Publication: Pastoral Letter, September 2016
Dear Friend in Christ:
I cannot think of a more important subject for this time than TRUTH. It is vital for each of us to ask these four questions regarding truth: Can I be deceived? Have I been deceived? What are the consequences of deception? And how do I prevent being deceived? These four questions hold the key to our future. Let’s look at what Jesus told His disciples:
“And I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of Truth who the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him or knows Him but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:16-18 NKJV).
At the close of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He said a lot about the Holy Spirit as the disciples were fearful of His departure. (See John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-15; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-8; Matthew 28:18-20.) Why did Jesus emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit in their future? It was critical to knowing His presence and power; that is how He lived and ministered. Furthermore, without the Holy Spirit they would be subject to deception (see Luke 9:54-56). Their deception or being beguiled was evident on numerous occasions, but future deception would be destructive in the absence of Jesus to correct them. It was vital that they would be anointed with the Holy Spirit.
The disciples had been “breathed upon” by Jesus after His resurrection and He said “Receive the Holy Spirit” (see John 20:21-23). Then He gave them power to forgive sins or “retain sins.” But He commanded them to wait for the “Promise of the Father” which was a baptism in the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:4-5). It occurred on the day of Pentecost, a celebration of Moses receiving the Law at Sinai. Jesus said the disciples were going to receive the law of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and live according to the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:1-17; Psalm 51:6).
It would be the Holy Spirit who would set them free from the law of sin and death and living life from fleshly appetites. The enemy’s work is to use our appetites to control and deceive, thus destroying us. His work is destruction (see John 10:10).
The enemy is called “The Deceiver”; that is who he is and what he does. In ourselves, we are no match for him, as he is a fallen archangel. To put it bluntly, he is smarter than we are and therefore we rely on the Spirit of Truth. Adam and Eve are the first example of deception. Eve was naïve and Adam was passive. The serpent beguiled her and Adam went along. From Adam on, deception became the greatest human tragedy, not only among pagans but with God’s people also. We not only die due to Eve’s deception and Adam’s willful sin but due to our own deception. The Bible records a multitude of destructive deceptions.
Jacob deceived Isaac and Esau. Laban deceived Jacob, and then Jacob deceived him. Israel was deceived in worshipping idols on numerous occasions. The law condemns being a false witness (see Leviticus 6:1-4). Delilah deceived Samson. Proverbs 6:17 says that God hates a lying tongue; but Israel wanted their prophets to prophesy “nice things” rather than truth (see Isaiah 30). Ahab employed lying prophets as did Jezebel (see 1 Kings 22:6-13). The New Testament warns against lying leaders and people (see 2 Timothy 2; Matthew 24:5; 1 John 3:7; 1 John 4:1-3, 20). Watch what people do and not just what they say to avoid deception.
LIES OF THE ENEMY
So, the enemy’s plan is to present a lie in an acceptable way—to bring people to depend upon what is in fact false. Often, he presents a “half-truth” (which someone aptly said is “a whole lie”). Deception is a false foundation that brings the house down. It is sand, and not rock. The words are sweet but within them is poison (see Romans 3:11-18).
Think about the wars that have been caused by lies and the many millions that have died. Think about those who have died because they believed someone who said, “This will be good for you.” Think about the destruction of alcohol and drugs that promise a feeling but deliver a fatality. Think about those who have a false view of God and commit unspeakable brutalities.
While we may not be guilty of those things, have we ever been harmed or harmed others by a incorrect post on the internet or merely a piece of “juicy gossip?” Think about the reputations ruined by hatred strong enough to “bear false witness.” How many have been convicted even in a court of law by a false testimony?
God’s hatred of lying is for all those reasons and more. Lying is against His nature and it belongs to our enemy. Lies will cast the eternal souls of multitudes into Hell. Should we not also hate lies? Should we not therefore love truth?
Truth is like a medicine that sometimes stings the wound. It hurts for a moment and afterwards brings healing. But some are so fearful of the momentary sting or pain that they refuse the medicine and allow the wound to infect the body. My parents used iodine on every cut. As a young child, I would often resist the iodine because it stung. “It hurts Daddy!” But Dad loved me enough to apply it anyway. My feelings did not prevent his cures. Not only did he use it generously, I learned to forget the momentary pain. JESUS is the world’s “Iodine.”
In our time, feelings are more important than healings. A lot of us have learned that we can have more “friends” or larger churches if we only say nice things. The “politically correct” culture is killing us! But truth would heal us if we would get past the sting.
Jesus is truth, speaks the truth, ministers in the Spirit of truth, and is the true way to the Father. Because God loved the world, He gave it the truth in human form. The Holy Spirit of truth not only gives us the truth, but He gives the boldness to tell it if we love God and His people as he did (see Acts 4:29; Ephesians 6:19; Philippians 1:20; Acts 13:46; 14:3; 18:26; 28:31).
Jesus loves the truth and people enough to declare the truth. For that, He was crucified. The apostles, being filled with the Spirit of truth, declared the truth, and were all martyred except John; and he was exiled. Truth, even when even spoken in love, can get you killed. Why? Because the enemy hates it; it is far worse than iodine in the devil’s wound. It exposes and uncovers his wretchedness.
I can think of no worse fate for an individual, a church, or a nation than to fall into the hands of lying leaders, prophets, or priests. That could be the end. Ahab loved flattering prophets who encouraged him to believe a lie and he was killed in battle. They promised victory, but he received death. He felt good when they spoke, but he must have felt the pain when the arrow stuck him. Jezebel loved lying prophets but the dogs ate her.
WHAT MUST WE DO?
That was the question from the multitude when Peter preached at Pentecost. He had boldly declared to them that they crucified Jesus. He reminded them of Joel’s prophecy and that whoever called upon the Lord would be saved. He testified to the resurrection of Jesus and that Jesus had been exalted to the right hand of God. The hearers were cut to the heart and he answered their question, “Repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus…and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” He continued, “For the promise is to you and to your children, as many as far off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (see Acts 2:28-40).
Then he said, “Save yourselves from this wicked and perverse generation.” It was a deceived generation that would be slaughtered a few years later because they believed a lie. But believers believed and fled the region.
We too must repent. Repentance, or turning around from the wrong path with godly sorrow, is not just a one-time experience, it is a daily practice when we have failed to obey God. Every great revival has begun with repentance. We must believe in Jesus. That is not just a creedal statement; it is a daily trust in Him. We must be baptized to demonstrate our obedience to Him in death to self, burial of the past, and resurrection in Him and the authority of His name.
We must receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost happened because the disciples and the 120 in the Upper Room received the gift of the Holy Spirit. We can debate what that may look like to us but there can be no debate that what happened is recorded in the Holy Word and was most effective. It launched the Church into the world.
These acts of obedience kept the Church on course for centuries. They heard, they repented, were baptized, and were filled with the Holy Spirit. All of that saved them from the deception of their culture, which was under judgment. As the Church grew into other nations, it continued to practice those four instructions; when they compromised on those issues, they lost ground. Whenever they became intertwined with a crocked culture, they paid the price. Losing the discernment of the Holy Spirit caused them to be enslaved by sin and defeated.
When we see people who are deceived and demonstrate it by what they do, we must remember that we also have been deceived in some manner and likely have deceived others. We are all saved by the great grace of God. We must love people in the world as God does. But without truth, we cannot help them—both in our words and deeds.
Proverbs 23:23 says “Buy the truth;” it will cost. Then it says, “Sell it not.” Once purchased, it is priceless. It saves, sets free, guides, gives us discernment, and a host of other benefits. True repentance, true faith, and a true confession are all gifts of the Holy Spirit of truth. He is our source; the Holy Spirit is Jesus with us; spirit and truth are how we worship God with our lives.
We do not have all the truth yet, so we must seek Him and pray that He will deliver us from the evil one and keep on the path of righteousness. As we near the conclusion of this age with the increase of deception, be vigilant, prayerful, and sensitive to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. I am convinced that it will save us from a perverse culture and the spirits of error. After all, we have an advantage that Adam and Eve did not: Jesus is with us in the Holy Spirit. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the Truth” (3 John 1:4).
P.S. Please visit our website for special ministry resources and more information and remember us in your prayers and giving in a special way this month. For more information, visit our website at csmpublishing.org or our Charles Simpson Ministries Facebook Page.
Scripture references: John 14:16-18; 14:26; 15:26;16:13-15; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-8; Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 9:54-56; John 20:21-23; Acts 1:4-5; Romans 8:1-17; Psalm 51:6; John 10:10; Leviticus 6:1-4;Proverbs 6:17; Isaiah 30; 1 Kings 22:6-13; 2 Timothy 2; Matthew 24:5; 1 John 3:7; 1 John 4:1-3, 20; Romans 3:11-18; Acts 4:29; Ephesians 6:19; Philippians 1:20; Acts 13:46, 14:3, 18:26, 28:31; Acts 2:28-40; 3 John 1:4; Proverbs 23:23
Charles Simpson is an internationally-known author, Bible teacher, and pastor, serving in ministry since 1955. He is also Editor-in-Chief of One-to-One Magazine and ministers extensively throughout the United States and the nations.