My Way Out of Deception
My Way Out of Deception —Jay Zinn
In this week’s blog, I want to show you the eight steps I took to escape my deception.
1. I admitted my convictions were wrong—that I had been deceived.
After my deceiver moved out of the state, I began to see things differently in scriptures than what he taught me. I returned to attending church and discovered the pastor’s messages were not inconsistent with the scriptures he used. The elder who prophesied over my life at his house came to me and shared some things about my deceiver’s pattern and what happened to others who followed him into deception. The blindfold came off, and I came to a place of truth about my deception.
2. I determined to come clean in every area where deception touched my life and the lives of those I influenced.
Once I confessed to my deception, I examined the places where my life became imbalanced by this young man’s teachings. He used scriptures to support his doctrine, so I was concerned that I didn’t throw out truth along with the counterfeit. Most deception has a measure of truth—enough to make it sound right. The Bible advises us to “test all things and hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). As I applied this to my life, the truth began to set me free. Also, I recruited a couple of younger brothers in the Lord to follow this man and needed to take responsibility for their deception. I acknowledged my error to them and asked their forgiveness.
3. I put a harness on my mouth and talked to an objective spiritual leader and counselor who was not a part of my deception.
As I started the process of sorting through everything, I felt shame and guilt about returning to non-sinful activities—those I learned to avoid. I needed to know if it was my deceiver’s voice or the Holy Spirit convicting me. So I went to the elder who took an interest in helping me and asked if the conviction I felt was from God or my deception. He graciously led me to the scriptures to help me get through the process from bondage. He showed me truth and balance concerning the things I had taken to an extreme.
4. I came to understand that anointing, dreams, prophecies, signs and wonders, fleeces, or coincidences are not the only criteria to confirm direction or convictions.
Prophecies, signs, and dreams have to be handled with care because they are subjective. For example, if a young man falls in love with a girl, then dreams in a dream that they marry, and the very next morning comes across the scripture in Proverbs 18:22, “whoever finds a wife finds a good thing,” he may be convinced this is enough evidence to prove she is to be his. Next thing you know, a prophet comes to church and prophesies over him that God will give him the desires of his heart. So the young man hears “desires of his heart” and adds it to his dream with the Proverbs scripture about finding a wife. He now has the confidence to approach the girl and tell her the good news.
Only two problems: 1) she hasn’t met him yet, so she is not even remotely attracted to him in the same way, and 2) she’s two years into a relationship with her boyfriend and a strong possibility of marriage. The young man’s dream to become her husband has failed to line up with these other realities. So we can’t put our hope in supernatural criteria alone. It must be held with an open hand and confirmed by a clear-cut progression, consistent with all the rest.
5. I embraced the pruning process.
In so many words in John 15:1-5, Jesus indicated that if a man abides in him, he will prune him to bring forth more fruit. Jesus cut off the dead branches of performance-based rituals in my heart to bring me back to heart-based trust in the work of God in me. It was painful to stop the extreme disciplines my deceiver taught me to do religiously. For example, we fasted an average of five days a week. After his departure, I had to press through my sense of guilt for eating normal again and pare back my fasting to one day a week. Jesus pruned the Pharisaical works I felt were necessary to gain God’s acceptance when the work of the cross had already made me acceptable to him.
6. I determined to bring my close friends back into scriptural order.
It is humbling to admit to those you led into what you believed that you were wrong. Sometimes those you deceived aren’t ready to accept it because they’ll have to admit that they, too, were wrong. But if you have their ear, then you must show them from scripture where you have erred. If you led others into false doctrine, then you must lead them out as well.
7. I experienced a period of feeling backslidden, walking against the light of the previous path I followed.
When you get off course, there is no shortcut back. You must retrace the steps that led to where you arrived before you knew you were off course. Pushing through the emotions and mental opposition to arrive at the extreme convictions I held didn’t make it easy to turn around and go back to those sacred landmarks and denounce them. Eventually, my time in the Word, and the Holy Spirit’s guidance into truth and balance, removed my guilt and shame.
8. I came to understand that true spirituality is:
Alert instead of FOGGY
Balanced instead of EXTREME
Real instead of PHONY
Perceptive instead of GULLIBLE
I hope that my last fourteen DG Blogs have helped establish why discipleship is such an essential need in the body of Christ. So many Christians are isolated and lonely. Though we congregate every Sunday, a person can still leave the service feeling alone and disconnected. Many have never experienced authentic deep relationships with other like-minded brothers or sisters. Many are not in God’s Word or don’t know how to feed themselves. Such believers are more vulnerable to deception without the love, care, and checks and balances that come from being in a discipleship group. That was me. I didn’t know the Word, and I didn’t have a close-knit group of friends in Christ to keep me checked in to reality.
My DG Blogs are meant to encourage, feed, and lead people toward a healthy relationship with God and each other. I see this happening powerfully among hundreds of believers engaged in the spiritual development process of my Discipleship Group material. In that setting, instead of loneliness, isolation, and vulnerability to deceivers, there is safety, community, and love.
Grace and Peace!
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