How to Not Get Deceived

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Eric Knopf preaches on how the devil causes confusion in minds of believers so they don’t make the right decisions that lead to powerful lives. It begs the question: How do you not get deceived when making decisions? If you want to experience God’s best for your life, maximize your God given potential, fulfill God’s calling on your life, then you need to make the right decisions.

The problem is, there are so many choices that we face that can radically impact our futures. We ask questions like, God, what do you want? Where are you leading? Is this the right choice How do we answer these questions? How do we discern what’s taking place and make the right decisions?

This message was preached live by Eric Knopf at a Epic Life Gathering in Sacramento.


Last time I talked about the battleground of our minds.

  • We learned how not every thought is your own
  • And that’s why demonic oppression of your mind is so dangerous – it comes in the form of your own voice and your own thoughts.
  • If the enemy can convince you that you are the problem, you will spend your life fighting yourself and never engaging the right enemy.
  • And this is how millions of people remain oppressed – because they are self-sustaining it through their own blame

Tonight, I want to talk about how the devil causes confusion in minds of believers so they don’t make the right decisions that lead to powerful lives.

How do you not get deceived when making decisions?

If there is one thing that stresses me out in my faith, it’s making the right decisions.

  • Does anyone relate to that?
  • For me, I want to
  • Experience God’s best for my life.
  • Maximize my God given potential.
  • Fulfill God’s calling on my life.

The problem is, there are so many choices that we face that can radically impact our futures.  

  • We ask questions like, God, what do you want? Where are you leading? Is this the right choice?
  • How do we answer these questions? How do we discern what’s taking place and make the right decisions?

I felt like God saying there are people who have the right desires and intentions but are continually making the wrong choices because they are being deceived by signs…

People are making decisions off of signs instead of callings

  • They are looking for signs leading to confirmations they are on the right path or the wrong path
  • And those signs are deceiving many of us
    • God is not asking us to look for signs, He’s asking us to be obedient to callings.
  • When you make decisions based off of signs, the devil only needs to cause a coincidence to deceive you

Signs are about creating checkpoints. Obedience is about following a direction.

  • With signs, your journey stops the second you get a wrong sign.
  • But callings are about obedience towards a direction.
    • You just keep moving forward towards a direction.

So tonight, I want to talk about 4 deceptive signs that lead us away from God’s direction and our calling.

Deceptive Sign #1: Seeking if “God is in it”

This question determines if we say yes or no, keep going or get out, or if something is the right direction or the wrong direction.

Here’s how we ask and answer this question …

  • If I feel it’s going well, God is in it.
  • If I feel it’s a challenge, God isn’t in it.
  • If I feel peace in my spirit, God is in it.
  • If I feel uneasy in my spirit. God isn’t in it.
  • If I feel invigorated and passionate, God is in it.
  • If I feel fatigued and stale, God isn’t in it.

Here’s the thing… asking if God is in it, is a trick question.

  • It has the right intent, but misleads us in truth and the answer.

The truth: God is not in something, God is in You

We need to get rid of the idea of whether or not God is in something or not

  • God is in you. He’s not in a thing. He’s in you.

Believing God to be in something over emphasizes Gods involvement in a situation while under spiritualizing you

  • To pretend God can be in something or not, is to ignore the most important place he actually is… inside of you!
  • It also wrongly elevates God’s focus on outcomes instead of what God is doing in you and through you.
    • God is not focused on outcomes, God is focused on indwellings.
    • He wants His spirit alive and active in people… why?

Because when you get involved in something, He gets involved in it

  • The second you get yourself in a situation, God is in that situation
  • You bring God to every situation you involve yourself in.
  • God is in you, so therefore if you’re in it, God’s in it. 

So the first way to avoid getting deceived is remembering that God is in us and not a particular situation.  

  • Conveniently, asking if God is in something reveals deceptive sign #2.
  • Did you notice the indicator for how we determine if God’s in something?
    • If I feel ______ then God is in it.
    • What is the key word in each? Our feelings.

Deceptive Sign #2: Feeling Peace

Don’t Rely On Feelings For Your Direction

  • Feelings are good companions but make terrible guides.
  • And more importantly, they are unreliable indicators for God’s direction
  • You will be most susceptible to deception by the enemy if you make your decisions based on feelings.

We are called to live by faith, not live by feelings.

When you live by feeling, you will have a different calling every other day

  • Your calling will change depending on the weather, your relationships, what’s on the news… what other people are doing on social media.
  • I get riled up by my feelings all the time!

I remember in 2007, I had a mentor who was a mega millionaire investor come and ask to start a business with me.

  • This was when my startup business was struggling with the economy
  • Here comes this guy who anything he touches, it turns gold
  • So when someone comes and says, hey lets go make millions of dollars together… you’re like, let me go pray about it. “God said yes.”
    • “I feel really confirmed”
    • It ended up being a disaster and after 3 years, I left with tens of thousands in debt because it didn’t work out.

Feeling Peace is Not a Biblical Indicator of God’s Direction

  • Every great move of God was accompanied by a leader who at first didn’t feel peace about God’s calling.
    • Abraham felt he was too old for God’s promises
    • Moses: felt like he couldn’t lead because he wasn’t good with words
    • David felt like God had abandoned him
    • Mary felt it was impossible to give birth as a virgin
    • John the Baptist felt unqualified to baptize Jesus
    • Peter felt like he blew it
    • Paul felt unworthy to be called an apostle because he persecuted the church
  • Peace is something that follows obedience. Not something that precedes a decision.

There are a lot of people who missed their calling because they waited for a feeling of peace and didn’t realize that peace follows obedience.

What’s point in saying this…

God Isn’t Checking Your Feelings Before Creating Your Call

  • He calls us, and then lets us combat our feelings are part of our obedience.
  • He administers peace as we follow obedience.
    • Obedience would be so hard if we felt peace before obeying

To live by faith implies your actions will defy your feelings

  • To live by faith means your feelings are probably freaking out
  • If you don’t get nervous from time to time, you’re probably are living a very safe life
  • Safe lives don’t change the world

Making the right decisions require us to do it in faith, and bring our feelings into submission under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

A month ago, I was feeling an unexplained exhaustion, lack of enthusiasm, energy, and passion for many of the things I love.

  • If I am honest with you guys, I have felt a big battle for Epic Life
  • I was feeling like this is really hard.
    • I was thinking, man it was so much easier when it was just a small weekly service in a high school
    • The stakes weren’t that high
    • Now, our content is reaching almost a half million people every week
  • It felt really hard. Pulling a heavy weight
    • It’s really easy to begin questioning God’s direction when things get hard.

And that’s because our expectations for God’s direction lie to us

  • We have an expectation of how it’s going if God is leading it… 

Deceptive Sign #3: Expecting Effortlessness

If It’s Going Well, It’s God

Now, if you know anything about me, you know my theology is very simple.

  • God is good and the devil is bad.
  • I don’t believe God sends storms your way to teach you something.
  • I don’t believe God gives you suffering to strengthen your faith
    • That is bad theology.

But what can happen is… when you believe in God’s goodness, you can mistakenly associate God’s direction with easiness.

  • God is good. So unless it’s easy, it’s not God.
  • The devil is bad. So if its hard, it must be the devil.
  • Damien Giacchino said it so brilliantly…
  • “Not everything easy is from God. Not everything hard is from the devil.” ~ Damien Giacchino

So often when we are assessing God’s leading, we are largely basing it on how easy it is.

  • If it’s easy, God is in it. If it’s difficult, God isn’t in it.
  • We are unknowingly using comfort as the confirmation of God’s direction.

Now, If the Apostle Paul would have had this logic, right after his first beating he would have gone back to the other disciples and said…

  • You know I was praying, and I am just not sure God is in this…
  • I don’t know if I feel released to say yes to this persecution
  • I don’t know if this is doable for my heart right now
  • I feel like I am in a different season right now
  • I put out a fleece and it came back no
  • I just feel like there not is a grace for this mission

Therefore, We can wrongly define God’s favor and direction by lack of resistance

  • That’s how we think God confirms a direction
  • The right direction from God is identified as situations that are smooth, easy, and favorable.
  • We have all sorts of ways we’ll say and believe this…
    • “There is a grace that’s really on it”
    • “God’s favor is really on it”
    • “There is an anointing for this”
      • These are all ways we associate God’s direction based on how well something is going.
    • I actually think favor is measured by what happens despite resistance.

But notice how we never make the opposite statement?

  • “Its really hard, God must be in it.” – we don’t ever say that!
  • “its going terribly…” God is surely in it.

And I believe we have picked up this false idea from scripture…

  • You know the one…
  • Matthew 11:30 – “My yoke is easy… my burden is light.”

What Jesus really is talking about is being saved by Grace instead of the Law

  • The Law which is a never ending treadmill of rules that will never make you righteous… vs grace, believe and you get His righteousness.
  • He’s talking about Salvation
  • We have misapplied this verse to mean pathway of God’s direction will be easy if He’s in it.

What does Jesus say about living a life of faith in a fallen world?

  • He says it’s going to be hard!
  • He says, the world will hate you because of me
  • He says, the world will give you trouble!
  • He says there is an enemy looking for someone to devour
  • To follow God is to anticipate adversity
    • #thestruggleisreal

 We are plainly told this about the Kingdom. Bringing the kingdom is going to bring some resistance.

  • Matthew 11:12 The kingdom of God suffers violence and forceful men lay hold of it.
  • What does this mean?
  • It means that there is going to be battle for God’s kingdom to manifest on earth.
  • When you start kicking darkness out, darkness will probably start kicking and screaming.
    • If you try and take down a bees nest, you might get stung

And that is where my expectation was wrong…

  • I had an expectation that kingdom work would be easier than it is
  • I am surprised that that it is this difficult
    • God plainly just said, “breaking darkness is hard work”
    • When did you deceive yourself that this would be easy?
    • Darkness will not go down without a fight

We have convinced ourselves, that we can have a prize without the process

  • We expect we can have victory without experiencing a fight
  • We expect we can have a finish line without running a course
  • We expect to have honor without service
  • We expect to develop strength without experiencing resistance

So, Expect a struggle when pursuing God’s best.

 I would go as so far as saying, if you never encounter resistance, you probably aren’t advancing the kingdom.

The level of resistance could be an indicator of the call on your life

  • Satan doesn’t pick on wimps.
  • Satan picks on those he wants to neutralize and minimize

How difficult something is can be a measurement of how significant it is

  • If it’s not hard, then it’s probably not significant
  • We should be concerned if our lives and our work encounter zero resistance.
  • Bill Johnson said, if you don’t run across the devil once in a while you might be going the same direction.

Just looking at our biblical commands, we can decipher what to expect in this life: Courage, Faith, Peace, Strength, Love

  • To have courage, implies that we are going to be encountering intimidation
  • To have faith, implies we are going to be encountering fear
  • To have peace, implies we are going to be encountering hostility
  • To have strength, implies we are encountering a struggle
  • To have love, implies we are going to be encountering hate

This brings us to the final deceptive sign

Deceptive Sign #4: A Disappointing Outcome

We are so quick determine God’s direction and by outcomes.

  • We have to remember, the outcome of the life for the disciples was martyrdom
  • God is not asking us for outcomes, God is asking us for obedience.

We think that if we are obedient to God, He is going to give us the outcome we want. (That’s manipulation)

Failure is proof that we tried something.

  • Jesus said go to all the cities… and if they don’t receive you, shake the dust off
  • It implies that kingdom work doesn’t always have successful outcomes

Just because something didn’t work out doesn’t mean God was against it.

  • God is for a lot of things that don’t work the way He wants.
    • 1 Timothy 2:3-4 God wants all people to be saved.

When you walk in total obedience, you are not guaranteed of the outcome you want

  • The right decisions will not always produce the outcomes we want
  • We have to remember, Jesus was totally obedient and yet…
    • He couldn’t do miracles in his home town
    • Jerusalem didn’t repent
    • His followers abandoned him
    • He friends betrayed and denied him
      • Good thing Jesus didn’t work at a church or he probably would have been fired.
    • Ultimately, he was betrayed and crucified
  • But Jesus was fully obedient, and that is all that matters.

We are focused on reaching destinations. God is focused on developing us through the journey.

What God does in you on the journey is more important than the destination.

  • His focus is always on you.
  • The call of God on your life should never change based on how so successful a particular outcome.

So let’s summarize

  • If you want to experience God’s best in your life
  • If you want to walk in the fullness of your calling
  • If you want to maximize your God given potential…

Then we need to be a people who make the right decisions with our life. And we do that by avoiding deceptive signs that confuse us

1: Seeking if God is in it à God is in you. You bring God to every situation

2: Feeling peace à God doesn’t consider your feelings before creating your call. Peace follows obedience.

3: Expecting Effortlessness (if it’s going well, it’s God) à the truth is kingdom work is hard work. Jesus tells us to expect a battle.

4: a Disappointing Outcome à Just because something didn’t work out didn’t mean God was against it. Obedience doesn’t always result in the outcome we want.

And know there are exceptions and edge cases to each one of these.

  • Intimate Relationship with God is never replaced by this practical advice

If some of you are living through discouragement, I want to tell you that you are made for this.

  • God made you more than a conqueror.
  • And that you are victorious in Christ to face whatever challenge is before you
  • I declare for you the spirit of wisdom and revelation – to make wise decisions, but also to have supernatural vision that leads you into choices for experiencing God’s best for your life