Preventing Deception

A portrait of Derek Prince in black and white
The Battle of the Ages (Part 2)

By Derek Prince

You're reading a top ten Teaching Letter.

In a recently revised edition of the book 'Protection from Deception', now being released as 'Battle of the Ages', Derek Prince warns against the greatest peril Christians will face at the close of the age.

In Part 2 of our three-part series, 'The Battle of the Ages', we will learn more about Satan’s tactics so we can recognize them, resist them, and counteract them

The Descent

Most of us would agree that spirit, soul, and body constitute the complete human  personality. 1st Thessalonians  5:23 says:

“May your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Comprising will, emotions, and intellect, the soul is perhaps the most difficult component of the human personality to understand. It is the unique ego of each individual, the part that determines “I will” or “I won’t.” When people surrender themselves to these demands of their souls, rather than being guided by God’s Spirit, they separate themselves from God and open themselves up to deception.

A passage from the book of James gives us a picture of the interaction of spirit, soul, and body. James 3:15 is pithy yet profound:

“This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.”

This passage marks the steps in the decline of wisdom, a decline that allows demons to infiltrate the work, people, and church of God.

Being earthly may seem innocent enough. But it takes little time for apathy to take root, dragging the individual down into the soulish realm, and perhaps further still into the realm of the demonic.

Three Steps of Decline

1. Earthly

What does it mean to be earthly? From a Christian standpoint, earthly individuals focus on our earthly life and nothing more—nothing beyond. If an earthly individual is a Christian, he expects God to provide blessings applicable only to this lifetime: prosperity, healing, power, success, and other soulish pursuits.

To gain a better understanding of the earthly individual, it is useful to recognize individuals who were decidedly unearthly. One such example is Abraham:

“By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:9–10)

A second example of an unearthly individual is Moses, described in Hebrews 11:27:

“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.”

Moses endured because he looked past the present hardships to a certainty of future fulfillment.

In 1 Corinthians 15:19, Paul wrote, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” If the purpose of our Christian faith is to receive blessings in this earthly life alone, we are to be pitied. Many have forgotten the fact that we are foreigners passing through this world, and consequently, their thoughts and ambitions lose proper focus. They become earthly.

2. Soulish

Soulish is the level below earthly. As described previously, the soul is essentially the ego. Soulish people are egocentric, concerned exclusively with themselves. While the spiritual person asks, “How can I glorify God?” the soulish person asks, “What’s in it for me?” The contemporary church caters too often to this quest of personal gain instead of God’s glory.

In 1 Corinthians 2:14–15, Paul wrote:

“But the natural [soulish] man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.”

The soulish man cannot discern spiritual truth because he must do so with the spirit; he is attuned solely to soulish appeals to his emotions. One can be motivated by soulishness to contribute a substantial tithe and/or offering to the church, but this improper motivation will render it ineffectual.

People in the soulish realm are carried away with little effort, setting themselves up for deception. This can be avoided only by distinguishing between the spiritual and the soulish realm.

3. Demonic

A step down from soulish is the demonic. The pattern of progression from earthly to soulish to demonic is perhaps best illustrated in the Old Testament by Aaron, a high priest of Israel who fashioned a golden idol. Exodus 32:1–6 describes his decline:

“Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him…’”

There are several significant details in this passage to note. First, the people credited Moses for their deliverance—“the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt”—instead of recognizing God’s providence. Their focus on human leaders turned into idolatry.

The passage concludes with idolatry, too—“the people…rose up to play” (verse 6). Play is the essence of idolatry, and when our worship becomes play, we have slipped from the spiritual to the soulish, and—ultimately—to the demonic.

Much of what we call “worship” in our churches is not worship at all. It is self-centered, focusing on finding out how to obtain God’s healing, blessings, and other provisions. Much music in today’s church services appeals to the soul, stimulating it in the same way that secular music might.

Restoring a Sense of Awe

In the New Testament, the book of Hebrews urges us to maintain the same awe of God that was inspired by Old Testament events, such as God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. Hebrews 12:28–29 says,

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”

A New Testament example of God’s holy judgment is His striking Ananias and Sapphira dead when they cheated with their offering. “Great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things” (Acts 5:11).

How much awe do we find in today’s church? In Britain one summer, I was talking with a minister friend who made the comment, “I meet people who talk about God as if He were someone they had met in the pub.”

Many people view God as a casual friend or a close buddy. He does invite our fellowship and communion with Him, but we must never lose a sense of awe of God’s holiness. Too often, the lack of awe gives way to unscriptural frivolity and flippancy. As Charles Finney once commented, “God never uses a jester to search consciences.”

One ministry of the Holy Spirit is convicting us of sin. Where conviction is lacking, the work of the Holy Spirit is most likely lacking, as well.

Avoiding Satan’s Trap

The condition of humanity is not about to improve. In 2 Timothy 3:2–4, Paul warned of what humans will be like at the close of this age. He listed eighteen moral blemishes that will be prevalent:

“For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God...”

We notice that this list is bookended by misplaced love—love of self, love of money, and love of pleasure. Soulishness, or the love of self, lets evil in. Verse 5 concludes, “…having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” Despite their having a form of godliness—they were probably professing Christians—the people described here indulge in self-love and the vices this invites.

Satan takes great delight in those who love and exalt themselves, for he set the precedent for this attitude. (See Isaiah 14:12–15.) He leads people astray, encouraging them to love anything—money, pleasure, power, or themselves—more than they love God. As the perversion of something meant for good, misplaced love can make us candidates for Satan’s deception. He takes what is good and pure, turning it into an instrument of our own deception and demise.

The Lord Will Help Us!

Now that we are aware of our vulnerability to deception and the many ways Satan will try to captivate us, let’s turn to the Lord for His help. Will you join me in prayer?

Dear Lord, I want to stand strong in Your truth in these crucial times. Please help me to keep myself focused on You. I don’t want to give in to the “earthly, soulish, and demonic” progression. Keep my eyes focused on You, Lord. With Your help, I will serve You in integrity, truth, and strength. Amen.

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Publication Date: 2024. Code: TL-L156-100-ENG
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