Are You Falling Victim to This Deception?
When you think of deception it is normal to think about someone attempting to trick you or steer you in the wrong direction. One of the greatest stories of deception that comes to mind is Adam and Eve. As you probably know, Satan deceived Eve into eating the fruit from the tree. He promised her an outcome that he knew was not possible. From that point until now, Satan continues to try to deceive even those who are in the body of Christ.
However, there is another type of deception that plagues the body of Christ that is not caused by Satan. Believe it or not, the Bible talks about a type of deception that we actually cause ourselves. In other words, we become our own deceiver. I want to show you what that deception is and see if you are falling victim to it.
What Is This Deception?
To find this deception, we need to turn to the book of James. Here is what it says.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22, emphasis added).
There you have it in plain English. You can deceive yourself. What I want you to focus on is how this happens. So let’s break this down to help you understand it better.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/stockce
The Deception of Hearing
How many of you love to hear God’s word being taught or even preached on a Sunday morning? For many people it is the highlight of the church service. I know people that skip worship (that’s another topic) because they just want to get to the word. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to hear the word, that is where you can potentially set yourself up for deception. The opportunity for deception also extends outside of church because there are so many opportunities to hear the word of God being preached or taught through so many different mediums. Truthfully, even reading these articles can play into the deception. I call this the deception of hearing.
It is easy to falsely believe that the real value in God’s word comes when you hear it preached or taught. While there is value in that, the premise is simply not true. The real value in God’s word comes when you act on it. When you look at the verse in James, he is simply saying if you listen and hear God’s word but don’t act on it, you have deceived yourself. That means it doesn’t matter how many verses you can quote. How many sermons you have listened to. How many Sunday school classes you sit in on, or even how many articles you read. If you don’t put any of this into practice, you have fallen victim to deception. The worst part is you have done this to yourself.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Tatiana
How Does This Deception Happen?
To understand how this happens, you need to look at the book of 1 Corinthians. Paul says knowledge puffs up but loves builds up (1 Cor. 8:1). The reason this becomes deceptive is because the acquisition of knowledge can lead you to believe you are in a better place than you really are.
There was a group of people who were truly knowledgeable in the Scriptures, and yet they were among the most deceived. They were the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. When you look at Matthew 23, Jesus describes them with one word over and over. He calls them hypocrites. In the Greek, this word means an actor, one who is playing a role, yet this is how Jesus describes them. Consider these verses.
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach’” (Matthew 23:1-3).
Beyond that Jesus even condemned them.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” (Matthew 23:13).
These were men who clearly knew the law because they taught it, but it didn’t matter because they didn’t bother to do what it says. They were deceived and they were doing it to themselves.
Photo credit: ©SparrowStock
Moving from Deception to Deliverance
There really is only one way to avoid slipping into this form of deception and that is to follow the instruction of James. Do what the word says. If you focus on doing what God says in his word, there are some wonderful blessings that come with it. Here are a few.
“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2).
“Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—
they do no wrong
but follow his ways”
Why Is Doing God’s Word so Important?
The real mark of your faith, trust, and belief in God’s word is not whether you listen to it. The real mark is if you do it. If you remember in the parable of the sower, there was seed that fell on the rocky ground. Here is what Jesus said about this type of person.
“The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away” (Matthew 13:20-21).
If you notice, this person heard the word and received it gladly. But you will also notice that this person had no roots. I would argue that his was the type of person James was talking about. You hear the word, but since you never actually do what it says, the word stays on the surface and never truly takes root. The result for this person is deception. When the hardships of life come, they can’t stand because they have no root. So they quickly fall away. That is why obeying God’s word is so important. When you obey, you are building deep roots that will allow you to stand regardless of what is happening around you.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/phototechno
What Should You Do Now?
I want to encourage you to be a student of the word. Learn as much as you can and acquire as much knowledge of the word of God as you can. However, don’t stop there. Begin to apply what you have learned to your life. You can’t do it all at once, so start with something you can do and build from there. By doing this you will begin to build a foundation or habit of not just being a student but being a participant. What you will soon find is that God’s word works best in your life when you act upon it. This is when you see the power and truth of God’s word in action. Don’t just listen to it or read it – be sure to do what it says and don’t become a victim of your own deception.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Ryan McVay
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.