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Be Not Deceived
Part 3: This Is Not It!
(Note: Except where otherwise stated all Bible references are taken from the New King James Version – NKJV with the Holy Names inserted.)
In the previous parts of this series we had shown how, by ignoring the commands of Yahweh, many persons have been deceived and have wandered farther from Him. If you delved deeper to find the fundamental reasons why man chooses the wrong paths, perhaps you would agree that ignorance and obsession with self are the two main contenders. In this part we shall consider that man’s overriding desire to satisfy his needs and wants, when combined with his attachment to and fascination with things pertaining to this transitory life, obscures the true purposes of life and deprives him of his heritage.
Any decision to disobey Yahweh is always preceded by an irresistible craving to satisfy or pander to self. This intense desire to indulge self is perhaps the greatest single cause of errors of judgment that have ever been made. One will always be deluded when the fixation with the glitter, glamour or even the necessity of the moment veils the underlying pitfalls.
Examples of Egocentric Delusion
Eve made this mistake when she was tempted in the Garden of Eden and ate of the forbidden fruit. She was thinking only of satisfying her senses. The here and now rather than the hereafter was what really mattered to her. She had made this decision even though she knew she would have displeased Yahweh by violating His command, and was aware of the consequences Yahweh had said would follow such disobedience. As she gazed upon that enticing fruit before her, and listened to the seductive words of the serpent, the words of Yahweh faded almost to the point of peaceful oblivion. There was only one compelling thought: “If I could just touch it, and taste it…now!” Her fingers responded to the irresistible wave of temptation that had captivated her mind and body and shut down any contrary consideration. She touched and tasted that which she had thought was unobtainable. Her curiosity was appeased, and her desire satisfied, but she did not know the unending price all future generations would pay for her one moment of folly.
Esau did the same thing. When overcome by intense hunger he sacrificed his birthright that promised a secure future, just for a bowl of stew. He said to Jacob,
Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me? (Gen 25:32)
Judas did likewise when he betrayed the Saviour. He surrendered the highest and unique privilege of being in Yahshua’s inner circle of twelve disciples and of spending eternity with Him, for the sake of the paltry and incomparable sum of thirty pieces of silver. The prodigal son made the same choice when he collected his inheritance from his father and walked away from the security and privileges of his father’s house, for the freedom to be a man on his own, and to ‘do his own thing’ with lots of money jangling in his pocket, but ended up eating the left-overs of pigs.
Like Eve, Esau, Judas and the prodigal son, many persons today are so preoccupied with the dazzling things of this present world and the immediate satisfaction of their fleshy appetites, that they have no time or inclination to please Yahweh or to prepare for their future eternal home. For ages Satan has continually led people astray from their everlasting Father by causing them to focus their minds upon and to form close bonds with transient things of this world as though this present life were all that mattered. He has always presented the objects of his distractions as possessing such surpassing benefits that they demand instant selection. Like the proverbial dog dropping its bone to snap at its shadow, so too this world has dropped what really matters for the delusion of instant gratification.
Where Are We Today?
Today, Satan, “the ruler of this world,” John 12:31, is filled with “great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time,” Rev 12:12, and that the day is fast approaching when in accordance with Yahweh’s time clock he will no longer have the freedom to deceive people. In his remaining time, Satan is employing the same self-indulgent appeal that he used so effectively in the Garden of Eden to lead people away from Yahweh and eternal life, to death and destruction.
He has launched an all-out assault that targets man’s strongest negative emotions and arouses the most passionate responses. Feelings such as lust, pride, fear, hatred, selfishness and greed are being sumptuously fed and encouraged to grow in a conducive environment. In this massive final thrust to wreak havoc, Satan is playing an active role in destabilizing the world and causing many to focus even more on their self-interests.
Worldwide terrorism is spreading the wildfire of hatred and fear. Evil deeds like an active volcanic chain are erupting, causing disruption, suffering and grief with unceasing regularity, and expanding in scope and age range to surpass anything the world has ever known. Through the influence of media and internet communication subtle and explicit suggestions that pander to the elevation and obsession of self are being manufactured globally and thrown at us in total violation of our right to control the gateways of our mind. Sensuality in all of its many devious forms is being promoted. Depravity is rampant.
The appealing trap of greed and selfishness that has wooed the whole world is now inflicting its deadliest wound on all. The world’s strongest and largest economies have begun to collapse, trapping and crushing the poorest countries that lie helplessly beneath this monstrous debacle. The hopes of many are being shattered with the disintegration of the safety nets they had so carefully devised. They have properties that have depreciated in value and which they cannot sell, debts that cannot be repaid, investments that have crumbled, and jobs that were deemed to be secure but are either lost or are like fragile props that are inadequate to sustain them. Dreams and ambitions are daily being wrecked.
Now at last we can fully understand the potential for the fulfilment of the prophecies in the book of Revelation:
Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, Rev 14:8.
“Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.” “‘For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.’ Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance.” “They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate’,” Rev 18:10, 17 and 19.
In spite of the global evidence of the fragility of this world’s fortune and the futility of man’s best endeavours, minds are still deceived and people are not yet turning to the only One who offers unending security. Instead of awakening to the folly of an attachment to perishable things, people are allowing their emotions and health to suffer a downturn that is far greater than the economic one. They cannot bear the thought of the threat that lies ahead, yet they will not turn from their idolatrous ways to Yahweh who can calm the storms, make a way where there is no way, and give to them eternal life where no moth and rust can corrupt.
They are still obsessed with the here and now even though it offers little or no hope.
“Those who trust in their wealth and boast in the multitude of their riches, none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to Yahweh a ransom for him.” “Likewise the fool and the senseless person perish, and leave their wealth to others. Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever, their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names. Nevertheless man, though in honor, does not remain; He is like the beasts that perish,” Psa 49:5-7, 10 12.
The global deterioration is a rude but necessary reminder and stimulus to those who believe that this world is not our home or the reason for our hope. Paul wrote:
If in this life only we have hope in [the Messiah], we are of all men the most pitiable, 1 Cor 15:19.
The demise of the foundations upon which man had built his hopes is an essential prelude to the day when “the elements will melt with fervent heat” and “the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up”… Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells,” 2 Pet 3:10,13.
The curtain is closing to end this transitory Scene in order that the final Act will begin in which the true and faithful will enter their long awaited eternal home and the unrighteous will be punished. Meanwhile, the majority of spectators are dazed by the unfolding events and cannot think beyond the threat of this present life. They are duped by their fascination with self and their preoccupation with the here and now.
Man does not need help or encouragement to be egocentric. Nevertheless, amidst the global collapse, many religious denominations are still unwittingly fostering materialism and the aggrandizement of self, by their overemphasis on the natural benefits of serving Yahweh.
They take verses out of context such as “Yahweh will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath,” without quoting the conditions attached to promises such as, “if you heed the commandments of Yahweh your Elohim, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them,” Deut 28:13. Pre-eminence is given to receiving from Yahweh rather than on honouring, serving, loving and obeying Him. It is as if the prodigal son thought he could continue to eat from his father’s house while he was away from him.
Be not deluded by the law-breaking ministries that will entice you to give money to their causes and promise that in return Yahweh will bless you. They often freely misquote Deuteronomy 28 that “All these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of Yahweh your Elohim: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. Yahweh will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. Yahweh will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which Yahweh your Elohim is giving you,” Deut 28:2-8.
The misquotation comes as before by taking these verses out of context and ignoring that such blessings will come, not by bribing Yahweh with gifts, but by “Diligently [obeying] the voice of Yahweh your Elohim, to observe carefully all His commandments,” Deut 28:1.
It is a misuse and abuse of the Scriptures for preachers to substitute the conditional clause in a passage with their own and still promise the same results that Yahweh had promised. Such ‘cut-and-paste’ theology is false. The self-centered or optimistic commands of men do not guarantee Yahweh’s blessings. They only serve to keep self-interest on the throne that should be occupied by Yahweh. Such misleading teachings, instead of enhancing a love of Yahweh, encourages a love of one’s self. In giving, their followers are not truly investing in Yahweh’s cause, but in their own. They are giving merely because they have been persuaded that they will be blessed if they give. Their motivation is not Yahweh but selfishness.
Yahshua’s teaching was quite different. He taught self-denial. He said,
If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his [yoke], and follow Me, Matt 16:24.
Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, John 6:27.
He taught we should not “Lay up for [ourselves] treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” Matt 6:19-21.
His priority for us is to “Seek first the kingdom of Yahweh and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you,” Matt 6:31-33.
You do not put Yahweh first when you make token gestures designed to attract His attention while your eyes are firmly riveted on receiving from His hands the benefits that you really desire more earnestly than Him. You are deceived if you think that by taking one half-hearted step towards Yahweh He will take note and gratefully open the windows of heaven to pour out blessings upon you. This is selfcentered theology dressed up with some convenient supporting verses taken from the Bible. You cannot bribe Yahweh with gifts that are purported to be to Him, but are in fact downpayments on the rewards you seek.
Whilst claiming Yahweh’s laws are abolished, preachers highlighting the theme of prosperity audaciously draw very heavily on the law of tithing. Without any qualms of conscience, they quote freely from Malachi 3 that Yahweh will bless you if you pay tithes to their assemblies, even though according to their own teachings, tithes should have been lumped together with the other laws and dumped when grace appeared! It is strange how conveniently and shamelessly they forsake their favourite doctrine that Yahweh’s laws are abolished in order to gain financial sustenance for their organizations. They gladly rummage in the rubbish bins in which Yahweh’s laws are supposed to be confined, in order to salvage the means for their financial upkeep. Necessity is no excuse or basis for compromising one’s beliefs or for selectively observing some of Yahweh’s commands.
The promoters and adherents of such teachings give priority to their own interests and are deceived in thinking that Yahweh is hoodwinked by their hypocrisy. These convenient doctrines are subtle satanic deceptions comparable with the strategy used in the Garden of Eden of putting selfinterest first. Although Yahweh can and is willing to bless us here and now, we were created for a purpose that far exceeds His choicest blessings in this life. The things in this world are destined only for destruction. They cannot last forever. It is not Yahweh’s material or physical blessings that are most important but our eternal heritage, and He Himself. His most abundant blessings now are like light sprinkles of rain when compared to the heavy unending showers that await us in His Kingdom.
Beware of all materialistic doctrines. They are deeply anchored on SELF and not upon Yahweh. Yahshua, when asked which is the first commandment, replied “You shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these,” Mark 12:30 and 31.
As self-interest increases, the love towards Yahweh and our fellowmen declines. Yahshua warned that “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold,” Matt 24:12.
The evangel that Yahshua and His disciples proclaimed was of a coming Kingdom and of the urgent need to repent. Their message was the exact opposite of the popular doctrines that are being emphasized in an already materialistic and self-centered world. The important teachings of Yahshua are virtually silenced by the materialistic sermons and motivational lectures that flow incessantly from many of today’s pulpits. Selfenhancement has its place in our society, but cannot replace the fundamental messages of salvation and righteousness that are vital for inheriting eternal life. Yahshua did not come to repair this old world or to put His “new wine into old wineskins,” Matt 9:17. In answer to today’s over-worked self-improvement ‘sermons’ He would say, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” however much we may try to refine it. A swine will continue to be a swine though dressed in costliest apparel in a king’s palace.
Yahshua’s mission was for those of us who believe on Him and obey Him to have eternal life. He said that His way involves death to self and leaving all in this world to follow Him, not following Him in order to gain everything in this life. Real life comes by dying to self. Death comes by living for self.
Get Your Priorities Right
The world and the cherished things in it will pass away. Eve, Esau, Judas and the prodigal son selected the instant perishable commodities. Their record would have been quite different if, instead of giving in to their impulses, they had been determined to satisfy their long-term interest rather than a fleeting attraction. The reality is that when for whatever reasons a selfcentered alternative dominates, there is hardly a choice. The tendency then is for one to yield to self rather than struggle against one’s will. The root cause of our preferences is much deeper than the momentary selection. The underlying reason for the choice we make is dependent on who or what has priority in our lives. Yahshua said,
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other, Matt 6:24.
If ‘self’ is predominant, it will be your master.
Many persons are still hankering after the corruptible goods of this life, which are disintegrating. They still prefer the diminishing gifts to the Giver. Few persons make a conscious effort to choose Satan and not Yahweh. But many, by seeking mostly to gratify themselves, leave an open door for the enemy to enter.
Meanwhile Satan continues to bombard and poison the minds of people causing them to focus on things that will not last. In good times they are preoccupied with gaining more of this world’s goods. In hard times they worry about losing it all.
The ‘world, the flesh and the devil’ thus form a triple force, which is irresistible except we are fully yielded to the over-riding power of Yahweh’s Spirit.
Without Yahweh’s help we are defenceless and can be blinded and deluded when tempted by tangible and temporary rewards that for a moment may seem more desirable than the inestimable glory that is to be revealed by following Yahshua! As Satan beguiled Eve by a fruit, so he is busy deceiving people with the glittering or even fading things of this world.
If, as Yahshua said, we should seek first the kingdom of Yahweh, then this world with all of its attractions would not have any strong hold on us. Wherever and whenever Yahweh is not uppermost in our thoughts, we are vulnerable to Satan’s duplicity. Our “kingdom is not of this world,” John 18:36. By contrast to the expected demise of this world’s kingdoms, the kingdom of Yahweh is “An everlasting kingdom, and [His] dominion endures throughout all generations,” Psa 145:13.
The present time is too serious for us to be focussed on things of no eternal value. While Satanic forces are intensifying their efforts to lead the world astray, those whose hearts are in tune with Yahweh should desire, now more than ever, to put Yahweh first and to “always do those things that please Him,” John 8:29. The Bridegroom is almost here. It is time to awake from deluded slumber, throw off the cosy coverings of self-interest and go forth blazing our torches of truth to shine the path that leads to Him.
The greatest splendour in this world cannot in any way be compared with the glory that awaits us.
Our eternal heritage is too important to sacrifice it for the temporary appeasement of our fleshly appetites.
The time referred to in Revelation chapters 14 and 18 is surely coming. Nothing and no one will prevent it. The big calamity is on its way. Now is not the time to “spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy.” Instead, it is the time to “Listen carefully to [Yahweh], and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in [His] abundance,” Isa 55:2.
Worldly goods and pleasures have lured many from the narrow and straight paths of righteousness into the broad road that leads to destruction.
John wrote in his first epistle:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 1 John 2:15.
When self-centeredness and the pursuits and cares of this life are one’s first priority, other more important things are squeezed out.
True believers do not have to be deceived by “The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things,” Mark 4:19.
This tottering world is not our final destination. We are travellers and not residents. Hebrews 11:13, 14 and 16 show that we are “Strangers and pilgrims on the earth… [seeking] a homeland and … desire a better, that is, a heavenly country … where Yahweh has prepared a city for [us].
Our deepest longing must be for our eternal home. We are commanded to “Seek first the kingdom of Yahweh and His righteousness,” Matt 6:33.
The end of all things is at hand, 1 Peter 4:7.
Now is the time for us to practice what the Bible teaches while we wait expectantly to enter our eternal inheritance. It is not time to be deceived and weighed down with the cares of this world.
Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven, Prov 23:5.
The world will continue to reap the full harvest of the seeds of disobedience to Yahweh that they had sown and nurtured for countless generations. For those of us who have resolved to put Yahweh first, though we may go through this night of darkest gloom, there is no need or room for pessimism. Our day will dawn when we will enter “the city of the great King,” Psa 48:2. While we wait, if we are faithful to Him and put our trust in Him, He “will never leave [us] nor forsake [us],” Heb 13:5.
There is no hope in man, who does not have the answer and cannot help, or in your crumbling possessions, or in some egocentric deluded doctrine that promises much in this life without the authority and ability to deliver. Our safest hope is not in a change in our circumstances. Our hope is in Yahweh alone. We do not look for a new city from the pile of this world’s rubble. We look for the “new heaven and a new earth, … and …the holy city, New Jerusalem,” which will come “down out of heaven from Yahweh, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband,” Rev 21:1-3.
Be not deceived! This world is not it!
-Elder Buel Hallpike
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