The Anatomy of Deception

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2 Corinthians 11:4 “For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it” (NKJV)

Paul the Apostle held a concern about the Corinthian church. They were a group that were easily susceptible to deception. They lacked spiritual discernment. His caution to them betrays the fact that they easily accepted people, trends, teachings and movements that looked good but were really enemies of the Gospel. Charles Spurgeon once said “Discernment isn’t knowing the difference between right and wrong; it is knowing the difference between right and almost right.” It’s almost as if Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, is indicting us by pointing out the obvious; any idiot can tell right from wrong, but it takes a spiritual sentinel to spot the insidious works of darkness. Lucky for us, Paul gives us a theological summary to understand the anatomy of deception. It’s the best abridged version of a treatise. Let’s look at the verse again.

2 Corinthians 11:4 “For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it” (NKJV)

Here, Paul lays out three tactics of Satan to deceive the church. They are:

  1. Another Jesus
  2. A different spirit
  3. A different gospel

By virtue of laying out the counterfeit tactics, we become aware of the truth. The truth is that there is one Jesus, one Spirit and one Gospel. We do not have multiple versions of Jesus. God does not give us liberty to interpret Jesus as want; we only have the one Jesus that He has availed. We do not have multiple flavours of the Holy Spirit like an ice cream bar. God does not grant us liberty to behold a number of spirits; we only have the one Holy Spirit that He has given. Finally, we do not have multiple gospels. I remember one person telling me how they wished that my preaching messages would consider people of their kind. To that I replied that God has given us one gospel for all mankind. There is no gospel for the rich and another gospel for the poor; gospel for the well and another gospel for the handicapped; gospel for the introvert and another gospel for the extrovert; gospel for the women and another gospel for the men; gospel for the mentally unwell and gospel for the mentally stable; gospel for the white man and gospel for the black man. We only have the one gospel that he has given.

Now, I know I may have opened a can of worms. Why? Because if you have a famous product out in the market and have had many people consume it, then you make an announcement that half of those products are contraband, you, my friend, have opened a can of worms. Everyone who owns the product will want to know if they have the real deal. The biggest mistake you can make while trying to correct the contraband fiasco is to give keen details of how the fake products look like. That will do you no good because the producers of the contraband will just keep covering their tracks. There could be 100 fake iPhones with 100 unique differences. Don’t expend your energy educating the masses on what the 100 errors look like. Tomorrow there will be 500 new errors. Instead, educate the public on what the genuine looks like. If a genuine iPhone can be identified for what it is, we can easily tell which one’s a fake. Similarly, if we know the true Jesus, the true Holy Spirit and the true Gospel, you can soon find yourself unsubscribing from many famous YouTube preachers who preach another Jesus, another spirit and another gospel. It is also worth noting that spotting the fake Jesus, fake spirit and fake gospel is not always automatic. Why? Because contraband products can mix genuine parts with their fake parts. And the presence of the genuine parts can make us believe that the rest of the parts are equally good. The worst deception isn’t the one that is evidently opposite to the truth; rather it is the one that takes parts of the truth and sandwiches the deception in between so that you hardly notice the latter. Do you believe in another Jesus or the one true Jesus? Do you believe in a different spirit other than the one true Holy Spirit? Do you believe a different gospel other than the one true gospel? Let us look at the originals.

Genuine Jesus

The one true Jesus is biblical Jesus. Allow me to introduce you to Him. He is both God and Man. He is fully God and He is fully man (1 Timothy 2:5-6). He is the God-man; divinity penetrating human history with one mission- to save us from our sins and grant us eternal life (see John 3:16-17) and to destroy the works of Satan (see 1 John 3:8). His politics with humanity is not right or left; He is up or down (heaven or hell). He isn’t white, neither is He black; He is Creator of black, white, Hispanic, Asian et al. He isn’t an activist nor a revolutionary; He is a saviour. He isn’t politically correct; either you are with Him or you are not (Matthew 12:30). He doesn’t accept us based on our morality but based on our humility. He doesn’t only say heart-warming things like “Don’t judge” (Matthew 7:1), He also says heart-wrenching things like “Repent or perish in hell for eternity” (Mark 9:47-48). In fact, He was killed for the heart-wrenching things that He said. Biblical Jesus is not a genie to fund your dream; He is a Saviour to kill your flesh. Biblical Jesus is primarily concerned about your personal holiness before attending to your personal happiness. And if your personal happiness involves sinning to get it, Biblical Jesus is the demolition wrecking ball of that self-centered Tower of Babel. Biblical Jesus has a pressing question to those that claim to know Him. Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord! Lord!’ and do not what I say?” (NIV). Biblical Jesus can be known authentically through the scriptures.

Genuine Holy Spirit

The one true Spirit is the Holy Spirit. He is God. He dwells inside true followers of Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:16). He enters us when we believe the one true Gospel (Ephesians 1:13-14). He is a personal guide in the Christian walk to help us get rid of sin and be more like Jesus (John 4:26). He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16:8-11). He is a lover of truth (John 16:13). The evidence of His presence is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-25). That means that He just doesn’t make you shout in church, speak in tongues and give a testimony; He also makes you apologise, be kind to people and stop watching nudity on Netflix. He glorifies Biblical Jesus and not Himself (John 16:14). He is the source of godly spiritual revelation (John 16:15). And His revelation does not contradict the Bible. In short, “God told me” is not a replacement for “The Bible says.” Every “God told me” revelation from the Holy Spirit will agree with what the Bible says. When He speaks, He prefers to be expressly clear as opposed to being confusingly deep (1 Timothy 4:1). That is why He gives us wisdom to teach spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:13). He glorifies Jesus as Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3). He is the distributor of a variety of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11). He doesn’t give us all the same gifts but rather He spreads them out as He wills so that we are dependent on each other. He affirms the humanity of Jesus (1 John 4:2). He gives us power to speak out the one true Gospel to all kinds of people (Acts 1:8). He intercedes for us when we do not know how to pray (Romans 8:26-27).

Genuine Gospel

The one true gospel is the gospel of the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:15). The message of the one true gospel is for the redemption of every human being (Romans 1:16). The one true gospel is an antidote to save mankind from the wrath of God (Romans 1:18-20). The one true gospel affirms that God is holy (1 John 1:5). The one true gospel affirms that humanity is sinful (Romans 3:23). The one true gospel affirms that humanity is born in sin from the womb (Psalm 51:5). The one true gospel affirms that a Holy God and a sinful man are incompatible (Isaiah 59:2). The one true gospel affirms that man deserves death as due justice for his or her sin (Romans 6:23a). The one true gospel affirms that mankind’s good deeds are insufficient to avert the looming wrath that he or she deserves (Isaiah 64:6). The one true gospel affirms that God has intervened to save mankind in the person of Jesus (John 3:16-18). The Son of God became a man so that men could become sons of God. The one true gospel affirms that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is a substitutionary act on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21). The one true gospel affirms that we are saved by grace through faith and not by our pedigree (Ephesians 2:8-9). The one true gospel affirms that this salvation is available for every human being without exception (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

Popular contraband in the market

Now that we know the genuine, it doesn’t hurt to expose the now obvious counterfeits. I am hoping that the genuine already helped you, but just in case you are in denial and are holding onto that L-phone, here are some famous fakes of our time.

Another Jesus:

  1. Emergency Jesus. This is a fire fighter saviour. He exists to sort out all your problems. You only contact him when things are bad. He is on your speed-dial list. He will fix your failing marriage, your over-the-top mortgage, your unproposing boyfriend, your evil ex, your stubborn new girlfriend and really any problem you have. That is why he from perfect heaven to problematic earth- to sort you out. He is like your personal genie. And as he does this, he never (and I mean never) calls you out on your bad habits that lead to your problems.
  2. Moral Jesus. This is a nice guy. He wants you to be good and to behave. He likes you because you don’t smoke, drink or sleep around. He gives you extra points for shaking your head at how bad this world is. He gives good advice. He is a great philosopher alongside Nietzsche, Freud, Mohammed and Buddha but he isn’t God. He is just another nice guy. He is all about accepting all religions and world peace.
  3. Good vibes Jesus. This Jesus is all about making you happy. He loves Jeremiah 29:11 but hates Hebrews 9:27. He is committed to your happiness and will do anything to ensure you have it, even if it contradicts the Bible. He doesn’t go with the Old Testament because it is outdated and he has updated his software. He is “woke: and “with it.” He doesn’t like being called religious despite texts like James 1:27. Good vibes Jesus is very progressive. He is open to all views and is not an intolerant bigot. He is all about “your truth” because “THE truth” is kinda offensive and not inclusive. Being offended is a primary fruit of the spirit of Good vibes Jesus. And his biggest mantra is “Follow your dream!” It doesn’t matter if your dream is sinful- what is most important is that it’s yours. And Good vibes Jesus wants to make you happy after all. Good vibes Jesus will tell you that you are David and that Goliath is your problem. He can’t tell you THE truth- that you really are the shaky and frightened Israelites in the story and that David is Biblical Jesus, whose victory over Goliath is imputed on you freely. Good vibes Jesus has made it all about you for so long; because of that, your ears are resistant to hear a true preacher of sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3). Good vibes Jesus calls those true gospel teachers boring and uptight. They are not entertaining and exciting like his good vibes celebrity preachers.

Another spirit:

  1. False spirits are passive about sin, righteousness and judgement unlike the Holy Spirit. They may even encourage sin and unrighteousness under the guise of pursuing depth. They are intoxicated with the so called “deep things of God” but very naïve about the basics of the scriptures.
  2. False spirits promote the fruit of the flesh. (Galatians 5:19-21)
  3. False spirits offer unreliable and failed prophecies.
  4. False spirits do not glorify Biblical Jesus- they glorify men and are obsessed with titles and appearing important.
  5. False spirits steer us away from the scriptures. They thrive among the scripturally illiterate.
  6. False spirits offer revelation from other sources: witchcraft, divination, sorcery, eastern mysticism, yoga (kundalini spirit to be specific with yoga), necromancy, black magic, white magic, séances, mediums, symbology, levitation, palm-reading, horoscopes, fortune telling, crystal gazing, blood sacrifices, human sacrifices, casting spells, hexes and jinxes, charms, voodoo dolls, tarot cards, tokens, alchemy, freemasonry, astrology etc.

Another Gospel:

  1. The prosperity gospel- the false teaching that God is in the business of trading with us. In exchange for our faith and devotion to him, he will in turn always grant physical health and material wealth as a sign of our devotion. The one with the most toys is the most faithful.
  2. Humanism- the false teaching that God’s existence is pegged on your dreams and happiness. He is a butler to your hopes and desires. You are not sinful; you are kinda cute and just need to be loved and encouraged.
  3. Legalism- the false teaching that I have to obey certain rules and regulations in order to receive salvation. I am saved by my performance and moral score.
  4. Antinomianism- the false teaching that since God’s grace is availably abundant and for free, we have a free license to sin because we can be forgiven anyway if we just ask. “What a wonderful plan!” Antinomianism says, “God loves forgiving sin and I love committing it!” Sin away for salvation is but a prayer away.

Another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel. Do not be deceived.

Isaiah 55:6-7 “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.” (NIV)

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Ernest is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband and a father. He has been married to Waturi since September 2012. They have two daughters: Thandiwe and Ivanna. He is also the author of four books. The Wamboyes are passionate to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ clearly taught and understood in our post-modern world. They are champions of biblical discipleship and furthering the Kingdom of God by transforming one person at a time. They are the founders of The Relationship Centre Ltd (TRC), an organisation that aims to promote biblical family values in contemporary urban communities.

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