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When Deceived, Who is At Fault?

March 2003

 

For many years, I confess, I always felt there were two classes in the cults, the deliberate deceivers at Headquarters, and the poor, innocent victims, the deceived ones, doing the mindless bidding of the deceivers. I still believe there are two classes in the cults, the deceivers and the deceived, but have had to alter my view about how innocent the deceived ones really are. I tended to put all the blame and guilt for wrongdoing squarely at the feet of the deceivers, and tended to "excuse" the deceived. Several portions of Scripture have "jumped out" at me lately, causing me to correct my view. This article is aimed at Jehovah's Witnesses, but also applies to other groups.

Sometimes the deceived can be in high positions. This is a new thought for me. I always pictured deliberate deceivers in the positions of authority in controlling groups, but this is not always so.

This was brought home to me by a portion of scripture, rather obscure I'll admit, but recorded in 1 Kings, chapter 13. There we read about a prophet who was truly a "man of God". He came to prophesy against the corrupt king , Jeroboam, "by the word of the Lord". His prophecy was true and was fulfilled in every detail. He also displayed the power to heal by the hand of the Lord. He was also a man of integrity, who could not be bribed by attractive honors. He was true to the Lord. Could such a man be deceived? Let's read the account:

"Now behold, there came a man of God from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD, while Jeroboam was standing by the altar to burn incense...Then he gave a sign the same day, saying, "This is the sign which the LORD has spoken, "Behold, the altar shall be split apart and the ashes, which are on it shall be poured out". Now it came about when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar in Bethel, that Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, "Seize him". But his hand which he stretched out against him dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. The altar also was aplit apart and the ashes were poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. And the king answered and said to the man of God, "Please entreat the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me". So the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king's hand was restored to him, and it became as it was before. Then the king said to the man of God, "Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward". But the man of God said to the king, "If you were to give me half your house I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water in this place. For so it was commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, "You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which you came". So he went another way, and did not return by the way which he came to Bethel". (1Kings 13:1-10).

Up to this point in the story, we have nothing but admiration for this man of God. He was faithful to a fault and obedient to the Lord to the letter. Surely he could not be deceived, especially after performing such great feats in the name of the Lord, and producing such good fruits. Alas, the story now takes a sad turn.

Another prophet, apparently also revered by the people, and much older, decided to deceive this faithful prophet. His motives are not revealed, but they could have been jealousy and envy. He jumped on his donkey and pursued the faithful prophet.

"So he went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak; and he said to him, "Are you the man of God who came from Judah? And he said "I am". Then he said to him,"Come home with me and eat bread". And he said, "I cannot return with you, nor go with you, nor will I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. For a command came to me by the word of the LORD, "You shall eat no bread, nor drink water there; do not return by going the way you came". (1 Kings 13:14-17).

If only the account ended here, with the man of God keeping his integrity before the LORD! Instead, he took the word of this lying prophet. He was thoroughly deceived.

"And he said to him, "I also am a prophet like you, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, "Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water". But he lied to him. So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house and drank water". (1 Kings 13:18,19).

Imagine! The faithful prophet turned down a banquet with the King complete with a "reward", yet sold his soul for bread and water with a lying prophet. He had heard from the Lord, yet he was deceived when he believed the lies of this old prophet. After eating and drinking, he was on his way, but not before the old prophet told him he would die for his disobedience. The death prophesy really was a true word from the Lord. The old prophet even let him ride away on his donkey.

"Now when he had gone, a lion met him on the way and killed him, and his body was thrown on the road, with the donkey standing beside it; the lion also was standing beside the body....And he (the old prophet) went and found his body thrown on the road with the donkey and the lion standing beside the body; the lion had not eaten the body nor torn the donkey"..." (1 Kings 24, 28).

The fact that the lion killed only the man, but did not eat of his flesh showed all that it was a judgement of God. The donkey did not flee from the lion, but remained, also proof that something supernatural had occurred. God's judgement was evident.

What is the lesson we have learned here? Exactly the warning given to the Corinthians, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall". (1 Cor. 10:12). We know many who once stood on the word of God, now believing modern-day "prophets" over God's word, right within the body of Christ!

Jehovah's Witnesses, some of whom were professing believers in mainstream churches at one time, were deceived into following after a lying prophet who exclaimed "The LORD said...", when the LORD never did. Now they go house-to-house with the message of this prophet, proven false over a century of predictions. They have been deceived. They need to take responsibility for checking out the deceivers leading them astray. They are not innocent in the matter.


We all need to pay special attention to the Bible warnings about being deceived.

 

"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things, the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them". (Eph. 5:6,7).

"Let no one in any way deceive you...". (2 Thess. 2:3).

"These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you." (1 John 2:26).

"Little children, let no one deceive you...". (1 John 3:7).

"For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son". (2 John 7-9).

"I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distory the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed". (Galatians 1:6-9).

Notice the nature of the Bible command, "Let no one in any way deceive you" etc. It is up to each of us, whether we be "high up" or "low down" in the body of believers, to carefully check out everything with the word of God. Remember the Apostle Paul said "I have fully preached the gospel of Christ". (Romans 15:19). Also,..."learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other". (2 Cor. 4:6). That's pretty plain, isn't it? We are protected if we stay with the Bible. If Christ was "fully preached" in the days of the apostles, why listen to different doctrine on Christ invented by some modern-day teacher? We all need to stay within the Word of God, the Bible, and dismiss anything extra!. We would not have Jehovah's Witnesses or other cults today, or aberrant groups within the Christian Church, if only we would obey the command to not be deceived! Each one of us is responsible for ourselves! "Let no man deceive himself...". (1 Cor. 3:18).

 

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