Guarding Against Deception: Seeking Biblical Truth in a Confusing World

Show Notes

In this Faithful Friday episode, Johnny addresses the prevalent issue of deception in today’s world, drawing parallels to themes discussed with Ari Mendelson, the author of the Kingmaker series. Johnny highlights the deceptive tactics often seen in politics and other areas of life, using 2 Timothy 4:3-4 as the foundation for understanding and combating deception. He emphasizes the importance of sound doctrine and the dangers of seeking teachings that only satisfy personal desires. Through a thorough examination of scripture, Johnny encourages listeners to seek truth and stay grounded in their faith, even in the face of misleading messages.

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00:00: Introduction and mention of Ari Mendelson’s interview

01:30: Overview of the Kingmaker series and its themes

02:30: Relevance of deception in politics and personal lives

03:30: Introduction to 2 Timothy 4:3-4 and its relevance

04:52: Importance of sound doctrine and identifying false teachings

06:00: Using scripture to interpret scripture

07:14: The danger of selective scripture interpretation

08:30: The need for a holistic understanding of scripture

09:34: Seeking teachers who preach truth, not comfort

11:52: Recognizing and avoiding false teachers

14:18: Turning away from myths and falsehoods

16:44: The importance of discernment and seeking truth

18:00: Encouragement to seek consultation for guidance

TRANSCRIPT:

Johnny Sanders (00:00)

Hello and happy Friday everyone here on Faithful Fridays here at Faithfully Engaged. Hope you all have had a great week and have some fun plans for this weekend. If you didn’t catch this Monday’s episode, I interviewed Ari Mendelson. He is the author of the King Baker series and it’s a really interesting series of books that kind of goes into a future AI type of world kind of 1984.

type of vibes to it, but more futuristic, and yeah, a lot of similar themes as we talked about that are going on in today’s political scene. So definitely check out that episode if you haven’t had the chance to do that. So Ari was talking through a lot of different, except political things. He based a lot of his characters on current-day political events. He is a man of Jewish faith, but he has some

religious themes throughout the book series as well, just a really interesting read. And I wanted to take one aspect of what we talked about and go into a little bit more detail from a more explicit Christian direction. So in our conversation, there was a lot of, in the book series, a lot of deception that was going on, a lot of persuasion and deception for the populace, for different political figures in the book, and things of that nature. Now, as I’m recording this, as this is going out, we’re kind of in the thick of the political season. This is a presidential election year. Earlier this month, we in the state of Oklahoma had primary elections for different state, local, and federal elections, representatives, House of Representatives, senators, and things of that nature.

So we’re really ramping up in that season and obviously into the fall is when the final elections are. We actually just had the first presidential debate as a recording just happened a day prior. And anybody who’s lived and paid attention through presidential elections or any type of political elections knows that deception is there. And look, I don’t care who your favorite candidate is.

Johnny Sanders (02:29)

persuasion, deception, negative hit ads, and things of that nature. It’s part of the game. Politics is all about persuading votes to come your way. But what can easily happen during these timeframes, I’m using politics as this example, but it goes far deeper than just politics. This can be with people at your church. This can be with your school or your family members, your spouse, or your children.

anybody is capable of both deceiving and being deceived. So I wanted to give a passage of scripture as kind of a basis of what to do when we’re dealt with this deception and what God’s Word has to say about it. So today’s passage we’re going to look into 2 Timothy chapter 4 verses 3 and 4 and this reads,

“when people will not endure sound teaching but have itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” Now, this is applicable as all God’s Word is to our very everyday life. This is talking about the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching.

Alright, those of you listening, I guarantee you, you have either been in a church or you’ve seen an online or TV type of evangelist out there, a family member, somebody who is either teaching something that’s not sound doctrine, some versions will say instead of sound teachings, versions of scripture will say sound doctrine. You’ve either heard that from somebody or know of somebody that has had unsound doctrine, unsound teaching. So what is sound doctrine? What is sound teaching? Now, I’m not going to get into every little thing of what doctrine can be. I mean, that will take us hours and hours. Essentially, the easiest way to look at that is, if the Word of God is being used

Johnny Sanders (04:52)

to be the basis of truth. Now, it’s a little tricky here. People will use scripture to have their own means be met all of the time. So a good little indicator will be, let’s say you’re in a sermon, you’re listening to a sermon or a podcast or something like that, and they take one little scripture and apply it to

everything in life without looking at any context, looking at any other scriptures. They’re not letting scripture interpret scripture. Now, I’m going to pause for a second, and I’ve said this in some other podcasts as well, that you cannot use this little Faithful Friday that I’m using right now because you could say like, well, Johnny, you’re only using a small bit of text here. You’re right.

You can’t use this podcast and say that this is going to replicate going to church. This is going to replicate your own Bible study. This is going to be able to take the place of going to church at all. I got it all figured out. I’m just listening to a podcast. No, that is not the purpose of this podcast. It’s not the purpose of any podcast out there. It cannot replace regular attendance at a body of believers of a local church.

You need to be under that leadership. So I want to make sure that I’m very clear on this, that this, what you’re listening to right now, this is not church. It’s not church at all. And if you are using this as church or using anybody else, even a sound preacher, that is not your church. If you’re using that in place of church, you’re doing this wrong. So I want to be crystal clear on that from the get-go here.

But one of the best things that we can look at with using Scripture as the foundation of everything that we build truth off of is using Scripture to interpret Scripture. So I can take one verse and if I take one verse and I don’t look at anything else in Scripture, I only focus on that one verse, we’re going to get some problems. Scripture is one story.

Johnny Sanders (07:14)

Yes, there are a lot of individual stories built into individual circumstances or different wars that they’re going through, certain people’s perspectives. I’m not saying there’s not individual stories within there, but it’s part of one big story from the beginning of creation to the end. It is all one story and we need to read scripture in light of that.

Not just reading it as one little passage. I can use this for my own benefit. And if you’re going to a church or you know of a place that you crack open the Bible for just a second and then we start talking about things that have nothing to do with Scripture and just maybe the pastor’s own opinion on things or whatever, that’s an issue. You need to be, if you’re in a Bible-believing church,

You need to be in the Scripture a lot and to be in different parts of Scripture. In my church, we will generally take a book of the Bible and slowly go through that whole book, but then we go to a different book. And generally, we will switch between an Old Testament book and a New Testament book and kind of go across the way. My pastor talks about having a healthy diet of different parts of Scripture.

If you’re going to a church that only says John 3:16 every week, that’s it, or only one specific part of the scripture, you’re never tying in the gospel when you’re reading something in the Old Testament, you’re missing the big picture here. We need to make sure that we are using scripture to interpret scripture. And this is a continual learning process.

You should never be too proud to think you’ve got all the scripture figured out. You don’t read it and read it and read it and read it again. Ask questions. Your church, you as an individual, need to be curious and just passionate about learning more and more of scripture. So if scripture is contradicting your interpretation of scripture, you’re the one that’s wrong. It’s not scripture is not wrong there. So that’s a good little first.

Johnny Sanders (09:34)

point there of what sound teaching is, are we using scripture to interpret scripture? Again, nobody out there has the perfect doctrine and has all the perfect interpretations, but that is a great first place to start. And look, if you’re not even getting in scripture at all, or if your church isn’t getting the scripture at all, it’s a pretty good sign that we’re not having sound teaching at that church. Moving along through this passage.

But having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. Now here’s where things get a little bit more nefarious. There are going to be some teachers or some different types of theological understanding, theological beliefs that maybe we disagree on, or maybe we might have a blind eye towards, but we’re earnestly seeking to

interpret Scripture with Scripture and are earnestly seeking God’s knowledge, God’s love, and God’s grace. We’re going to have some different things here. So I’m not talking about different beliefs and denominations or things of that nature for this portion of the Scripture. But when I am only seeking out the words that are going to make me feel good, that are going to make me have a happy, fuzzy feeling,

I am only seeking teachers and I’m only getting the words that make me feel good. I’m not missing some of the repentance that maybe I need, some of the callouts that maybe I need. And look, I’m talking to me right now. We all have those spots. We all have moments when we’re in sin and we need to desperately seek that repentance, confess that sin, or change the direction of our life. We don’t need to only feel happy when we’re listening to a sermon.

when we’re doing our own Bible reading, that conviction is a good thing. It’s actually a really healthy thing. That’s something that we’re working on with my daughter right now, that she at times struggles with guilt. And when I say struggles with guilt, I mean not feeling guilt. She’s in the right all the time. She’s a little kid. She’s not quite five yet. So we’re just trying to get into her mind that guilt is actually a good thing when we

Johnny Sanders (11:52.525)

are guilty for the right reasons. When we do something wrong and we feel bad about it, it’s actually some of God’s grace there. He’s helping us feel a certain thing that we did wrong so we can seek healing, we can seek repentance, we can seek restoration in a relationship. That guilt in that way is actually a good thing. And if we’re only seeking teaching that fulfills our own passions, makes us feel good, makes us feel all warm and happy,

All right, like it’s good to be joyful as a Christian. I’m not saying that. But if we’re not looking at any conviction that the Word of God is convicting us for because we’re just not looking for it, we’re only looking for happiness, you’re missing out. And even more nefarious is unfortunately there are teachers out there, false teachers, who are going to be preaching things for their own benefit. We see this with some

especially with some TV evangelists who are flying private jets and all of that, asking for money all the time. They’re seeking their own passions. They don’t really care about shepherding their flock’s hearts, trying to get them closer to Christ, closer to scripture. They’re looking for their own passions. So it’s another thing to be aware of. One, when you’re going to church, why are you trying to listen? Why are you trying to hear? Why are you trying to gain from that? So just to feel good.

Is it just to make me feel like I’m better than my neighbors or that I got this thing, this whole Christian thing figured out? Or am I earnestly seeking truth? Because sometimes as we all know, truth hurts. And that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing for us to be convicted. But there’s also, you know, it’s not all doom and gloom with truth. That’s part of what makes the gospel so great is when we realize the depths of our sin and then also realize the grace of God’s

mercy, His grace, His forgiveness, the salvation that He gives, that’s what gives us its weight. So it’s not about going all or nothing on this. We need to feel that conviction. We need to see all of God’s truth, both the good parts of it, of the salvation and also the depths of our depravity. We need both of those to be able to have a healthy understanding of what the gospel even means. This part of Scripture also reminds me, again, just another advocacy of

Johnny Sanders (14:18)

going through different Bible reading plans or just trying to get that healthy diet, like I mentioned before, of different parts of Scripture. That’s what helps give us a better, fuller understanding of Scripture. This part reminds me of some of the kings where my wife and I were reading through the first and second kings and chronicles and just that whole era of the divided monarchy there with Judah and Israel and you got it.

You got some good kings, but you also have a lot of really bad kings that, you know, bring in idols and into the area and everything, just bad stuff. But some of these kings will only listen to the prophets who are going to tell them good news. Hey, things are great. You’re a great king. No, it’s okay if you have the bills over here. That’s fine. That made the Kings feel good, but it wasn’t the truth. The truth is that they’re doing horrible, despicable things and they face their

their due judgment because of that. You have some other prophets that come in there, someone like Jeremiah gets thrown into the pit and all sorts of bad things happen to him. But he was telling the truth. And that truth is actually a really merciful thing because that can help you realize you’re wrong and be able to repent. So be seeking truth. That’s the end all there. Don’t solely seek something because it makes you feel good.

seek truth because it’s biblical truth because it’s God’s truth. The last part of this section. So, mentioned that they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. Look, we can apply this to the political context. There are all sorts of wacky beliefs out there, goodness, we know that people

think boys can become girls and girls can become boys. We know that’s not true. That is a myth, that’s a lie. But we are turning from truth as a culture when we allow that. Now, you individually, can’t change the whole culture. You just can’t. We don’t have that power as an individual. But you need to be very wary of times that you are turning away from listening to the truth because it’s not just about not hearing that truth.

Johnny Sanders (16:44)

You’re gonna turn to something. And maybe we turn to a, to somebody that a preacher or a political podcast or whatever that may be that you’re listening to that’s gonna delve you into different untrue things. It may start as maybe something that seems a little innocent, but who knows where we get into. We see this often with people who turn away from the church that

Maybe they start with some church hurt, something that bad, something that was bad that happened in the church. So they slightly turn in a different direction and then they wander off completely from the faith. We need to be careful where we’re getting information from, who we’re listening to, and what we are ingesting all of the time because it’s going to turn us away from truth and we desperately need truth.

I’m hoping that this section of Scripture from 2 Timothy 4, 3 through 4, hope it’s encouraging you to earnestly seek out after truth, to realize that deception is not above any of us. We always need to be on guard, but we serve a loving grace, graciously loving God that offers salvation, offers repentance. We need to be seeking that truth. We need to be telling that truth.

to others, not just the good stuff, not just the salvation, but also the depravity of the deep, dark depths of our sin, not just everybody else’s sin, your sin. You need to be reminded of that, not to beat yourself down, but to acknowledge how great and gracious our God is for offering anybody salvation, much less yourself. So be thinking of that when you’re…

Thinking of the church you’re attending, of the podcast you’re listening to, the teachers that you’re turning to, we need to be seeking truth. If you’re sitting there and you’re like, look, I am going to a church or I haven’t been to church in a while. I don’t even know what truth is. If you’re struggling with getting truth put into your life, I offer these consultation services solely to get you pointed in the right direction. I want you to be engaged in your life.

Johnny Sanders (19:06)

I want you to be sitting in the background talking about how bad things are and just complaining. You need to get in the game. So if I could be of assistance to you, offering some consultation services to get you pointed in the right direction, and then I will get out of your way, you go live your life. But if you’re struggling to find direction in your life, please reach out to me at faithfullyengaged.com and I would love to work with you. Otherwise, I hope you have a fantastic weekend.

and I will catch you on Monday on the next episode of Faithfully Engaged.