Choosing Deception

Choosing Deception

People choose deception because they like it. Really, they do. They like deceptions like Santa Claus, evolution, Bigfoot, magic acts, and the philosophy “there are many roads leading to Heaven”. People choose whatever news source has the same political slant that they hold. New churches are started weekly to satisfy every new doctrine, fad, sin, and deception that people choose. People choose to delude themselves into believing whatever they want and they get angry if you point out the truth contrary to their deception.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when men will not put up sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

The cliché is right that says that if you repeat a lie enough times, people are going to believe it. Therefore, you can deceive yourself into believing what is false. Self-deception is a common thing that happens in some way to all of us, especially when it comes to trying to justify or rationalize something that we want to do that is contrary to the will of God.

This is what God says will happen to those who choose deception and refuse to submit to Him. Romans 1:18-32 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

That describes many today. Those, who love sin and deception, do not want to give it up. They will do all they can do continue it. As a result, they create a new god (an idol) in their mind and serve themselves. They suppress the truth in their unrighteousness and reject the true God that they know exists. This produces a corrupt and chaotic society.

Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.

When we reject God’s Word and choose deception, we walk in darkness and in the futility of our foolish minds. We do not realize just how terrible sin is and what it can do to our hearts. Little by little, sin can drift us away from God. It will harden our hearts and corrupt a nation.

Take Israel for example. They had seen God perform many amazing miracles in Egypt, and part the Red Sea. God delivered them from slavery. He took care of them in the wilderness. Nevertheless, they grumbled and complained. They failed to believe God and obey Him. They even deceived themselves by worshiping a golden calf as the god who had delivered them and who approved of their sin. They did not want a holy God in spite of the manna from Heaven they received daily. Thus, their hearts were hardened and they did not enter the Promised Land.

Hebrews 3:12-19 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

We need to understand that just because we claim to be believers does not mean we are exempt from the danger of self-deception, which God calls unbelief. Sin can lead to a downhill slide in us, even to the point where we love our sin so much that we will do whatever we can justify it and our deception.

We can delude ourselves into believing we are just fine with the Lord when we really are not! Just the fact that we are coming here and acting like Christians does not fool God, if we are not obeying His Word outside of these walls. We may deceive others. We may even deceive ourselves. BUT WE WILL NOT DECEIVE THE ONE AND ONLY GOD OF HEAVEN!

Those who choose deception and live in sin need to remember this one fact: If you continue on this path, there may come a point of no return where even God gives you up to Satan’s deception. And He will send upon you a strong delusion, so that you will believe the lies that you are holding to, so you can be rightly judged for your lack of love for God and His truth.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

So how do we guard ourselves against self-deception? Here are a few pointers:

Believe what God says and do it! Delight in obeying God for His glory. Approach God’s Word daily with a desire to know what He says no matter what you may believe about that topic. Love the truth which is found in Jesus Christ. Get rid of your self-deception and “stinking thinking” by submitting your mind to Christ. Bring every thought in subjection to His Lordship.

2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Remember, there is NO EXCUSE for rejecting God or anything that He teaches us in His Word, especially in the New Covenant which is commonly called the New Testament.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then will I tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.’”

Jesus spoke these words as a warning to people who think they are saved and call Him “Lord”, but they do not live in obedience to God. Unlike preachers today, who go to excessive lengths to avoid upsetting anyone, our Lord was determined to upset their deception with the truth.

His message stands in stark contrast to the sermons of today, which seem designed specifically to grow a large church by propping up deceptions about salvation. The pattern of modern evangelism is to give people a pleasing and easy message with no call for repentance; take them through a simple formula; get them to pray a prayer, sign a card, or whatever; then tell them they are saved.

Such an approach actually fights against the Holy Spirit, whose ministry is to bring both assurance to those who are truly saved and conviction to those who are not. God knows the difference; we do not. It is not our job to certify people’s salvation. Our job is to tell them about Jesus Christ and His Word which has power to save them. We are not to compare ourselves to each other. We are to compare ourselves to Jesus and His Word to see if we are saved.

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

The sad truth is that many people who think they are Christians are self-deceived. They think they are on the road to Heaven when they are actually on the road to destruction. Notice what Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” The people Jesus describes in this verse have God’s name in their mouths, but rebellion is in their hearts. To address Jesus as Lord is to address Him as the one true God. Jesus is therefore talking about those who make a profession of faith in Him but they don’t obey Him. Salvation for sinners cost Jesus His life, and to be His disciple, it’ll cost you the same thing.

Luke 9:23-24 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

On any given Sunday, thousands of sermons will be preached urging people to believe in Jesus. But not many are preached to those who already believe the doctrines of Christianity, and who think they are Christians, but they have never come to the point of accepting Jesus Christ personally as their Lord, Master, King, and Almighty God. As a result, they are not genuine born-again Christians. They have deceived themselves because they are not hostile to Christianity. They accept the concepts, but they have never committed themselves to Jesus Christ and His Word. They do not deny Christ, but neither do they follow Him. Jesus says (not me) they will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. They are not disciples. He does not know them.

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then will I tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.’”

Going to church, prophesying, casting out demons, and doing miracles are not proofs of true salvation. Jesus predicted in Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

Jesus will say to these deceived people, "I never knew you. Away from me." Of course, He knows them; He knows everything. The word for "know" used here is to characterize an intimate personal relationship with Jesus, where He is your Lord, Husband, Master, and Life, which is a requirement for entering the Kingdom of Heaven as His Bride.

What I am preaching is not new. The words of an engraving from the cathedral of Lubeck, Germany, founded in 1173, reflect our Lord’s teaching in Matthew 7:21-23: Thus speaketh Christ our Lord to us, You call Me master and obey Me not, you call Me light and see Me not, you call Me the way and walk Me not, you call Me life and live Me not, you call Me wise and follow Me not, you call Me fair and love Me not, you call Me rich and ask Me not, you call Me eternal and seek Me not, if I condemn thee, blame Me not.

The Lord knows well that even His most faithful disciples will fail, stumble, and fall into sin. Otherwise, He would not have told us to pray, "Forgive us our debts". No Christian is sinless, but the fact that we continually confess our sins, seek the Lord’s forgiveness, repent, and long for His righteousness is evidence that we belong to Him.

1 John 1:8-10 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

It is not a SINLESS obedience that is a requirement for salvation. It is not by works at all, but salvation and obedience to the will of God are inseparable.

Hebrews 5:8-9 though he was a son, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered. And having been perfected, he became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him

Jesus asks in Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? It is a horrible mockery to call Jesus, Lord, while we continue to do what is pleasing to ourselves. A disciple is not the one who says he knows Jesus or who believes certain facts about Him. A disciple is the one who rejects self-deception and DOES the Father’s will.

Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? No doubt most of us will answer gladly, "Yes, I am his disciple." But let us think truthfully about discipleship according to the definitions Jesus gave to it. Jesus Christ said there are three things that mark a true disciple of Him:

John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Notice He is speaking to those who believe in Him. He says if they live by His Word, they are true disciples.

John 13:35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. You have heard many sermons preached on this subject. Do you love one another?

John 15:8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. The fruit that glorifies the Father is the fruit of His character, the fruit of the Holy Spirit. This fruit is unmistakable evidence that God abides in us and we are a disciple of Christ.

Galatians 5:16-26 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

In conclusion, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is no other way, truth, or life. Everything else leads to death. So stop choosing the deception that there is another way or another truth that suits your lifestyle and your beliefs. In other words, repent and commit your life and your thoughts to Jesus by living according to His Word instead of your desires and your deception.

If you have never made Jesus your Savior and Lord, you can make that commitment today by believing and publicly professing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who atoned for your sin on the Cross. Repent of being your own lord and die to yourself in baptism. You will be born again of the Holy Spirit, who will lead you daily to obey the will of the Father and become a disciple of Jesus.