In Ephesians 4:14, Paul desires that local churches “…may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
In this post, I want to give you 5 examples of deceitful schemes that would seek to rock a church or blow it in one direction or another. I could list many but here I think are 5 ones on the front lines if you will. Here they are:
This is a cancer in many otherwise conservative churches today. This is one reason the SBC has 16 million people on our church rolls but only 5 million that show up on Sundays. Easy believism is the idea that by just nodding our head in agreement with Jesus or saying a prayer, or jumping in a baptistry, we may think we are born again—even though nothing about our life has really changed.
Easy Believism will toss a church to and fro because it will fill it with unbelievers. Sometimes those unbelievers can become hardened and self-righteous and legalistic, but they are still unbelievers. They’ve never been born again. They’ve never experienced heartfelt repentance. They’ve never bowed the knee to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And if you try to point out sin in their life, they dismiss you as judgmental.
Preacher, are you saying that we are saved by our works? No! We are saved by sovereign grace alone! An undeserved and unearnable grace. A grace that is greater than every sin. A grace that forgives. A grace that restores. A grace that makes us whole. A grace that justifies, crediting us with the righteousness of Christ. And a grace that actually transforms. A grace that brings us from death to life. A grace that gives us a new heart and new affections and new desires.
Here’s another example of human cunning:
Now I won’t spend long here because we really covered the root of this issue in the last point. But the healthiest of churches hold to and believe in regenerate church membership. That is, only biblical baptized Christians are members. It means church members ought to watch over one another in love and care about commitments to one another. It also means church rolls ought to accurately reflect who actually attends. Otherwise, our confession doesn’t match our practice. We say we believe one thing but we practice another.
Ecclesiology never suffers in isolation. What I mean is where our ecclesiology is off so is our soteriology and our theology because this is all connected together. Too many churches, Southern Baptist and beyond, have believed the lie that we can compromise our ecclesiology while also maturing in the Lord. This is not true. A compromised ecclesiology only leads to superficial unity at best and presents before the world a deplorable picture of Christ.
Here is the 3rd example of deceitful schemes against the church today:
We would be surprised at how immersed we are in feminism today. I will define feminism this way: The teaching that there are no distinctions between men and women in terms of the roles they can fulfill and a push to dismiss God’s good created order. Feminism creeps into the church in women who preach or in men who are weak. It creeps into the home when the husband won’t be the biblical leader or when the wife seeks to manipulate or control the home.
You understand when I say “feminism” that I’m not blaming women, right? I’m saying “feminism” is a philosophy of Satan that seeks to distort God’s created order. Men and women both today are adherents to and advocates of this wicked scheme.
And too many churches and homes are like children being deceived by this abhorrent scheme. Feminism is a wave that will capsize a ship. It’s already eaten alive once strong churches. And it will do the same to every church in America if we are not on our guard.
Our only recourse is to hold tightly to God’s Word and believe what He says: Men and women are of equal value before God but He has assigned them distinct roles in the home and in the church and in society all for the good of human flourishing and the glory of God.
The LGBTQ+ Movement
Now you would think this is just an issue for churches out there, not for strong conservative churches like in the Southern Baptist Convention.
But did you know this year at the SBC annual meeting is a man preaching who has said same-sex attraction is not a sin? Yet Paul says in Gal. 5:24 that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires…”
This doesn’t mean we don’t ever struggle with sin. But it means when we struggle with sin, we call it what it is: sin. If you sin and then you say “Well that’s just the way I am.” You are never going to grow in Christ, and you actually may not even be a Christian. Rather, when you sin you ought to repent of it. You ought to confess it. You ought to seek help from godly friends. You ought to fight it. But you better not coddle it. Or call something beautiful that God calls an abomination or worst of all, blame God for the way you are!
In Christ, we are a NEW creation! And though we struggle with sin, the difference is now we fight it. And we seek to put it all to death by the Holy Spirit.
The LGBTQ+ movement is crafty. And its craftiness seeks to carry away the church. And I have seen public teacher after public teacher falter on this issue. And I will say this: however, you want to think about this, I’ll leave that to you, but know that it is undeniable that Disney is seeking to disciple our children in this today. It is seeking to craftily and deceitfully lead our children away. You need to know this. And you need to act accordingly.
I include LGBTQ here because I also have seen conservative Christians try to figure a way to call the LGBTQ to Christ without repentance. And I have seen the two most recent Southern Baptist presidents say about the LGBTQ community that God whispers about sexual sin.
If we want to honor Christ and win the lost we must tell them that sin is sin. And that all sin can be forgiven in Christ, but you must go to Him in faith and repentance. You cannot embrace your sin in one hand and try to embrace Christ with the other. He will not share dual Lordship. Christ is King. And we call all sinners to repent of their sins and put their faith in His life, death, burial, and resurrection.
So, I’m just trying to give you real-time examples of things that would seek to move the church or keep her childish or cause her to wander into apostasy altogether in today’s context. So far we’ve covered Easy Believism, Unbiblical Ecclesiology, Feminism, LGBTQ+, and finally, I will mention:
Dr. Owen Strachan writes, “Wokeness is first and foremost a mindset and a posture borne of Critical Race Theory and related systems of thought.”
We do not have time to tackle everything in this message here. But suffice it to say wokeness sees everything in categories of power and oppression. And its end goal is not actually reconciliation but what it would see as a transfer of power. In wokeness ideology, there is no real forgiveness. There is no true reconciliation. And God’s justice is distorted.
We must hate racism. We must work to show how the gospel reconciles sinners from every tribe, tongue, people, and language. If you judge a person based on their skin color you are wrong and you must repent and turn to Christ. How can you say you love Christ but won’t fellowship with a person because of their skin color? That is abhorrent.
But the answer to these things is the all-powerful gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The answer is not wokeness. Wokeness is a deceitful scheme that seeks to blow the church off course and if it can, sink it.
And this is a real issue because in 2019 the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution that said Critical Race Theory is a useful analytical tool. No, it’s not. Not any more than Fifty Shades of Grey is a useful analytical tool for someone’s marriage. Wokeness is a deceitful scheme that must be eradicated from the Lord’s churches.
What I am saying here is that God has given us exactly what we need to mend those at enmity with God and at enmity with one another in the cleansing blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. And we must not allow anything to come in to replace or undermine the gospel and this is what’s going on with CRT and Wokeness.
Are you standing on guard against these schemes today?