A Dangerous Deception - Without Recovery

A Dangerous Deception - Without Recovery [TRANSCRIPT]

Romans 1:17 says,
For in it (the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written: “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS ONE WILL LIVE BY FAITH.”
 
Ephesians 2:8-10 says,
For by grace, you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
 
Romans 1:18 says,
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

Deut. 11:16 warns us,
Beware that your hearts are not easily deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods, and worship them.

Matthew 7: 21-23 says,
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; LEAVE ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Philippians 2:12-15 says,
So then, my beloved, just as you 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; for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining or arguments; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,

God’s Word is very clear on the dangers of deception. These deceptions can come in many forms. We’ve spent several episodes now looking at some of them. Now, it should be obvious to anyone that to be deceived carries with it inherent dangers. It’s like thinking that everything is going fine, but the truth is very much the opposite. Up ahead there’s an unseen danger waiting to cause great harm. But what is the greatest danger of deception? How can someone protect themselves from it? Today, let’s look at that.

***

In last week’s Truth Matters we saw how it was by Faith and not any Formula that a person’s standing with God is established. Faith is believing or trusting God. It’s trusting what He says and what He has done. It’s basically very simple. But again, we should never confuse simple with simplistic. From God’s perspective it required Jesus coming into this world and dying and receiving the judgment of God for our sins. Frankly, the totality of that is beyond our complete comprehension. From our perspective, we don’t necessarily have to fully understand it. But in order to receive the benefit from it, we have to trust that what Jesus did and that alone was sufficient to make us right with God.

As it says in Romans 1:17, “For in it (that is, the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written: “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS ONE WILL LIVE BY FAITH.

And you would think that accepting it, that trusting what God said would make it easy for people to accept it, to trust God and to believe what He says about that. You would think.

But then enters the deceiver. We’ve looked at his tactics. He is an enemy of God. He has rebelled against God and he has rejected who God is and most clearly and certainly what God has said. And in his pride and anger he has set out to convince and deceive through his lies anyone and everyone he can. As we’ve seen, his methods haven’t changed particularly over the ages. He basically begins by denying God’s Word in order to create a distrust of it. But then he then puts forward a substitute or alternative way or direction and promotes acceptance of it. And then having elevated a rebellion against God, he gives an individual or a group the satisfaction with that choice that they have made. They have decided on their own, that they have a sense of sovereignty over reality and truth.

Now, if this merely existed in the realm of ideas or opinions, like so many things today or such topics, then really one choice is as good as another. But the truth is, what is at stake are matters with current and eternal consequences. Truth does matter. When people reject the truth, the truth of God and fall into deceptions of the enemy, they put themselves and many around them in danger. But there is one danger that is greater than all. It is the danger whose consequences extends all the way into eternity. That’s what I want us to look at today, because a soul’s eternity and its destiny is at stake.

Now, as you know, we live in a time when personal opinion carries immense weight. That’s true in the culture at large and it is certainly true in private lives. Let me explain. If you were to ask someone that you met a question, this question, “When you die, do you think you’ll go to heaven?” Now granted, this isn’t a question that most people think about. But given some time to think about it, a majority of people would probably answer, “Yah.” They think they’re going to heaven. Now, if you took it a step further and asked them, why they thought that, what would people say? “Well, I’m basically a good person. I’m not that bad. I’ve never killed anyone, robbed a bank, etc.

I watched a video last week where someone was basically asked these questions. It surprised me the answer the young man gave. After declaring that he was a pretty good person he said, “In fact, I think God would be pretty impressed with my life.”

Wow. I mean, that’s quit a boast. And yet, it fits with what so many people think. But what does God think? What does God say? Well, Ephesians 2:8-10 says,
For by grace, you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Right off the bat, God says that salvation comes as a gift. No one has bragging rights for what God provides. But this verse also points out why people think that good deeds are what God desires. Because once a person is rescued by God, they should live a life that expresses itself in good deeds. But these deeds aren’t what saves them. They are the created work of God in the life of His children. God does the saving and then God works in that life, in the life of His children and expresses that salvation by a life of goodness, not perfect, but a life reflective of God living in them. So, the goodness of God should be evident in the life of His children.

Now recalling the survey scenario, in today’s world it’s also likely that the respondent would reject our question all together. They might laugh at the very idea of God, heaven, hell or any such things. This world has reached a point where people feel they have a sovereignty over the truth. They have their owns ideas about life and eternity. They don’t want anything to do with God or any concept of God. They want to silence any such ideas or talk.

You see, if there is no God then they can do whatever they want. And they usually do. But this decision and deception creates a grave danger. Romans 1:18 says,
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

There is a God. And with God there is right and wrong and a difference. And He does and will judge evil and those who suppress the truth by the evil deeds. The Bible goes on to say that their arrogance deceives them. Romans 1:22 says, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.

And this foolish arrogance takes them down a path where God even ceases to attempt to rescue them. Romans 1:25-26a says,
For they exchanged the truth of God for falsehood, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. For this reason, God gave them over to degrading passions;

God basically allows the end result of their rebellion to take them completely down the road of destruction and judgment. They first ignored and then openly rebelled against God. God allows individuals the freedom to reject Him. Now, this story has been repeated over and over in history and in lives.

In fact, it goes all the way to the end of the story. Speaking of the last days and the coming the Antichrist, the man of sin and lawlessness, 2 Thess. 2:9-12 it says,
the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not accept the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason, God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

God reveals this in His Word as a warning as well as a prophetic declaration. A life that rejects God and His Word stands in grave danger. There will come a point where people will believe the lie of the enemy without doubt, completed deluded and doomed to judgment. Can you see the danger? It’s a road to destruction and judgment without an exit.

But what about those who have genuine religious beliefs? Maybe they subscribe to any of the many substitutes that the enemy has provided. And if we listen to them, we would hear them tell all about it. They truly, sincerely believe it. Maybe their substitute god is one that they themselves may have created. I mean, you’ve heard the line, “All roads lead to the same place. We’re just taking different paths to the same destination.” But are these gods real?

The Bible talks about this as well. In Deut. 11:16 God issues a warning. “Beware that your hearts are not easily deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods, and worship them.” The truth is, they’re not really gods. They’re deceiving spirits at best calling men away from the True and the Living God. But God warns mankind.

The Bible also declares and illustrates the nonsense of self-made gods. The prophet in Isaiah 44:10 asks, “Who has fashioned a god or cast an idol to no benefit?” He then goes on to talk about how a person goes out and chops down a tree. And with part of the tree, he shapes a god and then with the other part he makes firewood to cook his meal. The person doing this doesn’t even recognize what he’s doing.  I know this because in Isa. 44:19-20 he explains.
No one remembers, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I bow down before a block of wood!” He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has misled him. And he cannot save himself, nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

Making your own God is foolish. It’s nonsense. I mean, think. How can something that you make or create be a God? Can a non-god make a God? And yet, people do have gods of their own creation who they claim to believe in. It’s nonsense. It’s dangerous. The True and Living God doesn’t laugh at such things.

But most dangerously gut-wrenching is the example of deception of those that are religiously self-deceived. Here’s the person involved in the God-world. They are busy in doing what they perceive is the work of God. But something is wrong. Like so many others, these persons assumed that doing good things, even godly things were what was needed to know God. The truth is, not everybody talking about heaven is going there. Jesus in the Sermon of the Mount in Matthew 7: 21-23 says,
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; LEAVE ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

It's a frightening picture to imagine. Someone standing before Jesus having worked in the god-stuff and yet not truly know the Lord. Can you imagine their response, the “Wait, what?” Was it self-willed work? Was it thinking that good deeds was sufficient? We’re not told what it is. The only thing we have is Jesus’ haunting words, “I never knew you.” I don’t know about you, but that scene stops me in my tracks, as it should. It’s an opportunity to ask some really honest questions. “Why do I serve God? Why do I obey His commands?” These questions aren’t meant to make us fear … unless.

You see, I love how God talks to us as His children. It’s honest. It’s straightforward and it’s strengthening. The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi to both exhort and encourage them. In Philippians 2:12-15 it says this,
So then, my beloved, just as you 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; for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining or arguments; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,

Paul says “to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” He doesn’t say to work for your salvation. He makes it clear in the next verse, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure.Ephesians 2:10 then says, “We are His workmanship.” You see, the wondrous hand of God is working His good pleasure in His children. That’s enough to create fear and trembling. That “Holy God is at work in my life…”

Paul also states the practical. We are to do His will without complaining or grumbling. God’s hand is at work in your life. As His child, act like it.

Paul finishes the verse making it clear that what we are doing in our obedience is displaying God’s work and light in a crooked and perverse generation.
Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16? “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

God’s children are never afraid of honest questions in the light. They challenge us and they strengthen us. Our confidence is never in ourselves but it is in our saving Lord who is working in us to accomplish His good pleasure.

We will not be deceived, for we know the truth. We know the truth of our salvation and the truth of the work of God and what He’s doing in our lives.

Our Savior lives and He lives in His children.
That’s wonderful. That’s enough for fear and trembling.
So you see, as always, it’s clear, Truth Matters.

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