Written by Lee Stevenson, sorry I am not the best editor.
In order to be aware of the more subtle things that could cause us to fall away from God or cause us to fall short requires discernment. I am going to discuss things that can help to build and protect our discernment.
The original world in the bible where subtle was used meant elusive, sly, crafty or treachorous. So when you are being deceive they will distract you or use partial truths to deceive you. For example the bible often mentions who cunning immoral women or men are at tricking people to do their will. By knowing fully what God would expect of us we can be more aware of when someone is trying to deceive us. Often times their words do not match their actions. If we pay attention to their actions. For example if they are very secretive experience has taught me to be very careful. For example if you ask a friend about their day and they are elusive be cautious this usually indicate they are hiding something. If you meet someone and they will not talk about themselves but will keep bringing the conversation back around to you be careful it means they are trying to control the conversation and do not want you to know more about them. Often times we brush those subtle things off but being subtle is how Satan deceived Eve. When Satan tempted Eve and tried to temp Jesus he first stated certain truths to try and get them to drop their guard then he would tell a lie. Eve knew what was required of her but kept listening to Satan’s deception. Jesus knew God’s word very well so when Satan would try to use the scripture in a deceptive way Jesus always followed with a scripture that Satan could not provide an answer to. Jesus told us that Satan is the creator of the lie, he has had thousands of years to practice deception so we need to know God’s word very well so we can identify when we are being deceived.
The bible warns us to keep our senses because our adversary the Devil walks around like a roaring lion seeking to devour someone. A lion will roar at the ground this causes it’s roar to reflect off the ground causing it to go in every direction. Since it’s pray cannot tell which direction the roar has come from often times the prey does not know which direction to run. The prey will run right in the direction of the lion. Satan will bombard people and try to overwhelm them. He will usually hit them in the areas they have the most confidence in. He did this with Job he took Job’s family, Job’s wealth and Job’s health. But Job never lost his faith in God and for that he was rewarded many times over. Job did not turn to the world for answers and solutions. When we are getting overwhelmed by many things be aware it could be an attack by Satan. His persecutions are not always obvious , he may use weaknesses of others in our lives as a way to persecute and cause us tribulation. When these things occur we should not take them personal. We all fall short. This is why we should be aware of our short comings because he could use our short comings to cause others to feel persecuted or tried.
The apostle Paul warned holding a grudge and not forgiving someone can cause us to be overreached by Satan. This is why Jesus tells us to forgive those who trespass against us.
Another subtle way we can be drawn away from God is by loving the things of the world more then we do God. Our actions demonstrate our love. If we devote so much time to things of the world that we cannot stay focused spiritually or we start missing meeting and associations with spiritual relatives it could be a sign we are loving the world and things in it more then God. Now God is not unreasonable he realizes things will come up that will need us to devote time to and it can take from us being able to apply ourselves spiritually. When this occurs we should at least try our best to take in his word daily. If you do have wealth you should imagine what it may be like for you if you no longer had it. Imagine how you could continue to honor God as you adjust to the life that is ahead of you. We are living in the last days and many will lose all they have. If we grow too attached to material things when we lose them it can cause us to lose faith and trust in God. For many of the apostles survival was a day to day thing yet they continue to build their faith and trust in God and set good examples of faith and obedience to God for others.
Another subtle way Satan and man, can trick us is to try and get us to put mans wisdom above God’s wisdomand try to get us to lean on our own understanding which can lead us astray. I often times hear people say I don’t need to study the bible because I will follow my heart. The bible warns the heart is treacherous and desperate. How many times have we done things out of desperation that we later realized was not the best solution? The bible warns us about putting our trust in human knowledge and philosophy of man. Often times I see psychologist and therapist that give advice that goes against what God would expect us to do. God created us he knows our minds and hearts better then anyone can. By writing God’s word on our hearts it prevents us being swayed by imperfect human knowledge which often times has been influenced by Satan. We write God’s word on our hearts by reading God’s word, applying it in our lives so much that we automatically know what God would want us to do. We need to be careful about anxieties of life and again getting caught up in the things of the world because Jesus warned were our treasure is there our heart will be. So if we get overly caught up in watching current events, acquiring material things , or start putting more confidence in secular knowledge and not weigh what God would want us to do we can be slowly led astray. Putting our trust in human knowledge or things of the world can lead our hearts astray. We have to deal with many secular things in life such as mental health experts, medical health experts, lawyers, and sometimes even financial experts. When they give advice we need to know God’s word because sometimes their advice may not be in agreement with what God would want us to do. The bible tells us the wisdom of the world is foolish and when this system ends much of that wisdom will be gone. The bible warns there is a way that seems right to man but the end result is death. The bible warns that if there is pride or arrogance Godly wisdom cannot exist in our hearts so we need to be careful and try our best to be humble. We are told Jehovah mocks those who ridicule but he grants wisdom to the humble. One subtle form of arrogance is ridicule. Do we look for the good in others or do we have a tendency to ridicule others. We are told God grants wisdom to the humble. Most of all if we want God’s wisdom to guide our hearts we need to ask him for his wisdom.
With things rapidly winding down we need discernment now more then ever. Discernment is acuteness of judgment and understanding. In other words it can help us decide what is correct and what is not. The bible warns if we do not keep trusting in God’s word we could lose our abilities of discernment. So we don’t only need to take God’s word in we need to let it guide all we do. If we do not we risk losing discernment which will make it hard for us to understand the deeper wisdom in the bible and we will get stuck in a cycle of needing milk instead of solid spiritual food. Jesus wept over a city because they lacked discernment. They knew God’s word but did not apply it so did not develop discernment. He knew many bad things were going to happen to them because they could not discern the times they were in. The Jewish system was going to collapse. Those who did not see the warning signs so they could flee would suffer some horrible things and few would survive. We are in the last days. If we do not develop our discernment and maintain it through practice we could lose sight of the times we are in and by the time we realize the reality of things it may be too late. If we are having difficulty developing our discernment we could talk to the elders and have them pray for us.
We should also find reasons to thank God and ways we can glorify God. With us living in the last days some of us may be really struggling whether it be in health, financially, persecution , and many other struggles in life. It may be difficult to find things to be thankful for. We can be thankful we have the one true God who will set matter straight very soon and will destroy all the wicked on the earth and end all suffering very soon. We have the future promises he has given us one of which is the restoration of the earth to a paradise and the promise living forever. We can be thankful we have a God who does not change because of this it is easy to know what he would require of us. Man is like a wave on the ocean whichever way the wind blows that is what will shape what they think. God is not like that he does not change, this can give us confidence in our decisions when they are based on his word and what he would want us to do. We can also thank him for giving us his word to guide us through the hard times and to help protect us. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
How can we glorify God? Often times religion makes God seem vindictive and vengeful this pushes people away from learning about God. We could glorify God by showing others how merciful and loving he is. We could show the wonderful promises he has made that give us hope. The bible tells us God is love, we are also told to imitate him. So we could glorify God by letting love guide all we do. We could show others the power of God and help them to understand it. This could help build their faith in God. Sharing God’s word with others also helps to remind us and to strengthen our faith in God as we see it positively effect their lives. Jesus glorified God by his actions, he imitated the things he had seen his father do so perfectly when he was on earth it was like having God with man. Not only that but when Jesus was near being tortured and nailed to the torture steak he prayed that he would glorify God. So when we are suffering it can be difficult to glorify God. We should ask God to help us glorify him when times are difficult. God’s name has been removed from many bibles. Many do not know God’s name or what it means. We could glorify God also by teaching others God’s name and the value of knowing it. When we show our faith in God through our actions and our obedience we glorify God. Many who follow false teachings cause God’s good name to be spoken of abusively because people see their hypocrisy. Surely we would never want our actions to cause that to happen. Surely we would not want to be hypocritical and not practice what we teach. We would not want to blaspheme God’s good name by the things we say and do. Israel claimed to trust in God but their actions often times smeared his good name.
If we do the things mentioned it can help us to build our discernment up and will protect us and help us to survive the things that are about to occur and it will give us peace of mind and heart even when we are suffering because our hope and faith will be in God who keeps his promises. Not one of his promises went unfulfilled in the bible. So we can have hope and peace of mind knowing suffering and all this bad will gone soon and better times are very very near. If the foundation of our life is built on trust in ourselves , things of the world or worldly knowledge. If we suddenly lose those things our faith and trust in God can be shaken. If we build our foundation on Jesus and following him and obeying him as our king then we cannot be easily shaken when we suffer trials and tribulation. If we are easily shaken then this can helps us to realize we need to strengthen our foundations by imitating Jesus, trusting God and having faith in him. It sometimes may be difficult when we experience trauma or something shocking but this is a time when we should at least try to read and apply some of God’s word while we deal with the situations we may face.
(Genesis 3:1) 3 Now the serpent was the most cautious of all the wild animals of the field that Jehovah God had made. So it said to the woman: “Did God really say that you must not eat from every tree of the garden?”
(Proverbs 7:10-13) 10 Then I saw a woman meet him, Dressed like a prostitute, with a cunning heart. 11 She is loud and defiant. She never stays at home. 12 One moment she is outside, next she is in the public squares, She lurks near every corner. 13 She grabs hold of him and gives him a kiss; With a bold face, she says to him:
(1 Peter 5:8-11) 8 Keep your senses, be watchful! Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone. 9 But take your stand against him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by the entire association of your brothers in the world. 10 But after you have suffered a little while, the God of all undeserved kindness, who called you to his everlasting glory in union with Christ, will himself finish your training. He will make you firm, he will make you strong, he will firmly ground you. 11 To him be the might forever. Amen.
(2 Corinthians 2:9-11) . . .. 10 If you forgive anyone for anything, I do also. In fact, whatever I have forgiven (if I have forgiven anything) has been for your sake in Christ’s sight, 11 so that we may not be overreached by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his designs.
(John 8:43, 44) . . .. 44 You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a murderer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie.
(1 John 2:15-17) 15 Do not love either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; 16 because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. 17 Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.
(1 Timothy 6:10) 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.
(Hebrews 12:1-3) 12 So, then, because we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also throw off every weight and the sin that easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus. For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Indeed, consider closely the one who has endured such hostile speech from sinners against their own interests, so that you may not get tired and give up.
(1 John 1:8-10) 8 If we make the statement, “We have no sin,” we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we make the statement, “We have not sinned,” we are making him a liar, and his word is not in us.
(Jeremiah 17:9) 9 The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it?
(Proverbs 3:5-7) 5 Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, And do not rely on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways take notice of him, And he will make your paths straight. 7 Do not become wise in your own eyes. Fear Jehovah and turn away from bad.
(Proverbs 28:26) 26 Whoever trusts in his own heart is stupid, But the one who walks in wisdom will escape.
(1 Corinthians 1:19-21) 19 For it is written: “I will make the wisdom of the wise men perish, and the intelligence of the intellectuals I will reject.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this system of things? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not get to know God through its wisdom, God was pleased through the foolishness of what is preached to save those believing.
(Proverbs 27:11, 12) 11 Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, So that I can make a reply to him who taunts me. 12 The shrewd person sees the danger and conceals himself, But the inexperienced keep right on going and suffer the consequences.
(Proverbs 14:11, 12) . . .But the tent of the upright will flourish. 12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But in the end it leads to death.
(Proverbs 11:2) 2 When presumptuousness comes, dishonor will follow, But wisdom is with the modest ones.
(James 4:6) 6 However, the undeserved kindness that He gives is greater. So it says: “God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones.”
(Proverbs 3:34) 34 For he mocks those who ridicule, But he shows favor to the meek.
(Proverbs 19:29) 29 Judgment is in store for ridiculers, And beatings for the back of the stupid ones.
(James 1:5-8) 5 So if any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching, and it will be given him. 6 But let him keep asking in faith, not doubting at all, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and blown about. 7 In fact, that man should not expect to receive anything from Jehovah; 8 he is an indecisive man, unsteady in all his ways.
(Hebrews 5:11-14) 11 We have much to say about him, and it is difficult to explain, because you have become dull in your hearing. 12 For although by now you should be teachers, you again need someone to teach you from the beginning the elementary things of the sacred pronouncements of God, and you have gone back to needing milk, not solid food. 13 For everyone who continues to feed on milk is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for he is a young child. 14 But solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their powers of discernment trained to distinguish both right and wrong.
(1 Thessalonians 3:12, 13) 12 Moreover, may the Lord cause you to increase, yes, to abound in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you, 13 so that he may make your hearts firm, blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the presence of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.
(Luke 19:41-44) 41 And when he got nearby, he viewed the city and wept over it, 42 saying: “If you, even you, had discerned on this day the things having to do with peace—but now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 Because the days will come upon you when your enemies will build around you a fortification of pointed stakes and will encircle you and besiege you from every side. 44 They will dash you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave a stone upon a stone in you, because you did not discern the time of your being inspected.”
(Colossians 1:9) 9 That is also why from the day we heard of it, we have never stopped praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the accurate knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual comprehension,
(Romans 1:21-23) For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God nor did they thank him, but they became empty-headed in their reasonings and their senseless hearts became darkened. 22 Although claiming they were wise, they became foolish 23 and turned the glory of the incorruptible God into something like the image of corruptible man and birds and four-footed creatures and reptiles.
(Habakkuk 3:17-19) 17 Although the fig tree may not blossom, And there may be no fruit on the vines; Although the olive crop may fail, And the fields may produce no food; Although the flock may disappear from the pen, And there may be no cattle in the stalls; 18 Yet, as for me, I will exult in Jehovah; I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. 19 The Sovereign Lord Jehovah is my strength; He will make my feet like those of a deer And cause me to tread on high places.
(Matthew 28:19) 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit,
(John 13:31, 32) 31 When, therefore, he had gone out, Jesus said: “Now the Son of man is glorified, and God is glorified in connection with him. 32 God himself will glorify him, and he will glorify him immediately.
(2 Timothy 3:1-7) 3 But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, 3 having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, 4 betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, 5 having an appearance of godliness but proving false to its power; and from these turn away. 6 From among these arise men who slyly work their way into households and captivate weak women loaded down with sins, led by various desires, 7 always learning and yet never able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.
(Romans 2:17-24) 17 If, now, you are a Jew in name and rely on law and take pride in God, 18 and you know his will and approve of things that are excellent because you are instructed out of the Law, 19 and you are convinced that you are a guide of the blind, a light for those in darkness, 20 a corrector of the unreasonable ones, a teacher of young children, and having the framework of the knowledge and of the truth in the Law— 21 do you, however, the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself? You, the one preaching, “Do not steal,” do you steal? 22 You, the one saying, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You, the one abhorring idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who take pride in law, do you dishonor God by your transgressing of the Law? 24 For “the name of God is being blasphemed among the nations because of you,” just as it is written.
(Ezekiel 20:27) 27 “So speak to the house of Israel, O son of man, and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: “In this way also, your forefathers blasphemed me by acting unfaithfully against me. . .