There is a lot of buzz on the internet about deception in the Church. We know the world is deceived, but the Church? The Church isn’t supposed to be deceived, after all, isn’t the Church the repository of truth? Isn’t the “lost” being saved from the deception and lies of the world by the Church? What about the great masses of people that pack the Church buildings on any given Sunday, are they deceived? Are they still in their sins? These are good questions, and many more related questions could be asked like: Are deceived people saved? Are we saved from deception? Are we being lied to from the pulpit? Each of these deserves to be handled separately, but in an effort to get at the essence of the problem I just ask “Where is the Church Deceived?” When I say “the Church” I am speaking in broad general terms and do not mean the true Body of Christ that is small and virtually hidden by the large, highly publicized, and comfortable false Laodicean church. The deceived church I speak of is the church in general, associated with outward showiness and forms, and also most of what constitutes the new breed of post-modern house, mega, and emerging churches.
If Scripture is correct, we will look for the deception to appeal to man on a level that is palatable to the “outward man,” the man of the flesh, the natural man, the man of emotion, intellect, and energy, the man of the soul. When we look for the essence of deception, we look past the effects, or the symptoms and focus on the root causes and fundamentals. If we want to find a remedy we must understand something of the primary nature of the disease. So, when we want to determine the cause of the Church’s failure we have to go deeper than treating the outward manifestations that take place at the perimeter, we must understand spiritual truths, truths that are ignored because of its demands on the flesh, even though they are talked about in cell groups, book studies, and given complimentary treatment by preachers. We know these truths are ignored, and only symptoms treated, because we are witnessing a massive failure of the Church to be effective in changing the lives of people on a spiritual level, and we see the “gates of Hell,” not only prevailing, but driving back the Church at every turn, and as Isaiah prophesies Isa 59:14 “Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands afar off; For truth is fallen in the street . . . ” What is the essence of this failure? What is this “truth” that is being ignored? The failure, or the symptoms we see manifested at the perimeter, is the result of a lack of spiritual knowledge and understanding. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me . . . ,” and Amos 8:11 concurs, “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing (understanding) the words of the LORD,” and we are witnessing the truth of those words by the continual promotion of the flesh to a place equal to the spirit.
The Missing Meaning
There is a form of knowledge that is absolutely necessary for Christians to be healthy, and it is noticeably absent. There is a type of knowledge that exists that is unknowable to the unregenerate; it is impossible for them to know it. They cannot decide to know it. It cannot be grasped through reason or intellect, or by an act of the will. Humans cannot understand it any more than a worm can understand the life of a butterfly. Like the butterfly there has to be a metamorphosis, a change in the entire constitution of the creature; the Bible calls it a new-birth. A person must be reconstituted with a new nature to be able to begin to understand the language of the new nature. I do not mean to imply that this new ability comes to us complete at the new-birth any more than a little child comes complete with all the knowledge of a mature adult. The new nature merely provides the potential to understand spiritual things. It is not a blank check for us to fill in, or a license to experiment, the new birth only puts us over the threshold of the entrance to a vast deep sea of knowledge. This is a knowledge that must be mined like gold, and not gathered in the same manner as the world accumulates knowledge. Although this knowledge and understanding is necessary for proper Christian growth, it will often appear as “foolishness” to the unregenerate man and immature Christian, but Scriptures say that “the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men.” So, we see that this is not the same knowledge that one would gather from study; the kind of knowledge that is applauded by men, or the kind that wins awards and earns certificates of approval from their peers. This is a kind of knowledge that is rejected and ridiculed by the world and, unfortunately, by most of the “church.”
Faith and Trust the Vehicle of Truth
Prov 20:27 “The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching all the inner depths of his heart.” John 7:16-18 “…My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” By rebirth our spirit is renewed and spiritual communion reinitiated with our creator. It is our spirit that is made new, not our soul, and certainly not the flesh which has a death sentence attached to it. The spirit which was once dead, as a result of Adam’s sin and separated from God, is now made alive by the mysterious work of faith and trust in the work of Christ on our behalf. God is Spirit and those who fellowship with the Father must have spiritual awareness. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” God does not come to us on the level of the flesh, but of the spirit and truth. As we learn to be faithful to the truth that is revealed to us we are given deeper understanding, and the truth of God becomes a light unto our feet and searches out the recesses of the soul. The renewed spirit in man is now enabled, by a spiritual law, to regain control and govern the soul and flesh through faith and trust in the abilities of God to fulfill His will in our lives. It is this knowledge in our spirit, that God can be trusted, and that He is faithful to Himself and cannot lie, that is the great persevering strength of the believer, it is the belief that all the promises of God are yea and amen. Apart from this, all that remains is the machinery of men, i.e., will power, striving, effort, labor, strain, and struggle, and none of that is spiritual, at all. There is a deep divide between the technical understanding of God and the spiritual understanding of God, and there is no bridge crossing over the gap. The Jews were living proof of this principal. They had a tremendous amount of accumulated technical knowledge of the Old Testament and God, but when the Messiah, who they greatly anticipated, finally appeared on the scene they never recognized Him, and they missed out on everything. It is no different today! Our Bible Schools and Colleges are producing technicians by the truckload who have no clue about spiritual things. There is not one in a hundred who understand spiritual things, and that may be a generous estimate. Faith and trust are the only prerequisites of spiritual understanding.
How Do Christians Get Spiritual Knowledge?
Job 11:7 “Canst thou by searching find out God?” Eph 1:17-18 “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may GIVE unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know . . . ”“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom . . . ” 1 Cor 1:30
Spiritual knowledge is a gift, but dead men can not receive gifts. Dead men must be restored to life first. There are worldlings trying to be Christians, and there are Christians trying to understand God through the flesh, and both are futile. Almost all of what Christians do today, and the decisions they make are based on what seems to them to be sound and right arguments, and reasons, and a judgment of what is good and desirable. When those judgments are found to be faulty, their conscience returns again and again to condemn them. Although their conscience may accuse them, and with practice excuse them, it cannot restore them to a right relationship or provide knowledge of God. Carnal Christians, living on the level of the flesh cannot experience the true Sabbath rest spoken of by our Lord, but are driven, by the flesh, to be accepted of God by performing things they “reason” are pleasing to God. Through our study, prayer, and obedience, God may give us understanding according to His will. As we walk in the light of Christ as our example, we will begin to understand the wisdom incorporated in the very life of Jesus Himself, who was “made unto us wisdom.” That wisdom becomes the spiritual affirmation that we can now rest from our own works, and be at peace, and experience joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Worldly Knowledge vs. Spiritual Knowledge
Humans are information gathering machines. We accumulate information consciously and unconsciously, intentionally and unintentionally. It is as if we had an invisible antenna sticking out of the top of our head receiving transmissions from everything around us. Psychologist, marketers of consumer products, and marketers of religion understand this concept and use this understanding to manipulate men for their own purposes. Most of the decisions we make consciously were already predetermined, at least in part, in our unconscious minds before we ever consciously decide anything. Men, yes even religious men, and Satan, use this “common” knowledge to create lures, to attract “customers,” and separate them from their valuables, both monetary and eternal, by breaking down unfavorable thought patterns and burning into their prospective customer’s minds slogans, logos, catch phrases, and mental pictures that foster instant recall. In the marketing industry this is known as “branding.” Men, and Satan, know how to best deceive and manipulate the natural man who lives on the level of lust and desire, to buy into their deception. They know how to present their product in the best light (which is actually a lack of light, or truth) to appeal to the “lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life,” and entice their customer to make decisions based on impulse and not truth. They use the weakness of the flesh as a hook on which to hang their particular product. Ruthless and unscrupulous businessmen, and Christians, know that everything is “marketing,” and that the wisdom of this world will produce success, in this world. The children of this world are very wise in the ways of their father, the Devil. Successful marketers, and I include most modern pastors and church planters, understand that decisions concerning their product were made long before they ever pulled out their check books, signed a membership card, took an oath, or made a conscious commitment to follow through on a decision. Marketing or advertising is virtually all designed as an enticement to the flesh, providing information that will sway a person to act on the level of the carnal nature. There is advertising that is information only, but strictly speaking, this is not marketing. The marketing and information, I speak of, is of the world, and not of the spirit; it is Devilish and evil. For example, I saw a tabloid the other day in the check out lane of the grocery store showing a line-up of female celebrities without make-up, it was frightening. All those Hollywood idols are just as bland and ugly as the lie they live; take away the marketing device of “make-up” and the ugly lie is exposed. Again, salespeople know that you make unconscious decisions as soon as you pull into a parking lot. The antenna on your head immediately begins picking up information about how the parking lot looks: the space markers being hardly visible; there are cigarette butts and trash laying around, or it is exceptionally clean and swept; the windows are dirty, etc.; the logo, the colors, the lettering are all evaluated, by the master marketer, to bring down barriers of resistance, and feed fleshly desires, even the aisles in grocery stores are laid out to tempt you to buy a certain product, and a certain quantity, at a certain time. Internal, unconscious decisions are made as to whether or not you want to purchase a product from this marketer, before you ever enter his store. Different types of marketing strategies target different market sectors (potential customers), after determining which ploy most easily deceives their target audience: should they be offensive or non-offensive, promote family values or not, or environmentally friendly; if it is good for business then it is “good,” and the list goes on ad nauseam. Popular sports stars promote hospitals, charities, and lead the unwary to believe these stars are super-spiritual as a means of worldly persuasion in attracting new customers to “church.” But, the point is this, everything in and of the world is trying to sell or deceive you, and the organized church is on-board with the world, and is no exception. Marketing lives or dies by deception. Marketing’s daily bread is the lie, and it lives to deceive.
Everything is Marketing
Jer 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked ; Who can know it?”
The hearts of men are wicked, and will, without encouragement, take advantage of his own brother. I said earlier that everything is marketing and it is true, from your earliest days as a child you learned to say just the right thing to get what you wanted, to your teen years of wearing the right clothes and smelling a certain way to entice a wanted reaction, to your graduate years of embellishing that resume to impress a future employer, to your years as a pastor to grow your church by appeals to the flesh through perfectly choreographed entertainment and advertisement. The nature of marketing is worldly, and the nature of this world is evil, and the nature of evil is sin. This is the knowledge of the world and church growth methods are no better than their evil twin, merchandising, only the currency of the Church are the souls of men.
Marketing has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God, but it has everything to do with deception and “perception.” What I mean is this; truth is secondary and is only implied in the world as a whole, and in the world of marketing. Prov 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” They equate truth with “value,” but value is a relative quantity and can be different with everyone. Marketers, and again I include most modern Churches, are very familiar with the term “perceived value.” It is a term used by marketers which simply means that the value or worth, or truth of a product, exists primarily in a person’s mind, not the product. The truth or worth of the product depends, not on some absolute value, but how it was received or perceived. In other words the truth becomes relative to how the person feels about the product personally, it is defined by the flesh. Truth is no longer truth because it is true, it is true because we have either accepted it, rejected it, or modified it. All the skills of marketing “excellence” have come into play with the marketing of the Church as a product, to be sold through enticements and perceptions, and the “laity” are merely customers, of which merchants can never have enough of, and are always enticing potential customers to try their product.
If you can understand what has just been said then you should be able to easily understand why the Bible–the documented “truth” of God–describes Satan as the Prince of this world, the father of lies, and the Deceiver of whole nations. All of these marketing shenanigans are a mockery of the truth, which is a mockery of God, and God declares that He will not be mocked, and commands all true believers to separate themselves from what He aptly describes as prostitution.
The “rest,” “peace,” and “joy” that our souls desire is not to be found in these devises and perceptions of truth, even when they are brought into the Church and sanitized by attaching the name of Jesus to them. Is it any wonder the way is so narrow and excludes many, and the gate so strait and extremely difficult to pass through, and is it any wonder that Jesus asked whether He would find any faith, at all, on the earth when He returns? Will anyone be really believing in, and trusting the Father, to provide their daily bread?, not as long as we can promote, advertise, and market! We see great impressive numbers coming into the Church today, and we see bigness and boldness, and we see a visible production and promotion of spirituality, and it is all too obvious. If this is truly the last days, and the last hours, then all of this must be the world of perceived values, and consequently deceived values, and the really funny and dangerous thing is this, we love it this way; we wouldn’t have it any other way; we love our marketing and those sweet little lies that justify our indulgence. The Prince of Marketing is very much alive and well in the local Church.
The Gift of Knowledge
Spiritual knowledge is a gift, it cannot be bought or sold, because it is free. God cannot be found by searching. We cannot know God through mental or spiritual exercises (silence, mantras, contemplation, Lectio Divina, positive thinking), mood manipulation (candles, incense, lights, sound, art), or posture (standing, sitting, kneeling, dancing, rolling), or any other mechanics that might be determined as a reasonable approach of conjuring up God. Faith alone is the answer to how we acquire knowledge of God, as it has always been, and always will be.
The marketing department of Hell has, for many centuries, produced AWARD WINNING salesmen, and some of the best of them have been the very ones we admire as spiritual leaders. Where the Church is deceived is in the fact that it has bought into this magnificent manipulation of knowledge. The Organized Church is deceived in its thinking that it has true knowledge when, the fact is, that it has been sold a bill-of-goods, in supposing that the truth of God resembles the truth of the world. It is deceived in feeling that the “perceived” truth of Scripture is the “Truth,” even though every church on the block perceives it differently; and that truth is identified with a beautiful presentation of a speech, a building, or some particular way of doing something. God declares, in the midst of all the visible success, that His people are destroyed for a lack of (true) knowledge. There is a Knowledge that is Divine and bears no resemblance to worldly knowledge. Knowledge of the Holy is the only real knowledge, and it is not available as a commodity to be bought and sold at book stores, or on television, or on-line; it is a gift to those who truly seek it, with all their heart, mind, and soul. Truth comes to us, we do not go to it.
The whole Church is corrupted with the faulty knowledge that man can produce and package truth in such a way that will sell, not only automobiles when used by the world, but lure, and tempt, people into the Kingdom of God, and that these people will be surprised to find out that they have made a wise choice and purchased, by chance, a winning product or a ticket on the bus to Heaven. The Church is deceived in thinking that they can manipulate people into becoming Christians through marketing and advertising, and substitute man-made spiritual disciplines for faith and trust. The Church is deceived in thinking that, by way of a slick campaign strategy, that once it gets people into their store/church that they can then sell them on the Gospel. If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, we can know it is a duck, but for some reason if it looks like the world, and sounds like the world, we have been led to believe it is not the world, but the spirit. The Church is deceived in assuming that acquiring knowledge from any source, is valid knowledge, and that it doesn’t matter where it comes from as long as it is “Biblical” knowledge. They believe that being a good technician of Scripture will reveal spiritual knowledge; that the Spirit of God dwells with good methodology. Colleges subvert truth with their profane marketing and advertising on billboards and radio, and in magazines. Churches are deceived in believing that all the resources of the world have to be brought to bear in their promotion of Church growth, and that if it fails it was a lack of faith. And, like the world, they are judged by their size, or the amount of giving, or some other outward sign of success, that agrees with the world in gauging success. This is all deception, and not the truth; it is not trust, it is not obedience, it is not Christ like, because it is not Faith in God, it is rebellion against the Almighty, and is the open prostitution of the Church. Where is the Church deceived? It is deceived by not knowing the truth; it is deceived from a lack of knowledge; it is deceived in thinking it knows God, when in reality they have signed a covenant of death with Satan, the Prince of Planet Earth. The Church is deceived because they can not tell the difference between the world and the spirit, and they are being destroyed.