There are deceptions spreading across the world. They are intended to steal as many souls away from salvation as possible.
We’ve discussed a few of them such as the false teaching of the pre-tribulation rapture, the prosperity “gospel”, and evolution, but one that is becoming more important today than ever before is the deception of hopelessness. This is one of the trickiest because unlike many other deceptions, hopelessness plays to both our hearts and our minds.
The thought of avoiding tribulation by being raptured away before it starts appeals to the heart – nobody wants to go through the hardest times the earth has ever seen – but has no basis in Biblical facts nor common sense. Evolution and the root deception of inconceivable periods of time plays to our minds through misinterpretation of evidence, but has no emotional component that pulls at our hearts.
Hopelessness combines both.
Another challenge with it is that it manifests in different ways. Let’s explore what this deception is, why it works so well on us, and most importantly how we can fight it.
What is the deception of hopelessness?
In a nutshell, hopelessness from a believer’s perspective is the feeling that we cannot bring about positive changes in our spiritual lives or the spiritual lives of those we can influence. It presents itself to us through frames of mind such as defeat, intellectually through false evidence and distorted presentations of information, and as emotional roadblocks like fear.
This portion of the topic could (and probably should) be drawn out into a full-length book, but for this post let’s look at examples in order to try to cut to the core of the understanding.
“We have already lost the battle over _____.”
Very few people like to fight a battle if they think they’ve already lost. These battles can be personal such as trying to bring a friend or family member to Christ. They can be broader in scale such as fighting for a pro-life stance. They can even be internal such as battling against addiction. In any battle over spirits, the feelings of defeat that creep over us can cause us to stop fighting altogether.
“You can’t overcome the facts.”
This is a big one in today’s increasingly secular society. Science and sentiment are two of the biggest weapons that the adversary uses to make people believe they’re either wrong or their correct mindsets cannot be justified to others.
Gay marriage rights activists have wielded this weapon with incredible precision and effectiveness. Since the turn of the century in America, they have been getting people to accept that most people believe homosexual couples should have the right to get married. They were so effective with this notion that it may have become a self-fulfilling perspective. No survey or study can reveal how people really feel, but they have been able to get a good chunk of Americans to outwardly proclaim acceptance of this right. As a result, it has become a battle that few are willing to fight for fear of being labeled a bigot.
The “fact” that they portrayed about Americans accepting gay marriage has worked itself into mainstream culture so that today it may very well be true. More people accept gay marriage today. Whether it’s truly most people is not worthy of debate and can never actually be known.
“I shouldn’t judge.”
A popular doctrine of the Bible tells us that we shouldn’t judge others. It’s not our place. However, it has been distorted through a fear of being judged ourselves. We hold our tongues and refrain from speaking out at every level. We hide behind the doctrine of not judging others when in reality we fear the repercussions that come with others seeing us as being judgmental.
The comfortable path has been set before us and most believers are happy to walk that path. It’s veiled in the facades of acceptance, unity, and tolerance. It gives believers the excuse they need to listen happily to an atheist friend talk about their perspectives or to stay silent when a Muslim friend performs dawah for us.
Judgment is not ours to give, but fighting for the faith in spite of hopelessness is definitely something we are called to do.
Why hopelessness works so well for the adversary
Anyone who is a fan of boxing knows that body shots are effective in taking down an opponent. They aren’t the punches that get played over and over again in highlights, but they do their job in journeyman fashion to set up the opponent for the knockout punch.
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Body shots weaken the core. They decrease the opponent’s stamina, take his strength, and pull his hands downward to make it easier to land the big blow to the head that ends the fight.
The deception of hopelessness works in this same manner. It opens us up to become vulnerable to the other deceptions that have the power to take us out of faith and away from the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our greatest hope is to walk in the presence of God for eternity. Hopelessness is the constant barrage of punches that the adversary uses to steer us away from the path of salvation.
In many ways, hopelessness is the exact opposite of the driving force behind faith. We are strongest when know in our hearts that our faith is unyielding because Jesus Christ died for our sins. We are most capable of living our lives in grace when we believe in our works and acknowledge the Holy Spirit that wants to guide us along our path. We are prepared to face the the knockout blows of this world when our hands are held up through trust in Adonai as our loving Father.
Hopelessness works because it brings us deeper into this world and away from the source that protects us.
The one way to combat hopelessness
The adversary is a powerful being with a powerful army to fight his spiritual battle. He has been developing and implementing his agenda since the dawn of man. He has power over this world and knows precisely how to develop it so that hopelessness reigns over billions.
We know all of this to be true. Thankfully, we also know that our Father has a greater plan for us. We know in the passages of Hebrews that He is always right and that He cannot lie, which for believers is a promise that we can overcome through faith, that we already have overcome through the sacrifice of Jesus.
16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.
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17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
The adversary cannot overcome this. He is incapable of denying the reality of this world, that Jesus died as the eternal payment for our sins and that those who believe on Him as Lord and Savior cannot be eternally destroyed by anything on this earth. This is why the deception of hopelessness is so important to the adversary. He cannot take away our gift from God. He can only try to convince us that we shouldn’t accept the gift.
He is cunning and has influence over the governing forces of this world.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
This can be a terrifying concept for believers. It means that there are forces at work that can prevent us from seeing the truth. It means that the hopelessness that is sweeping across the world today cannot be overcome by governments, media,or anything of influence from this world because they are the very entities who are wittingly or unwittingly promoting the hopelessness they claim to oppose.
It’s disheartening. Even the knowledge of this reality can be a tool to encourage hopelessness. How can we fight a battle when our own leaders are against us? With all of the information that is at our fingertips, we turn to it every day to answer questions about life, but much of that information is from this world and therefore cannot be fully trusted. Where can we turn when our search for hope is opposed by the very people who are supposed to supply it?
Thankfully, our God is a loving Father who gives us everything that we need. In the verse just prior, as if preparing us for the realities that we are to face, He tells us about the one and only thing that can combat hopelessness.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
We have everything we need for defense in the Armor of God.
The adversary has no true power over us. People often wonder why we would be given free will if we are such imperfect creatures. Looking at the world today, free will and the influences of the adversary have put us into positions where hopelessness has the most suitable conditions to grow and flourish. However, the opposite is true as well. Free will taking guidance from the Holy Spirit and protected with the Armor of God is more powerful than anything the adversary could throw at us, not just as individuals but also as nations.
It takes faith, true faith, the kind that is so hard to find in a world loaded with distractions. Our lack of faith has been more than a stumbling block. Throughout history, those who have demonstrated true faith such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Paul have achieved great things for themselves, their seed, and their people, yet all of them stumbled at different points in their lives. That’s okay. We all stumble. We all make mistakes. However, Jesus said it best when describing the true power of faith.
6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
You have no need for hopelessness in this life. More importantly, you are offered everything you need to overcome it when it presents itself. Pray. Believe. Rejoice.
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