To read the first parts of the series, you may do so here.
When a man has been deceived, he doesn’t realize it. In fact, he may even get angry with someone who implies that he has been deceived. That is the way it is with so many Christians today, in that they have taken the bait—hook, line, and sinker—in the greatest deception of the age. How could so many be deceived? Remember, we are deceived far more easily when the deception appeals to the flesh.
Almost everyone with an e-mail account has received a scam e-mail telling him that help is desperately needed. The e-mail will explain in great detail that someone very important and wealthy died, leaving a huge sum of money that is just waiting to be claimed. The e-mail will continue by pointing out that if you will help them, this vast some of money will be yours.
Most people receiving that e-mail know it is fake, yet many people are being fooled by it. There are so many being taken by the scam that when we went to our bank to arrange a money transfer for a missionary in Africa, we had to sign a paper attesting that we had been warned about fraudulent offers. Here we are in little Leavenworth, Kansas, and there had been people from our city who had withdrawn tens of thousands of dollars and wired it overseas with the hope of getting rich.
The bank officer told us that it was usually the elderly who were falling for this hoax. If several from our town have been deceived by this, then think how many around the world are being tricked out of their life savings. What makes the deception so tempting is the fact that it appeals to greed. People want to get rich quick. That is why the lotteries have been so successful in fleecing those who have the least to spend. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The bait appeals to our sinful nature, and we want to believe the lie. That is why so many are deceived.
Even though those reading this would not fall for a hoax such as sending your savings away on a get-rich-quick deception, there is one that is far more serious, and vast numbers of Christians have been hooked by it. Not only have they fallen for it, they will relentlessly defend the deceived position and pressure those who have not been deceived. This is the same progression we see in Psalms 1 concerning the scorner: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Psalms 1:1).
First, the susceptible Christian will listen to the counsel of the ungodly. That bad counsel, which is after the tradition of men (Colossians 2:8), will lead to his taking this ungodly position for himself and standing firm in his belief of it. Finally, the last step is that he will sit in the seat of the scornful and loudly proclaim the deception to be true in his attempt to convert others to this way of thinking.
One way to confirm a deception is to see if Satan promotes it and what the Lord’s position is on it. I want to walk you through one of these deceptions that is devastating to families. This particular deception is the deception that children are burdens and not a blessing and that parents are to decide how many to have.
The phrase “pass through the fire” occurs eleven times in the Old Testament. It referred to a horrific practice of offering one’s children to demonic idols. In Leviticus 18:21, God specifically commanded that the Israelites were not to do it, and He referred to it as an abomination in 2 Kings 16:3. “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 18:21). “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch” (Deuteronomy 18:10). It is clear that Satan’s agenda is to destroy and limit godly seed, but to God this is an abomination.
Egypt, which is an Old Testament type of the world, took a position against godly seed when Pharaoh commanded the midwives to kill all the newborn Hebrew sons. “And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live” (Exodus 1:16). The world, under the “prince of the world,” desperately wants to limit godly seed.
Just this week a man driving a delivery truck was speaking with my sons, Joseph and John. He asked how many children there were in our family, and they told him eight. He replied, “Whew. God said to multiply, and that is what my wife and I did. We multiplied twice, and that is it.” Here he was a professing believer, but he had clearly misapplied Scripture, either intentionally or ignorantly.
The first time God commands “man” to multiply is in Genesis 1:28. “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28). It is the first command that God gave man. Also important to note is that it is His first blessing on man. The Hebrew word for “multiply”—raba—according to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament means “become great, many, much, and numerous.” When used in relation to days, raba means a long life; when used with wealth, it means to become rich. As we study the Word of God we can quickly see that “multiply” means to make numerous or many. God told Noah to be fruitful and multiply, and He never rescinded that command for us.
What is God’s heart toward children? In Psalms 115 we are told that the Lord will bless with children. God sees children as a blessing. “The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children” (Psalms 115:14). Probably everyone is familiar with Psalms 127, and in particular verse 3: “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalms 127:3). Here we are told that children are a heritage of the Lord. The word “heritage” means inheritance. Amazingly, they are both an inheritance from the Lord and to the Lord, if they are raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The fruit of the womb is His reward. Next to salvation, children are the greatest reward we have from the Lord. If God calls children an inheritance and reward, why would anyone ever choose to limit children? Could it be because they have listened to Satan’s deception and are not listening to what the Lord is saying?
What if someone phoned you and said, “I have a truckload of gold I would like to give you. Do you want it?” Of course everyone would readily accept it. What if he called again with the same offer? What if a third time? A fourth? People would not say they have too much gold. Could a willingness to receive gold but not children reveal a carnal focus rather than a heart for God? To some that may sound strong, but think about it. Study and meditate on God’s Word and what He has to say about children.
Have you noticed that to justify abortion, people will bring up the extreme circumstances and use them as a reason why abortion should be an option? In the same way, I will receive e-mails from families wanting to let God give them children but detailing all sorts of seemingly impossible situations as to why it seems that the family shouldn’t have more children. However, if God is the giver of children and knows fully every family’s situation, shouldn’t we look to Him to decide whether He gives a child? That is why this area of children is the greatest challenge concerning whether a family is willing to trust God with all of their lives.
“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). A very reasonable application of this verse is that parents should allow children to be born into the family. We see Jesus’ love and desire for the children, when even the disciples would send them away.
Just like the e-mail scam, we are vulnerable to the deception concerning children because that deception appeals to our flesh. Children take our time and our finances. We have to deny ourselves if we are going to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They are often inconvenient, causing us not to be able to do what we want to do. When viewed from a fleshly position, life is easier without children.
Through Scripture we can observe God’s position on children as opposed to Satan’s disdain for them. We can then see how great the deception is that has been wrought against Christians. As with any deception, when our eyes are opened to it, we will repent and turn away from it, embracing the Truth instead. In the case of children, may we repent and embrace the good gifts that God wants to give us.