Documentation Published on Friday, 11 March 2022

The ultimate form of deception: The worst forms of deception and disappointment takes place where it should never have been – in the church

The ultimate form of deception": The worst form of deception and disappointment takes place where it should never have been – in the church

The apostle Paul was responsible for contributing the biggest part of the New Testament. Not only did he receive much of his information as a direct revelation from Jesus Christ, but we also learn a lot of the man, his mind, and his heart. If ever there was someone, apart from Jesus, who did not deserve the criticism targeted against him, it was Paul of Tarsus. Here is a man who dedicated most of his life travelling the known world to spread the gospel, establish churches, nourish them, and mentor others to follow in his footsteps. Yet there were many who tried to undo a lot of the work he had done, as shown below.

3But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. – 2 Corinthians 11:3-4

Paul delivered an uncomplicated gospel, which he describes as the simplicity that is in Christ. The gospel was never designed to be difficult to understand, given that many that heard the Word, and still do today, had no or very little exposure to the Old Testament. The simplicity in the gospel is the beauty of it. Yet, as he shows above, others would come in and preach another Jesus (a false one), and people will as a result receive another spirit (a false one). These teachers corrupt the minds of many and in the end, many will follow them.

A constant theme of our messages is deception. Jesus taught about this in Matthew 24, and Paul continued teaching this wherever he went. When we read what he writes, we feel his incredible disappointment with what is happening right in the church. We often think that the deception enters the church from the outside. Unfortunately, it starts right where it should never have been – in the church!

In his second letter to the church in Corinth, he shares the hardships he has had to deal with. Tucked away in the long list is one that is so incredibly sad:

22Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? – 2 Corinthians 11:22-29

Among all the things that happened to him during his ministry, the phrase “in perils among false brethren” (brothers) stands out. It is difficult to comprehend the disappointment Paul feels by being let down by supposed brothers. He mentions this among the list of the other things he suffered. A peril is a situation of grave danger, and Paul says that the perilous situation he is in, is that he is among people who are supposed to share his enthusiasm for the gospel, but some of them are false and they let him down.

What is a brother? In the natural sense it is a person born from the same father and mother you have, someone who shares your family name and genetics. This is someone who is supposed to be close to you. In the spiritual sense your brother (or sister – we are not forgetting about women!) is one who shares the same spiritual father you have, our Father in heaven, and who shares the same love for Jesus Christ that you have. How sad then when some of these people that we allow close to us and probably share confidential aspects of our lives with, deceive us and let us down, worse than any known enemy outside the church would. With the known enemy you expect attacks, not with someone you pray with.

How do we recognise these false fellow-Christians? Jesus gives us the answer:

15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.Matthew 7:15-19

We will know them by the fruit they produce. What is the fruit? It is most definitely what Paul tells us:

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

These are the virtues we are supposed to display in the church, and our everyday fellowship with those around us, especially unbelievers. Look at those around you in the church. They may say the right things, but whether they are genuine will be evident in how they act. Each one of the fruits cited by Paul are visible, tangible examples of living a Christ-like life. Paul warns his protégé, Timothy, of the same things which happen in the church today:

1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. – 2 Timothy 3:1-5

The danger here is those who have a form of godliness, and act like Christians, but the Holy Spirit does not operate in their lives. He tells Timothy to turn away from them. You must too.


Be careful who you share your life with, and measure your “brothers” against God’s Word.

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