I want to talk to you about how to overcome deception. What you learn today from the Word of God will enable you to discern truth from lies.
Jesus warned us that in the last days, people would call good evil and evil good. You don’t have to look very hard to find out that’s exactly where we are.
Since we are living in the age of great deception, we must understand how to discern truth from lies. And actually, it’s really simple.
To escape deception, pursue God’s will above all else.
In John chapter 7, Jesus teaches us, that when we are pursuing God’s will, we will know if what we hear is truth or lies. Let me show you:
John 7:16-17 NLT – So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.
It’s simple. Anyone who truly wants to do the will of God will know what’s of God and what’s not of God. If we put God first, we will not get caught up in deception.
This is why I only listen to people who are pursuing God’s will. I don’t care how expert they are, how educated they are, or how popular they are. If they don’t publicly elevate God above themselves, they speak more lies than truth.
Most of our government and media is full of people who elevate themselves above God. Actually, I’ve never heard Dr. Fauci elevate God. I’ve never heard Joe Biden, or Kamala Harris, or George Stephanopoulos, or Lady Gaga – I’ve never heard any of them elevate God.
They’ve convinced us we should listen to them because they are so expert, and educated, and experienced, and popular. But notice all those things have to do with elevating self. Our country is being led and deceived by the spiritually blind.
When you are deceived, you don’t even know it. That’s why it’s called deception. But if you want to guard yourself against deception, ignore all the people I just mentioned and turn to God. Get in His Word. Look to Him for truth.
This often leads to the argument, “Well, Kade, we’re not supposed to judge people. You shouldn’t say such things about all these popular people.”
Lord have mercy. If you think we aren’t supposed to judge the things around us, you’re telling on yourself; you don’t take time to understand the scriptures.
Jesus never told us not to judge anyone, anytime for any reason. What He told us was to judge ourselves first so we can see clearly to judge the things around us.
I’ve explained this many times here at church. But if you are struggling to understand this, go study Matthew chapter 7 for yourself. You’ll see exactly what I mean.
We are to judge with righteous judgment, not sit back while our government passes laws that promote sin and suppress righteousness. Let’s get involved! Go out and speak the truth with love.
Invade government, education, business, and entertainment with the Kingdom of God. Show up as the army of God and destroy evil.
Example of Righteous Judgement
After all this talk about righteous judgment in John chapter 7, Jesus uses a real-life example in the very next chapter to drive it all home. He wants to make sure that we get this.
This is a story that you might have heard before, but you are probably going to see something new in it today.
The story starts with Jesus going to the temple early one morning. As usual, people came to join Him, so Jesus took the opportunity to teach.
And then right there, in the middle of the church service, the Pharisees do something very odd. They bring in a woman who they had caught in the act of adultery.
Then they said, “Hey, Jesus. The law of Moses says that we should stone her to death because of her sin. What do you say?”
They were using this woman to try to trap Jesus into saying something that could be used against Him.
Y’all remember how this same technique was used in 2020 to get you to say something stupid about racism? If you said the wrong thing, you were racist. If you didn’t say anything at all, you were racist. Remember?
Well, I wish I would have visited this story back then because Jesus shows us how to handle a situation like this.
Jesus Responds to the Pharisees
What did Jesus do when asked this tough question? He stooped down and began to write in the dirt.
He didn’t give into the pressure to respond immediately. He didn’t start yelling at them. He didn’t run off in intimidation. Nope. He took a step back to consult His heavenly Father.
How many of you have found out that, when you are upset, if you take time to take your frustrations before God, you end up with a much better response?
While Jesus was writing on the ground, they kept badgering Him for a response. Even so, He didn’t respond until He was ready. And here’s what He finally said:
John 8:7 NKJV – He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.
Genius! Jesus was always so sly, so wise, in His response. He could disarm a tense discussion in no time by saying something that would literally stun everyone who was listening.
This reveals something about following Jesus:
To follow Jesus, I must respond slowly.
Don’t respond with the first thing that comes to mind. Don’t respond when you’re pressured to respond. Instead, take time to write your thoughts down and allow God to put together the right response for every situation.
You still respond! You just wait until you have the right response.
This must be what James was talking about:
James 1:19 NLT – Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
This is exactly what Jesus did. He still spoke up, but He took his time.
And I’m sure He could have got upset about how the Pharisees interrupted the church service and humiliated this woman, but He didn’t.
He took His time and delivered the most amazing response, “Whoever is without sin, go ahead and throw the first stone.”
So, what happened? The room got silent and everyone walked away. Not a stone was thrown at this woman.
Jesus speaks to the woman
Finally, it was just Jesus and this woman left in the room. Now she is one-on-one with the only One who is without sin and what does He do? He could have thrown stones, but He didn’t. Instead, here’s what He says:
“I don’t condemn you either. Your sin? Really not a big deal. I know you’re only human, so just try not to do it anymore.” -Not Jesus
It sounds silly to read this out loud. Yet, it’s how so many Christians interpret this story.
They think, “Well, Jesus didn’t stone the woman caught in adultery. And my sin is not as bad as hers. So it must not be a big deal.”
What a destructive way of thinking! Why are we so obsessed with trying to bend scripture to make sin okay? Shouldn’t we instead be searching scripture to figure out how to be free from sin?
Now let’s look at what Jesus actually said to this woman:
John 8:11 NKJV – Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.
Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t condemn us for our sin. That’s good news if I’ve ever heard it. But He also doesn’t give us an excuse to keep on sinning. He says, “Sin no more.”
He didn’t say, “Do your best not to sin” or “Stay away from the big sins” or “Don’t worry about it. Every now and then is okay.” No. That’s not what He said at all.
Jesus says, “Sin no more.”
Be done with it! Get away from it! Be free from the bondage of sin! Why? Because Jesus gives you the power to do so.
This is really like a two-edged sword. First Jesus cuts off the condemnation and then He cuts off the sin.
Don’t accept the counterfeit. The counterfeit frees you from condemnation so you can be free to sin if you want to.
But that’s not what Jesus did. Jesus freed you from condemnation and He also freed you from sin. This reveals something else about following Jesus:
To follow Jesus, I must advocate freedom from sin.
I don’t condemn them. I don’t fuss at them. I don’t reject them. I also don’t lie to them. I don’t advocate for their sin. I don’t tell them it’s no big deal.
Instead, I speak the truth in love. I lead them to Jesus. And I have the hard conversations while trusting God that my words, even when they’re hard to hear, will help lead them to freedom.
In case you are having a hard time wondering if this really is the right approach, if Jesus really does want us to lead people out of sin, Jesus makes it really clear for us in the very next verse:
John 8:12 NKJV – I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.
Jesus Argues with the Pharisees (Again)
At this point, of course the Pharisees pipe up. It’s quite predictable now that they will always have a rebuttal to what Jesus is teaching. It’s nothing new this time. They try to get people to believe that Jesus is not the Son of God.
I really feel sorry for these guys at this point. They’ve seen Jesus do miracles. They’ve heard His amazing teaching. They spent time with Jesus in the flesh. And yet, they were still bent on elevating their own knowledge over Jesus.
This still goes on today. Wow! People learn in college that sexual perversion should be a protected right. Then they convince themselves that the Bible was mistranslated when it comes to homosexuality. They decide God is really okay with it.
It’s sad because millions of people are living in bondage because they don’t know how to discern truth from lies. And it’s because they would rather pursue their own will than God’s will.
Regarding the Pharisees, I think Jesus had enough at this point because He says something that the soft, permissive American church is going to have a really hard time with.
He tried to be nice. He tried to share the truth through stories. But now He is just going to lay it all out there plain and clear:
John 8:24 NKJV – I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.
That’s the plain truth, my friends. If you choose not to believe in Jesus, you will die in your sins. But, if you choose to believe in Jesus, you will be free from your sins and receive eternal life.
When Jesus delivered this plain truth to the Pharisees, they were quite stunned. The only response they had was, “Who are you?”
This was like the hundredth time they had asked Jesus this question and He answered it again. He told them, “I am the Son of God. I was sent by my Father and I only do the things that please Him.”
At this point, I am starting to wonder why Jesus spends so much time arguing with the Pharisees. Clearly, they aren’t going to get it.
So why does Jesus keep arguing with the Pharisees? Here’s why:
John 8:30 NKJV – As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.
Jesus wasn’t arguing with the Pharisees to try to convince them. He was doing it for everyone else who was listening.
The challenges of truth
I’ve had my fair share of arguments on Facebook. I didn’t buy into the hype of the pandemic. I didn’t buy into the hype that everyone is racist. And because I don’t follow the crowd, they don’t like me.
It’s not that I think there’s not a virus or that there aren’t racial issues that need to be solved. I just take time to hear from God instead of doing what everyone else is doing.
Turns out, this makes me quite unpopular on social media. Every time I post something contrary to the mainstream school of thought, there are plenty of people to show up for a comment fight.
There have been many of these threads that I did not steward well. I found myself trying to defend my own reputation rather than defending the truth. That’s when it went south.
The emotional trauma of fighting for my reputation became too much to handle, so I went silent for a while. And I needed to go silent because I had to learn to defend the truth without my reputation getting in the way.
But in my silence, the Holy Spirit was leading me not to stay silent, but to learn to share the truth without concern of what people would think about me.
This is a challenging thing to do because, just like you, I want people to like me.
Road to nowhere
On top of this, the arguments never get anywhere. No matter how clever my response is, the person I’m arguing with is never convinced. It’s just back and forth and back and forth with no resolution.
When you look at the outcome, you think, “You know, maybe I just shouldn’t say anything.” But what if Jesus would have backed down from the Pharisees? What would have happened to all the people who were listening?
With all the arguments between Jesus and the Pharisees, Jesus never convinced them. But there were always people listening and they believed because they heard the argument.
When you defend the truth on Facebook, or anywhere else, the person you argue may never be convinced. But there are many others who read your conversation. And they believe because you took a stand for the truth.
So, from Jesus arguing with the Pharisees over and over again, here’s what we learn:
To follow Jesus, I must keep on speaking the truth.
I don’t know if you follow me on social media or not, but this is what I do. I keep on speaking the truth. And I’ve been at it so long most of my accusers gave up on me. It’s pretty quiet these days.
But listen to me. You must learn to discern truth for yourself. Jesus already told you how to do it. You simply pursue God. Put His will above your own.
He even says it another way so we’re sure to get it:
John 8:31-32 NKJV – If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Abide in His Word. Love His Word. Instead of reading news articles, read His Word. Instead of listening to people who don’t elevate God, listen to people who are pursuing the will of God.
When you seek God first, above all else – above your pastor, above what you read on social media, above what you hear on the news, above Dr. Fauci – then, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.
Interestingly, Jesus was saying this to a group of people who already believed in Him. You’d think they would receive it with gladness, but they actually argued with it. They said, “We’re not in bondage. How can you say we will be made free?”
Woke freedom isn’t free
So many Christians are in the same predicament. They don’t even realize they need freedom because they’re so caught up in themselves. They think because they are part of the woke crowd they’ve already found freedom.
I’m sorry to break it to you. Well, actually I’m not sorry. But taking the boundaries off of sex is not freedom. Getting everyone to support your sin is not freedom.
Submitting to the LGBTQ agenda is not freedom. Requiring people to wear masks and get vaccines is not freedom. Choosing a different gender is not freedom.
It’s only when you know the truth that you are truly free.
We want it to be more complicated than it really is to discern what truth is. We want a sophisticated solution.
But there is only one solution. Abide in God’s Word. Love His Word. Spend time in His Word. Follow His Word.
Jesus tells us this over and over and over again. I tell you this over and over and over again. The Word of God is truth. It’s the only way you can discern truth from lies. It’s the only way to truly know God.
That’s why Jesus says this:
John 8:51 NKJV – Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.
Do God’s word!
In other words, you can’t just hear His word and read His word – you have to DO His word.
After Jesus was done explaining this to everyone, they weren’t exactly excited about His message. Actually, they picked up stones to throw at Him. They were so mad they would have killed him.
Maybe you feel the same way about me right now. If there was something you could throw at me, you would.
Well, I’m not here to tickle your ears. I’m not here to tell you what you want to hear. You can go anywhere for that. There’s even plenty of fake pastors who care more about your approval than God’s approval.
But that’s not me. My assignment as your pastor is to lead you into all truth. I’m here to protect you from the enemy’s attempts to deceive you, to steal from you, to destroy you.
And I care about you too much to hide the truth, even when it hurts. Even when it makes you mad, I’ll tell you the truth.
Wash and See
That’s what Jesus did. Days and days of sharing the truth, yet, they still weren’t getting it. The deception was so thick, they couldn’t even see truth standing right in front of them.
But Jesus didn’t give up on them. He taught them first. And now He is going to use a miracle to demonstrate what He’s been talking about.
John 9:1-3 MSG – Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”
What a ridiculous question, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”
Y’all. The man was BORN blind. And they’re asking if his sin caused his blindness. He didn’t have a chance to sin before he was blind! He was BORN blind!
I guess it could be his parents’ fault, but look at what Jesus says:
John 9:1-3 MSG – Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.
How many of you, when you get sick, start wondering what you did wrong to deserve the sickness? Stop that nonsense. The enemy likes to use that lie to keep you from getting healed.
When it comes to sin, all you have to do is turn away from it and receive forgiveness through Jesus. Then it’s like it never happened.
Seriously. Even if you smoked all your life and ended up with lung cancer. Turn from your sin, receive forgiveness, and then receive healing in your body.
Even when it’s your fault, Jesus still wants to heal you. You just have to believe.
So, Jesus comes upon a man who had been blind from birth. Not his fault. Not his parent’s fault. But let’s see what God can do.
Jesus spits in the dirt to make some mud. He then anoints the blind man’s eyes with the mud and tells him to go wash it off.
Keep in mind, this man had no idea who Jesus was. From his perspective, this is some strange man doing the strangest thing… rubbing spit mud on his eyes.
As strange as it is, the man was obedient. He goes and washes off the mud and comes back completely healed. He had never seen before, but now he had his full sight.
The story explained
When I was studying for this message, the Holy Spirit opened my spiritual eyes to understand the layers of meaning in this miracle.
The blind man represents all the people he had been sharing truth with, but they couldn’t see the truth because they were spiritually blind.
The mud represents the flesh. The reason these people were so deceived is because they were so caught up in their physical world.
Today, this would be the person who gets up just in time for work. They rush to work, hurry through the day, and get home exhausted.
They sit down on the couch and watch the news, or something on Netflix, or their favorite reality show. Then they go to bed and do the same thing tomorrow.
The mud represents the flesh, when you get so caught up in this life that you don’t prioritize God. Instead of seeking Him first, you are seeking Him occasionally when you have time for it.
Now you have a layer of mud over your eyes that keeps you from discerning truth.
The water represents the Word of God. When you wash yourself with the Word of God, you come back seeing. The Word of God washes away the cares of this life and everything becomes clear.
This is what Jesus is inviting you to do today. Wash the mud off your eyes so you can see. In other words:
To follow Jesus, I must wash with God’s Word.
Let me tell you what is going to happen if you decide to do this. You will lose your desire to do things that are destructive to your walk with God.
You will lose interest in the petty things of life and desire God’s will above all else.
Washing with the water of God’s Word is going to enable you to see your God-given purpose with clarity. You’ll no longer be wandering around without purpose. You’ll know God’s assignment for you.
Jesus is inviting you to wash the mud off your eyes so you can see.