Q. Does God hold us responsible when our parents or leaders deceive us into believing error?
A. Ezek 18:20 says, The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father; neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
God holds each individual responsible for his or her own soul. The responsibility for one’s eternal destiny can never be placed on another. The chapter goes on to say that each person is justified or condemned wholly by his own position, irrespective of the righteousness or unrighteousness of his parent, teacher or leader.
Erring parents, teachers and leaders will certainly give an account for the way, and what, they taught those who were in their care, but the junior cannot be saved or lost on the basis of the right or wrong teachings of the senior. Ezek 33:3-9 makes this very clear.
I’ve heard it said that if you’re in a church where error is taught, all you have to do is simply obey your leaders, as you will be judged by your submission, while they will be held accountable for their wrong teaching. This is not true. If you believe a lie, you are responsible for believing the lie as much as the propagator of the lie is held accountable for promoting it.
The problem is that many, many people never bother to check whether what they are taught is the Truth – and neither do they obey the prompting of Him Who leads us into all Truth, the Holy Spirit.
Blind leaders will face great condemnation indeed, but blind followers also fall into the ditch! Matt 15:14
Rev 19:20 and 22:15 tells that Heaven will not tolerate deceit or the practice of a lie. 2 Thess 2:10 warns that people will perish who do not receive the Truth. It is obviously the responsibility of every person to ensure that he or she receives the Truth, embraces and follows it – irrespective of how much untruth is doing the rounds.
Isn’t that harsh, or even unfair? you may ask. Not at all. Every thinking person can be convinced of God by just one look at Creation. And every serious person has God’s Word, the very Truth, readily available. And all sinful people, the lot of us, have the Holy Spirit, God in Person, attendant upon our hearts, wooing us to Him Who is the Truth. No, it’s not harsh. If we seek the Truth, we shall find the Truth; God Himself will see to that!
Be like the Berean Christians who wouldn’t take even Paul’s words at face value but first tested his doctrine and revelation against the Scriptures – Acts 17:10,11. Do this; your Eternity depends upon it.
Here are some basic steps you can take to save yourself from being deceived:
- Realise that in this world you are surrounded by deceit – 2 Jn 1:7, Titus 1:10.
- Check everything you hear against God’s Word and the witness of His Spirit in your heart – 1Jn 4:1, 1Thess 5:21.
- Develop a close relationship with your Lord; learn to know His voice; it will train you to know deceit when it crops up – Jn 10:4,5.
- Don’t dally with those you know to be deceitful or spiritually off course – 1 Cor 15:33.
- Get into a Bible-believing and practising Church and submit yourself to its godly Eldership. Seek their guidance constantly.
- Build relationships with those who believe, stand for and teach the truth.
- Develop loyalty to the Lord Jesus Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life – Jn 14:6. Then, in partnership with Him, “contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints” – Jude 3.
This may all sound very serious and very ominous. Serious it is, but neither ominous nor onerous. When you start finding the revelation of Jesus, the Truth, in God’s Word, your love for Truth will grow into a delightful passion – especially when you begin applying the Truth in your own life and allowing it to influence your ways and decisions.