The following are various thoughts which help to identify the work of
deceiving spirits in an individual's life or grouping. It is aimed as a help to
leaders, counsellors and individuals desiring to help others or themselves to
identify a direct work of deceiving spirits.
The Lord clearly warned as the major thing to look out for prior to his
return 'take heed that no one deceives you'
Matthew 24:4, 11, 23-26 et al. And Paul made clear that in the latter times
believers would give heed to 'deceiving spirits and
doctrines of demons' 1 Timothy 4:1.
These spirits 'teach' by stringing together many passages taken out of
context (just as the Devil did when tempting Jesus; Matthew 4:3-11). The way
they 'teach' is what I wish to highlight. These are not exhaustive, but
indicative guidelines or signposts to show the difference between what
is of God and what is not: how to identify the work of deceiving spirits.
Regularly or repeatedly occurring coincidences or similar type events which
act as a support to a belief are the work of deceiving spirits.
Facial feelings associated or timed with these incidents are the work of
Passages of scripture received as needed to 'confirm' a thought or belief,
but which are 'received' by an opening of the Bible by coincidence at the right
place and eyes or finger at the exact point required, are the work of deceiving
spirits: This is so when repeatedly occurring. These will often be texts out of
context - unrelated to the surrounding passage from which it is taken. These are
not usually texts out of knowledge previously gained.
When you get these beliefs you either don't feel secure sharing them or, you
feel they 'must' be told (e.g. a persistent 'hobby horse').
If the former: the belief is felt as 'personal' and 'special' such that you
end up being extra careful who you share these beliefs with and to the full.
Certainly not sharing these with someone who does not fully affirm you without
much explanation - disguise - covering remarks to justify. Associated and
together with this is the idea that one has an 'exclusive'.
Classic Fruits of Deception
Basically here isolation and exclusivity are classic
fruits of deception as are domination,
control, and repeated accusation of the brethren to any degree
(that is to say other brethren not in your group). The latter signs are more
visible and tangible in a group of believers under deception. An individual
feels especially guarded about his belief being attacked and has difficulty in
accepting others who do not share the same belief. They find it hard to remain
with and accept the freedom of the other to believe otherwise. Against 1
Corinthians 13:7 where love '. . . believes all things .
. . ' and James 3:17 where God's wisdom is '. . .
willing to yield. . .' and, 2 Corinthians 3:17 '.
. .where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty', freedom. It is the
freedom of the other to believe otherwise which is not 'given' permission.
The feeling that if one should dare to doubt or question this 'belief' one
will lose something. Whilst the opposite is true with things from God because he
gives a genuine choice and does not need to impose his truth. It speaks for
Deception is believing something is of God with sincerity and usually with
no doubt, whilst in fact it is not wholly or at all of God.
Paul sincerely believed the followers of 'the way'
(the 1st Christians) were corrupting the truths of the religion of the One and
True God. This is why he persecuted them vehemently and was able to say later,
after his conversion, I have lived in all good conscience before God to this day
(Acts 23:1). Once he had learned 'the way' was the real truth and not a false
belief as he thought, he could not persecute, but sought to re-align all his
knowledge of the Word to this 'way' (Acts 9:1-19 cf. 1 Timothy 1:12-13).
When a Bible passage is repeatedly brought to the mind and this is linked to
a belief such that it demands an action on your behalf (due to the repetition)
to make something happen, then this is the work of deceiving spirits:
For example being repeatedly told 'faith without
works is dead', 'faith without works is dead',
'faith without works is dead', when linked to a
belief having been introduced by the 'spirit' about someone which is to be
'your' partner. [James 2:20]
Another example is repeatedly being given 'they will
know that a prophet has been among them' linked to a 'teaching' absorbed,
'requiring' you to share it no matter how offensive or inappropriate or untimely
or unwelcome (because, ' ''you'' are a prophet!'). [Ezekiel 2:5]
It must not be forgotten that with the Lord and his words: 'the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets'
1 Corinthians 14:32.
'Compulsion', 'pressure' to act or speak, to initiate or continue a change
in lifestyle, in your job, in a relationship, etc are not God's methods.
Jesus leads his sheep; he does not 'drive' them. Because they hear his voice
(John 10:4). Those who 'are led by the Spirit of God,
these are sons of God' Romans 8:14. God has self-control; the enemy does
not, but seeks to impose his will (Galatians 5:23).
A lonely heart is particularly fertile ground for a work of deception. The
path to believing someone is to be 'your' partner well frequented by such
spiritual activity. Once deceiving spirits have a hold - once you are believing
something 'received' - they will feed it and lead it on to other areas of
control in your life in order to isolate you. The thief comes to steal, kill,
and destroy any part of the abundant life God has for you (John 10:10). He
attempts to blind you to the truth by veiling your eyes - the Bible
becomes a hard book to read - anointed teaching is dull to your
ears. . .
May the above few thoughts help you in your walk with the Lord and in your
ministry with others.
I leave you with A PRAYER which is a good beginning to allow one's
heart attitude to receive freedom and understanding:
Thank you that you are Light and in you is no darkness at
I ask that you shine your light in me and reveal all the beliefs and
thoughts which I have taken on board as if from you, but in reality are not of
you. I want to believe what is from you and nothing from the enemy. Just as you
asked the church at Laodicea to anoint their eyes with eyesalve that they may
see, so I ask that you anoint my eyes that I may see. I thank you that the Holy
Spirit will guide into all truth. I ask for discernment and courage to unlearn
wrong things received as well as prevent new things which attempt to make a home
in me. Help me to recognise any fresh work of the enemy which attempts to divert
me from your ways.
Thank you that you give wisdom freely to those who ask.
Father I ask all this in Jesus' Name,
(1 John 1:5; Revelation 3:18; John 16:13; James 1:5-8; John
For further interest I recommend
MAKING AN IDOL?:
How can you tell if you have an idol?; WOLF
IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING?: How do you discern a wolf in sheep's clothing? How can
you tell someone who is leading others astray? What are the signs?
The latest (24th September 2012) is OVERCOMING DECEPTION.
For more grounding in the bible and to show how regular the challenge of deception is for all the Saints: WHICH s/SPIRIT ARE YOU LISTENING TO?
For how deception works differently between the genders: there is a difference in how deception works between men and women, I recommend my book LEADERSHIP IS MALE?