Preached by: Pas. Carlos Barcelona Jr.
1st Service at Etab
Mar. 12, 2017
2 Thessalonians 2: 1- 3, “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way.”
One of the most important events in Greek mythology was the Trojan War, which as you may recall was a legendary war that was waged by the Greeks against the legendary city of Troy.
This took place around 1200—well, it didn’t actually take place. But in Greek mythology it took place around 1200 B.C. The Greeks set a siege against the city of Troy that lasted for almost ten years, but they couldn’t conquer the city.
Finally, in exasperation, the Greeks built a huge wooden horse and left it outside the city walls. They left it presumably as a peace offering and then pretended to sail away.
There were warnings, “Don’t accept the horse.” But there was a Greek spy who convinced the Trojans that the horse really was a gift. The Trojans disregarded the warnings and dragged the horse inside the city walls, and then had a huge victory celebration. But it turned out that this horse was hollow, and there were Greek soldiers who were hidden inside.
So while the city was in this drunken stupor, thinking that they had won over the Greeks, the enemy soldiers—the Greeks—emerged from the wooden horse. They opened the city gates to the Greek armies that were sitting outside the walls and allowed the Greeks to pour in and to capture the city. All the men were killed. The women and the children were taken into slavery. The city was burned to the ground. So the term “Trojan horse” has come to refer to something that appears to be a gift that appears to be innocent or harmless, but in fact has a harmful intent and is very dangerous.
That term “Trojan horse” has also come to be used in the world of computers. Some of you are familiar with this.
“A Trojan horse— is a computer program that appears to be legitimate but is actually designed to harm or compromise the system. It’s a destructive program that masquerades as a benign application. Those on the receiving end of a Trojan horse, in the computer world, are usually tricked into opening them. They’re usually tricked into opening them because they appear to be receiving legitimate software or files from a legitimate source but they can cause serious damage by deleting files and destroying information on your system.
This whole issue of deception was a major concern to the apostles and the leaders, the pastors in the early church, the first century church. They were concerned that believers in Christ, who had come out of this world’s system and out of Judaism, or out of Gentile religions, would be deceived, compromised or infected by teachings that appeared to be harmless or even useful.
Many of our hearts and our homes and our churches are being overrun, ransacked in some cases by means of some Trojan horses, things that appear to be fine but really are not. They carry in them the means of our destruction like doctrinal and spiritual errors that would infect not only the people that heard it but would also infect others and spread throughout like cancer.
The battle really is in our mind, and what we think determines who we are and how we live. We have an enemy. We know it intellectually, but we don’t realize how endlessly and relentlessly and tirelessly that enemy is working to capture our hearts and our minds and our relationships.
The enemy has a goal that is no less than to conquer and control our lives. That’s your life, and your life, and your life, and your life, and my life. He never stops in that effort in trying to deceive and trying to control, and he constantly lays siege. He doesn’t give up and go away. Many times he doesn’t have to use force to conquer us. He often uses subtle, deceptive means.
Deception is often impressive. It comes with signs and wonders, seeming miracles. It is persuasive and convincing, and many people follow after it because it looks so powerful, and therefore it is one of the primary means, primary weapons of our enemy. He uses it as the Greeks did with the Trojans to lure us in, to ensnare us, and to gain entrance into the fortress of our hearts, and sometimes he does that without ever firing a shot.
Genesis 1 and 2, tells us how God creates the heaven and the earth and he creates the animals and the vegetation, and then he creates man and he creates the woman and the first marriage.
Everything in Genesis 1 and 2 is beautiful. It’s good. It’s blessed. You have all the positive words about what God has done. It is a reflection of who He is. Then we come to chapter 3, and we have the entrance of something very trembling in the scene. We’ve had truth. We’ve had beauty. We’ve had life. We’ve had relationship, fellowship—so many good things, blessing in those first two chapters. But in Genesis 3 we get our first glimpse of how deception works and how the enemy works to sabotage and control and take captive our hearts.
The enemy is intentional in this instance and in many other instances in going after man, singling out the woman, having a conversation with her. “He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’”
He raised a question about the Word of God. “Did God actually say…?”
Has God really said?
Applying it today, we have heard people questioning:
1. Has God really said that Jesus is the only way to the Father?
2. Has God really said that without holiness I can’t enter heaven?
3. Has God really said that marriage is a permanent, lifetime covenant between a man and a woman, regardless of what Supreme Courts in our country may say to the contrary?
4. Has God really said that sex is beautiful in marriage, but not to be done outside of marriage? Has God really said it?
5. Has God really said wives reverence and submit to your husbands?
6. Has God really said the importance of the Sabbath? This is the 21st century. Has God really said? That seems so strange. That seems so outdated. That seems so unfair. That seems so limited. That seems so exclusive.
We see God’s Word and God’s authority being questioned all around us. But all the things that appeal to pride, to the lusts of our flesh and the pride of life seem so right. Deception looks valuable. It looks good, it looks healthy, it looks wholesome, it looks like something that will make us happy.
But Proverbs 14: 9- 12 warns us, “Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is good will. The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy. The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish. There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
That word “fool” is not somebody who is mentally deficient. It is someone who is morally deficient. They want to live life the way they want to live it. They want to live according to the lusts of their flesh.
There is a horrible game this days of make believe. It keeps so many pretending that everything is alright and sin does not matter. It is a way of deceiving ourselves. Even in the church today many believe that they can get by just going through the motions.
How are people deceived?
1. They are deceived because they hear the word and don’t do it—when we fail to practice what we preach: James 1:22—“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
2. They are deceived that because of our pride, they say they have no sin.
1 John 1:8-10 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
3. They are deceived because they think they are something that they are not:
Galatians 6:3—“If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
4. They are deceived because they mistake the world’s wisdom for God’s wisdom:
1 Corinthians 3:18-19—“Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘fool’ so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness.’”
5. They are deceived because they think they are religious but do not bridle their tongue.
James 1:26—“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”
6. They are deceived because they think they will not reap what they sow.
Galatians 6:7— “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
7. They are deceived because they think that the unrighteous will inherit the kingdom of God:
1 Corinthians 6:9-10— “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
People normally think that mortal sins may not be forgiven but these sins are as deadly as mortal sins and will bring people to hell.
The 7 Deadly Sins:
1. Envy = the desire to have an item or experience that someone else possesses.
2. Gluttony = excessive ongoing consumption of food or drink.
3. Greed = an excessive pursuit of material possessions.
4. Lust = an uncontrollable passion or longing, especially for sexual desires.
5. Pride = excessive view of one’s self without regard to others.
6. Sloth = excessive laziness or the failure to act and utilize one’s talents.
7. Wrath = uncontrollable feelings of anger and hate towards another person.
Each one of these deadly sins listed above has its root in the desire for more and the human need for excess. Each sin goes against the root of Christianity which is: love for God, love for our fellow man, and love for our bodies keeping them as clean temples for God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
8. We deceive ourselves when we think that we can continually associate with bad company and not be corrupted:
1 Corinthians 15:33— “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”
At face value, a lot of things don’t seem so bad these days. Things just don’t seem terrible, wicked or sinful. We now seem to be in a place where some things don’t bother us anymore. But God has not changed His mind on sin and what it is. We should not come up with decisions based on the words of the world or what someone has decided in a court of law or even in the political realm.
During these last days, we need to differentiate the truth from half-truth or the almost truth. We need to recognize whether the voice we are hearing is from the devil, our flesh, this world or from God.
Satan is the master of deceit. He does not knock at your front door and say “Hi, I am Satan and I am here to deceive you.”
Here is how to recognize THE VOICE OF THE DEVIL:
1. The Devil’s voice stirs up selfishness. If what we hear contains harshness or crudeness towards others, it cannot be from the Lord.
2. The Devil’s voice calls for hastiness. He will always push us to act immediately to rush into a decision when God is interested in having all details in their proper place.
3. The Devil’s voice disregards consequences.
THE VOICE OF THE FLESH:
1. Is self-exalting.
2. Arouses sinful passions – outward manifestations of the work of the flesh.
3. Produces covetousness.
4. Results in bondage.
5. Practices evil
6. Hostile towards God.
THE VOICE OF THIS WORLD
1. Breeds worry over earthly possessions.
2. Works disobedience and lawlessness.
3. Results in captivity.
4. Produces ungodly chatter and arguments.
5. Causes division.
6. Leads to compromise.
THE VOICE OF GOD:
1. God’s voice is consistent with his Word. He will never ask us to engage in any activity or relationship that is not consistent with the Scriptures.
2. God’s voice clashes with the carnal nature of man. God will never tell us to do anything that gratifies our flesh. If what we hear will result in the gratification of our fleshly impulses, we must know that it is definitely not from God.
3. God’s voice challenges our faith. Whenever we have indecisive moments and are unsure if what we are hearing is from the Lord, we should ask ourselves if the particular action that we plan to proceed with is one that will strengthen our faith.
4. God’s voice calls for courage. Joshua 1:9 – “have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
5. God’s voice brings about peace. We’ll have a sense of calmness in our spirits.
6. God’s voice stimulates our spiritual growth. He will never ask us to do anything that would set us back spiritually. He will never tell us to pursue a course of action that would hinder our spiritual maturity.
In 2 Thessalonians 2: 1- 3, the Apostle Paul says, “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way.”
What Paul is saying to the Thessalonians and to us is that we are responsible to know the truth. We are responsible to guard our hearts and our minds from deception. The way to be protected from deception is to know the truth.
We don’t learn deception by going and scouting for deception. We learn it by becoming immersed in and saturated by the Word of God, so that when deception comes, you can see that it doesn’t line up to the truth. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Word is Truth.
2 Thessalonians 2: 9- 12 “that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.”
When people reject the truth and refuse to submit to it, God judges them by turning them over to delusion to be deceived. And the deluder, the deceiver, is Satan.
Spiritual discernment is God’s antidote or first line of defense against deception. The Word and Spirit of God discern the thoughts and intentions of our hearts and give us the ability to discern—the ability to make proper distinctions.
The motive for true discernment is never self-promotion or personal gain. Discernment has one primary function: to distinguish between right and wrong so that we may pursue the right and avoid the wrong. It is more a function of the Holy Spirit bearing witness to our spirit than it is of the human mind. Our union with God makes spiritual discernment possible through the process of illumination.
Apart from God we are spiritually deaf, dumb and blind. Discernment comes through the Holy Spirit illuminating us as to what is consistent with the Word of God. Paul says in Romans 8 that the Holy “Spirit bears witness with our spirit…”
Hebrews 5:14 identifies those who have discernment: “…the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
Jesus said in John 8:31-32 to the Jews who had believed him, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The light of God’s truth is the only valid weapon against the darkness of deception.
Ignorance is not bliss. The better we know what we are up against, the more likely we are to recognize how and when the enemy attacks, and the more likely we will be able to resist the fiery darts of the evil one in the strength of the Lord. We are vulnerable to Satan’s lies if we fail to exercise mental discipline.
We need to take advantage of the resources that God has provided in order to successfully resist the attacks from the evil one—spiritual discernment through the Word and Spirit of God. We overcome the evil one by the blood of the Lamb—when we discover who we are in Christ and learn to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, we will be free from the bondage of Satan’s lies.