James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
James 1:24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
Who do you know that likes being deceived? Who is there that wakes up every morning looking forward to being mislead into error? I have yet to personally meet anyone that wants to intentionally be deceived. Deception is a powerful thing, and it never turns out good in the end. Most Christians only think of deception as a work of satan, but did you know that one could in fact be self deceived in which the devil has no involvement with it? Scripture teaches us this and if you want to avoid self-deception it isn’t that hard.
Let me first of all give the basic definition of deception. It means to be lead away from truth and to therefore be misled into error. It is like the bait that leads an animal into a trap unaware that what they thought was a good thing turned out to be their demise. Most only attribute deception to satan for we know from scripture he has two primary weapons, deception and seduction. When someone is deceived they actually don’t know it and that is the danger of deception.
This week I want to talk about self-deception, what it is and what we can do to avoid it or come out of it. Remember even in self-deception when someone is deceived at the time they don’t realize it. As James states above in verse 22 if someone looks into the Word of God, hears what is says, but does not apply what it says to their life they are deceiving themselves. May sound simple, but deception never leads to a good ending.
God never intended for us to look to His Word and simply read it but never apply it. This would be like reading the directions on how to build something, but then tossing them aside and ignoring what they say choosing to build it your way. The only problem is if you are building something as complex as walking out this life, you are never going to see it completed or working right. The reason the manufacturer gave you the instructions on how to build what you have purchased is because he knows everything about it. He is the source from where it came. To ignore his directions is to think you are smarter then the one from whom it originated.
So it is with our life. God is the originator of life, and the maker of us all. He gave us an instruction manual from which to learn how to build the kind of life His Son has purchased for us. Choosing to ignore the directions means you think you know more than the Creator who gave you life and knows how it works. Doing so you enter into self-deception and therefore don’t even realize what you have done.
Take marriage for example. God is the one who created marriage. It takes two people to make a marriage work, but how many actually take the time to read the instructions on how this works and then choose to apply what God said no matter how you feel about it. For 22 years as a pastor I cannot tell you how many times I have sat with couples in telling them what scripture teaches of how to make their marriage work. Almost every time without fail they agree with what the scriptures say. Agreeing with the Bible is not what keeps you from deception. It is in doing what scripture says that will keep you from being deceived. I can’t tell you how many couples have told me they agree with what the Bible says, but they choose not to do what it says.
I can also tell you it is a beautiful thing to see two people who don’t just agree with the Bible, but actually do what it says and it works. It doesn’t change things overnight in most relationships, but it does work, and then you actually have a marriage, not just someone you are legally joined to.
Hearing the Word and not applying it to your life is like someone James said who looks into a mirror, they see their natural face but then walk away and forget what kind of person they are. This means they see the natural man, which reveals what needs to be changed, but when they walk away they forget what they saw. Therefore, they remain the same old person they have always been, doing the same old things over and over.
James 1:25 But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out—he will be blessed in what he does.
Who doesn’t want to be blessed in what he does? I can’t find many believers who say, “I don’t want God’s blessings in my life”. But to walk in those blessings you must look or in other words peer into the perfect law of liberty and fix your attention on it, doing what it says. The law of liberty is the ways of God given to us in our relationship with Christ, which do not bring bondage as some profess, but actually bring liberty or freedom. When you tell people what the New Testament says to do they often respond by saying, “Don’t put that bondage on me”. One who is a doer of the Word is not in bondage, but walking in liberty.
Remember when you look to the Word of God and don’t do it you are deceiving yourself. That is why people think when you tell them to forgive, love others as Christ loved us, don’t forsake assembling with your pastor and the body of Christ, give to the work of God, etc., people will say you are trying to put bondage on them. But in fact you are trying to liberate them from the deception and it’s destructive results that come from being deceived. For example not forgiving, choosing to walk out of love, not assembling with your pastor who is a gift from God, choosing to not give to the work of God keeps you from receiving what God has for you. This is a simple but powerful truth, if you want God’s blessing on your life you must be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only.
To do this one must be willing to see some things about their life they may not want to change, but need to change. They are going to have to be more than a casual observer of the Word of God. The term to peer into God’s Word is like first getting a glimpse of something you may see on the ground but you stoop down and take a closer look to make sure of what you are seeing. Remember agreeing with the Bible does not mean you are doing it. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people who will agree with what you show them about their life and how the Word reveals what they can do to change. They will agree with you and say amen, but they walk off and don’t apply what the Word says. They continue to walk in self-deception. So how does one change this? The first question you need to ask yourself is, “What is my heart set on”?
Matt. 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
The first key is we need to know who or what we are serving. To serve means you don’t come with your agenda, you come as a servant and do what the master says. Mammon is more than just money. Mammon is taking anything or anyone and exalting it to the position of being the master of your life over God. This would refer to anything that keeps us therefore from being doers of the Word. If one’s heart is not totally set on God, we will begin to serve other things.
This is one of the primary reasons people don’t have a pastor or attend church. Going to God’s house was God’s plan for us; man did not make it up. Giving to the work of God was His idea, and a way He has made for us to receive blessing in our life, as we are being a blessing. Sure there are churches that are not of God and are not bible-based, but that doesn’t mean they are all that way, nor does it mean God doesn’t have a pastor for your life. There are those who don’t walk in what the Word of God says, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. God would never ask us to do something we couldn’t do.
2 Cor. 13:5 Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected?
In examining our hearts we need to know that we are truly born again and not just a counterfeit. Doing what scripture says again is not bondage, for the believer who knows the Lord it is a great liberty and blessing in their life, not bondage. One who is a false convert and therefore never has had a heart change would obviously not want to do what scripture teaches. The Word is foolishness to them.
Heb. 3:15 But never forget the warning: “Today you must listen to his voice. Don’t harden your hearts against him as Israel did when they rebelled.”
Make sure you have not hardened your heart toward God. There are those who say they have not done so, but yet they don’t do what the Word says. They will blame their actions on what others have done to them and doing so is focusing on people, not the Lord. We don’t serve man, we serve Jesus Christ. Paul had a lot of people do a lot of bad things to him but he kept on obeying God and he was victorious in overcoming every obstacle he faced as he himself said that he faced many adversities, but the Lord delivered him out of them all. That is being blessed.
So if you want to live free from a life of being mislead from the truth that brings liberty not bondage, make the choice to keep Jesus on the throne of your life. To do so means He is Lord, supreme in authority over my life. His Word is final authority. What it says I will do, which will bring liberty not bondage. Don’t fall for the deception that doing what God’s Word says is putting you in bondage. That is a lie from the enemy. Get rid of the bumper sticker from your life that says God is your co-pilot. Put Him in the driver seat of your life. Agreeing with His Word is not enough; you must be a doer if you want to be blessed by God.
See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”
May God’s Best Be Yours!
Pastor Darryl Baker