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Self Deception


     If we have lived any time in this life we are aware that there are folks in the world with the intent to deceive others. The Spirit had the apostle Paul address being deceived in Titus 3:3 and has Paul include himself in this.   For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.  Notice that it is pointed out that being deceived is foolish. This is speaking of the time in our life prior to hearing and obeying the gospel.  

   God does not deceive anyone.  In fact, according to 2Peter 1:3 God has given us all we need so that we need not be deceived; not even by ourselves. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:    In Ephesians 4:14 we see that the desire of God is that we be united in Christ and no longer be deceived by the doctrines of man. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 

   Often, those who deceive others, do so for the benefit of the one doing the deceiving. That is why they do it.   Why they feel like they need to deceive others is perhaps because of laziness, or a feeling of inadequacy or something of that nature. That being understood, it becomes a bigger mystery as to why one would deceive themselves.   What benefit is there to it?     The answer is none!

     The fact is that self-deception is the worst kind of deception.   We’ve all heard the old saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. But, fool me twice, shame on me.”    But self-deception would force the changing of the saying to be: “I fooled me once, shame on me. I fooled me twice, shame on me!”   Doesn’t make sense does it? It cannot make sense as one cannot “fool” themselves and gain anything from it.  Then why is self-deception so prevalent in this world today?   Why are people so deluded in regard to where they and their loved ones will spend eternity when they do nothing to prepare for eternity?  

     It is because folks are willing to lie to themselves. That is what self-deception is. When a person lies to themselves, they do so to convince themselves of things that are not so.   This is the reason the Spirit had Paul warn the Ephesians of the potential of speaking “vain words” to themselves in Ephesians 5:6. The phrase “no man” would also include themselves. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.    When a Christian lies to themselves, they sin and have become “children of disobedience”.   If one argues that this is not as clear as it could be, they should be directed to 1Corinthians 3:18 where the idea of self-deception is dealt with directly.   Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. (To become a fool as the world sees it = obeying and serving God.)

     Many have deceived themselves into thinking that regardless of how they live while in this life they will end up in heaven for eternity. In 2Thessalonians 1:7-9 the Spirit had Paul state what will really happen, and no amount of self-deception is able to change this.   And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,  8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:  9  Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;    The idea that one’s loved one will “miss” heaven is a hard one for many to grasp or admit. Therefore many deceive themselves into thinking that there is no place of punishment awaiting those who are disobedient to God.

   The rich man of Luke chapter 16 was one who deceived himself as he lived in abundance and enjoyed all that life had to offer, except obedience to God. When he died, he soon realized in Luke 16:23 that he had indeed deceived himself, but by then it was too late. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.   Notice that he was not in the same place as Lazarus.   “Hell” here is the part of the Hadean realm where the disobedient (and the self-deceivers) will go to await the judgment; while those that were obedient to God and remained faithful to God and His Word in this life will go to a place of peace and comfort to await the judgment.  

   Let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that we have “made it” and are guaranteed a place in heaven as do so many “deluded” religious people. We must continue to “work” toward our salvation. Let us do as the Spirit had Paul write the brethren in Philippi so they would not deceive themselves, and would remain faithful until death or the return of the Lord. (Philippians 2:12)   Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

                                   Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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