A while ago, a Christian friend of mine and I were having a conversation about the church she attends and their doctrines. When I found out that she did not have a Bible of her own, I was very surprised. It turns out that she does not read the Bible on her own. So I asked her, “Don’t you at least have to use the Bible during church services?” She answered, “We don’t really need a Bible, the pastor preaches what it says! I don’t have to know the Bible verse by verse.” I stopped asking more questions, but in my heart burned the question, “What if your pastor is preaching a false gospel?”
We often think that those who are under the sway of Satan appear as dark, wicked and sinister people. But in fact, they can appear as apostles of Christ (2 Cor 11:13-14) – beautiful and humble on the outside, but under the control of Satan on the inside. Sadly, sometimes the one under the influence of Satan is perfectly innocent in their own mind. They sincerely believe what they are saying and practicing is of God. Likewise, I believe that my friend’s pastor preaches with a fearful heart towards God, but clearly he also preaches some doctrines that are not in accordance with the Bible.
When Jesus was fasting and praying for 40 days and 40 nights, the Bible does not record that Satan made himself known to Jesus by his devilish and sinister looks. Rather, we can see that he made himself known through his deceptive gospel – his misquotation and wrong application of the Scriptures. Jesus, being well equipped with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph 6:17), was able to recognize the devil just by his deceptive words.
The Bible is the sole testimony to the truth, the gospel of salvation. As followers of God, we must study the Bible as it is the only way to equip ourselves with the word of God. Even if Satan were to appear to us in the form of an angel today, we should not be deceived but be able to discern him by his deceptive words, just like Jesus did.
We must never take anyone’s word concerning what is true, but find out for ourselves from the book inspired by God Himself, that is, the Bible. We are responsible for our own salvation. On the judgment day, when asked why we did not follow the truth, the person or pastor who preached to us will not be able to answer for us. Ultimately, we are to answer to God whether or not we have studied the word for ourselves and acted accordingly.