How Easy it is to Get Deceived

The age of 27 is a turning point for some; it brings with it a certain amount of sobering awareness.  Many people turn their life around at age 27; this happened to actor/comedian Russell Brand.  (He discusses his recovery from opiod addition with Dr. Jordan Peterson in an interview found here: https://youtu.be/r2S58rH0PAw )

It seems that the age of 27 is often the period when a person chooses to live or die.  Think of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse, just to name a few, who all died by OD’ing at the age of 27.

I am 27 years old today.  Today is my spiritual birthday; I received life 27 years ago during an “altar call” at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale. Not everyone knows the day and the hour that they got saved, but I can say with 100% certainty that I choose life on 9/1/91. 😊

So now that I am at that critical age of 27, I want to continue to choose life.  I want to turn away from foolishness; I want to live a prudent life.

O naive ones, understand prudence; And, O fools, understand wisdom. Proverbs 8:5

But, some might say, “Lisa, you’re a Christian, you’re a child of God; therefore, you’re not a fool; you’re not naive.”

Wrong.

I spent 15 years being deceived by Churchianity. I spent those years being double-minded and “schizophrenic,” in a spiritual sense.  I mixed the Old Covenant with the New Covenant and lived a life of confusion and, not only that, spent 10 of those years teaching my children falsehood!  Now that is a serious matter!  I am seeing the repercussions of this now more than ever, and talking openly to my kids about it. For example, on a long hike recently, my 21-year-old daughter kindly explained how the false teaching of Christian patriarchy negatively impacted her emotional state as a young girl.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about Eve lately, and have been feeling a lot of empathy for her.  She was certainly a child of God, yet she acted foolishly.  Naively.

Adam and Eve were born with the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them, and yet they became deceived by Satan; they believed falsehood.  And yet they knew the Lord personally!  They had heard the truth spoken directly from the Lord Himself.

“But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”  Genesis 2:17

Of course, it is recorded that Eve was the one who was deceived, while Adam sinned deliberately, with his eyes wide open.  And though it was extremely tragic, to say the least, that Eve was deceived . . . I can understand how that could happen.  Satan’s speech was so persuasive!  Everything he said seemed so logical.  She truly thought she was doing the right thing.

Sure, let’s go ahead and grow in wisdom and have our eyes be opened!  Thumbs up, man!

Though God does sometimes rescue us from our own messes, our own personally created disasters . . . sometimes He doesn’t.  In this case, He didn’t come to the rescue.  He didn’t swoop down and stop Eve from eating that piece of fruit.  He didn’t stop Adam from doing so either.  He allowed them to totally and completely reject Him.

As a woman, I have nothing but empathy for Eve.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. Philippians 3:13

Now that I’m 27 years old in the Lord, I want to turn a corner; I want to choose life; I want to press forward into maturity.  I want to live in such a way that I don’t expect God to rescue me from the messes I make; from the personal disasters that I create.  I want to grow up and be a mature adult; someone who doesn’t get deceived.

How does this happen?  How can we grow up and become wise, discreet, prudent adults in the Lord?  We trust in Him.  We rely completely on Him.  We rest in His finished work.   We let Him be who He is:  the God who will be who He will be.  And He is so different from us.  He is a mighty and fierce warrior who does not waver when it comes to the truth.  He is the truth.

Let us turn to Him.

Bob Coy was my pastor

“We have confirmed that Coy has admitted to at least two affairs in the past year alone and has had a long standing “problem with pornography.”” – April 04, 2014, http://www.phoenixpreacher.com

In the early 90’s Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale was a thriving, vibrant, energetic church filled with throngs of young people. Bob Coy had founded the church with his wife, Diane, and a handful of others. Under his charming leadership, it grew to become one of the Top-10 largest churches in America.

I began attending in 1991. Back then, we met behind the dumpsters of an Albertson’s grocery store. I liked the fact that it wasn’t glamorous; that it was “non-denominational” and, in my mind, the farthest thing possible from the Catholicism of my youth. (Later realizing that it really wasn’t much different after all. I simply had traded “High-Church” for “low-church,” so the strict rules and regulations were harder to spot.)

Image result for calvary chapel church fort lauderdal

Bob Coy was the reason for the church’s success. He is a phenomenal speaker. He had a gift for showing people their need for salvation and it was not uncommon to see 20 or 30 people “go forward” for his altar call.

I never planned to go forward. I was confident in the fact that God loved me and wanted me in His heaven; therefore, I didn’t believe I needed to “get saved” or be born again. But the message that Pastor Bob preached on Sunday morning, September 1st, 1991, changed my mind; it allowed me to see that I was guilty of breaking God’s laws, that I was guilty of committing sin. I was a sinner who needed His help; the help that only He could offer because of what He did on the cross. God opened my blind eyes so I could see, and I said yes to God . . . and then went forward for the altar call. 😱

I am eternally grateful to Bob Coy; I was saved from hell on that September morning. I am thankful for his gift of teaching, but I have come to regret the year and a half that I spent at his church, paying 10% of my income in order to help enlarge his ministry, and getting steeped in the doctrine of “works righteousness”. My disappointment turned to major surprise several years ago when I learned that Pastor Bob is a sex addict.

“Over two decades, Coy had built a small storefront church into Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, a 25,000-member powerhouse that packed Dolphin Stadium for Easter services while Coy hosted everyone from George W. Bush to Benjamin Netanyahu. With a sitcom dad’s wholesome looks, a standup comedian’s snappy timing, and an unlikely redemption tale of ditching a career managing Vegas strip clubs to find Jesus, Coy had become a Christian TV and radio superstar.

But then, in April 2014, he resigned in disgrace after admitting to multiple affairs and a pornography addiction. Coy shocked his flock and made national headlines by walking away from his ministry, selling his house, and divorcing his wife.” (www.miaminewtimes.com)

After the scandal, he re-entered the world of nightclubs. He got a job managing the “Funky Biscuit” in Boca Raton where he was subsequently fired amidst new allegations: charges of child molestation.

What a turn of events. The marvelous preacher Pastor Bob Coy wasn’t respectable enough to manage a night club.

How could this have happened to Pastor Bob? How could this have happened to someone who led thousands of people to salvation in Jesus Christ!?

“It takes only a little yeast to make the whole batch of dough rise,” as they say. (Galatians 5:9 – Good New Translation)

And it only takes a little bit of false teaching to permeate the gospel message. Just one little rule that says, “Work hard.” Or, “Try to be good.” Or, “Exert yourself to be holy.” That one tiny command then acts like yeast, it grows and spreads until the entire message of good news becomes bad news.

Think about a loaf of bread, can you pick out the yeast and discard it? No, it’s impossible. The yeast has taken over the dough and ‘leavened’ the entire loaf; there is no yeast-free section of the loaf of bread.

So if your Christian life is saturated with LAW, it’s no wonder that you’ll become miserable and turn to sin for a bit of temporary relief.

Pastor Bob gave us a plethora of laws/rules/methods for us to obey so that we could become more holy. For example, he once taught us to choose a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and to practice it until someone noticed. I chose the fruit of “love.” I worked hard at it until someone DID eventually tell me that I was loving. Of course, by that time, I was so exhausted from all of the effort that I went right back to my normal self. Also, he suggested that we memorize Scripture verses; that we get involved in volunteering for one of the church’s ministries; we were supposed to fellowship regularly, at least three times a week; to read the Bible every morning. . . . Basically, he presented us with a set of rules for us to live by.

He may not have taught us to obey the Law of Moses, but we certainly were taught to obey the Law of Pastor Bob.  Those of us who took his words seriously ended up, inadvertently, focused on sin.  Sin gets it power from laws.

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law.” 1 Corinthians 15:56

As Bob George of People to People Ministries used to say, “If the truth sets us free, then the lie keeps us in bondage.”

Jesus came to set us free from the Law of Moses, and any other system of law that man invents.  Jesus came to enact a new covenant. He does not want us to obey a set of rules. God wants to set us free from the bondage of religion. He wants us to trust Him. He has abolished the Law of Moses, and now He, the true and living God, offers Himself.

Trust in HIS finished work. He has done all the work necessary to make you holy and righteous. Accept His free gift of salvation . . . and then REST. You deserve it! 😃

The sin of unbelief

The writer of the book of Hebrews explains that there are two ways to commit the sin of unbelief.  The first way is to reject the mercy of the living God. The second way is for a believer to reject the promise of rest.

Writing to his Hebrew brothers and sisters, the anonymous author pleads with them to believe in Jesus as their Messiah.

“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12

The author illustrates this with the story of the Hebrews who refused to enter the Promised Land.  Their sin of unbelief prevented them from entering into the land of Israel, and instead they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.

 “So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” Hebrews 3:19

God promised them the land of Israel, and they did not believe that He could deliver on His promise.  That’s a hefty sin!  The author of Hebrews explains that their unbelief was an act of disobedience.

 “And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?  So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” Hebrews 3:18-19

The unbelief of the Israelites was a foreshadowing, and the reality is the sin of rejecting the gospel.  To reject the free gift of salvation that is being offered to you today is essentially to tell God, “I don’t believe you.  You are not trustworthy.”  Again, a very hefty sin. 

We need to believe in the gospel and be saved because we all have sin and we all are spiritually dead (whether Jew or Gentile).  Believing in the gospel message allows us to enter the true promised rest. We rest from our works of self-righteousness, and we trust that God has done all of the work Himself.

And that is where the second “sin of unbelief” comes in.  In chapter four, the author of Hebrews switches his audience and begins to talk to believers.  Hebrews 4 is often titled, “The Believer’s Rest.”

“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any of you may seem to have come short of it.”  Hebrews 4:1

As a born-again believer, if we fail to enter His rest, we have failed to believe in the complete forgiveness of sins.  In other words, we are still trying to do work that will make us holy and righteous and good.

Hebrews chapter four explains this in detail.

“For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:10-11

The land of Israel was a land of rest because all of the homes were already built, the vineyards were planted, the roads were cleared and the wells were dug.  The land of the New Covenant is a land of rest for us today because all of the work has already been done.  Obedience has been accomplished:  God Himself came to earth and obeyed the Law of Moses.  Forgiveness has been given:  God died on our behalf, so the debt has been paid in full.   Salvation is being offered:  He redeemed and justified us through His complete forgiveness of sins, and He now offers the gift of life — His Holy Spirit — through His work of resurrecting from the dead.

The great Bob George used to emphasize that the gospel is defined in 1 Corinthians 15, and that it is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We can add nothing to the gospel, and if we do we will be led astray into false doctrines.

If you are an unbeliever, we plead with you to believe in the gospel.

If you are a believer, we plead with you to give up trying to “work for God,” trying to “serve God,” and simply to REST.

We must believe completely that the only thing we can trust in today, tomorrow and next week is his death, burial and resurrection.

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Click here for an excellent verse-by-verse Bible Study on the book of Hebrews.  Aaron Budjen, a Hebrew himself, has made all of his messages available for free at his website, http://www.LivingGodMinistries.net