April 15, 2005

self-deception

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.

Do what it says.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does.

-James 1:22-25 (NIV)

Imagine a guy getting up in the morning and going to the mirror, and spotting this huge, swollen, ripe blemish on his forehead. Right away, he knows that something needs to be done with this thing. It is so big that while he is looking in the mirror, it is the only thing that he notices about himself. He can't take his eyes off of it.

It is so bad that he ponders canceling all of his appointments until it had been dealt with. He begins thinking of different surgeries that he could perform on himself to get rid of it. He'll do anything! He thinks to himself, "how in the world could I ever face another human being while this thing is on my face?!? I'll be nicknamed the unicorn!"

Then he walks away from the mirror, gets dressed and goes to work.

How can this be, you wonder? Well, how can it be that we do the exact same thing?

We go to church or we are hanging out with one of our Christian friends and they start talking about spiritual stuff or maybe, we have even sat down to read our Bible and then it happens. We get a glimpse of ourselves. The word of God, with its soul-piercing ability has cut down deep and we have seen ourselves, the same way a person might look into a mirror.

We don't like what is there. It isn't good. There are some things that need to change, and they are far worse than any blemish that you might have found growing on your face during those awkward years. But instead of dealing with the problem, we walk away and forget all about it.

The really scary thing that is found in this passage is the warning. If you merely listen to the word, and don't do what it says, you will deceive yourself. I don't think that there is anything that I have found to be more alarming than the possibility of self-deception.

The extreme of self-deception is found in Matthew 7, when there are people who get to the judgment, and are genuinely surprised at where they are heading.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

"Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'

"Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"

-Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)

Notice the surprise of these people. Notice the word, many. Also notice the emphasis on doing, "...only he who does the will of my Father..." Of all of the shocks to receive in your existence, this is the one not to get!

This is why every time we go to the scripture, we need to seek how we can apply it... right now! Don't wait, don't hesitate! As it says in Hebrews 3:7 and 3:15, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts..."

If you are hearing and not doing, you will be deceived. And according to I Timothy 4:2, eventually you will stop feeling so bad about those things that need to change. Your conscience will become seared, and you will no longer feel those pricks.

Eventually you will start to feel pretty good about yourself (to a degree). But in reality you will be so far from the Savior whose image you were meant to conform to.

"When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right."
-- C.S. Lewis

If you have read these words and they hit a little too close to home, then start today.

Don't harden your heart.

2 comments :

  1. This hits close to home, but not for the reasons you might think.

    Because it confirms too much. It confirms what I've been seeing everywhere I turn.

    I am married to a man, for 17 years, and when we met, the question was "are you a Christian?" yes ... ok, and he knew the Bible ...

    Over the last 17 years, I have seen a root of bitterness in him, above and beyone what I could have possibly imagined existed. Last summer, in a small group, the question of the night was "What were you doing, where were you, when you accepted Christ as Savior"

    My husband, who was 12 years old before he ever stepped foot in a church ... could not recall ever making that decision. He only knows that he's always been aware that God is real and loves him and has a plan for him. I was shocked. I never knew this.

    It was shocking on top of what I was coming to realize ... that involved both of these passages as I come to realize that he might spend time reading /studying the Bible ...but he only does it to prove others wrong in their theology. Never to build his own faith. ONLY to prove others wrong.

    He refuses to participate in ministry because "no body is going to tell ME what to do, I'll be in charge of the ministry, but they're not going to tell me what to do!"

    He won't go to Sunday School because " I'm not going to go and sit in a class where I know more than everyone in the class, including the pastor!" (our pastor has been in ministry for 20 years and has his doctorate degree, and is our Sunday School teacher, my husband, has spent less than 20 years of his life actually attending church.)

    These verses scare me, and the quote by CS Lewis scares me. No one can reach him right now, he's so convinced he's right and everyone else is wrong ... he won't listen ... and he won't submit ...and he won't surrender to God.

    I recently read (and I don't remember where) "No man can survive his own unchallenged authority"

    I am not sure he can survive this attitude, and the Word only confirms this.

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  2. Your words are so true to so many people.

    I appreciate you adding this, mostly because it is an example of that deception.

    Galatians 6:2 says, "If anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, deceives himself."

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