From Protection From Deception chapter (3) by Derek Prince
No. 1: Humble Ourselves
“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
I believe the first essential requirement is that we humble ourselves. The Bible says, God resists the proud. So, if we are trying to come into the presence of God but we are proud, we may push but He pushes against us – and He pushes harder than we can. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God will make us humble. God always puts the responsibility upon us to humble ourselves. It is a decision we have to make. No one can make it for us. People can pray for us and preach to us, but we have to make the decision to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt us in due time.
I have already said that I believe pride is the greatest single problem, the most common problem and the most destructive problem. We saw earlier that pride goes before destruction. If we do not turn back from the way of pride, our end will be destruction. However, I find a very helpful and inspiring passage in Psalm 25:8-9:
Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice. And the humble He teaches His way.
It is the grace of the Lord that He is willing to teach us sinners at all. But God enrolls His students, not by their intellectual qualifications, but by their character. A lot of people may go to a Bible school or a seminary, or whatever else, but never be enrolled in God’s school, because God only enrolls the humble. The humble He guides in justice … the humble He teaches His way.
The King James says, the meek. I find that meek has dropped out of the modern translations. What is the difference between humble and meek? As I see it, humble describes your inner attitude; meek describes the way you express it. Perhaps we do not need the word meek very much nowadays because there are very few people to whom it applies! There is usually a reason when words drop out of contemporary usage.
No. 2: Receive the Love of the Truth
… and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish. because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
So, what is our protection against deception? Receiving the love of the truth. And again, it is something we must do for ourselves. God will offer it to us; we have to receive it.
Now, of those who do not receive the love of the truth, God says this:
And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth..
That is a frightening verse. God will send them strong delusion. If God sends you strong delusion, you will be deluded!
..if God has sent strong delusion, it is useless to pray for such people not to be deluded.
In such a situation there are two ways that we can pray. First, that God will work through the delusion to accomplish His purposes. Second, that God will protect us from coming under the delusion ourselves.
..Don’t have any sentimental picture of God. He is not a Father Christmas, doling out candy to little children. He is very just, very righteous, very loving – but, in a sense, very severe. You cannot get away with anything with God. It is better not to try.
What about the love of the truth?
The Greek word for love there is the one we’re all familiar with: agape. It is a very strong word. It is the strongest word for love in the Greek language. It does not mean just reading your Bible every morning, or going to church and listening to sermons. It is a passionate commitment to the truth of God. That is what we must cultivate if we are to escape delusion. God will send strong delusion to those who have not received the [agape] love of the truth. That means more than just having a “quiet time” or reading your Bible at weekends. It is a passionate commitment to the truth of God.
No. 3: Cultivate the Fear of the Lord
The third safeguard is to cultivate the fear of the Lord. Many Christians say there is no more fear in the Christian life, but that is not true. Certain kinds of fear are excluded, but not all.
Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34
The implication is that the fear of the Lord will cause God to give you many days of good life. What is the first area that God deals with? The tongue. Keep your tongue from evil … your lips from speaking deceit.
You cannot be neutral about evil if you have the fear of the Lord; you have to hate it. And what is the first thing you hate? Pride. Arrogance.
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate. Proverbs 8:13
No. 4: Make and Keep the Cross Central
Now, the fourth and the final safeguard is: make and keep the cross central. I looked at the example of Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony [or the mystery] of God. [You have to bear in mind that in that culture the highest achievement was oratory. If you were anything, you were an excellent speaker. Otherwise you were probably despised. So Paul, when he says. “I laid aside excellent speech,” in a sense was saying, “I’m not bowing to this culture.”] For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
I pointed out in a previous meeting that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. When we have all the strength we need of our own, we no longer need God’s strength. God has to bring us to the place where we do not have strength. I have seen this in my own experience in ministry continually. If God is going to use me in any significant way, He has to bring me to the place where I know I cannot do it; to the place where I know I am totally dependent upon Him, that I am weak. Then His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
When we really see the cross, we have nothing to boast of.
There is a hymn that says:
“When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss And pour contempt on all my pride”
I believe one of our greatest needs is to focus on the cross.
Now let us turn again to the first five verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 2. These have always been among my favorite verses…
We need to understand when we read these verses that Paul is speaking about a certain part of his ministry journey. In Acts chapter 17, he was in Athens, which was the intellectual center, the university city, of the ancient world. There he preached a sermon unlike any other that is recorded. It was a somewhat intellectual sermon. He adapted himself to his audience and even quoted from a Greek poet (which I do not think he ever did at any other time). I wonder whether Paul was really led by the Holy Spirit. At any rate, the results were disappointing. Only a few people believed.
So, Paul went on to Corinth. Now, Corinth was a port city, somewhat like the major port cities of our present world – a very wicked city, where every kind of sin flourished. Somewhere between Athens and Corinth, Paul made a decision, which is recorded in these verses:
And, I brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the mystery of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
So, Paul made a revolutionary decision.
He would not preach the kind of message in Corinth that he preached in Athens. He said something here which, for a Jew, is remarkable. He said, I determined not to know anything…
What an amazing statement! “I determined not to know anything. I’ll forget everything I’ve ever learned at the feet of Gemaliel, in all my studies – forget it all! I’m only concerned with one thing: Jesus Christ – and not just with Jesus Christ, but with Jesus Christ crucified – that is the center and the focus of my message.”
And I believe it should be the center and the focus of our message. If we ever get away from the cross as central, we are in danger.
I notice that Paul expected the demonstration of the Holy Spirit and power. I find today in our contemporary church, if you preach about power, everybody gets excited – and if you appeal for people who want to receive power, many will come forward. Personally, I believe this emphasis on power can be extremely dangerous.
I have observed over a good many years that people who focus on power end in trouble. They often end in error.
Power is something that appeals to the natural man. Some psychologists have said that the desire for power is the number one desire of the human personality. Paul said, “I want power, but I want it on a different basis from that which the world understands. I want to forget all my wisdom, all my knowledge, all my theological qualifications and I want to focus on only one thing: Jesus Christ crucified.” And then he said, in effect, “When I do that, I can be sure that the Holy Spirit will come in power.”
Let me just recapitulate my four suggested safeguards:
- Number 1: Humble ourselves. In that passage Peter says, our adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). The devil is very powerful and very active. Any theology that tells you differently is a deception.
I was meditating on this yesterday evening. Suppose an announcement was made that a lion was loose on the ground floor of this hotel, and you needed to get out. I do not believe you would stroll through the lobby, humming a cheerful little chorus. You would be very circumspect in making your exit. And you would be very careful to close the door behind you.
That, I believe, is a picture of how we need to conduct ourselves, because our adversary, the devil, is walking about like a roaring lion. We cannot change that. But do you know why lions roar? It is to terrify their prey, to paralyze them. So, do not be paralyzed by the lion’s roar. Be very cautious, but do not give way to fear.
- Number 2: Receive the love of the truth.
- Number 3: Cultivate the fear of the Lord.
- Number 4: Make and keep the cross central.
Finally, let us quote Galatians 6:14 together;
God forbid that I should boast / except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ / by whom the world is crucified to me / and I to the world. Amen.