Monday 29 December 2014


What are the 5 Ds of backsliding? Deception, discouragement, distraction, disillusionment and denial.

When believers are deceived, discouraged or distracted, they become lukewarm in the faith. In time to come, they may become so disillusioned with the faith that they may even deny God.

Deception is a prominent feature in these tumultuous end times. Of the various end time characteristics—deception, persecution and turbulence—mentioned by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24), deception seems to be the most prominent. Even the elect—supposedly mature leaders—can be deceived. If leaders are deceived, don’t you think the flock will fare even worse?

How many times did Jesus warn believers in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) not to be deceived? Four.

  • Take heed that no one deceives you (vs. 4).

  • For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many (vs. 5).

  • Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many (vs.11).

  • For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (vs. 24).

Like a serpent, deception slithers through the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It is one of the most effective tools that satan employs in spiritual warfare against believers.

Though Eve was warned by God not to eat the forbidden fruit as she would then die, she disobeyed. She was beguiled by the cunning serpent (satan) (Genesis 3:13). “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to her. “For God knows that when you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3: 4-5).

Joshua was deceived by the Gibeonites because he did not inquire of God (Joshua 9:14). After the miraculous crossing of the river Jordan and victory at Jericho, Joshua presumed that the Gibeonites were from a distant land and signed a peace treaty with them. Actually they were inhabitants of Canaan whom Joshua was supposed to defeat.

The apostle Paul cautions: “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).

The apostle John tells us “not to believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Deception can rear its ugly head in the form of false teaching or counterfeit signs and wonders.

The extent and seriousness of the problem posed by deception through false teaching is worrying. What’s so dangerous about this deception posed by false teaching?      
Because of destructive heresy (2 Peter 2:1), the eternal destiny of believers may be at stake. Here are two examples:

  • If one believes that confession is redundant and live by it, one’s eternal security as a believer may be at stake.

  • Similarly, if one believes that one’s future sins are automatically forgiven and live by it, one’s eternal security as a believer may also be at stake.

Next, let us consider counterfeit signs and wonders. May God grant us discernment to know that NOT all the supernatural experiences or manifestations that we see in church today are of the Holy Spirit.

How can we ever attribute the following scenarios in church to the work of the Holy Spirit? A person slithering on the ground like a snake?  A person barking like a dog? A person crowing like a cockerel? A person fidgeting non-stop and jumping around like a monkey? In these instances, the people involved have lost control of their senses.

Let us not get carried away by supernatural experiences or manifestations per se. Just as not all that glitters is gold, not everything supernatural is of the Holy Spirit.

Apart from deception, discouragement by adverse circumstances—such as retrenchment, loss of loved ones, financial loss or repeated rejections in lovecan also cause believers to backslide. When the cares and worries of the world weigh on them, and they are unable to cope, they may no longer be fervent or fruitful. 

In the Parable of the Sower, the seed which fell among thorns represents those who receive God’s message well at first but later get choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures. The result is that they fail to mature and bear fruit, unlike the seed which fell on good soil (Luke 8:14-15).

“Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”
(Luke 21:34-36)

In both passages—Luke 8:14-15, Luke 21:34-36—the parallel theme to be observed is that worries and pleasures can draw us away from God.

Believers who are distracted in their faith walk are those who enticed by the riches and pleasures of the world. They were once fervent in the things of God. But because of the allure of gold, glory or girls, they deviate from God’s intended path for their lives.

Believers may also become disillusioned in their faith walk. Some find the things of God no longer attractive to them compared to worldly pleasures and riches—that which their senses can savour in the here and now. Others perceive that since God cannot help them overcome their problems, their faith no longer means anything to them. 

A combination of factors leads to the final stage when even a straw would break the camel’s back. That is when denial sets in.

It has to be admitted that no one is perfect. Believers do fall into sin, get distracted, feel discouraged or disillusioned from time to time. However, failure to remedy the situation may lead to the worst state of spiritual decline—denial of one’s faith.

If we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
(2 Timothy 2:12-13)

Though believers may be faithless in that they are discouraged by circumstances or distracted by the flesh and the things of the world, God is faithful. He gives them second chance or innumerable opportunities to turn around. The father heart of God is clearly seen in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Jesus shows us that God’s abundant grace is freely given in the account of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. But when believers deny God, it seems the point of no return has been reached.


How to develop discernment and escape the clutches of destructive heresies

How can we discern whether a particular supernatural manifestation is of divine origin or of the devil?

Somewhere along the way believers too get entangled in various pursuits which either impede progress or lead them off the intended spiritual path.

Nobody says it’s going to be easy to stay faithful. It’s difficult—especially for those who seemingly have everything in life.

When people tell me that those who deny Christ were never really converted in the first place, I am truly puzzled. How are we going to reconcile this misguided stance with the evidence from scriptures, biblical examples and contemporary examples that show that it is possible for believers to deny God?



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