May 22, 2024
top view photo of man reading a book

An antidote for deception

“How long should one consider themselves a new Christian?” A friend posted on their WhatsApp status.

Whose job is it to make sure believers are growing — in holiness and in the knowledge of their faith and their saviour Jesus Christ? Whose fault is it if the Christian is not growing past infancy? Do we even need to grow?

Babies are cute in their innocence, pure hearts and lowliness. Jesus tells us the kingdom of God is for those with hearts like children. Paul encourages the church to be as innocent as children with regard to evil and malice.

But after that no one wants their child to stay a child forever. Adult babies are irritating and an anomaly.

God doesn’t want us to remain infants with regard to faith either. Inheritance is for adult children. According to Galatians 4:1 the estate remains with caretakers as long the heir is a child. With regard to inheritance, babies are same Whatsapp group as the slave.

In the wake of false doctrine, deception, cult deaths and a Christianity that is a mile wide but an inch deep, we need believers who not only are assured of what they believe but who are growing to maturity as sons. Because growth and maturity in faith are key buffers against the allure and deception abundant in cults.

If Christians are getting deceived and swept away by every wind of doctrine, we find the reason why in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians — it’s because they are babies who have not grown in the knowledge of Christ hence cannot discern truth from error.

Paul had such a case with the Corinthian church. He was frustrated because they were still “infants in Christ”, men of the flesh, instead of spiritual men.
In 1 Corinthians 3:2 he says: “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able.”
The writer of Hebrews was frustrated with the believers whom he/she called infants.
Hebrews 5:11-14
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.

Paul in Ephesians 4:14 warns that lack of maturity leads to believers who are swept away by every wind of doctrine and are tricked by lies that sound like truth. Spiritual babies are the cream of cults and spiritual manipulation.

You ought to be teachers

Babies cannot disciples others, not even their own children, because they themselves are still feeding on milk.
Spiritual babies cannot also discern good and evil. “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

Babies are carnal. Full of envy, strife and divisions. (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will cast it out, Proverbs says.
“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?”

Maturity, however, is not about arriving or being perfect. It’s the journey of growing from infants to sons. It’s submitting to God’s discipline for those he calls sons. It’s submitting to the training that comes from suffering. It is continuously pressing forward that we may attain the prize of our upward call in Christ Jesus, our eyes stayed on Jesus who will finish what he started in us. It is pressing on daily that we may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of for us — forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead (Philippians 3:12-15 ), beating our bodies that we may not be disqualified. It is growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, bearing godly fruit.

God who makes the whole body grow as He feeds and nourishes it. Christ washes the church with his word continually, to present her a bride without spot or wrinkle. Therefore, we can trust God, the good shepherd, to lead his flock to good pasture and still waters. 

Yet we have many Christians with stunted growth, constipation, eating disorders or facing starvation because those given the job of feeding the sheep that the church may grow and mature have relinquished their duty or are fattening themselves instead.
“Feed my sheep,” Jesus told Peter.

In Ezekiel 34, God condemns the shepherds of Israel who fed themselves while the sheep were starving.
“The Lord God says, “It is bad for the shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool. You kill the fat sheep without feeding the flock. You have not given strength to the weak ones. You have not healed the sick. You have not helped the ones that are hurt. You have not brought back those that have gone away. And you have not looked for the lost. But you have ruled them with power and without pity. They went everywhere because they had no shepherd. And they became food for every animal of the field. My flock went many different ways through all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were spread over all the earth, and there was no one looking for them.”
“So, you shepherds, hear the Word of the Lord. “As I live,” says the Lord God, “My flock has been killed and become food for wild animals because they had no shepherd. My shepherds did not look for My flock. They fed themselves, but have not fed My flock.”

According to Ephesians 4:11-14 God has given apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors and teachers “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”

Paul in his farewell address to the Ephesians in Acts 20 tells the elders of the church: “”Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, watch over the body of Christ. Feed it and build it to maturity in faith, becoming like Christ, so we no longer be children tossed about by the cunning craftiness of men.

Ministers of the Gospel, feed the sheep. Give the babies the pure milk of the word (1Peter 2:2) that they may grow in their salvation. Give them the elementary teachings they need. 
But also wean them to solid food that they may grow to be spiritual men, not carnal men.  Wean them that they may grow to be teachers. Wean them that they put away childish things and grow to be heirs. Give them meat that they may leave the bondage of the elemental things of the world. “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:15-16). Teach them the Holy scriptures that are able to make them wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:13-15).

Sheep that will not eat

But someone will quip, you can take the cattle to the river but you can’t force them to drink water. Good food may be abundant but the saints just want to drink energy drinks and junk.

What must the church do?
1. We must sit under the counsel of God’s word, delivered by reliable men who rightly divide the word of Truth. We cannot be those who surround themselves with teachers who tell us what our itching ears want to hear. Instead we should seek truth.

2. We must hold fast onto the truths we have been taught and become persuaded of and we must get our truths from reliable men that rightly handle the word. Paul warns the Galatian church and Timothy that others would come and preach another gospel than that which they received from him. “While evil men and imposters go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in the things you have learned and firmly believed, since you know from whom you have learned them. From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:13-15

3. We must always defer to the Holy Spirit because he is the great teacher who will teach us all things and remind us all we have learnt. “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, his anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in him.” Hebrews 8:11

4. We must move toward greater understanding. There are heights and depths we have yet to reach. And where’s there’s a dearth in knowledge there’s growing room for error. Hebrews 6: (NLT) instructs: “So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.”

5. We must test everything, holding fast what is good, abstaining from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:21–22). We test everything through discernment from the Holy Spirit and from the mirror of God’s word, hence point no.4. We just have to know God and his word so we can smell the lies and liars from a mile away.

6. We must submit under the school of God’s discipline. “So accept sufferings like a father’s discipline. God does these things to you like a father correcting his children. You know that all children are disciplined by their fathers.”

7. We must keep growing. We must run the race with endurance. We must press on to win the prize of our high calling, never giving up. We must add to our faith virtue and knowledge and patience and kindness and self control, not more anointing or impartation. “With all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” 2 Peter 1:5-12

Kageni Muse

Kageni Muse is a journalist living in Nairobi. She is married to Muse and together they have three children. She is a passionate advocate for children, families and the church and daydreams of a hammock with a view of the hills.

View all posts by Kageni Muse →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *