More than 11 years ago, Jesse and I watched in anguish as a guest minister captivated a room full of hungry and sincere seekers with his ear-tickling message. Though we felt the Word was being dangerously mishandled and misrepresented, it seemed we were alone in our concerns. The widespread reaction from those around us indicated that they were being wowed by his revelations from the Word as they clapped, shouted, and cheered in approval.
This was not the first time we’d experienced this in the preceding months, but it was by far the most dramatic instance. We left feeling such heaviness and grief over what we’d seen and heard.
Since we always want to humble ourselves in a situation of disagreement and ask the Lord if perhaps we’re the ones not seeing, hearing, perceiving, discerning, interpreting, or understanding correctly, we began to question – Is there something wrong with US? Why does it seem like we’re the only ones seeing and hearing this differently, believing his message was error, when everyone else seemed so enthralled?
I cried out from the depths of my heart silently about all this as we drove home, and then finally said out loud “Lord, What WAS That?!”
Immediately, I saw what may have been the clearest vision I’ve ever seen (like a movie on the screen of my mind). In the vision I saw a magician performing a magic act – and the Lord spoke so loudly to my spirit that it resonated as if it could have been audible, “You have just seen a magic show with My Word.”
The magician presented Scripture, then “sawed it in two” – not only separating it from the whole counsel of Scripture, but from the context of the New Testament, from its specific book, and even from its immediate context. Next, through sleight of hand and misdirection, he made parts of it seem to disappear – drawing our attention only to the parts he wanted us to see while distracting our attention away from the parts he didn’t want us to notice. Next he combined these partial verses with other verses he’d performed the same kind of magic on and when the process was complete, he presented his final revelation, “Tada!” The audience erupted with excitement and applause. The illusion – and deception – was a spectacular success.
In the following days, the Lord began to reveal more about the “spirit of a magician” and its prominent role in the great end-times deception that Scripture warns about in II Thessalonians 2 and other places. Without going into depth about that in this post (lest it become excruciatingly long), for now I just hope to point out Paul’s counsel for how to avoid this great deception that Jesus warned could deceive even the elect if possible (Mt 24:24).
“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” II Thessalonians 2:15
Paul points us back to the teachings and letters we now have recorded for us in the New Testament as the antidote to this deception.
But with the spirit of a magician at work, even those who claim to believe the Word can still be at risk of being deceived. So may we read and study the Word in context – the whole counsel of the Word, rather than just our favorite encouraging verses. May we read and study systematically, rather than only studying topically for proof texts to confirm what we already believe. May we ask God to guide us into all Truth as we study, and to protect and deliver us from all error. May we pray to always LOVE Truth, to always welcome, receive, believe it, and align our lives to it – and to be set free from any way we’ve continued to love or take pleasure in any sin or unrighteousness (v10-12), or have exchanged the Truth for a lie (Romans 1).
The greater implications of the post Friday, showing how many leaders have even departed from a Biblical world view, is that the stage is already set for this widespread deception (and some may suggest it’s already unfolding in a measure). Since this spirit can only captivate and capture a people that does not deeply know and love the Word, more than ever, it’s time to be like the Bereans who diligently examined the Word to see if the things they were being taught were true. (Acts 17:11)
“For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.” II Timothy 4:3-4
Next post in this series: Part of the Spirit of a Magician’s Grand Finale