How are people, in general, and the church, and individual Christians being deceived today?
We are deceived when we listen to and when we buy into the words of humans, or tradition, and we don’t test what we are hearing with God, in prayer, and in his Word. Jesus said, “You have heard… but I say…”
We are deceived when we mostly listen to humans, and we don’t spend time with God, or we spend little time with God, in prayer and in his Word.
Yet, it is possible to spend lots of time in the study of God’s Word, and in saying prayers, but if we don’t obey (do) what we have been taught, but we walk away, and we forget what we look like, then we are open to being deceived, or, in fact, we have already been deceived.
Do not be deceived… Gal. 6:7a NASB
What are some ways in which all human beings, including Christians, may possibly be deceived today?
I believe one of the biggest ways is via half-truths.
Lust and Adultery
For example, a person might lust after another person, fantasize about someone he or she is not married to, get involved with another romantically, and/or have intimate private conversations with another. He (or she) may also be involved in “horsing around” with someone, but not get physical, or not go all the way physically. He (or she) may also view pornography or sexually-charged movies or TV shows and/or masturbate. Then, he (or she) would determine that none of this was committing adultery.
But, Jesus said that to lust (covet, long for, desire, yearn) after another, with whom you are not married, is committing adultery in your heart.
Lies and Deception
Another half-truth is in the area of telling lies. There is something people call “white lies,” which they consider harmless, because they tell them in order to not hurt people’s feelings. Sometimes these are in the form of false compliments, or saying to people what will bring them comfort, or saying what one might believe the other person wants to hear, i.e. what would make him or her feel good about themselves.
Kidding and teasing is another way of telling lies, oftentimes, though, with real intent behind the words, but covered up with “I’m just kidding.”
And, another is through non-denial denials, avoiding answering direct questions by shifting the focus to something else, such as by not denying liability for what was asked, but by saying, “But I would never do that.”
And yet, another is to find a loop-hole or a way around a direct question, if the question is not asked specifically in the right way. The person hearing the question, though, understands the intent of the question, but he or she feels they can skirt the real question since it was not stated specifically enough. It is a game some people play in order to avoid telling the truth.
But, whether telling an outright lie, or avoiding telling the truth, when required, or skirting around questions, or non-denial denials, or giving false compliments, or “just kidding,” these are all still lies, and are all ones we must put off/avoid.
First Half Gospel
The biggest half-truth, though, is this false grace gospel which is permeating much of today’s church here in America. The first half is true, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God (God the Son) left his throne in heaven, came to earth, was born as a baby, grew to be a man, was fully God yet fully man while on the earth, suffered as we suffer and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin.
He was crucified on a cross for our sins, although he had done no wrong. Yet, he who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross. Thus, when he died, he put our sins to death, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death, on our behalf. So, through faith in him we can be forgiven our sins, escape punishment in hell, and have the promise of heaven when we leave this earth. This half is true!
But, the false grace gospel states that we don’t have to repent of our sins, we don’t have to obey God, and we don’t have to submit to Christ and his cross, for the total responsibility for our salvation rests on God’s shoulders, not on ours, and all we have to do is have some non-descript belief that Jesus did all that for us, and to accept his forgiveness, and heaven is guaranteed us, no matter how we live our lives. This is a lie!
The Other Half
Jesus and the NT apostles taught repentance and obedience for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God in heaven. Jesus said if we hold on to our old lives, we will lose our lives, but if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), for his sake, we will gain eternal life. Paul said if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting sin to death, we will have eternal life. Scripture teaches that if we continue in willful sinful practices, we don’t have eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment and fire. This is the truth!
Reap and Sow
God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Gal. 6:7b-8 NASB
Jesus Christ died on that cross, not just to save us from our sins, but to deliver us from slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin. He died, not just to forgive us our sins, but to transform us and to conform us into his likeness.
He died, not so we could continue in the pattern of living we had before we “believed” in him, with the same insufficient character, of the flesh, but he died to change our pattern of living and our character (nature), that we might conform to walking in his ways, and in his truth, and according to the divine nature, not the sin nature.
He died that we might no longer live to please ourselves, but him who gave his life up for us. Instead of living our lives for what is trivial, insignificant, commonplace, routine (habitual sin), spiritually stagnant, unconcerned about our walks of faith, and for self-pleasure, he wants to change us to where we take him and his word seriously, to heart, so that we walk in it, and we do what it says.
So, he is asking us to pay attention to what he is saying, for this is critical that we get this. He died for us on that cross, too, that God (Jesus Christ) would be our only true source of life, in how we live our lives day in and day out, that we would find him to be our supply for all that we need, our foundation for all that we think and are and do, instead of finding our lives in the things this world has to offer us, which are passing away.
So, for any of us to change, we must own up to our sin, not deny it or hide it or pretend it doesn’t exist. We must not only confess it to God, but to others whom we have sinned against, where that is possible. And, then we must turn away from that sin, put it off, and die to it, not in our flesh, but only as empowered by the Holy Spirit, as we yield control of our lives over to the Lord, making him truly owner-master of our lives. The Holy Spirit will then crucify us with Christ in death to sin, and will resurrect us to new lives in Christ, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
If we don’t do this, and we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to transform our lives and to give us new lives in Christ Jesus, to be lived to his righteousness, free from slavery (addiction) to sin, but we continue on in our sinful patterns and our ungodly characters, thinking we have heaven guaranteed us, then we need to read this passage of scripture again, for if we sow to the flesh, we will reap corruption, but if we sow to the Spirit, we will reap eternal life.
Lord, I Need You
Songwriters: Christy Nockels / Daniel Carson /
Jesse Reeves / Kristian Stanfill / Matt Maher
To teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
When I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay…
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.
Don’t Lose Heart
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. Gal. 6:9-10 NASB
I believe the Lord Jesus would have me add a word of encouragement here to those who are walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, but who are being opposed by those who are teaching this false grace gospel or by those who are living according to this false grace gospel.
He is saying for us to not lose heart in doing good, in teaching what is true, and in telling people the way to salvation in Jesus Christ, our Lord. For, we will reap a harvest one day if we do not give up. I find this so hopeful and so encouraging! He is saying to stay the course, even if all looks hopeless, and even though we see so much evil all around us, and so many people trapped in sin’s deceitfulness. And, even if we don’t see now much fruit for our labors in the Lord, but mostly what we see is people being deceived.
The good we must do to people in these times in which we now live is to tell them the truth, not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear, even if they don’t like it, they reject it (and us), and they hate us in return. But, we must do so in love. We must show them the way to true salvation from sin, so that they will find true hope, healing and deliverance in Jesus Christ from their sinful practices. This is the best good we can do for them!
Oceans / Hillsong United
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders…
And my faith will be made stronger…
Thursday, February 8, 2018, 5:15 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus!