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What You Truly Believe is What You Do

What You Truly Believe is What You Do

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.

We are often unaware of self-deception, but it is rooted in our thinking, and visible in our activities. We may say we believe God’s Word, but what we truly believe is what we do. Or, if we look at it in reverse – what we do is in reality our belief; all the rest is just religious talk. So, if our believing is wrong, then our acting will be wrong and we will suffer the consequences. If we are thinking wrong as a result deception, then we need to admit it, repent, and adjust our thinking to the truth of God’s Word. If we renew our minds with Truth, we will see corresponding change in our actions, and thus, blessings instead of curses from God!

1 Corinthians 3:18-20 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”

God’s ways are not our ways, and His ways are far superior to ours. When God tells us something, He tells it to us because it is important for us to know it and do it!

The world’s wisdom is folly to God. It is not true wisdom. It is centered on the sinful desires of mankind. Our wisdom is full of excuses and rationalization to satisfy our desires, but it never fulfills our fantasies. What are some of these deceptions in our heart, our mind, and the world?

1) Wealth.

Mark 4:18-19 And others (seeds of the Word) are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

The cares of the world would include wealth, power, pleasure, and the time and effort it takes to acquire those things. We can be deceived into thinking as long as we have these things we have everything we need, when in reality, if we don't have salvation in Jesus Christ, it's all worthless.

Jesus talked about the need to build up treasures in Heaven, not treasures on earth. For the treasures of earth are temporary and can bring problems; whereas, the treasures of Heaven are eternal and bring joy and fulfillment.

Part of the deceitfulness of wealth is that we believe it won't get in the way of being effective for Christ. On the contrary, we believe wealth will make us more effective. So we seek it, with the rationalization that we will be able to do more for Jesus if we are wealthy. This deception is so universal that we often appoint the wealthy as leaders in the church regardless of their spiritual maturity. That is a major error, for when our focus is on money, then our focus will not be on the things of Christ.

Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

There can be many worries when you have wealth. You're worried if the stock market will crash, you're worried about what you have getting stolen or broken, you're worried about interest rates and making sure you keep what you have and accumulate more. These worries and obsessions take precedence in your mind over God and His Word. They choke the Word and it doesn't grow and bear fruit. Eventually, the influence of the Word dies out in your life.

1 Timothy 6:9-10 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

If our focus is money, we will involve ourselves in foolish things to get more money, or spend the money we have on foolish pleasures. Money itself is not evil; it's the love of money that's evil. And if we are eager for money, we can be deceived to the point that we are led astray from our faith. The love of money doesn't just pertain to the wealthy; it applies to all of us. Nor does this mean that just because you're rich you will fall into this trap. You can be wealthy and not love money.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

We shouldn’t think that we're excluded from being deceived by wealth just because we don't have much money. The lack of money can make us very focused on money. One of the deceits of wealth is we put our hope in it. We believe it can solve all our problems; that it's all we need to be happy, safe, and secure. The only sure thing is God. The only true hope we have is God.

After all, it's not money that gives us everything for our enjoyment; it's God. Now God might use money to bring that about, but our hope and trust is not in the money; it's in God. Our pursuit isn't money; it's God. Our treasures aren't here; they're in Heaven. Wealth is so deceptive, it is very difficult to keep this straight, to not worry, and to stay focused on God.

2) We can also be deceived by false prophets.

Luke 21:8 And He said: "Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time has drawn near.' Therefore do not go after them.

Lots of people have been persuaded by people claiming to be a prophet or Jesus. You might be thinking, well, a true believer would never fall for that. But look what Christians watch on TV. How many 'false teachers' do we see on TV convincing thousands to send their money to receive a prayer towel, blessed by the “false teacher”, so their prayers are answered? How many preachers are spreading the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel? How many are preaching nothing but 'feel good' messages, where they don't ever mention anything about sin, its consequences, and repentance? I don’t know how many, but tens of thousands of Christians are being deceived by these people. We have to watch out for these types of deceivers, too.

I have witnessed Christians, who were deceived by a TV preacher, cause divisions in a local church. They tried to get the local preacher fired, and when they were unsuccessful at that, they took part of the congregation with them and started another church.

Romans 16:17-18 I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.

These types of deceivers will manipulate you to think you are serving a worthy cause, but in actuality you are serving them. We have to be committed to knowing the Word so we can recognize when it's not being taught correctly.

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

It’s important to test the spirits to see if they are from God. If we don't, we may fall into the trap of being led away from our faith in Jesus Christ, who is the Truth. These deceitful spirits will not come to us with an easily detected lie. Oh, no! They will deceive us with something that sounds very religious and pious.

1 Timothy 4:1-3 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

Deceitful teachings of demons are usually something that sounds intelligent, logical, devoted, and good, yet they are contrary to God’s Word. They might even have an element of truth yet not be completely true; hence, the deceptiveness of the lies. Eve was deceived this way.

Other demonic teachings reject the Bible entirely and sound intellectually superior. For example, certain arguments from science reject the truth of God creating everything. Educated people like Stephen Hawking can sound pretty convincing and he can even be right about the things that fit into the category of astrophysics, but he's wrong about his views on God, which makes his teaching deceptive. University professors make intelligent sounding arguments regarding religion and philosophy. They, along with atheists and people of other faiths, present well organized arguments to discredit Christianity. Unfortunately, many young people, who don’t know God’s Word well, have been deceived by these arguments and have abandoned their faith in Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

We hear and read a lot of fake news nowadays. Some people go to great lengths to create a fake. For example, a weaver crafted an "antique" tapestry which was done so skillfully that even the experts thought it to be genuine. The tapestry sold for a record price. However, the secret finally came out when the weaver's assistant revealed how it was done. Using special threads, the tapestry was worn away by being dragged behind a car, it was given a musty odor by exposing it to tobacco smoke, it was faded using ultra-violet light and even deftly ingrained with centuries-old dust collected from the crumbling rafters of an abandoned church.

People are no different when the created fake is themselves. So we need to be able to spot the deceiver. How? Through our knowledge of the Word and through examining their fruit.

Matthew 7:15-20 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Jesus said we will know them by their fruit. Their deeds will not ring true. Their promises will not be kept. Their fruit will be the fruit of the flesh instead of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment, to recognize their lies, and to keep you in the Truth of God’s Word so you won’t be deceived.

3) We are easily deceived by pride.

Galatians 6:3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Pride causes us to be deceived by our own intelligence. We think we are pretty smart. But intelligence does not equal spiritual wisdom. To gain true wisdom from God, we must be humble and teachable and seek it with our whole heart. There are some things in God’s Word that sound illogical until we obey them. Then the wisdom of the commands comes to light.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

God’s wisdom is necessaryso that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:14)

Speaking of pride and the craftiness of deceitful schemes: During the first Gulf War, a newly promoted Colonel moved into a makeshift office. As he was getting unpacked, he noticed a private coming his way with a toolbox.

Wanting to look important, he grabbed the phone and stated speaking, "Yes, General Schwarzkopf, I think that's an excellent plan. You've got my support on it. Thanks for checking with me. Let's talk again soon, okay Norm? Bye, now." Looking proud, he said, "Now, what can I do for you, Private?"

"Sir,” he replied, “I'm here to hook up your phone."

As futile as this charade was for the colonel, so it is for worldly wisdom. We can be deceived into thinking knowledge and intelligence is all we need. Because of pride, we show ourselves to be a fool. Therefore, be humble, find wisdom in the Word of God, and be wise by obeying it.

4) We are easily deceived by sin.

Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Hebrews 3:12-14 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.

These passages counter a major deception that once we become a Christian we can’t have a sinful, unbelieving heart again. The deceitfulness of sin tells us we are saved now, we don't have to be concerned about our sin; it's all been forgiven. Therefore, we think it doesn’t matter if we sin. That is a half-truth, which makes it a deceptive lie.

According to the Gospel in the Bible, Jesus atoned for our sin on the cross, redeemed us from death and Satan, secured our forgiveness, and restored our relationship to God. If we truly believe this, then we trust Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Believing Jesus is Lord means we devote our lives to Him, not just give mental assent. We no longer live for ourselves. We identify with Christ by crucifying our flesh and its passions and desires. The life we now live in the flesh, we live for the glory of God. There is no place for sin in our life. We died to sin when we were baptized. If we sin, we confess it, repent, and make restitution or apologies.

Therefore, it does matter if we sin. Sin has consequences. If we don’t repent, sin will grow and do more and more damage like a flesh-devouring cancer. The more sin we give into, the more we become desensitized to it. The more desensitized we become, the harder our heart becomes. We drift away from God and the church. We drift away from prayer and Bible study. We pull closer to old behaviors. Ever so subtly, we become what we once were except we are deceived into believing we are Heaven bound. This deception is contrary to the truth that if we are saved, we are a new creation in Christ and the old has passed away. We must quit sinning and repent!

Part of the deception of sin is that we think something like that could never happen to us. We don’t realize, that like an addict, we are addicted to sin. Jesus set us free, but little by little, we can yield to the temptation to sin until we are back to our old lifestyle again.

The deception of sin causes us to forget that the Bible says we have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. Our perseverance is not a foregone conclusion. We need to take sin seriously, die to our fleshly desires daily, and determine to obey and live for Christ by being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit daily.

That's why we must encourage one another. That's what I'm doing now; encouraging you to first recognize the possibility of this happening to you, and secondly, urging you to speak into another Christian's life who is in danger. The deception of sin is real and the consequences of sin are eternally disastrous. Here is an example of the Truth about sin:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators (sex outside of marriage), nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

Do you truly believe this? Then why are some of you still doing these things or approving of others who do them? Perhaps you think that is for everybody else but you, or that was for them back then, or that doesn’t apply to today’s society. If that is what you think, you are deceived!

We have touched on four ways we can be easily deceived: wealth, deceptive people, pride, and sin. Wealth takes our focus off of Jesus. Deceptive people lead us away from the Truth. Pride tells  us that we're good and wise. Sin convinces us that it's no big deal.

To avoid deception, we need to stay connected to God through His Word and prayer and the Holy Spirit. We need to stay connected to each other and allow ourselves to be held accountable and receive input from the people who love us. We need to identify with Christ and not the world, our flesh, or the devil. Together, we need to be committed to growing in the faith, for what we truly believe is what we will do.

Colossians 2:6-7 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Before crucifying Him, Pilot asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Pilot didn’t realize that he was looking at the Truth. Knowing Jesus and obeying Him will keep us from being deceived. Some of you are facing the Truth this morning, but you don’t know what to do.

Acts 2:37-39 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

The Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth in Jesus Christ and His Word.