Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15
“The best lies stay close to the truth.” ―
After the fall, man was corrupted and learned to deceive, manipulate, cheat, betray, entrap, falsify, mislead, use half-truths, and bend the truth. We also have an enemy who dogs our steps and attempts to deceive us. Christians need to be aware how subtle deviation from the truth can be utilized by false teachers, other Christians, ourselves, and the enemy. We deal with possible deception in all of the following:
- Our own sinful natures and self-deception.
- The sinful nature of other Christians.
- False teachers.
- Sincere but deluded Christians.
- Sincere but deluded teachers or pastors.
- The devil.
Only by studying Scripture diligently, staying attuned to the holy spirit, and using discernment can we escape the snares of delusion operating in all of the above.
The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth. – Jn. 16:13
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. – John 8:44
Using Scripture Slightly Out of Context or in an Authoritarian Manner
By using a Scripture verse slightly out of context one can make it say something different than its intended meaning. Satan sprinkles a few grains of truth in with a lie to make it more believable. If he can just dilute the truth a bit, he can begin his work, fully intending to do more.
And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. – Colossians 2:4
The following is a verse that is often used in a wrong manner:
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. – Hebrews 13:17
This verse is often used by authoritarian pastors and leaders as a method to control congregants. While the verse does state that we are to submit to those who have rule over us, I believe that submission hinges on whether the pastor or leader is faithfully adhering to teachings in the Word of God. Dictatorship is not what this verse is implying, and narcissistic leaders wield this verse like a club to lord their authority over another. If a pastor or other leader aren’t open to discussing issues with you but in essence “club” you with this verse, or are hurting you then I believe that crosses the line. Using a verse to force another believer into subjugation goes against Christ’s character. This is why it’s so important to “rightly divide (or handle) the word of truth.” We know when someone isn’t doing this.
One can fool themselves into thinking that God approves of our sins, by slightly misinterpreting Scripture. For example, many believers and unbelievers misuse the following verse, when confronted with sin:
Judge not, that you be not judged. – Matthew 7:1
One verse is isolated and the full counsel of the bible isn’t used, such as:
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” – Matthew 7:16
How can these two seemingly antithetical verses be applied? As I thought about this I began feeling inadequate. I realized that even after many years of study, how little I knew the bible and how much more work I needed to do. But one thing I do have is a sincere love of the truth. I believe that it comes down to our relationship with the Holy Spirit and seeing what rings true in our spirit:
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. – John a6:13
To live fully in the truth may be a lonely path at times. We may have to leave a church, end a relationship, be ridiculed, be put out of a church, off a forum, leave a job, or pay some other price. But what we get is so much more valuable. We held to the truth.
Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one perl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just. – Matthew 13:46