Guarding Against Deception…

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Matthew 3:1-12 (KJV)

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Who couldn’t use a little discernment?

We desperately need the Lord’s help to determine truth and reality in a world filled with confusing gray areas and evil deceptions.

John the Baptist was a man of tremendous discernment.

This rough and rugged preacher came thundering onto the scene of staid orthodox Judaism, and he brought a message to the entire Jewish nation.

John’s job was to prepare the way for the Messiah’s arrival.

What he had to say was simple:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2).

As the multitudes flocked to hear this unique prophet and repent of their sins, John discerned that some of them were frauds.

The Pharisees and Sadducees had come to check him out, not to repent. They were hiding reality behind a religious exterior.

A discerning spirit is one that is in tune with the Spirit of God.

As John lived in submission to the Lord, he gained insight beyond anything that could have originated from his own mind.

He saw the situation from God’s perspective and delivered a strong rebuke to that “brood of vipers” (Matt. 3:7).

Although we may never be as forthright as John, there will be times when a discerning spirit will lead to confrontation.

The Father wants His children to develop spiritual discernment in order to guard against deception.

We must know how to recognize invalid philosophies as well as false doctrines that sneak into the church.

What’s more, divine insight can also protect us in our relationships and even helps us see the truth about ourselves.

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Hebrews 5:12-14 (KJV)

12For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

We live in a fast-paced culture that demands instant results.

For many people, waiting has become a lost art.

But God’s way of maturing us in our faith is different from how the world works.

The character qualities He values take time to develop.

Discernment is one such trait.

Far from being a ready-made skill, it is cultivated by saturating the heart and mind with Scripture.

The transcendent Lord of the universe wants to share His thinking with us through His Word.

What could be more important or valuable in life than having the capacity to know the mind of God?

Our lives are filled with situations that require discernment.

Sometimes we can be so busy trying to determine God’s will and direction for our next step that we fail to hear His voice. He is calling us to come and spend some quiet, unhurried time absorbing the truth of His Word and listening to Him.

After listening to the Lord, we can begin applying what we have learned.

Only as we put His Word into practice in our lives will we have our “senses trained to discern good and evil” (Heb. 5:14).

The Scriptures open our eyes to see all of our experiences from God’s perspective so that we are able to make wise choices.

Our challenge for today and every day is to make it a priority to spend time with the Lord in His Word.

We may have to reorganize our schedule or wake up earlier.

But it’s well worth the effort—discernment and wisdom await us if we put into practice the truths we absorb daily.

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What Are You Allowing Into Your Mind?

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Hebrews 5:11-14 (KJV)

11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

In a world filled with endless sources of information and opinions, believers need to develop a discerning spirit.

Otherwise, how will we know what is true?

Much of what we see and hear is based on a worldly perspective that is influenced by Satan, the Father of Lies.

Deception is found even in the religious realm: cults mix lies with enough truth to make some people consider them legitimate Christian institutions.

The only way believers can guard against deception is to ground themselves in God’s Word.

The more time you spend filling your mind with the Lord’s thoughts, the more discerning you will be. However, just knowing biblical truth isn’t enough.

You must put what you learn into practice so that it becomes more than head knowledge.

The goal is to let God’s Word become such an integral part of your thinking that it guides all your decisions. Even if the situation you’re facing isn’t specifically addressed in the Bible, scriptural principles provide the needed wisdom for every choice. In addition, the Holy Spirit was given to each believer as a Helper, whose job is to guide you into all the truth (John 14:2616:13).

However, your responsibility is to put God’s Word into your mind so that He can bring it to your remembrance.

If you neglect the Word, you’ll lack discernment.

What are you allowing into your mind?

Is Scripture high in your priorities? Unless you’re careful, worldly thinking will overpower spiritual discernment.

It’s difficult to keep God’s perspective in the forefront if you spend two or three hours in front of the television and only ten minutes in the Bible.

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We Think a Lie Weighs Only a Little…

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 Romans 6:1-7 (KJV)

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Believers recognize the depravity of sin, but many continue to have a careless attitude about it.

We hear people argue, “Everyone sins at times, so don’t worry about it. Confess, and God will forgive.”

If we are honest with ourselves about the nature of disobedience, we know the issue isn’t that simple.

God is faithful to forgive (1 John 1:9), but His gracious provision isn’t designed as license to transgress. Commandments are in place to protect us from enslavement, which is the natural result of persistent wrongdoing.

Each choice to break God’s rules, even for “little” sins, adds another link to our slavery chain, which eventually is long enough to wrap tightly around our heart. When that happens, it hinders us from enjoying the Lord’s blessings.

Any sin, no matter how insignificant it seems, is rebellion against the Lord.

God didn’t come up with the idea of scales for wrongdoing; we did.

We think a lie weighs only a little, whereas stealing is heavy; we view adultery as hefty but less substantial than homicide.

Likewise, we reason that a lie needs only a small bit of forgiveness and grace, while murder requires generous amounts of both.

Yet God’s perspective differs from this man-made notion.

Jesus still had to die on the cross to forgive a lie. Though different sins cause different amounts of damage, it takes the same sacrifice to pay the penalty for theft as it does to pardon murder.

We are privileged to have a Father who breaks our human chains.

However, we are not freed so that we can disobey; rather, God offers us freedom from the domination of sin.

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