone or something else, be it government, ideology, bureaucracy, or even church is a huge mistake. Adam said it was Eve’s fault, Eve said it was the serpent’s fault, but each bore their own responsibility.
Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian diplomat, politician, and philosopher. He believed that the ends justified the means. In other words, there were no moral limits to achieving goals. He is often called the “father of modern political science.” He would say whatever people wanted to hear in order to get whatever he wanted. Lenin, Hitler, Castro, and numerous others gained power by the same means; they promised whatever people wanted. The result was not prosperity or equality; it was poverty, tyranny, and prison camps. North Korea is a prime example, yet people continue to be seduced by political promises. Why? Because they have left God, discernment, and enduring truth out of the equation.
What tastes good, sounds good, or feels good is not always good or good for us. Living by our senses can be an illusion of goodness. In contrast, Jesus told Lucifer that we live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God (see Luke 4:4). When we reject the Word of God, we are left to our own naïveté. And that usually leads to a rejection of God’s Word, human history, and its vital lessons.
I have recently read two books. One is The Right Side of History by Ben Shapiro. He is an Orthodox Jew who is politically, philosophically, and historically astute. This book brings us on the historical journey to where we are now and the philosophies that got us here. It is not an easy read, especially for those unacquainted with philosophy, but it is vital material. The second book is The Hidden Messages of the Great Seal. (The Great Seal is the official U.S. Government seal.) This book was written by Michael Kanis. Michael has done thousands of hours of research digging out the messages of the Great Seal, and they are biblical messages that reveal our Founders’ faith.
Both books point out how the revolution in the United States differed from other revolutions, especially the French Revolution. They also explain why we have prospered and how much we have lost our history. When we lose our history, we are in danger of losing our future. We cannot afford to miss the signs of erosion.
Escaping Illusion and Delusion
Many years ago, my wife, Carolyn, and I had a house that was elevated above the street, so our driveway went uphill. It was paved and appeared solid, but one day I noticed some erosion on the edge of our driveway. So, I called a company that built driveways and they sent workers out to our home to inspect our driveway. They discovered that the erosion extended far under the concrete. The driveway was, in fact, dangerous!
The price to repair the driveway was expensive, but less expensive than our car falling through the driveway that appeared good, but was not. I watched as they pumped hundreds of gallons of cement under the driveway. A lot of ideas look good but underneath they are very dangerous.
The Apostle Paul was once a zealous Pharisee named Saul. His illusion was that his goodness would save him. He was so radical in his illusion that he would persecute and imprison those who disagreed with his idea. He even assented to the stoning of Stephen. His illusion became a delusion and that is indicated by how he treated others. Deluded people are dangerous!
Saul was narcissistic, full of self-love. He knew about Jesus, His teaching, and His works, yet stubbornly clung to his illusion. No argument could sway Saul. Then one day on the road to Damascus, he met Jesus personally and was dramatically changed…even his name!
It is my belief that you can debate an illusion but not a delusion. Only God can deliver one under delusion. We can and should pray for those who are imprisoned by a lie, but only an encounter with God will deliver them.
The First Commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength—to love Him in every way possible. The Second Commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves—to treat them as we want to be treated, even those who disagree. Rejecting the First Commandment often leads to misinterpreting the second. “Love your neighbor as yourself’ is now commonly interpreted to “therefore love yourself.” Self-esteem is a cardinal doctrine of modern culture and narcissism or self-love is the result.
Jesus makes it clear by teaching and demonstration that we cannot be His disciple and love ourselves (see Matthew 16:24-25). When our life versus His will becomes the priority, we lose our lives. In order to avoid illusions and delusions, we must love God, each other, and love the truth above ourselves. That position protects us against flattery and seduction. I would add another protection: Find and fellowship with those who love and seek the truth—even the uncomfortable truth.
One of my best friends was John Duke, who went to be with the Lord a few years back. John was a “truth teller.” Like my parents, John would look me in the eye and tell me what he thought. Right or wrong, John would be honest with me regardless of consequence. We remained close friends from 1966 until he passed away in 2015. We all need friends like that. We spent a lot of time together in the presence of God.
Finally, we need to bathe ourselves daily in the Word of God (see Ephesians 5:26). The Bible will adjust our perspective as we study it. The Lord of Truth will speak to us if we humble ourselves before Him and repent of false notions and wrong actions.
Seek the Lord
We are all vulnerable to the subtleties of Satan if we are not properly armed (see Ephesians 6:10-20). I wrote this letter out of love for the Church, that we may all hear the truth. Also, when I think of the United States, I am deeply concerned about how secularism has gained control of our institutions and many people have become deluded. We need a visitation from God, a restored foundation, and clarity in the ways of God. Let’s join together to “seek the Lord while He may be found.”
Please pray for us as we gather May 14-16 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for our 20th Annual CSM Leadership Conference. We are focusing on “Spirit & Truth”. Also, pray for us as we continue our mission, reaching many nations with the Gospel. If the Lord leads you, would you consider a special financial gift this month to support the work of the ministry? Please visit us at csmpublishing.org. Thanks so much for your friendship!
Scripture References: Genesis 3:1; Proverbs 7:21-23;John 12:42-43; Isaiah 30:9-14; Luke 6:26; 2 Thessalonians 2:11; Luke 4:4; Matthew 1624-25; Ephesians 5:26; Ephesians 6:10-20