Barnabas Bulletin ~ 0172
BEWARE OF SELF-DECEPTION
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22 ).
As I have been challenged afresh in recent times of the need to put our beliefs more into practice ~ and to take them beyond the theory stage more ~ I came across the above verse. It is so important that we grasp the truth of the Gospel ~ and act upon it ~ otherwise we are only deceiving ourselves. The word “deceive” means “to delude; to deceive wholly; delude thoroughly; to deceive the mind; implying a self-originating and subjective deception; to make to wander; cause to err, lead astray; used of religious deceit or doctrinal error. A wandering, seduction from the truth; to reckon wrong, mis-reckon, miscount; hence, to draw false conclusions. Then to cheat or deceive by false reasoning, hence, to deceive; to speak falsely, to lie to any one” (Bullinger’s). Self-deception happens when we only hear the word of God but do not commit it to practice.
Jesus warned us that there would be “false christ’s and false prophets rising up who would show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (“chosen selected ones”)” (Matthew 24:21-25 ). The Apostle Paul also warned us: “Now the Spirit expressly (“explicitly”) says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1 ). Notice that deception is a spirit ~ an evil spirit. A deceiving spirit leads us away from the truth of Jesus and takes us into believing what is not true. Paul was warning Holy Spirit-filled believers of the dangers of decisions that lead to deception. Beware!
It is extremely important that we Christians are aware of the world we are living in today and know that there is a huge spirit of deception at work. With deception a deceived person does not know they are deceived. They believe they are believing the truth; that they have a revelation of God and are doing right. It can be quite difficult ministering restoration and healing to a deceived person because they are convinced they are right (and we cannot violate a person’s will). Many Christians get deceived because they do not know their Bible. How can we be obedient to the call of God if we do not even know what is written in the Scriptures? The voice of God never violates the principles of Scripture. It is therefore vital that we have a daily devotional life where we read the Scriptures and commune with God. We cannot afford not to in these days! The only sure way to know the source of the voice we are hearing is through knowing the principles of the Scriptures. If the voice does not line-up with the Scriptures, then that voice is not the voice of God.
So, how can we avoid being deceived, self or otherwise? It is essential that Christians always keep Jesus Christ as the Source and Centre of their focus, devotion and worship. He is “the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father (God) but through Him” (John 14:6 ). Any person or thing that takes the place of Jesus in our lives becomes an obstacle that can side-track us and take us into self-deception. Make very sure that your life is totally submitted to, and given over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If He is not “Number One” in our hearts and lives, then someone or something else is. It is also very important that you have other committed followers of Jesus Christ in friendship relationship with you, so that if they have any genuine concerns about you and your life, beliefs, etc., that they will feel the freedom to talk to you about it. We need people who will “challenge” us from time to time as deception is very subtle and we do not know when we are being led astray by it.
In the Book of Revelation 2:6 & 15 we read of those “who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” We are not told what the doctrine (teaching) of the Nicolaitans was, but it was something that God hated. The tragedy is that it seems that that particular doctrine was started by Nicolas who was one of the seven deacons chosen in Acts 6 because of his good character. The criteria to be chosen as a deacon was “good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3 ). Nicolas had a tremendous future in God, but somewhere along the way he listened to a wrong voice and got caught up into believing false teaching. That false teaching ‘promoted’ Nicolas into a place where others (who believed his false teaching) looked to Nicolas more than to Jesus. The teaching was even named after him! Solomon is another example of someone blessed of God with a wisdom above all others; yet somewhere along the way he got deceived and lost all of the advantages of the wisdom that God gave to him (1 Kings 11 ). The message is that we cannot take anything for granted. We must continually keep our eyes and focus on JESUS CHRIST and follow His teachings daily. Otherwise we are opening ourselves up to becoming deceived.
When we listen to preachers we need to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 : “. . . they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” Even the Apostle Paul’s preaching came under their scrutiny. Let’s face it: there are many teachings circulating in Christian church circles these days that do not give Jesus Christ His proper place. HE IS LORD! And when He is LORD we DO what He asks of us. We put our believing into action, into practice. If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all!
The whole of the New Covenant is the revelation of what Jesus Christ came into this world to accomplish. We are told to “Look unto Jesus, the Author (“originator”) and Finisher (“perfecter”) of our faith . . . consider Him” (Hebrews 12:1-3 ). Remember also that the Holy Spirit of Truth has been sent to reveal more of Jesus to us, to bring His words to our remembrance, to glorify Him, etc. (John 16:13-14 ). When the Holy Spirit is having His way in our lives then He always seeks to draw us closer to Jesus Christ. ~ Rodney W. Francis.
Prayer: “Dear Lord, in Jesus’ Name, please help me to have ears to hear what You are saying to me today. And help me to believe and obey Your voice more and more in these times. Open my eyes to any self-deception that is in my life and deliver me from its subtle grip so that I can be a true Bible believer and glorify Your Name in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”