Christianity is a supernatural religion that straddles but the physical and spirit realms. Unfortunately, the supernatural aspect seems to be on continual downgrade. Daily, people who are Christians go more and more in the direction of the physical.
The focus on the physical has become so entrenched that many now view Christianity only from the point of view of the world.
While many still mention the name of God and talk religious talk, their actions demonstrate that they do not believe as the believers of the days of old. Many today are just going through the motions. They come to church and attend religious meetings more as obligation or duty rather than as a demonstration of their belief in and love of God.
But truth remains truth whether a person believes it or not. The unfaithfulness of man will never make God become unfaithful. As the word of God tells us, there is more to life than the physical that we see.
The spirit world is as real and as important to our existence as the physical. In our daily living, we are to interact with the two the way God has instructed us.
So today, let us remind ourselves about one area where the spirit world attempts to negatively impact our lives, and to encourage ourselves to resist any attempt to lure us away from our Lord.
This area is the methodology that the prince of darkness uses to influence us to follow his ways rather than the way of God.
And that methodology is called: Deception. So, you need to “Be aware of and resist the deceitful workers around you.” And to resist them.
Apostle Paul had ongoing encounters with false teachers
The apostle Paul with his companions founded and nurtured the church in Corinth. That church experienced the gifts and the power of God. But in spite of the manifest presence of God within that church, there was also much that could be accounted the work of the devil.
The apostle identified one of the major causes of this apparent contradiction to his critics. These were people who did not accept his apostleship. Not only that, they openly slander him and further brought false teachings and error into the church.
These false teachers presented themselves as people with more accurate knowledge and higher rank than the apostle. Some even accused him of not being an apostle as he was not part of the original twelve appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ.
The issue of false workers seemed to follow him around a lot. And he responded to them in his letters many times. One of such responses in the letter to the Corinthian church.
“13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2Cor 11:13-15).
In this passage, the apostle identified and unmasked these ungodly workers.
“13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
This section is connected to the previous as it now gives the reason the apostle Paul did not want to be considered or thought of in the same category or class as those described in the previous verses above.
These critics of apostle Paul, and who were working against the gospel apparently were calling themselves apostles of Christ. But they are false apostles because they were not sent or commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ. They were neither sent nor approved by the other true apostles of Christ (Acts 15:1, 24).
They might have appointed themselves or were appointed by men. Hence, they are false apostles. These are the many who corrupt the word of God (2Cor 2:17), and those others like them.
Deceitfulness was the method by which they went about deceiving people as they moved from church to church seeking to gain followers and disciples for their false teachings. They preach, teach, evangelize and engage or labour in other activities of ministry, but all are done for their own gain or profit.
They were pretending to be “workmen” with authority of the Lord to work for the Lord while they were working for and seeking their own gain.
Masters of subterfuge
They transformed themselves. That is, they change their appearance so they will not be recognised. They disguised, they masqueraded, they assumed any posture, title or mannerism that will enable them to represent themselves to others as who they are not. Left to themselves they carried no influence, no authority. They needed a make-over so as to have an appearance close to that of the people they are trying to impersonate.
They went as far as they possibly could to assume in line with their evil motive, the habits, manner and doctrine of the apostles of Christ. They coveted the highest office so that if they succeed in their deceit, they can then corrupt the whole corpus of the body of Christ.
They wanted to be seen and taken as apostles of Christ even though they knew they were not. But they needed credibility to be able to successively deceive the people. On their own, they stood no chance, so they had to claim to be apostles of Christ to gain the needed credibility. They were pretending to be who they were not.
False teachers and other categories of false workers continue the same method even today.
Hence, the apostle Paul did not want to be thought of or put in the same class as them.
An attempt to infiltrate the highest office
They were making out to be apostles of Christ when they were not. Their action was not an accident or out of ignorance. Rather, their action was premeditated and deliberate. They purposefully set out to deceive. They chose to pretend to have been sent by Christ when He had not sent them. They were thus false teachers.
Observe that what is said concerning these Judaizing teachers who were attempting to impose the observance of the law of these believers are also true of false teachers in our day.
As in those days, the false teachers pretended to be upholding the righteous laws of God, so also in our day the false teachers pretend and give the appearance of fighting to uphold the truth of Christianity.
They are aware that falsehood in its true colour will not fool any believer. Hence, falsehood had to be disguised as truth. Hence, false teachers appeal to people through ideas, desires and hopes that people are expected to have, pretending that such could be attained by means other than prescribed by God.
This is a very serious allegation because it concerns the highest office within the church of Christ on earth that a person can occupy. Though the term “apostle” can have the general meaning of someone “sent by another”, its most obvious use is as the title the Lord Jesus Christ bestowed upon twelve of His disciples which He chose after a night of prayer.
These special group frequently referred to in Scripture as “the twelve” occupied a special position only next to Christ. They were given special powers and privileges including: Power to work miracles, authority to write Scripture and many other unique abilities.
These are the men these false teachers were pretending or attempting to masquerade as.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Do not wonder, do not be surprised about this method and the motive of the false apostles and false teachers.
Because of who they hold allegiance to, the one who is truly their master.
Satan is their master. Satan is the grandmaster of subterfuge. The masquerade extraordinaire.
It is natural for the disciple to want to be and should aspire to be like his master. Christians are commanded to aspire to be like their master, the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan is the prince of darkness, the power that works in the children of disobedience. The devil’s chief method of operation is deception. Thought, Satan is often depicted as an ugly, hideous-looking, two-horned monster, he is far from such a physically frightening creature.
Satan not occasionally but habitually transforms himself. Put another way, disguising is his stock-in-trade.
He disguises or transforms himself into an angel of light. He was an angel of light before his fall. So, he knows what to do and how to masquerade himself as an angel of light to humans and other unsuspecting creatures of God.
How does the devil do this in practice?
In the garden of Eden (Genesis 3), he pretended to have the best interest of Eve at heart. That he wanted Eve to have knowledge and wisdom that God had denied her. That God was not as good as He made out to her as God was hiding the best from her.
But all the while, all the devil wanted was for Eve to disobey God and thus create discord between Eve and God. He wanted their ruin but pretended to be helping them to get to a higher level of achievement.
Similarly, in the temptation of Jesus Christ in the wilderness (Mat 4:1-11), he pretended to be acting in the interest of Jesus Christ by telling Him and asking Him to prove Himself as the Son of God.
In both events Satan used the word of God with much falsehood mixed with it.
Similarly, false apostles and false teachers have the bible. They are always claiming to be working for God. By having the bible and quoting from it, they are claiming to be working for God. They engage in religious activities, display the mannerism using words like God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, salvation and the like.
But what they are doing is to deceive and press any advantage that could be profitable to them. But their true status soon become apparent to those discerning that they only mix some truth with much falsehood to deceive.
As the father of lies, deception is part of the nature of the devil. Deception is an advance form of lying. The devil is the father of lying:
“He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44).
Satan is the thief that has come to steal, to kill and to destroy (John 10:10).
To be able to accomplish his mission, he had to and continues to be the master of deception.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”.
Servants like their master
It is not a difficult matter and it should not be a surprise as to the things the false apostles do since they do what their master does.
If the fountain head is corruption itself, that the stream therefore is polluted should be expected rather than it being a surprise to anyone.
In other words, since Satan himself poses falsely, believers should not be surprised that his agents do the same.
Satan’s agents pose as ministers of righteousness. That is, they profess to be ministers of the Christian religion. They profess and pretend to lead people in the way of truth and righteousness while they are agents of Satan in disguise. In this they are only imitating Satan their master.
Satan’s attacks against the church are often subversive and are often carried out by people within the church who are enemies of the cross of Christ who claim to be Christians. (Phil 3:18).
They claim to be believers while they are not, and their conduct and activities betray them as they demonstrate the opposite. Hence, they cause divisions, produce and spread errors and false doctrine, corrupt the word of God (Rom 16:18; 2Cor 2:17; Eph. 4:14; Phil 3:18; Col 2:4),
Dire consequences await them
They will be judged not according to what they professed or claimed to be, but according to their evil deeds (Mat 7:21-23). Severe judgement awaits the devil and those who through their works ally with him. But before the judgement day comes, these false ministers of various ranks are capable of much damage to the body and cause of Christ.
Virtually from its inception the church faced the onslaught of false teachers. The apostles and those who followed them frequently contended with a diversity of false teachers and their false doctrine.
Know your Christian Faith
The same situation continues to our day. The false teachers are crafty, bold and often daring. Believers in Christ should therefore be on their guard. Being on guard also means you the believer in Christ understand the core tenets of the Christian faith and will therefore detect error when you come across it. Thus, it is important to pray regularly, study the word diligently and cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He applies the word into your life.
Remember that the church was warned both by Christ and His apostles that such people will arise within the church, and the church was to be on her watch against such (Mat 7:15-16; 24:24; Acts 20:30; 2Pet 2:1-3).
To the unbeliever
But this has been about the believers in Christ. Those who have made peace with God through the propitiation of Jesus Christ. They are the one being exhorted to live true to their calling in Christ as they wait for His second coming.
But what if you are an unbeliever? What if Christ is not yet your Saviour and Lord? What if you are not yet born of the Spirit? Then the above does not yet apply to you. You are yet outside the fold of believers in Christ. And you cannot be expected to please the Lord and to do things that are only possible with the enablement of the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps you are saying you what to be part of the wonderful people of God who are the disciples of Christ. You want an end to the enmity between you and God.
And having read this piece you see the possibility but are wondering how you can change your situation.
You are asking, “How do I come into the fold of believers in Christ seeing I do not yet know Christ?”
Truly, there is a way out for God has made provision for you too.
By becoming a born-again child of God as demanded and provided for by God:
The invitation has gone out to all human beings including you reading this piece.
Accept God’s verdict concerning human beings:
“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And that“the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
That is, in the opinion of God, we all fall short of His standard. Further, our sin has earned a deserved wage which is death or separation from God in hell.
But while we are still in our sin, God took the initiative to reconcile us with Himself as we are told:
“But God commendeth His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Yes, while we were all still in our sin, God showed His love for us by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ to die for us. God gave Jesus Christ to the whole world (John 3:16). So, all we need to do is to accept that Christ has died for our sin by standing in place of us.
We do this by doing what the word of God commands all would-be believers:
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10). “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Everyone who appropriates the sacrifice of Christ is acceptable to Him. And He Himself extended the invitation to all:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
So, I encourage you to appropriate the finished work of Christ and confess Him as your Saviour and Lord NOW!
I prayer that God will accept you into His household through Christ in Jesus’ Name, Amen. 6c732f2e72656c