The Elect

by Morris Ruddick on October 18, 2013


© Morris E. Ruddick


“False prophets will rise with great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Know that I have told you beforehand.”  Matthew 24: 24-25

Jesus warned that the very elect would be subject to being deceived. Being deceived is certainly not conscious. It is very subtle. It involves things beyond the periphery of perception; blind-spots created due to the way we think. It limits our way in seeing spiritual things clearly. Jesus said even the elect would be subject to it. We’re there.

With a twist, Jeremiah gave a word from the Lord that through deceit “they refuse to know Me.” Deceit is the result of those who have gone beyond the step of misfiring spiritually, as priorities are misaligned to where the misperceptions are consciously promulgated to influence others.

Deceit results from a lack of a listening heart. It emanates from a lack of the humility needed to be quick to repent and quick to forgive. It is misperceiving the standard so that we miss the mark. That’s the biblical definition of sin: to miss the mark.
“Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit. Through deceit they refuse to know me, says the Lord.”
Jeremiah 9:6

Reaching for God’s Standard
During His entire earthly ministry, Jesus challenged misaligned and unproductive thinking. He raised the bar. He challenges those with idols in their minds, who miss the mark of true service by fearing the loss of their turf and “perceived empires.”

There’s something very holy when a people refuse the defilements that come from the way the world responds to life and its ambitions. They begin seeing things from the stance of the Lord’s heart. It involves a standard that flows in the honor that only comes from God. It’s the standard that is at the heart of Jesus’ kingdom message.

It reflects an issue of mind-sets that penetrate the very core of a culture.

Embedded Spirits in Ministry-Thinking
Jesus drew a strong line in the sand with the Pharisees. First, the standard for leaders is much higher. Jesus’ hard line also was because not only was Pharisaical-thinking askew in terms of God’s order; but because these religious leaders justified their thinking with what Jesus referred to as “the precepts of men.”

Jesus was pointing to subtle, culturally-embedded thinking that seeks to infiltrate the ranks of the very elect. It distinguishes between the many called and the few who are chosen.

The precepts of men are embedded religious spirits that on the surface may sound right; but in the long-run their premise tends to be self-serving and myopic; short-circuiting what God intends for those they are supposed to be leading.

Religious spirits within ministry thinking are subtle counterfeits. They may be the result of faulty doctrine that narrow-mindedly divides the word of Truth. They may also result from spiritual coasting; not giving proper heed to the spiritual maintenance required of leaders for His truth and our hearts to be uniquely aligned.
“The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.”
1 Tim 5:24

Success can seduce unless we’re consistently being washed by a regular dose of the Word of Truth, in proportion to the mantle in which we’re walking. Deuteronomy 17 outlines the standard for leaders, which in essence is to daily be immersed in God’s word. God’s word of truth is not a head-thing. Again, that’s why Jesus said there would come a time when even the very elect would be subject to being deceived.

A Higher Order of Attitudes
Jesus spoke of the progressive steps to our attitudes. We refer to them as the beatitudes, which mean “beautiful attitudes. The next to the last beatitude was that of the peace-makers; the “shalom-makers.” Shalom in Hebrew not only means God’s peace, but it also means God’s order. God’s peace will never come apart from God’s order.

God’s order does not conform to the way the world thinks. It challenges our natural way of perceiving things. Yet when, as a people, we reach for God’s higher order, it triggers a change in the spiritual climate around us. Reaching for this higher order is a leadership mandate.

It is why the word of the Lord through Moses has said that we would be the head and not the tail. We are called as a people of influence, a society of leaders. Yet, that mantle in itself requires something more in the way we respond.

Over 40 years ago, one of my mentors was the author of a book on revival. In this most engaging work, he summarizes nine outstanding characteristics of major revivals.

  • They occurred during a time of deep moral darkness and national depression.
  • Their inception began in the heart of one consecrated servant of God who became the energizing power behind it; the agent used by God to quicken and lead the nation back to faith in and obedience to God.
  • Each revival rested on the Word of God and most revivals were the result of establishing God’s standard, with power.
  • All resulted in a return to the worship of the Lord.
  • Each witnessed the destruction of idols that had counterfeited God’s ways.
  • In each case, there was a pronounced separation from sin.
  • In each Old Covenant revival, they involved a return to offering blood sacrifices; again a return to God’s ancient standards in seeking Him.
  • Almost all recorded revivals show a restoration of great joy and gladness.
  • Each revival was followed by a period of great national prosperity. (Harold Fisher, Reviving Revivals, Gospel Publishing House, 1950, pgs 63, 64)

God’s shalom or God’s order is released when a people begin embracing true revival. It is a matter of priorities. Genuine revival is the standard that marked the early church. It’s the pathway through the narrow gate: the way of the Kingdom. It is the catalyst for societal change that brings about the final step in the beatitudes: persecution.

Revival Distinguished from Religious Spirits
Religious spirits are the man-made counterfeits to true revival. The destruction of idols is tied to the way we think and the subtleties of what we rest our faith on. The precepts of men impede revival because they foster an elitism that rests on man’s accomplishments and turf, rather than depending on God’s leading.

Contrary to the standard noted in Isaiah 58, the operation of religious spirits provokes pointing the finger in scorn at those who fall short of their exclusivity. John’s word to the churches in Revelation targets the impact resulting from the illusions that come from the religious spirits that nurture the “precepts of men.”

The judgment on Thyatira’s church alludes to a Jezebel. Jezebel of old was in control. Ahab relinquished his authority as king to the seductions of the religious spirits controlling his out-of-control wife. So it will be that his legacy for eternity will be his failure with God because of his acquiescence.
“To the church at Thyatira, from the one who is holy and true; I know all the things you do: your love, your faith, your service, your perseverance. But I have this against you. You are permitting that Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet, to lead my servants astray.” 
Revelation 2:18-20

Whether a church is dead, corrupt, compromising or lukewarm, as the ones revealed to John; the precepts of men reveal and unmask the idols and the illusions that mark the short-falls enticed by religious spirits in the thinking and condition of the leaders responsible.

The standard for the elect very simply will never be achieved through human effort. Like the case of the Pharisees, self-righteousness and spiritual pride are illusions that digress into becoming their own idols that undermine God’s blueprint for those they are called to lead.

The standard for leaders requires a humility that can only come from knowing that without God’s intervention, our efforts will miss the mark. God’s ways are progressive; progressively higher. Jesus’ experiences in raising the dead went from raising the daughter of the ruler; to raising Lazarus who had been dead for four days; to His own resurrection. The Lord’s ways always involve “something more.” That’s just God’s nature. So it is that the bar is being raised in our day.

Seeing Eyes and Hearing Ears
The seedbed for revival comes at a point when a people are impoverished morally and economically to the level that they no longer trust in their own devices, but begin crying out to the Lord. When a people have become spiritual bankrupt, they reach that point.

We have been honored to work with ones who have come through a generation of walking through a fire that most Westerners cannot even imagine. Yet, despite the foundations, within this segment of the persecuted church, in crying out to the Lord, in their midst some are looking to the West as the standard as their condition improves. Others have given heed to the religious spirits that conform not to the ancient ways, but to the precepts of men.

It is unfortunate that the early stages of prosperity that revival fosters, give way to self-centered, self-righteous thinking, to the blindness and seductions that lead again into the impoverished state marked by the same bondage of corruption.

It is why Jesus constantly tapped these truths and prefaced them with the words that “he who has ears to hear and eyes to see.”

The issue raised is that the first and the last points, characteristic of revival, are at the core of the wisdom needed for how a people, under God, can culturally grow in maturity. The question deals with the need for the higher standard required of those chosen by God as leaders. This is where the Jewish roots to our faith, the ancient paths, come into play.

There indeed is a major transition underway in the Body.

Facing the Realities
Keeping pace with the challenges, with the changes taking place globally, involves a standard beyond human effort; beyond our natural abilities. In all this, we humbly seek to honor and to operate with honor before the One who has called us.

Honor is a key factor in this equation. The most subtle snare for leaders is the premise of considering ourselves beyond the vulnerability of deception. This factor of honor and not a mask of humility, but genuine humility, help to inoculate us. Daily washing our hearts in God’s word is key to our protection. Combined, they dovetail with a mind-set that recognizes that it is not what we can do for God; but rather what we allow Him to do through us.

It is this interactive honor that resonates and marks a great moral code, a code not just of conduct, but of a dimension of that “something more:” a replication of these potent ancient pathways that influence things spiritually and culturally.

Evangelism impacts individuals. Media evangelism can greatly multiply this impact. Modern-day evangelism tends to encourage its converts to withdraw from the world. However, Jesus said we would be in the world, but not of the world. Revival on the other hand is contextual. Its ripples pervade the context of the world that people live in. It is revival that will penetrate, impact and change cultures and nations.

True revival merges the need for prophetic stewardship with spiritually mature leadership. The passage through this spiritual threshold is not possible in the natural. That’s why revival does not come easily. It bears a cost. It requires something more that can only come from God. It is the reason that true revival is fostered through a remnant. So it has been with those who have born the cost of persecution that we’ve had the privilege of working with.

When the model of God-centered community that entrepreneurially brings increase is properly applied, it draws the world to it and then to the Lord. It’s at the core of the Kingdom message: of applying righteous power in a corrupt world. Indeed, it is the very foundation of Jesus’ premise of “being a light on a hill.”
“You are the light of the world. A city
[community] set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14-15

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