The Illiterate Christian: Where the Dull Sword of Deception Leads Astray
There is a great deficit of truth in the Body of Christ. What Paul prophesied about in 1 Timothy 4:1 and 2 Timothy 3:12-17 & 4:1-5 is coming to pass. People are no longer enduring sound doctrine. And instead of feasting upon the pure unadulterated Word of God, they prefer the words of man, which are often laced with error, deception, and even blatant heresy.
This is a very serious, and even grave issue in the Body of Christ today, and it’s increasing for the following reasons:
1.) People refuse to invest the necessary time to read, study, and pray the Word of God for themselves. We are told that we MUST STUDY to show ourselves approved. Why? Because Satan himself knows the Word of God and uses it as a weapon against us. He even pulled that stunt on Christ, who is the Word made flesh. For those who are ignorant and unlearned, they end up deceived just as Eve was. Satan merely needs to leave out one word, twisting scripture, and it has the potential to change its meaning and context, and thereby its application.
2.) People do not want to endure sound doctrine. Christ made it clear that His Spirit will convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment. When we are not surrendered to the Word of God, and our hearts are rebellious, proud, defiant or obstinate, we will become spiritually intolerant to the full Gospel of Jesus Christ.
3.) People desire the words of man instead of the Word of God. They want their ears tickled and their conscience pacified. There are many so-called prophets, teachers and evangelists who are more than ready to make their congregations comfortable for the sake of their own selfish agendas and reputation. They do not fear God, but man. They desire praise, notoriety, and the power and prestige that accompanies their position, which they’ve often earned by a self-appointed title. The persecution that accompanies the Gospel of Christ, which is one of absolute Truth, is not something they are ready or willing to endure for Christ’s sake. These are not humble servants of Christ who are ready to forsake all, abandon themselves to God, and suffer the loss of all things as if they were but dung. Christ Jesus is not their greatest treasure. They serve themselves, their own interests, and their own selfish agendas. They mutilate the Word of God, and do so very subtly. They are what scripture calls ‘deceitful workmen’, ‘wandering stars’, ‘clouds without water’, and ‘trees twice dead who are plucked up by their roots’ (see 2 Peter 2:1-22). These are false teachers who follow seducing spirits and teach doctrines of demons. They prostitute the Word of God to their benefit. And it doesn’t have to sound demonic for it to be false. As with Eve, their teaching can sound very alluring, can be very subtle in its presentation, and can even have an appearance of ‘light’ which is actually darkness.
Christ warns us ‘Beware…’
See Matthew 24:4
So how do we guard against deception? It’s simple: Through diligent study of the Word of God coupled with prayer and intercession, and a powerful intimate relationship (of humility and surrender) with Christ Jesus, who is the Word and the Teacher of it. There is no substitute for Him. And we are all responsible to Him for our words and deeds.
To recognize error and deception you must be skilled in the Truth. To recognize a false teacher, you must intimately know the real One. To recognize a dull sword, you must know how to wield a sharp one.
Christians today have been lulled to sleep spiritually by a dull sword that is ineffective and powerless. The Word of God is often taken out of context. Prophecy is not often tested as the Scriptures teach, and therefore if it sounds good and tickles our ears we conclude it must be true. Prophecy is both preferred and sought in favor of the Word of God. The spirits are not tested. There is a lack of accountability, necessary discipline and public rebuke within the Body of Christ, which are all scriptural. The newest translations of the Word of God are often paraphrased, watered down, and have omitted scriptures from the Word of God. Such practices are condemned in scripture, and come with great consequence.
The illiterate Christian is the one who not only becomes seduced and deceived themselves, but also ends up blindly deceiving others.
The Progression of Error
ERROR → DECEPTION → FALSEHOOD → HERESY → APOSTASY
The ultimate goal of the enemy is obvious.
Error: When we are mistaken. This is often innocent, yet it’s not addressed or corrected.
Deception: The belief of that error without question, whereby one becomes deceived.
Falsehood: The deliberate (albeit naive or ignorant) practice of deception.
Heresy: The public teaching of falsehood that leads others astray.
Apostasy: The abandoning of the faith, and the eventual renouncing of Christ.
The assumption that truth will always feel good is a farce. If that is our standard of measure, we’re in grievous trouble. In fact, truth will always bring conviction in accompanying the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. When we pursue truth, the sword that cleanses us is also the one that pierces us in the dividing of joints and marrow and judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, (Hebrews 4:12, KJV).
The word for discerner is the Greek word kritikos (which is where we get our word ‘critical’). It means “related to judging, fit for judging, and skilled in judging” (Thayer). That is often a painful process for the believer who is not fully surrendered to Christ. So we see that there are two necessary things that bring sanctification by which the Word of God operates:
DIVISION AND JUDGMENT
Christ made it clear that He came to bring a sword. When God created the earth He divided light from darkness, the land from the seas, and the firmament above from that which is below. And so we see that division was necessary for spiritual order and fruitfulness. The same Word of God that created the worlds was also that which divided it. And so God does the same within us, dividing light from dark, truth from deception, and good from evil. He establishes order within us by His Word.
As for judgment, it is to our benefit, and is never to be shunned or disregarded. Judgment is often the very means by which we obtain mercy, grace, and justice. In the life of a believer it is our very salvation. Scripture makes it clear that it is to our benefit to be judged now so that we can walk in holiness, rather than later and receive just punishment. Peter tells us that judgment begins in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). We are told we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and that our works will be tested by fire although our soul will be saved (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences, (2 Corinthians 5:10-11, KJV).
God is obligated to judge His people. And for those who disobey we find this word of warning:
Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, (Hebrews 10:29-31, KJV).
There are those with whom God will deal as enemies. Paul tells us that those who sin that grace may abound, their condemnation is just (see Romans 3:8). Do not live or behave as an enemy of God. That is a blasphemous lifestyle. Christ calls those who do so “hypocrites” in His parables, and their end was condemnation. Christ Himself taught many parables such as the Talents, The Ten Virgins, and the Sheep and Goats to give us a clear picture of what awaits the Church. Do not be deceived. We will all be judged, and Christ made it clear that He is coming back to render to all according to their works (see Revelation 20:11-15 and 22:12).
Let the Word of God do its work in you now. Surrender to the sword that is able to cleanse and pierce with precision those areas in your heart and life that need His grace, mercy, sanctification and redemption.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth, (John 17:17, KJV).
Biblical literacy is absolutely essential in the life of the believer. A relationship with the Word of God Himself is essential, because He’s the only One who can teach it accurately. Accuracy therefore, cannot be underestimated.
When we take the Word of God out of context, we malign it. When we make assumptions and speculations without doing our due diligence to study and seek God, we place ourselves in a position of pride and become spiritually arrogant. When we compromise the Word of God, we set ourselves up for God’s judgment. When we put words in God’s mouth that are not His; when there are omissions and commissions, we will suffer the consequences.
God does not play with His Word. Why the Church thinks they are at liberty to do so, I will never know. There needs to be a great reverence, godly fear and awe of His Word. It is holy. God will hold those accountable who speak lies and vanities in His name.
Biblical literacy is only found within Biblical accuracy.
Paul continually voiced his frustration with his churches because although they should have been ready for meat, they were still unlearned and very much dependent upon the elementary principles of the Word. He said they were unskilled and carnal, being babes who were unable to handle meat. He begged them to mature. As a result of this, Paul had to correct many false teachings in the Roman, Ephesian, Galatian, Corinthian and Hebrew church lest they be led astray. Paul warned them of such deception, even naming a curse upon those who brought such error (see Galatians 1).
Yes, the elect can be deceived. It happens everyday all around us. In fact, it’s all too prevalent. And if there were no concern for this, Christ would not have warned us. Solomon would have never worshiped Baal. Peter would not have denied Christ three times. Judas Iscariot would never have betrayed Him. And the Scriptures would not give us such vehement warnings against the possibility, were it not a real danger to us.
The Dull Sword
The dull sword is one that cannot rightfully divide the truth of God’s Word. Again we see the principle of division. That is what a sword does: it divides. And in that division it brings precise clarity. The one who is learned and skilled in handling the Word of God will readily discern the truth from error. A sharp and seasoned Christian who is both skilled in the Word and intimate with Christ, their Teacher, will effectively pierce in dividing light from darkness, good from evil, right from wrong, and truth from error. God does not tolerate mixing.
A dull sword is powerless to pierce, penetrate and divide. And it certainly cannot protect. It has an appearance of truth, yet is proven ineffective when put to the test. It will inevitably leave the believer vulnerable, lead them astray, and the illiterate Christian who wields a dull sword is in danger of being pierced by the One whose name is the Word of God, whose sword is in His mouth.
There is great illiteracy in the Church today, and with it a great yet subtle heresy found in many teachings of men, which are doctrines of demons. The Word of God has been perverted by men who are unsanctified, illiterate and unlearned.
Appointed Time Ministries core mission focuses on biblical literacy and accuracy in fervent pursuit of God’s holy, eternal, and inerrant Truth. This Berean practice is realized through diligent study, research, prayer, and a genuine intimacy with Christ that brings sanctification and transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit. Every believer has a responsibility to learn the Word of God for themselves. No one who bears the name of Christ can afford to do any less.
When there is imperceptible error in the beginning, it may seem benign and even harmless or insignificant. That is a deception that many neglect to correct. Because when we venture upon that path, by degrees we are gradually derailed into a dangerous area of deception that we can only escape by the grace of God. There are those who have walked that path and never returned. That is why God’s gracious gift of repentance is such a wonderful gift of mercy.
Sharpen your sword.
You have an obligation to rightly divide the Word of God.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, (1 Thessalonians 4:11, KJV).
Division is necessary because deception is very expensive. And make no mistake – so is the Truth, should you choose to walk in it.
Cheers and Shalom,