I have just finished reading The Anatomy of Deception by Art Katz. It is only 23 pages but well worth the read. He makes several points that I wish to bring up and discuss.
1. The Love of the Truth
10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11 (ESV)
Do we have the discernment to distinguish the authentic from the counterfeit? Are we so habituated to success, and so desirous of seeing some visible effect of power that we are not too discriminating so long as we ‘get it,’ somehow? We want the excitement; we want the titillation; we want the appearance of power; we want to succeed, because the possibility of failure is a form of death we are not willing to bear, thus avoiding the Cross. We ought rather to ask ourselves what is success as God defines it? (pg 3)
There is no greater tragedy in the body of Christ today than the following statement – “Yes, I do have quite a bit of problems with the man’s doctrine but he seems to move in miracles and healings.” If Jesus confirms His word with signs following, then who is confirming the works of someone who isn’t preaching the word?
2. The Right Perception of God
Manifestation phenomena are already perplexing the Church, with many asking, “Is it God?” People seem to receive benefit; they are delivered from hang-ups and depression; marriages are reconciled; people are restored to the faith. There is much evidence of ‘good’ things, but when the Last Days’ deceptions come, of which we have been warned, will they not come with ‘good’ things? Can we tell the difference between the true and the false, especially when we want so much to be blessed and to have an experience and be relieved of our hang-ups and depressions? How discriminating are we about the source from which the ‘blessing’ comes? How do we tell whether something is of God, or a contrary spirit who is able to lift the depression that he may well have inflicted in the first place? Here is the key: our authentic knowledge of God, not as we thought Him to be, but as He, in fact, is. (pg 3)
Those who are rooted and grounded in God’s word and know Him personally, through time spent in prayer, will have a check in their spirit when faced with deception. Sometimes we suppress that witness because of our hunger for the miraculous or because we haven’t kept ourselves in the purity God demands. When that witness comes though, will you obey or be lead by your senses?
Waiting is a priestly function, and we need to wait to see if our spirits are hospitable to what is being mediated from church platforms. Is it compatible with our already existing knowledge of God? If it is not compatible, they can stand on their heads, run all over the platform, and every other kind of madness. We are not to mindlessly give ourselves to it at all. Our integrity in God needs to be guarded, and we should not allow ourselves to be influenced, taken up and affected by the current trends, or else we will never have anything significant to give. (pg 4)
3. Profanity in the Church
The priests in the Old Testament ascended to the altar by means of a ramp instead of stairs lest perchance some glimpse would be seen of their flesh. Do we have that reverential fear of God in our midst? Does the Spirit of holiness within you cringe at the sight of people being openly vulgar in the house of God?
At the heart of priestliness is waiting upon Him for the time that pleases Him. If we want to be the revelation of His radiance, then we are going to have to reconsider what we are doing when we launch off into worship and choruses or any other kind of simulation of ‘waiting upon God.’ Unless there is a sense of priestliness, worship will become a mere mechanic, a technique, a device and a manipulation. It is not an entering into the holy place at all. If we degenerate into becoming some kind of charismatic fellowship that celebrates praise, believing that we have some kind of revelation, but have made of it only technique and manipulation, then our end will be disastrous. I cannot think of anything more tragic than that worship should become mere rhetoric and words, a vocabulary that is appropriate to us, but a vocabulary that has no real life or meaning. (pg 7)
When we see a phenomenon touted as revival, in which the word of God is conspicuously absent, or denigrated as not being the source of God’s greatest blessing, our alarm bells should start ringing. When those who are at the forefront of any revival phenomenon begin to deprecate their own preaching, saying that what they are now seeing far eclipses any result that they saw from their preaching, then we have already embraced a deception. If the avenues by which the ‘blessing’ comes are not the word of God, or our response to God’s word, which has always been the operative principle of God, but rather, it comes through the hearing of the testimony of others, or seeing men decompose before one’s eyes in drunken stupor, sagging and collapsing on the platform, accompanied by shrieks of delight and the inducement to join in, then we have already crossed an invisible line of truth. It may be an avenue of receiving alleviation from dullness and boredom from church programs, but we have already succumbed to deception. (pg 8.)
The gospel is the power of God for salvation! Paul goes on to say in Romans 10 “how will they hear without a preacher?” To me, the biggest sign of deception in the church today is the absolute drought of the word of God being preached.
How many churches, conferences and meetings I’ve gone to where the bible was never referred to – never needed during the service. Many people have quit bringing their own bible to church! Is it any wonder we have weak Christians who need to be spoon fed?
It is not just the truth, or the acknowledgement of the truth that God makes the key to the issue of deception, but they did not receive the love of the truth. Truth needs to be loved, or we are not going to suffer the sacrifices by which truth is obtained. Confessing your faults one to another is being truthful. It is a painful and humiliating sacrifice to do so, and we will only do it because we love the truth. The love of the truth that will withstand whatever cost it requires is God’s only provision against the deception that comes from lying signs and wonders. If we are only habituated to the effect of them, if we only want to see the excitement, if there is a void in our lives that wants to be titillated at the apparent miracle and power without asking too many questions about how it is performed, and by whom it is performed, and who is ultimately receiving the glory for the performance, then we are candidates for being deceived. Do we love the truth so much that we will raise those questions, that we will be alert to them, that we will not just be impressed by the performance? (pg 21)
Will you exalt God above all else? Will you hold forth the Word of God as being the source of truth in this day and hour?