Is It a Sin to Be Deceived?

Is It a Sin to Be Deceived? - LIVE Q&A for July 21, 2022

Is it a sin to be deceived?

Is it a sin on our part if or when one is deceived? As was Eve in Genesis 3, & mentioned in 3:13. Adam, Eve, all that lives, and the earth were cursed from that moment on. Thank you & God bless.

1 Timothy 2:13-14 –

For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

This shows that being deceived is a sin, but it is not the same as to sin clearing knowing what is right and wrong, and choosing the wrong.

The Old Testament uses the phrase, “to sin with a high hand” or “presumptuous sin.” This is sin done with knowledge.

Numbers 15:30-31 –

But the person who does anything presumptuously, whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on the LORD, and he shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the LORD, and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be upon him.

  1. But the person who does anything presumptuously: Literally, to sin presumptuously means to sin “with a high hand.” It speaks of a flagrant rebellion against God, the law of Moses, and the nation as a whole.
  2. That person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be upon him: Such sin was not to be tolerated in Israel. This command was a cultural mechanism for addressing this sin and ensuring that such arrogant flaunting of public morality would not be rewarded.
  3. This is in stark contrast to modern culture where notorious, flagrant sinners are rewarded with fame and fortune. Instead of his guilt shall be upon him, our society puts guilt on anyone who would judge or condemn such depraved individuals by calling what they do evil.

Sometimes we say, “all sin is the same” or “sin is sin.” This is true in the sense that all sin makes us guilty before God and all sin makes us in need of a Savior.

But there is another real sense in which all sin is not the same. Some sins are worse than others. And, to sin with full knowledge is a worse sin that to sin by deception.

It is a sin to be deceived because….

  • God has revealed Himself to everyone in creation and conscience
  • God has revealed Himself through His word

Is It a Sin to Be Deceived?

  • When God has made His revelation available (through creation, conscience, and His word), then to choose ignorance is a sin
  • It certainly may be a lesser sin, but it is a sin.

Will today’s believers participate in the Millennial Kingdom?

Will we be participating in the Millennial Kingdom? Or is that only for those who are alive at the time?

This question concerns the End Times. The theological term for the study of the End Times is “eschatology.” Don’t let a big word like that throw anybody off. It just means the study of the End Times, as the Scriptures might reveal them to us. When I’m talking about things having to do with the End Times or last days, I always want to give the caveat that there is quite a broad spectrum of opinions among Christians regarding these things. In fact, there have been differing opinions since the days of the early church.

I’m currently teaching a class on Church History for an African school of missions. In some of my research preparing for the classes, I was very interested to find out that even in the early church, they recognized that Christians believed different things when it came to eschatology. They understood that and tolerated it, agreeing to disagree and still get along. I think that’s important for us to do.

You’re asking me concerning my perspective, so I’m happy to answer with how I understand eschatology, while acknowledging that other brothers and sisters who love the Lord and take the Bible seriously may believe differently. I’ll say I’m fine with them being wrong on this; I’ll be the right one. I say that with my tongue just a little bit in my cheek!

I believe that we as believers will participate in the Millennial Kingdom, but not as so-called “citizens of the earth.” Rather, we will be part of the governing authority that Jesus Christ sets up to administrate the Millennial earth. I believe that we will be rewarded for our faithful and diligent service unto the Lord in this life with greater responsibility as we help Jesus govern the Millennial Kingdom to come.

Your question is, “Will we participate in the Millennial Kingdom?” I think that is a very hard and firm answer. Yes, we will participate. But we will help govern an earth that is populated by, number one, those who have survived the Great Tribulation and the Battle of Armageddon. This will be a substantially lower percentage of the earth. Maybe a third of the earth’s population will perish in that terrible season of the Great Tribulation and the Battle of Armageddon.

But it will be populated not only those who survived the Great Tribulation, but also by those who are deemed worthy by Jesus in the judgment of the sheep and the goats. When I see the judgment of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25, I don’t regard it as being a judgment between heaven and hell. I regard it being a judgment of those who remain on the earth after the Great Tribulation and after the Battle of Armageddon. It is a judgment to see who will be allowed to continue on in the Millennial earth, and who will go face their eternal destiny immediately.

So yes, we will participate, but more as a governing help to Jesus in our resurrection bodies. I believe that will be the role of present-day believers in the Millennial Kingdom.

When will Nils-Erik Bergström’s book on fasting and prayer be available as a Kindle book?

My father-in-law, Nils-Erik Bergström, has a wonderful and powerful book on fasting, entitled, Dedication through Fasting and Prayer. Currently, you can find the print edition on Amazon. Just make the order and it’ll be shipped to you. But we really should provide that in a Kindle version as well, so I’m going to put that on my list of things to do.

Could Jesus have been baptized at the place the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River?

Is there any possibility that the place where the Israelites crossed the Jordan going into the Promised Land could be the same place where Christ was baptized?

Off the top of my head, I could say yes. I’m not completely familiar with the geography of the different traditional sites for Jesus to be baptized. I know there are a couple different places where people claim it happened. One site in particular is accessible from the Kingdom of Jordan, and people believe John the Baptist did his baptizing ministry there, so therefore it’s where Jesus would have been baptized. I know that location is not far from the area near Jericho.

So, yes, it could be. We can’t say with certainty, but it certainly could be the same place where Jesus was baptized and where Joshua and the children of Israel miraculously came over the Jordan River.

If Jesus is God, why did He need to grow in Spirit and wisdom as a child (Luke 2:40, 52)?

Since Christ is Deity, how is it that He needed to grow in Spirit and wisdom during His childhood (Luke 2:40, 52)?

Luke 2:40 – And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

Luke 2:52 – And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

The question is, if Jesus is God, how could this be? Well, yes, Jesus was and is God. We certainly know that to be true. But He was also human. This is one of the mysteries of the Incarnation. There is a combination of the human and the divine in Jesus Christ. Concerning the divine nature of Jesus, God is God. God can’t improve, God can’t change, God can’t grow. Yet, there were places where Jesus submitted to His human nature. In His human nature, He could grow, He could learn, He could increase in wisdom, He could increase in the Spirit.

The simplest answer is that this refers to what Jesus could do in His human nature. And of course, it’s true about Jesus, because His human nature was a true part of His being. It just wasn’t the only part of His being.

There are several ancient heresies regarding the person of Jesus. One of them is basically the idea that the deity of Jesus canceled out His humanity. This heresy teaches that Jesus didn’t really have a human nature; it was just overwhelmed by His deity. And we don’t believe that to be true. We believe that Jesus was truly human and truly God.

Sometimes we say that Jesus was “fully human and fully God,” which may be a sloppy way to say it. It’s hard to explain how you can be fully two things. But you can certainly say He was truly human and truly God. That’s the God-Man, Jesus Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.

Those references to Jesus growing in wisdom and other things simply refer to how He grew in His human nature. I have one more suggestion for you to reflect on. We know for sure that Jesus became hungry. We know that Jesus became tired. We know that energy and effort went out from Him. None of these things are true of God in His deity alone, but they are true of human beings. Jesus identified with us in our humanity, and truly experienced these things that humanity has to experience.

Do you have any thoughts on violent video games?

I don’t know if I think about them very much. I’ll give you some spontaneous thoughts. First of all, I do think that there can be a legitimate distinction between violence that is clearly make-believe and violence that is real. Violence that is clearly make-believe isn’t nearly as harmful or damaging to a person as violence that is real, I think.

I keep coming back to this Church History class that I’m lecturing on. We’re going to start releasing some of those lectures on our YouTube channel in coming weeks. While teaching this course, I’ve been reminded that one thing the early Christians rejected pretty universally. They said Christians should not go to the gladiatorial games. There you were seeing real violence enacted right in front of you, and it was to the death. We’re not talking about boxing or even a modern MMA match, where people may be beaten up pretty badly. And there may be people who, for conscience’ sake, don’t want to be involved in that either. But gladiatorial games were to the death. And pretty universally, Christians said, “No, we’re not going to be a part of that. That’s just not for us.”

I’m not a video game expert. I really can’t give you a comprehensive survey of them. I know extremely popular with a generation that’s predominantly younger than I am. And I don’t despise that. That’s a form of entertainment that’s meaningful to them. I would just make the distinction between what is clearly make-believe violence and what is true violence. There may be a Christian who by conscience doesn’t even want to be a part of things that include make-believe violence. But I don’t think that it has the same moral obligation that we would have to not support, champion, or applaud actual real violence just for the sake of entertainment.

What does “accursed” mean in 1 Corinthians 16:22?

What does Paul mean by the word “accursed” in 1 Corinthians 16:22? Is he being euphemistic? How is that loving?

1 Corinthians 16:22 – If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!

The word “accursed” simply means to have a curse placed upon you. Paul is casting forth the idea, the wish, the desire, that those who would reject Jesus Christ would find themselves to be accursed before God; that people who don’t want to be a part of God’s great plan in this world would bear the penalty of that rejection and be accursed of God.

There is a sense in which everybody who rejects God is casting forth a curse against God. “God, I don’t love You. I don’t respect You. I don’t want to listen to You. I don’t want You to have anything to do with telling me what to do or telling me what is true.” Now if a person does that, I think God has every just reason to answer back with accursing them. I think it’s a two-way thing.

Any person who loves Jesus, who submits to the will of Jesus to the best of their imperfect ability, who seeks to honor Jesus and promote His Kingdom will never be accursed. But the person who in effect curses God, they will find themselves accursed. And I really think that happens without apology before the Lord. This is what the Lord does in these circumstances. So, there’s nothing exaggerated. There’s nothing euphemistic about it, I think.

You then ask, “How is that loving?” It’s loving to be real about the penalty that people invite upon themselves if they reject God. It’s loving to that person to be real about that problem. In determining whether or not something is loving, it becomes difficult when we base our assumption solely on if it’s nice or helpful to a person. That threat of a curse can be a very legitimate warning that ends up being very helpful to a person.

How should believers minister to those who are involved in witchcraft?

How close should our relationship be when ministering to non-believers who are involved in witchcraft, especially when they are family?

I think that we should be cautious of anyone who’s involved in witchcraft, not because we need to be filled with fear or apprehension. I really believe what the Bible says: “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world.” The power that fills us, the power of the Holy Spirit, is much greater than any powers of darkness that are afoot. Our problem is not with the power of God. Our problem is the power of our ability to trust God to have confidence in Him.

The practice of witchcraft may cause undue fear, doubt, and apprehension within a person. And if a person is not fully prepared to really trust God in the midst of that kind of attack, having to do with the presence of witchcraft or other occultic practices, then they need to keep some distance from it.

So, there’s no universal answer to that question. You need to be accurate and truthful about your own level of spiritual maturity and faith in dealing with such attacks. Some caution is deserved. But I believe that there are certainly more than just a few believers who can be confident in going against such things, who not need have much apprehension at all. Other Christians, who are maybe young in the faith or weak in the faith, may need to display a greater caution.

Was Jesus a created being, according to flesh and blood?

Jesus as God is the Uncreated One, but in some way, was Jesus as flesh and blood created? Even though He was conceived through the Holy Spirit, He still has human genetics.

This question concerns the phenomenon of the Incarnation. You’re wondering, “How did it happen, and wasn’t Jesus created in some way?”

Hebrews 10:5 – Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me.”

Hebrews 10:5 references a great passage from Psalm 40:6-8. Speaking in the voice of Jesus the Messiah, David the Psalmist says, “A body You have prepared for Me.”

Here’s what happened in the Incarnation. At a specific point in time, God the Son – the second Person of the Trinity, who has existed from eternity in the past, and has no beginning has no end – added humanity to His deity. And as He added humanity to His deity, that was something new. The Incarnation was something new.

There was a body prepared for Jesus in that act of miraculous conception in the womb of Mary. Jesus was conceived by a miracle, not by any normal means of conception which the entire rest of the human race have known, with the exception of Adam and Eve. That flesh-and-blood nature was added to Jesus’ deity. Therefore, we don’t think of the Incarnation as subtraction, as if Jesus in His deity took anything away from Himself. No, the Incarnation needs to be seen as addition. God the Son added humanity to His deity.

Can mentally ill people be saved?

Yes, absolutely. I believe God has a principle of accountability. I don’t know if I’m entirely comfortable using the phrase, “an age of accountability.” Because who knows where a person is at, age-wise? But there is a principle of accountability. The principle of accountability is that some people are more accountable before God than others. This kind of gets back to our lead question today, “Is it a sin to be deceived?” Yes, it is. But it’s not as bad as a sin as it is to have full knowledge and to sin.

Some people are more accountable than others. If a person has diminished mental and cognitive capability which affects their ability to learn, to understand, or to exercise their will, then surely God takes that into account when He holds them accountable. I think that principle is directly relevant to those people who we might describe as having special needs, mental illness, or whatever is on that spectrum.

So, yes; definitely. Mentally ill people can not only be saved, but they can also have a real relationship with Jesus Christ. People with special needs can not only be saved, but they can also have a real relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus’ love and care certainly extends to those that He called “the least of these.” That doesn’t mean that they’re least in God’s kingdom; it means that they’re often least or little in the estimation of mankind.

Is America’s current political climate an example of a “seared conscience” (1 Timothy 4:1-2)?

Is the current political climate happening in the US, the apostasy spoken of in 1 Timothy 4:1-2: a “seared conscience”?

1 Timothy 4:1-2 – Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.

I would say that the current cultural, societal, political climate that I see in the Western world, and maybe predominantly in the U.S., is certainly leading to this place. I don’t want to sound really negative, but things could get substantially worse. In some ways, they have been worse in pre-Christian times in the West and in Europe and other places in the world.

We’re a little bit shocked when we see many aspects of Christian morality being so openly challenged and rejected in our present world today. But we should remind ourselves that there was a time when those things were not taken for granted at all. Not at all.

I don’t want to be crude or crass, but I’ll give an example. There was a time, especially in the Roman Empire and other places, when pedophilia (immoral relations with young children) was just accepted, and even considered to be normal. And it’s only through the Christianization of society and culture that people have come to an understanding that that’s evil. That should not and must not be done.

As society increasingly rejects Christian values, godly values, and the values given to us by God’s Word and revelation, we can expect more and more of those pre-Christian ideas of morality to come back. I don’t know if I would specifically say that what we see now is a fulfillment of that, but I would say it’s certainly leading to a fulfillment of it. I don’t want to sound very negative, but I will sound negative, just when I’m saying right now, it could get substantially worse. We’re not near the bottom yet.

Are altar calls effective?

What are your views on the effectiveness of altar calls?

I think that’s a great question. I believe that it is entirely appropriate for a preacher or an evangelist to call people to decision. You see that as a characteristic of New Testament preaching. I could give you several examples in the Gospels or the Book of Acts, but the idea of calling people to decision regarding Jesus Christ is an entirely biblical concept.

Now, I think the custom or mechanism by which one calls them to decision should be regarded as fairly adaptable. What is most honoring to God? What will connect with people in the best way? These are the questions to ask.

In making an altar call, I don’t think the mechanism itself is as important as it is to make a call to decision in a clear and non-manipulative way. So, people could be invited to declare a decision of their faith in Jesus Christ by coming forward, or raising a hand, or standing where they’re sitting, or some other way.

One weakness of altar calls is this. People can think that the action of walking down an aisle, coming to the front of a room, or standing before a platform is what saves them. I think that’s wrong thinking, and sometimes dangerous thinking. No, it is that person’s exercise of faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. The person and work of Jesus Christ is what saves them; they simply receive it by the faith that God even gives to them in that moment.

It’s not the act of walking down the aisle, or raising a hand, or throwing a pinecone into the fire, that actually does the work of saving. We need to be clear on that. But it can be a demonstration of a heart and life that genuinely does receive what God is offering to humanity in Jesus Christ.

Of the criticisms I have heard concerning the altar call, some of them are justified. But the basic principle of calling people to decision as part of your preaching is entirely appropriate to do.

Should pastors be treated like kings in the church?

Should a pastor be equated with a king in the church? Should their children be given special privileges because of their position?

No, a pastor should not be equated with a king in the church. I think that’s pretty plainly wrong. Pastors are not kings. They’re to be rulers that are different than the Gentiles, not just like them in every way. So no, a pastor should not be like a king; a pastor should be like a servant.

There’s really a wonderful passage in 1 Samuel 8, where Samuel warns the people of Israel before they embrace their new king. He warns them saying, “If you take a king, you need to understand that he’s going to take from you.” Kings basically take. Jesus Christ came to give. There should be a contrast between the way that earthly rulers rule and the way that the Church of Jesus Christ is governed.

You also ask if their children should be given special privileges because of their position. I’m going to give a biased answer to that question. I think that it’s okay for a pastor’s kids to have some privileges. Look, pastors’ kids pay a price. It’s not easy having a dad and/or mom in ministry. I think that there’s some sense of recompense that is appropriate, but obviously, this can be taken too far. Obviously, this is something that could be far beyond what is appropriate for somebody under certain circumstances.

I think we can say yes; I don’t mind pastors’ kids having some privileges, as long as it’s not excessive. And the privileges would just be thought of as things that are at least some compensation for the sacrifices that the children may have to bear in honoring their father and/or mother in the work that they do for the Kingdom.

Is Revelation 1-3 a warning to End Times believers?

In Revelation 1-3, is this a warning to the last day saints, “Get right or stay here”? Or is it like in Matthew 25, with the virgins, “I don’t know you?” Or like the parable of the wheat and the tares? Can you give some insight?

Yes, what Jesus said to the churches, especially in Revelation 2-3, is a warning to the Church. To my remembrance, of the seven churches Jesus wrote to in the book of Revelation, Jesus told five of those seven churches to repent. Five of those seven churches were in serious need of some repentance. And Jesus counseled them to do exactly that. If you want to say that that’s, “get right or stay here,” well, I think that’s warning enough for anybody.

I don’t think that Jesus is casting these people off so much, although He did make a threat to one of the churches that He would remove their lampstand from its place. That is a very chilling warning Jesus gave to that particular church. But for the most part, it really is a matter of honoring God through right living.

Are Jehovah’s Witnesses damned if they don’t understand the Trinity?

I think that’s a great question. To answer your exact question, “Are Jehovah’s Witnesses damned if they don’t understand the Trinity?” No. Not understanding the Trinity is not what damns somebody. Because I don’t know if anybody understands the Trinity in a significant depth. It is a mystery, is it not?

You don’t need a full or complete understanding of the Trinity to be saved. But here’s the difficulty for Jehovah’s Witnesses, those who follow the teachings of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.

You can’t reject the biblical Jesus and yet be saved. This is the error that Jehovah’s Witnesses fall into. It’s not because there’s some technical aspect of the Trinity that they don’t understand or don’t agree with. The error is that the official doctrine of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which Jehovah’s Witnesses are commanded to believe without any variation, presents a Jesus that does not match up with the Jesus of the Bible. Not at all.

It’s not a matter of not understanding every nuance of theology, especially the Trinity. But it is an issue of I like to use this phrase, bringing the real me to the real Jesus. If we do that, if we bring the real us to the real Jesus, we’re going to be okay.