"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? -unless indeed you are disqualified" (2 Cor 13:5).
Israel said, "Tell us all that the LORD our God says to you, and we will hear and do it." God responded, "They are right in all that they have spoken. Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments.." (Deut 5:27,29).
"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he... For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man..." (Pro 23:7; Matt 15:19-20).
"If we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed" (Gal 1:8).
The world today contains an immense smorgasbord of ideologies. It becomes well nigh impossible to decipher truth from fiction. When people call to inquire about the Bible study, one of the first questions asked is, "What CHURCH are you affiliated with?" Some ads in "Personals" sections of the paper introduce themselves with, "'Having trouble with cults?"
All the confusion is caused by the Deceiver. "The devil...he is a liar and the father of it" (John 8:44). "For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist" (2 John 7). And speaking of THE Antichrist, "The lawless one will be revealed...according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders, with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved...God will send strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thess 2:8-12).
For two months we have discussed how God's Word, the Bible, must be our sole authority for life, doctrine, truth, revelation of God's will. It tells us clearly how to come to God through Jesus. It reveals truth. In Him is life.
How do you know if you are TRULY a CHRISTIAN? Read the Bible. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God" (1 John 5:13).
If your understanding, beliefs, and responses to God conform to WHAT IS WRITTEN, then you have assurance that you are IN CHRIST. "You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom 8:15-16).
However, Satan "walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" and we are encouraged to be "vigilant" (1 Peter 5:8).
And he is CRAFTY in this business of his. He appears as "false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light...his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness" (2 Cor 11:13-15).
Satan's ministers today appear as pastors, evangelists, authors, counselors. And how does one tell the good from the bad? The "good ones" will be speaking God's Word from the Bible, and the Bible will be their PRIMARY TEXT.
But beware! Satan also knows how to USE Scripture for his purposes. When Jesus was tempted, He responded with Scripture "it is written." So, at the next temptation, Satan used Scripture. However, out of context.
The child of God must be astute. When Satan uses Scripture, two things will characterize his use.
1) The Scripture used will be taken out of context, usually as "proof texts," and ...
2) he will flit QUICKLY from Scripture to Scripture, impressively, to prove his point, without giving you a chance to absorb any of those passages to know what they REALLY SAY. And he will usually be adamant and militant in his presentation of Scripture. You see, he doesn't want the CALM of the Holy Spirit to bring the TRUTH of the Word to your heart. "He, the Spirit of truth...will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13).
If what you hear from WHATEVER source seems confused, you need to really investigate.
First of all, are YOU a believer in Jesus? If you are, by definition, you will be able to understand what God's Word says.
Then, after you have determined that you are, in fact, a Believer in Jesus; if what you are hearing or reading sounds confused, then consider strongly that the source may be from Satan. "For God is not the author of confusion but of peace" (1 Cor 14:33). The "wisdom" that is "earthly, sensual, demonic" consists of "envy, self-seeking, confusion and every evil thing" (James 3:15-16).
We may be tempted to fearfully exclaim, "Satan is too powerful for me to deal with." NO FEAR! "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 15:57). Jesus has ALREADY TRIUMPHED over Satan.
Believe it or not, Satan is given PERMISSION by God to tempt us. But God always puts boundaries as to how far he can go (Job 1 & 2; Luke 22:31). And, he always gives us an out. "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Cor 10:13).
We can never make the claim, "The Devil made me do it," or "The temptation was JUST TOO STRONG."
As "Accuser of the Brethren" (Rev 12:10) Satan is: 1) Allowed to tempt us. But he always has 2) God-imposed limits.
As Believers we are told to 1) "RESIST the Devil, and he will flee" (Jamess 4:7), and that there will ALWAYS be an 2) ESCAPE ROUTE (1 Cor 10:13).
We are never commanded to attack Satan. There are people today who are "Naming and Claiming" all kinds of things in the "Name of Jesus." Many of their leaders get together at Prayer Summits and in their "prayers" lash out at Satan, claiming, "Boy oh boy, Satan, WE got you now around our little fingers, and you'd better start trembling before US." They resemble those referred to in Jude 8, "speaking evil of dignitaries." See also 2 Peter 2:10.
JESUS is the victor. He redeemed us with His own blood. All creation will bow before Him. He is the "head of all principality and power" (Col 2:10).
"Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" (Rev 5:12).
"Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong" (1 Cor 16:13).
(Scripture quotations are from the NKJV)