THE DEVIL'S DECEIT
Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, "These men are bond-servants
of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation." Acts 16:17
Do you know what the devil is up to in our world? Are you able to recognize when he is at work?
When Paul was in Philippi on his second missionary journey, he encountered a woman named Lydia. God opened her heart to understand Paul's message, and she received Christ as Savior and Lord. Soon after, she influenced her whole household for Jesus ... and Christianity effectively spread to Europe!
As Paul and his companions continued to minister to Lydia and the growing band of believers and inquirers, the devil began to work. He used a demon-possessed slave girl to attach herself to the preachers. She began to "testify" that Paul and his partners (Silas, Timothy, and Luke) were "bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation." And Paul was so grieved and annoyed by this proclamation that he cast the demon of the girl.
Why was Paul so upset? Wasn't the demon-possessed girl telling the truth? Weren't they men of God telling people the way of salvation? What gives here?
IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM, JOIN 'EM
The devil would like nothing more than to "join the team." He wants to join it, so he can corrupt it and destroy it. The devil has been at this game for a long time, taking the gospel and adding his perversion to it. Perhaps you can recognize some of his plays.
1. The Works Gospel - This was the message first preached by the Judiazers, those men who opposed Paul's gospel of grace, trying to corrupt it with works. The works gospel is an equation that reads: Faith in Jesus + Your Good Works = Salvation. Untold millions of people erroneously believe in the devil's works gospel when the Bible clearly tells us, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Eph 2:8-9). The true gospel equation is this:
Faith in Jesus + Nothing Else = Salvation. And true salvation will change a person's life and produce good works (see Eph 2:10). Good works are the fruit of true salvation, not the root of true salvation.
2. The Social Gospel - This is the message that Christianity is only about doing good for your fellow man. The social gospel is all about soup and soap, with no mention of what is necessary for eternal salvation. The social gospel can be likened to a spiritual hospice care center. It makes people feel better (warm, filled, pain-free) as they are dying. It does nothing to address the fact that they don't have to die if they will simply repent and believe in Jesus. I love what Adrian Rogers used to say, "If all you do is give people soup and soap without salvation, you make this world a better place from which to go to hell."
3. The Prosperity Gospel - This message states that Christianity is all about health, wealth, and financial prosperity. On the surface, it sounds like it could be biblical, but when you dig a little deeper, you find the heresy. The Bible makes it clear, "A natural man [unsaved man] does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised" (1 Cor 2:14). There is nothing in the gospel that will appeal to the carnal state of a man. Denying self and submitting one's life to Christ in humility and contrition is not on self's agenda. But do you know what greatly appeals to a natural, carnal man? Health, wealth, fame, fortune, and prosperity! These are precisely the things the devil used to tempt Jesus in the wilderness (see Matt 4:1-11).
When people "come" to Christ via the prosperity gospel, they can easily come with the wrong understanding and motivation. They can come seeking His hand, and not His face. They can come wanting His blessings, but not necessarily wanting Him. The crowd tried that in John 6. They tried using the Lord as their personal meal ticket, their goose who would lay the golden eggs ... and Jesus shut that down immediately. Crowd dispersed!
Listen, the devil is a liar and the father of lies. Don't let him deceive you. Anytime he latches on to the gospel, it is only to distort, pervert, corrupt and confuse! Know the truth, believe the truth, test the spirits, and hold fast to the true gospel of grace and "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries
Jeff Schreve founded From His Heart Ministries, www.fromhisheart.org, in 2005 with the vision to reach as many people as possible with the good news of God's love. Jeff believes that no matter how badly you may have messed up in life, God still loves you and has a great plan just for you. He broadcast on radio, TV and in the internet around the world from his pulpit ministry as Pastor of First Baptist in Texarkana, Texas. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no income from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.
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