Someone once gave me the impression, in no uncertain terms, they could not be deceived because they had sat under a particular pastor’s teaching for decades. While they were trying to give me that impression, they were living in obvious deception in one very important part of their life. The person assumed an attitude of personal pride in the church they attended and the high-profile teacher that led the congregation. Their preferred method of public preaching was a verse-by-verse study with the King James Version as the text. What that dear person did not realize was that for years they sat under one person’s interpretation of the written word. That produced a very narrow understanding of God and His Kingdom.
John said in the opening verses of his gospel that the Word is a person – Jesus Christ. He already existed in eternity before time and creation began. To actually sit under the Word means so much more than a particular Bible translation, study method, and teacher. To actually sit under the Word means that you and I have cultivated a depth of relationship with Jesus that allows Him, under the guiding influence of the Spirit, to teach us all things. The first disciples did not have the written Scriptures that we call the complete Bible, whether bound in genuine leather or contained in a smartphone. They had Jesus and that relationship turned the world upside down.
To think because we have sat under one person’s interpretation of the Word that we will be free from all error is a dangerous assumption. It is the kind of assumption that can actually lead us into a delusion that would have us believe, like the person I mentioned in the first paragraph, that one person’s interpretation or a single translation of the original text is superior to all others. Everything we have is an interpretation of the original. Some are simply better than others.
John also wrote that the Word came into our world as a flesh and blood representation of the Father, but the world did not recognize Him. John used the word “kosmos” in that section of Scripture to describe the world. In that particular usage, the word kosmos is defined as the human race, humankind, or all the inhabitants of Earth. That means the world comprised of believers and non-believers alike.
It is possible the Church, like the nation of Israel of old, can fail to recognize Him when He comes in our day with a fresh revelation of an old truth or when He chooses to reveal Himself through a voice that sounds different than our favorite teacher. This failure to recognize Him can happen when we don’t allow Jesus – the Word – to pass through the religious filters of our preference of teachers, translations or methodologies. That’s when we are most vulnerable to a dangerous deception.