Protecting Against Deception – Part 5

(See the previous parts to the series.)

Can you describe for me what a deceiver looks like? What style of clothes is he most likely to wear? How does he comb his hair? Is he clean shaven, or does he have a beard? If you can’t describe him, can you at least tell me where he lives and what sort of car he drives? Hmmm. You can’t tell me? Then it would seem pretty difficult to know who is deceiving us.

We have been discussing how to protect our families from being deceived. Here we will take a look at one possible deceiver. It would be nice if we could describe a deceiver by his outward appearance or where he lives, but unfortunately, we can’t. Frankly, we must always be on guard as anyone can be a deceiver. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22). In these verses, Jesus tells us that everyone is capable of deceit.

Paul warns to, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8). “Any man” means that all “men” are capable of being deceitful.

Scripture tells us that there are some deceivers that we might never suspect. Paul, in describing his ministry, says that they have “ . . . renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2). When Paul says he has renounced handling the Word of God deceitfully, it means that there are some who do handle the Word of God deceitfully. Paul was warning that believers are to be on guard against deception from the pulpit.

Can you imagine that Paul, the apostle, would instruct us that we should be suspicious of what we are being taught at church? I can picture some pastors being upset if people in their churches were encouraged not to take for granted what their pastors are preaching. However, I would be suspicious of a man who would be upset because people wanted to check out, or evaluate for themselves, what he was preaching. Everyone is fallible, and each of us should verify what we hear from the pulpit (or taught elsewhere, including this ministry) to see if the Bible agrees with it.

Would you like to receive praise from the author of Acts? Then verify what your pastor is teaching you. “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:10-11). We see that the Bereans were praised as being more noble than the Thessalonians. Why? Because the Bereans eagerly received the Word that was being taught and then searched the Scriptures daily to make sure what they were being told was true.

The Apostle Paul was there preaching, and the Bereans were verifying in Scripture what they heard Paul say to make sure he was speaking truth and not deceiving them. I find the fact that they didn’t automatically believe Paul to be shocking. I can’t help wondering today how many preachers would be offended if those listening were checking them out and asking questions about what they were hearing.

I remember a time over fifteen years ago when we were looking for a church and visited one. The pastor quoted mostly a Reader’s Digest article during his sermon. I was appalled at what I heard, and we never went back. However, that church has continued to thrive these years following. How can that be? Also, I sometimes hear snippets of popular TV preachers’ messages on Sunday mornings coming out of the residents’ rooms when I am in the hallway of our nursing-home church. What I overhear causes me to shudder. Remember what Paul said: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Families are “buying” this stuff from polished, wonderful-looking guys and not checking them out. They can’t be confirming these messages in the Bible, as evidenced by the fact that they keep coming back.

The Lord Jesus is holding us dads responsible if we allow our families to be deceived. “And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them” (Luke 21:8). That doesn’t just mean we aren’t to be deceived in discerning who the Christ is, because Paul, in Colossians 2:8, is also telling Christians not to be deceived.

I would encourage dads to be extra suspicious of preachers who use TV and movie clips in their messages. I remember an e-mail where a mom shared that their children were exposed to horrible, worldly knowledge of sin, sitting in their Sunday morning worship service, through movie clips used during the message. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). I can’t understand why a preacher could ever justify watching worldly movies in the first place, but it is beyond comprehension to expose one’s congregation to them. We wouldn’t be going back to a service like that if it were our family.

We were visiting a service one time by invitation and had been assured it was a very conservative church. During the message, the pastor said he couldn’t wait for the Superbowl game later that day. He said that it had been a long time since he’d seen a real game where the blood was flowing, and he was excited for this one. The message grew worse from there. My family was shocked, and even the children remember that as an example of one pastor they never would listen to again.

The writer of Acts commended those who listened to Paul and checked out what they were hearing against the truth of God’s Word. May we understand that every man has a depraved heart and is capable of being a deceiver. It is a good thing when we hold what we read and hear up to the light of God’s Word. May we be Bereans, eagerly hearing what is taught and searching the Scriptures diligently to confirm truth and reject what is error.

When a Wife Disagrees with Her Husband – Part 5

For several months now, we have been delving into a situation that every wife will find herself facing—disagreements with her husband. Even in the best of relationships, husband and wife will not see eye to eye on everything. When the husband isn’t saved or isn’t following the Lord, the disagreements are frequent and burdensome. How a wife is biblically to respond to these problems is the theme of the Mom’s Corners since January. I will reiterate that these articles are not addressing a wife who is a victim of an abusive husband.

A practical aspect of this spiritual walk of obedience in submission to a husband would be the continual giving of a wife to prayer for herself, her husband, and her children. If a husband is to be won without a spoken word and the wife then chooses not to speak up against him, she can pray—for her husband, for his decisions, for herself, for her responses to him, and for her children. This is one way to combat the fear that wants to creep into a wife’s heart. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” That phrase “be careful for nothing” means “don’t be anxious or worried.”

Sometimes a wife is upset or unhappy about circumstances with her husband, but she allows her mind to stew about the problems rather than giving her thoughts to praying for herself and her husband. The more a wife dwells on the problems, the more likely it is that she will find herself falling into self-pity and bitterness. Each difficulty that arises with a husband is an opportunity for the wife to follow Jesus when He said, “. . . If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). This is not an easy thing to do. It comes through yielding to the Spirit. However, the path of submission, prayer, and blessing of a husband will bring the fruit of the Spirit to a wife’s life. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). I think you will be quite amazed at the changes you will find in your heart if you choose to yield to the righteousness of responding to a husband with a meek and quiet spirit.

I believe women who are married to unbelievers can be greatly encouraged by this verse: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (1 Corinthians 7:14). God has a purpose in this relationship—for the wife, for the husband, and for the children. Obviously, this sanctification and holiness does not refer to an unbelieving husband being saved simply because he is married to a believing wife since each person must come to salvation on his own. However, there is something spiritual—the Greek word for sanctification means set apart from evil— that is happening when a believer chooses to remain obedient to the Lord in the marriage relationship. The believer’s walk with the Lord is to have an influence on both her husband and her children.

It is important that the children see their mom’s love for Jesus Christ, the peace He gives her, and His joy in her life. They should be drawn to the Lord from what they observe in their mother’s life. However, if Mom is speaking negatively about her husband, his decisions, and his way of life, the children will react against her controlling, critical words. They will also most likely struggle with a bitter spirit toward their father if they perceive a “poor me” attitude in Mom—the kind of attitude that is portrayed through an observable martyr syndrome where Dad always has his way but Mom never does. That may be the reality of a submissive wife’s obedient walk with the Lord when her husband isn’t following the Lord as he should be. However, if her submission is done with peace and joy rather than resignation, grudging, or self-pity, the children will be shown the power of Jesus Christ in a life.

Let’s look at a specific question that I have been asked to see how we can practically apply 1 Peter 3:1-6. A mom says, “I need to know if I am undermining my husband’s authority when I take the kids out of the room when he is watching TV that I find inappropriate.” Ephesians 6:4 tells us, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Scripture places the responsibility for the children being raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord on the father. There may be consequences in the children’s lives for the father’s poor decisions, but the father is the one who bears the responsibility. A simple understanding of that biblical concept can relieve a wife of much worry concerning her husband’s decisions and lifestyle and how it impacts her children. Her responsibility is to follow her husband.

If a wife knows her husband wants the children to watch TV with him, then she would be undermining his leadership by taking them out of the room. However, if he is simply involved in his own entertainment and doesn’t care what the children are doing, then the mom could easily have an evening routine set in place for the children to help her with kitchen cleanup after dinner, maybe play a couple of games, take baths, brush teeth, read together, and then go to bed. That wouldn’t be undermining the husband’s authority because he doesn’t have any direction for the children for that time.

Next month I want to conclude this series. In the meantime, if you face an area of disagreement with your husband, why don’t you try being quiet about it. Pray for your heart that it will be filled with a desire to bless and encourage your husband despite any lack of unity. Pray for your husband to be following the Lord’s direction, and be careful that you don’t assume that your way is the right way. May we be wives who bring honor to Jesus Christ in our relationships with our husbands.