Deceived and Defiant Against the Gospel
By Mike Gendron
As ambassadors for our Lord Jesus Christ, we have the privilege to proclaim His Gospel to an unbelieving world. It is not only a royal privilege but an awesome responsibility because those who are perishing need to hear the Gospel of Christ (Romans 10:17). Clearly, the most difficult people to evangelize are those who are defiantly opposed to the Gospel because of religious bondage and deception.
Self-Conceit Leads to Self-Deceit
As prince of this world, Satan holds undiscerning people captive with religious pride and deceitful indoctrination. When you witness to them, their stubborn arrogance exposes their willful ignorance of God’s Word. Their stiff-necked self conceit leads to their unyielding self-deceit. Whenever prideful people are confronted in their self-deceit, they dig in their heels to prove they are right. A frequent example of this is when Roman Catholics are asked to repent and believe the Gospel. A common response is, “I was born a Catholic and I will die a Catholic.” My reply is always the same. According to the Bible, you were born a sinner and you will die a sinner unless you repent and believe the Gospel.
Religious Arrogance Blinds People
One of the most powerful tools Satan uses to “blind the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” is religious pride and arrogance (2 Cor. 4:4). We see a vivid example of this when “Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8). Some arrogant Jews rose up and argued with him because they were unable to cope with the wisdom and Spirit with which he was speaking. Stephen responded, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did” (Acts 7:51). Because of their religious arrogance, they were brutally resistant to the truth, and with gnashing teeth, they stoned Stephen to death.
Deceitful Indoctrination Creates Pride
Many Catholics are deceived into believing they belong to the one true church. This deceitful indoctrination creates a lot of pride and a strong resistance to any teaching from non-Catholics. If Catholics were intellectually honest with themselves, they would have to acknowledge that their church looks nothing like the first century church. That is because it drifted into apostasy by departing from the faith of the apostles. Paul warned that “in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). Catholics need to be warned that any teaching contrary to the written Word of God is either a lie of the devil or a doctrine of demons. Every man’s teaching must be tested by the supreme authority of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16; Acts 17:11).
Catholic Responses to the Gospel
This ministry has been engaging Catholics with the Gospel for 32 years and we have heard some incredible responses. Following are several examples.
“I could no more renounce my Catholic faith than I could gouge out my eyes! What type of people are you? You have no idea what Christ teaches! I am a proud Catholic who is also proud to say that he respects all religions that seek peace in love. I am offended by your insults! They will lead to everlasting torment!”
Another proud Catholic responded this way. “You are so misinformed it is pathetic. I have the authority of Christ’s Church. Protestant sects have nothing. I know the Church back to front and I have loved the Catholic Church since I was born.”
Still another boastful Catholic said: “There is nothing in the teachings of the Catholic Church opposed to Sacred Scripture. I will ask Mary, the Queen of the Universe, to pray for you. I will offer up your soul to Her Immaculate Heart that she may present it, perfect and blameless, before God. Your ministry is inspired by Satan. The main function of the pope is to ensure that nothing is added or deleted from the Bible. The Catholic Church is the only church which takes the Bible seriously.”
God’s Grace Is Greater than Man’s Defiance
No matter how defiantly people respond to the Gospel, we know stubborn hearts are no match for the penetrating power of God’s grace. The apostle Paul was a zealous persecutor of Christians before our Sovereign Lord knocked him off his high horse and granted him repentance. One of the thieves mocking Jesus on the cross had lived a life of sinful rebellion, but in his last hour, God granted him repentance and faith in the Savior (Luke 23:39-43). These two examples of the saving power of God’s grace should encourage us to never give up hope for our friends and loved ones. Knowing that God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble, let us pray that they will exchange their pride for humility and submit to God’s Word (James 4:6). Let us also pray that they will come under strong conviction by the Holy Spirit of sin, judgment and righteousness (John 16:8-11). May God be exalted and honored as He answers our prayers for His glory and the salvation of perishing souls!