Editor’s note: The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Inside The Pew or Pew Talk Radio staff members.
By La Vonne Earl
Special to Inside The Pew
Protecting ones flock has many responsibilities, one of the greatest these being protecting them from deception. Deception by its very nature is enticing. It causes something to appear good, but in reality is not. However beautiful and innocent it may appear, it is a fatal enemy and our sheep must be protected. There are many churches dressing in sheep’s clothing professing to be Christian, and yet they are far from it. Knowledge is power and for this very reason God has taught us through His Word that we are to search and gain knowledge. We are also commanded to teach others once we gain this knowledge.
There is no replacement for understanding God’s Word, the Bible. Having a solid foundation in the true gospel found in His Word is crucial. However there are many lost sheep that do not understand the Bible and therefore have fallen prey to deception. This is where those of us with an understanding of the True Gospel must be responsible in teaching the flock about deception. We must teach them how others have been deceived by perceived Christian religions.
I myself wanted a relationship with Christ and thought I was choosing Christianity when I became a Mormon. Instead I was immersed into the cult of Mormonism. Mormons appear Christian yet they themselves are blind and cannot understand the gospel of Grace. They place heavy burdens of works on their members.
Unfortunately, this education on deception is missing in many churches. The fear of being unpopular and possibly offending someone has taken precedence and has allowed deception to foster and grow. And so the truth that we know becomes watered down until it is ineffective. Accepting ALL faiths becomes the new way as true Christianity takes the back seat.
When we know something it becomes our responsibility to share it with others. If you know that there is a nearby cliff around the corner where one will surely fall to their death and yet you fail to post a sign or to tell others of the impending danger, you become an accomplice to their death.
In the same way a good shepherd knows the safe routes, and is willing to put his own life in danger in order to protect His flock. Our good shepherd Jesus Christ gives clear guidelines in order to avoid Satan’s traps. Well cared for sheep know the differences between a good shepherd and one that is only after building up a church, in other words the difference between truth and deception.
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins” (2 Peter 1:5-9, New Living Translation).
You see, like the Pharisees that claimed to be shepherds of God’s flock, there are many false prophets, false religions and false leaders to this day. They are hypocrites that do not practice what they preach, and worse yet they may practice what they preach but their message is another gospel of Jesus Christ. “You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ” (Galatians 1:7, NLT).
The point is further elaborated in 2 Corinthians 11:4 (NLT), “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”
In John 9, Jesus heals a man born blind. The Pharisees claimed to be Shepherds of God and yet had just excommunicated this man that was born blind. These “shepherds” thought they had all the answers. They thought they could see. Jesus says to them in John verses 40-41, “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty. But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.” In other words, they did not understand the true gospel of Grace.
Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees had just excommunicated one of God’s true sheep, one that was seeking Jesus to see. They were offended that Jesus spoke of their own blindness. They could not see that Jesus was the true shepherd and was standing before them fulfilling the very prophecy they had professed to know. They were hard hearted and filled with bitterness. They had a heart prepared for murder. They were standing there with their hands full of stones ready to kill Jesus, and yet He was the one who had opened the eyes of the blind man.
These Pharisees understood the office of a shepherd and yet they were hypocrites that did not practice what they preached—much like the Mormons and others that preach deception. As pastors, leaders and followers of Christ we must search out everything and teach others so they will not be blinded by this deception.
The Pharisees threw the man Jesus had healed out of the synagogue—they threw him out of the church. They excommunicated him. Why? He was professing that Jesus was a prophet, and the Pharisees wanted to label Jesus as a sinner. The Pharisees are not the only ones that would like to label Jesus as just a man, a sinner like us.
The Mormon Church also claims that God was once a man like us, a sinner. “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be,” said LDS Apostle James E. Talmage.
Make no mistake, God was never a man like us; He is without sin and always has been (2 Corinthians 5:21).
This is only one of the many false teachings happening within the Mormon Church. As good shepherds we must lead these sheep out of their captivity or they will starve from lack of the true gospel, the gospel of His love and grace.
The Lord Jesus Christ opened the eyes of one who was born blind. Jesus had anointed the man’s eyes, and then told him to go wash; he did and he came away seeing. He had to wash. When our eyes are anointed to see false teachings, it is by the washing of the Word that our eyes are opened to see clearly the blessed news of the Gospel. Jesus will open your eyes too as you seek Him.
As pastors, leaders, teachers, followers of Christ let us work together to make sure that EVERYONE is able to see. Deception causes blindness. Those of us that know the Truth are responsible to teach it. Let us ALL pastor God’s sheep and keep them from deception.
La Vonne Earl, a resident of Newport Beach, Calif., is author of Loved into the Light, Shining God’s Light on Mormonism. To read more on deception, visit www.lovedintotheLight.com. Her ministry website is http://www.yourkingdominheritance.com/.