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Bible verses about Self Deception
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Self-exaltation naturally follows self-deception. We deceive ourselves into thinking we are greater than we really are. The father of pride, Satan, encourages this self-deception that produces pride, and once pride is introduced, human nature takes over. Ironically, in our quest for self-exaltation, in the end we receive the opposite of our intended goal of personal glory; our quest ultimately results in shame.

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 9): Self-Exaltation


 

2 Chronicles 11:13-17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

(Compare with I Kings 12:28-33.) There are at least two reasons why Jeroboam did what he did. One is because he had no choice. It could have been that the Levites stood up to him and refused to teach and participate in error, so they simply left. If Jeroboam wanted to institute a religion, he had to have priests. He could not use the Levites because they were none available. He decided, then, to install anybody in that position who wanted to be a priest.

The second reason is that he may have summarily kicked them out because they represented too much of a threat. What occurred, though, insured that there would be no one who knew God's way enough to be a threat.

Related to the leaving of the Levites, Jeroboam instituted his own feast—one very similar to the Feast of Tabernacles only exactly one month later. He gave the people something new to celebrate.

Again, the appeal of his changes was convenience. The law say that three times a year all the males were to appear before the Lord, and that meant traveling to Jerusalem. So, to the Israelistes, Jeroboam's reasoning sounded good. Jerusalem was too far. In addition, being a bit further north than the Jews, their harvest season was a little bit later than in Judea, and thus the Feast of Tabernacles represented more of a financial risk for them. They decided, then, "Why not have it a month later?" Can we not see the carnal mind working?

"Yeah, that sounds really logical. It's a good and practical change because now the Feast will never fall during the harvest season, and we won't have to worry about losing our crops while we're keeping the Feast."

"Wow, what wisdom! Why didn't we think of this before? Jeroboam, you're a real leader."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sin of Self-Deception


 

Job 31:33   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Job makes an interesting statement in defense of himself after his friends accuse him of being a hypocrite. He asks his friends for evidence that he has hidden the truth of his sins from himself.

It is a relevant question because it is natural to be blind to our own flaws while clearly seeing those of others. Sir Walter Scott put it this way, "O what a tangled web we weave / When first we practice to deceive." The tangled web hangs not only outside a deceiver but within him as well, and his own lies trap him so often that he begins to believe them. He tells them so often or lives them so smoothly that he loses his grip on reality like a drug addict in denial.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Job 31:33   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Job makes this statement because he has been accused of being a hypocrite, so he is defending his integrity. "Adam" represents mankind in general. Unlike mankind in general—though it is the natural thing to do—Job does not hide himself from the deceit of his heart, showing both his conversion and his wisdom. Sir Walter Scott wrote, "Oh what tangled webs we weave/ When first we practice to deceive." Job understood that either lying with the tongue or presenting a visible hypocrisy creates problems, not solve them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

Psalm 15:1-5   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It was surprising to discover two new things in this passage. The first is that while Christians usually choose Psalm 23 as their favorite psalm, Jews often choose Psalm 15. The second is that the Hebrew of the phrase "who shall dwell" does not suggest "living in," but rather "visiting with"—that is, being acceptable to come into God's presence. In other words, the psalm has at least an equally strong present tense application as it does a future one.

It is essential, therefore, for us to consider whether God allows us to visit Him, and thus whether He hears our prayers. The person who has these qualifications most certainly will be heard. In him is no false way at all, no pretense, no deceit, no gossip, no guile, and no hypocrisy. He has no hollow friendships, nor does He give vain compliments. His heart, hand, and tongue are in unison in believing and doing truth. This is a model for all of us to strive to reach.

Proverbs 25:19 instructs us, "Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint." Faithfulness always indicates a person who deals truthfully; he can be trusted. Yet, dealing with unfaithful people is usually painful because one never knows whether they will come through. Thus, our evaluation of ourselves comes down to this question: How can God trust us if we are not striving to be honest now?

II Corinthians 4:1-2 sets a standard:

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

Paul's proclamation fits right into the description of the acceptable person in Psalm 15. Our responsibility is to manifest truth. We must make honest and diligent use of God's gracious gifts without craftiness. Is our way Christ's way and therefore acceptable to God? Can we say that we have nothing to do with hidden and shameful methods?

Paul is not saying that we act with unscrupulous cleverness, but that we do not adulterate truth in any form at all. By making truth clear, whether in word or deed, we commend ourselves both to human conscience in the sight of God and please Him at the same time. We should be childlike and open, leaving as little room as possible for people to misinterpret our motives, misunderstand our actions, or twist our words out of their real meaning.

Does it make any difference what people think of us? Some take the approach that "I'm going to do what I want to do, and what others think doesn't matter." However, it matters very much to God. If it did not, He would not show such concern in His Word regarding being a good witness for Him. Nor would He warn us about protecting our reputation—or His—because much of our effectiveness in witnessing depends on our being trustworthy.

Keeping the ninth commandment begins with not letting our deceitful heart trick us into doing anything less than what is honest and true in God's sight, regardless of what we think men might discern from what we say or do. To do this, we may have to override strong internal drives to make ourselves look good, but doing what is right is something that must be done to remain pure and glorify God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

Psalm 121:1-8   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Once we recognize that the psalmist uses "hills" as an image of a problem to a pilgrim, we easily understand the rest of the psalm as an encouragement to those on a spiritual pilgrimage to the Kingdom of God. It certainly does not give the impression that God—at any time—lets His mind wander, unaware of what is happening in His children's lives. Not only is He ever on guard, He is also ready, willing, and able to intervene with strength. He is not a parent distracted by other concerns so that He neglects His children. We can be greatly encouraged that God is always alert to His responsibilities.

Because God is this way, all things work together for our good, even though there are times when we sin and nothing evil appears to have happened to us. Human nature easily deceives itself into thinking it has gotten away with something. This, however, is like saying we can defy the law of gravity, and nothing will happen! God does not let us get away with anything pertaining to His purpose, but He is never overbearing in thoroughly following through.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Nine


 

Proverbs 14:8   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The wise, prudent person follows truth. He consciously weighs his options and deliberately chooses not to twist the truth. He does not walk on blindly, leaving things to the chance that his deceit will not be discovered. True wisdom is the ability to judge present circumstances with the view of future success. Truth is always ultimately successful.

Conversely, folly means "foolishness, senselessness, idiocy, brainlessness, silliness, and irrationality." Why is a person's folly senseless? Because the one senselessly deceiving is himself deceived. As we might say, "He is shooting himself in the foot," not grasping the fact that he, too, will be crushed by his deceit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

Proverbs 16:6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We overcome lying because God mercifully but forcefully brings it to our attention by revealing His truth. When we submit to His truth rather than our self-deceptions, we are beginning to overcome.

Commentators suggest an alternative translation of this verse: "By loyalty and faithfulness one escapes evil." The sense is that loyalty and faithfulness to God's truth are essential elements to escaping the second death. Obeying truth does not forgive sin, but it plays a part in cleaning our minds of the garbage of bad habits lodged in our character so that we are less likely to involve ourselves in sin. God's truth says we must not bear false witness, and that must be obeyed!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment (1997)


 

Ecclesiastes 8:11-13   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Just because the penalty does not occur immediately does not mean it will not come. Be aware! Adam and Eve set aside the teaching of God because they became convinced that the penalty—death—would not occur. When they sinned and death did not occur immediately, they were even more convinced. But death did occur, and other evil things happened in their lives that did not have to occur.

We need to understand this as part of the way God operates; He gives us time to learn lessons, to come to a better knowledge of Him, to understand cause and effect. If God reacted immediately when we sinned, it would be all over the very first time. No building of character could take place, no learning by experience, no growth in wisdom, and no understanding of human nature.

Do not be deceived because the penalty does not seem to fall quickly.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sin of Self-Deception


 

Ecclesiastes 8:12-13   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Solomon had enough wisdom to understand that, in the end, such evildoers would be punished. The wheels of God's justice may work slowly, but they work and never stop working. Perhaps the supreme folly of all is that man deceives himself—that because it is customary for God to be patient, longsuffering, slow to anger, and forbearing, we forget that His tolerance is designed to lead us to repentance. Instead of taking advantage of His patience and coming to Him in humility for forgiveness, we tend to continue to revolt through sin. The supreme folly of a converted person is to delude himself that somehow he can get away with sin.

The Old Testament, far from being a record of a belligerent and wrathful God, is actually a revelation of extreme patience, mercy, and grace.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Justice and Grace


 

Isaiah 29:13-15   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This charge against Israel is to a people so insensitive to God and truth that they are blind to dishonesty's destructive power. On the national scene, we parade slogans such as "In God We Trust" and "One Nation Under God." Daily in the courts, citizens by the thousands swear on Bibles and then proceed to lie on the witness stand. Millions attend church on Sunday but then conduct business Monday through Saturday in the normal, self-centered, "let's get as much as we can" fashion.

We Americans grew up in this twisted environment and perhaps never really questioned it—we merely accepted it as normal. To some degree, it has conditioned our approach to life. In Isaiah 29, God accuses His people of hypocritically playing games with His truth and of not facing up to its standards in daily life. Jesus quotes verse 13 in Matthew 15:8, charging the scribes and Pharisees with being hypocrites. In both cases, the context is strikingly similar. In both, deceived and hypocritical people mishandle God's revelation. However, after a period of persistent practice, the deception or hypocrisy establishes itself as the way of life!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

Isaiah 46:12   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God inspires Isaiah to warn Israel that all their "righteousnesses are like filthy rags," since their sinful attitudes pollute their deeds. The impurity of their motives taint all their prayers, sacrifices, offerings, and praises, thus God deeply detests and abhors them. Like the Laodiceans, they cannot see their true condition (Revelation 3:17).

Staff
Overcoming (Part 3): Self-Righteousness


 

Jeremiah 7:4-12   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We can learn a great deal from the prophets' descriptions of conditions in Israel in the years just before God scattered them. Jeremiah 7 contains an especially vivid description, describing attitudes and conduct just before Babylon's invasion of Judah. Anybody who cares and diligently searches for the causes of our present scattered condition can easily find many of them.

Verse 4 reveals a casual, self-righteous, and presumptuous self-confidence that, since they were fellowshipping with the "church," everything would be fine! Nevertheless, the enemy conquered Judah and took the people into captivity, so membership in the church is no guarantee that judgment will not come on us individually or collectively. Jeremiah expresses the Jews prideful assumption of being above correction, an attitude that has its basis in a confused understanding of God's love and the purity of His holiness.

We must be prepared for God's Kingdom. The attitudes and conduct of these people, expressed here but applied to us now, show that we were not living up to God's expectations. We can learn, though, that fellowshipping with the church without the right attitudes and conduct can easily foster a delusion that all is well, while by God's judgment all clearly is not well! Verses 5-6 illustrate that their judgment of how to apply God's Word in their lives was severely compromised. They definitely did not love their neighbor as themselves; they were unmistakably self-centered. Is there more evidence here that we may have been the same?

Verse 10 expresses the extent this delusion had permeated their lives. By ignoring God's moral and ethical demands, they were in effect telling God that attending services released them from the guilt accrued during the rest of their lives. It was as if God's judgments did not apply to them. They were after all "in the church," right? It reads almost as if they felt they were doing God a favor by showing up! What is more, while there, they heard insipid messages telling them, "Peace, peace. Everything is okay. God's grace covers all."

Though ceremonially going through the motions, they lacked thorough dedication and devotion to God's way in every aspect of life. Beginning in verse 12, God reminds them that they should remember the history of former generations and take warning because they are on track to experience the same calamities. Have we in our time repeated their assumptions that everything is fine when it is not? It seems so, since the Laodicean assumes he is rich and increased with goods and needs nothing. The reality is that he is blind to his true condition and not clothed with God's righteousness.

God has called us into a courtship relationship leading to marriage with Jesus Christ. He makes clear what He expects from us as our part in this relationship. Jesus says to His disciples, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). A love relationship requires each to sacrifice thoughtfully for the other. Keeping of the commandments does not "save" us, but it prepares us to live eternally with Him and shows our attitude of submission to Him.

Jeremiah 7:5-9 plainly portrays precious little concern for fellow man. In fact, most of the sins Jeremiah directly mentions are transgressions of the last five commandments. Only one sin, idolatry, focuses directly on the first four commandments. This suggests that a breakdown in human relationships quickly followed the disintegration of the relationship between God and Israel. Similarly, I John 4:20-21 calls upon those who say they love God and claim to be Christians to love the brethren. John goes so far as to say that, if we do not love the brethren, our claim to love God is a lie! This is another area in which many fell short, and it led to division, which continues to the present.

This indicates that self-absorbed people indulged themselves at others' expense. Self-absorption produces strained marital relationships (and ultimately divorce) and alienated children as they and their parents go in wildly different directions. Within congregations, it yields shallow and casual relationships that show little true concern. Its fruit are intolerance, impatience, strong opinions about trivial things, offense, harsh judging, and division.

It produces busy people who feel as if they are accomplishing a great deal because they seem to get many things done. The church member may even prosper more than at any other time in his life. However, the busy-ness is spent on things of minor spiritual importance. Meanwhile, the relationship with God, while existent, is allowed to be neglected. That is what Laodiceanism is. People bring it in from the world where God is a figurehead but with whom there is no relationship. It is a deceitful fruit of too much time, attention, and energy focused on the wrong things. Laodiceanism is deceitful because the Bible reveals that the person afflicted with it is unaware that he has it. He is blind to it, but God certainly is not because He is being neglected in this relationship. How can He possibly marry someone who will not draw close to Him because of involvement in so many other things?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Seven)


 

Jeremiah 9:5-6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Self-deceit is an inherent part of man's emotional, mental, and spiritual makeup. We have a hard time seeing it in ourselves because we are experts in hiding reality from ourselves and trying to hide it from others. However, we fool ourselves if we think we can hide our true nature from God.

Staff
Overcoming (Part 1): Self-Deception


 

Jeremiah 17:5-6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The subject in which Jeremiah 17:9 appears is faith. God is pointing out why we allow our deceitful heart to get away with evading truth. It is a matter of faith—trust. Verse 6 shows that the person who does not live by faith will not grow. He will be like a shrub in the desert that only receives water every so often, not near often enough to grow.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sin of Self-Deception


 

Jeremiah 17:6-9   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It is the heart that motivates us to break faith with God's Word. It does it by weakening our trust in what God says is really true. Is that not what happened in the Garden of Eden? Is that not why Adam and Eve sinned, because their trust in God's Word was broken by the arguments, by the reasons, by the convoluted ideas and justifications that Satan came up with?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sin of Self-Deception


 

Jeremiah 17:9-10   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Clearly, there is something radically wrong with man. The Bible discloses the seat of man's problem as being his heart, his inner being, including his reason. We are full of falsehood, duplicity, and contradiction. We conceal and disguise ourselves from ourselves.

Perhaps it is in this area that the heart performs its most destructive work; it conceals the exceeding sinfulness of sin and its tragic consequences and seriousness. It deceives us into thinking that it is not so bad or that God is so merciful that He will overlook it. Was it this kind of thinking that preceded the sudden deaths of Aaron's sons, Uzza, and Ananias and Sapphira?

Do you suppose He can overlook an attitude that so casually takes for granted sinful acts that caused the horribly painful and ignominious death of One who was truly innocent, His Son? Does He merely ignore an attitude that cares so little for its own life that it deliberately attempts to bring that wonderful gift of life to an end? Does He just avert His eyes when we do something that forms a part of our character that will prevent us from being in His image? Some people seem to think so, but is there innocence in this kind of reasoning?

Our own heart deceives us into taking sin lightly. But, believe the Bible, God is NOT taking sin lightly because He loves His creation. Sin has caused all the emotional and physical pain and death that mankind has experienced since Adam. Each of us is suffering to some degree from it right at this moment. Does this bring us happiness? Do we love sin so much that we want it to continue? Are we fully aware it may destroy us? Do we want our sinful way of life to end?

There is only one way it will end, and that is to follow Jesus' advice: "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). When we repent and begin controlling ourselves so that we do not sin, it will not stop sin in the world. But unless WE stop sinning, sin will never be stopped. EACH PERSON has to come to see that he is personally responsible for stopping sin in his own life. He cannot wait for others to stop before he stops. The government will not do it for him. Nobody but the individual can stop his sinning unless God takes away the person's chance to repent by putting him to death.

We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived into taking this casually as the world does. They say, "Everybody's doing it." Millions cheat on their spouses. Who knows how many have literally "gotten away with murder"! Many cheat the government of their income taxes and never get caught. But we cannot cheat God. How could we escape the gaze of a Being so acutely aware of what is happening that He sees even a sparrow falling? David writes, "Where can I go from Your Spirit?" (Psalm 139:7). God not only sees the acts, but discerns what is "going on" in the heart (verses 1-4, 23-24).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Innocent Victims?


 

Jeremiah 17:9   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Human nature will try to reassert its dominance in a converted person's life. The word that is translated from Hebrew into the English word "deceitful" means "tortuous, twisted, convoluted." That is the way human nature is—tortuous, twisted, and convoluted in its thinking and reasoning. He is referring to the kind of justifications or rationalizations that it will make to convince a person that it is okay to sin, not to pay attention to the law of God, to say to the self, "It really does not matter. I am only one person."

Note this frank quote from Aldus Huxley, which appears in his book Ends And Means (p. 270):

I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find gratifying reasons for this assumption.

Convoluted, tortuous, twisted. Looking for rationalizations and justifications. Continuing on page 273:

Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don't know because we don't want to know. It is our will that decides how and upon what subjects we shall use our intelligence. . . . Those who detect no meaning in the world generally do so because for one reason or another it suits their books that the world should be meaningless. . . . We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.

This is how human nature works—the heart twists the truth of God and deceives itself into thinking that, "Well, let us make the assumption that the world and life have no meaning, therefore we can do what we want to do." This is from a highly intelligent human being.

We know that for us to acknowledge and yield to truth will be personally costly, and we often do not want to pay the price, so we allow ourselves to be deceived into thinking it really does not matter if we yield to the wrong thing this time. We will fight the battle the next time it comes up.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sin of Self-Deception


 

Jeremiah 17:10   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God is stating what is later reiterated in Jeremiah 23. There is individual responsibility, and we have to face up to the fact that there is no hiding from God. He does not intend this in a mean way—not at all. He is not trying to make us feel as though we need to be looking over our shoulder all the time for His club to come down on us. That is not what He is looking for.

He is looking for us to get the good out of life. His reasons are honorable, loving, kind, and good. He is trying to help us to understand that cause and effect are at work. We need to consider: Do we really trust God?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sin of Self-Deception


 

Amos 9:10   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Their words echo those of the Laodiceans in Revelation 3 who will be spewed from God's mouth. Those caught in the sieve see no cause for alarm, no reason God should judge them. They are apparently unaware of what constitutes sin, of the penalty that falls on the sinner or of the need of a remedy. They are complacent, careless sinners, living in a fantasy world of their own self-deception.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

Acts 5:1-10   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We can perceive a mixed bag of Ananias and Sapphira's sins involved in this tragedy. Acts 4:36-37 informs us of Barnabas' sacrificial gift for the well-being of the newly formed church. Pride and desire for acclaim motivated the couple to give a gift but without the honesty or sacrifice exhibited by Barnabas and others.

"Why has Satan filled your heart" (verse 3) is the equivalent of "Why have you dared?" They were free to give whatever percentage they set, for Peter says that the entire property sale price was under their control. Their sin lay in deceitfully alleging that the amount they gave was the whole of the sale price, when it was actually only a part. They deviously exaggerated their offering.

Some think this judgment was harsh, but Peter did not. He spoke of the sin as inspired of Satan, and the passage makes clear that both Ananias and Sapphira were fully aware of what they were doing (verses 2, 9). Conscious deceit is spiritually disastrous because trust is completely violated. They should have known better.

God interpreted their action as tempting Him, seeing how much they could get away with. Their way of reaching their goals is so opposed to the gospel that God could not allow it to go unchallenged; it would have set the whole mission of the church off course. Honesty and integrity are the standard of God's way of life. Sin is no light thing with God.

These people were living behind a deceptive façade, one similar to the idea that, if one keeps the front windows clean, it does not matter how dirty the back ones are. They allowed themselves to become tools working to destroy the family relationship of trust within the church. God forcibly reminded them and us that He will not abide that.

We must treat one another with fairness and loving kindness, or we will not be in His Family. Ananias and Sapphira are shocking reminders to us that we will not get away with deceitfully cheating or taking advantage of our brethren. God may not appear to be in the picture, but only the faithless have this blindness. The penalty will be paid—unless repented of, it is only a matter of time. Ananias and Sapphira paid quickly as a lesson to us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Presumption and Divine Justice (Part Two)


 

Romans 1:18-20   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In Romans 1:18-20, Paul asserts that things involving God's existence, power, and nature are clearly seen, but mankind suppresses the truth. What God wants man to know, man willingly ignores and suppresses through the addition of beliefs, customs, and traditions that cloak the truth. The truth is still there, hidden behind a screen of falsehoods that most never attempt to remove.

Theologians call this process syncretism. According to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, it is "the combination of different forms of belief or practice." Syncretism could possibly describe other fields, like philosophy, but scholars use it almost exclusively in religious contexts. Syncretize, the verb form of the word, is very revealing. It means "to attempt to unite and harmonize especially without critical examination or logical unity." In other words, those who syncretize will frequently attach one belief or practice to their religion without trying to ascertain whether it is proper to do so.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christmas, Syncretism, and Presumption


 

Romans 10:1-3   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Interestingly, a commentator writes that "they being ignorant of" (verse 3) could be translated into "for they ignoring," which puts a different sense on Paul's thought. When one is ignorant, he just does not know. Perhaps knowledge was withheld from him. On the other hand, when one ignores knowledge, it is readily available, but he turns his back on it.

Are modern Israelites who celebrate Christmas really deceived? Is the deception so strong that they cannot see it? A self-deceived person is ignoring truth rather than ignorant of it, and if that indeed is Paul's emphasis, it makes this Christmas question much more serious. It means that people are accountable for what they are doing, and therefore, they will pay more for it than if they acted in ignorance.

Most Americans are aware that many of the Christmas traditions have no connection with Christianity. Almost every year, articles on the origins of various Christmas customs appear in the newspapers, especially in the larger cities. The authors of these articles cannot trace any of the "modern" traditions back to the Bible because most of the customs came from pre-Christian traditions in Germany, Norway, Russia, Holland, and other nations. Thus, people cannot claim that such knowledge was withheld from them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christmas, Syncretism and Presumption (1994)


 

Romans 11:19-22   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Paul directs this passage toward Gentiles as part of an admonition he wanted them to consider regarding their calling into the church. We, too, must seriously consider God's goodness and severity. God is not only what we commonly think of as love. His character is perfectly balanced by a sense of justice for all concerned and for His purpose too. To be just is to be fair, evenhanded, and impartial. God will always be fair because even His justice is executed in love and is an act of love.

God is not only supreme in power and authority, but He is also supreme in judgment. His mind pierces through all of the justifications we make to excuse our bad attitudes and conduct as measured against His righteous standard. So, if we desire to live by faith, we must seriously consider His sense of justice because what we may think is a small matter, an event of no great magnitude, may trigger God to react with terrible swiftness and severe consequences that leave us wondering why. Scripture records a number of these sudden, violent reactions.

We must begin by understanding that we do not see the entire picture as God does. The reality of God's justice helps us to perceive three important factors to living by faith: 1) The wages of sin is indeed death (Romans 6:23); 2) we are headed toward death and do not know its time; and 3) God means exactly what He says.

Jesus declares an important principle in Luke 12:48: "But he who did not know, yet committed things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." We need to think about the seriousness of our calling, knowing that human nature contains a strong strain of self-deception. This verse should remind us that because we have been given so much, our judgment will be sterner.

God states in Romans 1:18-20 that mankind is without excuse regarding His existence, but it is easily seen in the immoral conduct committed throughout the world that people are paying little or no attention to their responsibilities to God. As people go about their daily activities, they ignore Him; a relationship with Him is not perceived as a vital, everyday necessity to life.

Some may talk of Him on occasion and even pray, but they are not seriously committed to true devotion to Him. They are neither learning more of His truth nor further broadening and deepening obedience to Him. Besides those folks, some are openly and aggressively antagonistic toward Him and His laws.

However, in the face of these attitudes, we cannot allow ourselves to disregard the fact that God is very serious about His intentions to fulfill His purposes for His creation and most especially in the lives of His children. His purpose has been revealed to us, and we are more responsible than others.

Though by our reckoning of time God's justice often seems long delayed, the prophecies will be fulfilled and His Kingdom established under Jesus Christ. God commands that we must live by faith, so we cannot let down. We must push on in faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living by Faith and God's Justice


 

1 Corinthians 3:18   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Paul says, "If any of you think that you know something, forget it. Make like you know nothing. And if you do, you just might become wise." He goes on to explain why in the following verses.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Preventing Deception


 

2 Thessalonians 2:11   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This verse states that God "shall send them strong delusion," but this is not the end of the story. God is the ultimate source of this "strong delusion," but God rarely does anything to people that they themselves do not have some part in. In the case of this delusion surrounding the man of sin, the people who "believe the lie" will be predisposed to do so because they do not have "the love of the truth" (verse 10). The "strong delusion" works because the people have set themselves up to fall for it!

Notice also that in verses 9-10, Satan and the "lawless one" also have a part in these deceptions and "lying wonders," so God alone does not cause the delusion. It is a combination of God's will, Satan's and the man of sin's agency, and human, predisposed hostility to God and the truth (Romans 8:7), which can be summarized as "self-delusion." Our part—whether or not we are hostile toward God and His truth—is the only thing we have any control over. If we are trying to overcome our human predisposition against God and actively cultivating a love of the truth, then our chances of avoiding this deception increase dramatically.

Staff


 

James 1:22-27   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Only by careful study of God's Word, the ultimate standard of thought, speech, and conduct, can we know what is right and wrong. We must follow our study with honest and truthful comparison of those words with our own lives. If we read the words of God and walk away, forgetting what we saw, we deceive ourselves. None of us compares favorably with what we read in Scripture, so we must make changes. James says our religion—our practice of God's way of life—is vain if we omit either the positive instructions (visiting widows and orphans) or the negative ones (removing the spots from our character).

Staff
Overcoming (Part 1): Self-Deception


 

1 John 3:24   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

John does not imply that we are doing things perfectly, for he also says in I John 1:8 , "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." What is being referred to here are things that even sinning Christians are able to do.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love and Fellowship


 

Revelation 3:17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

How close this is in principle to what the Pharisee says in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9-14)! Oblivious to his spiritual poverty, the Pharisee chooses to compare himself to humans he can see rather than the holy God to whom he supposedly prays in faith. Notice also his conceit in listing his wonderful works of tithing and fasting!

Though the Laodicean is indifferent, lackadaisical, and inconsistent in his devotion to God, his ignorance of his spiritual condition reveals a fundamental flaw that undergirds his lukewarm condition and paralyzes his spiritual life. The Laodicean says he is rich, but Christ's revelation shatters that delusion. He completely misreads his spiritual condition! He thinks he is already complete, thus he is indifferent to growing and changing. So great is his conceit that it blinds him into saying he needs nothing!

This self-deception results in inconsistency in prayer and Bible Study and nonchalance in overcoming. Why do those exercises when he has no need? His relationship to Jesus Christ is distant and insipid. Would we want to be married to a person who could take us or leave us depending upon his momentary mood? No wonder Christ reacts so severely! The Laodicean's self-perceived "wealth" is a barrier to any meaningful relationship with Him (Proverbs 18:11).

A Laodicean is poor—really and truly poor—yet all the while thinking himself to be rich. He is unwilling to jettison anything, let alone everything in a whole-hearted search for God. Undoubtedly, he has knowledge about God and thinks this is the true religion, but it is plain that he does not know God. If he did, he would not be so blind to his poverty because he could compare himself to God's holiness, and his shortcomings would be exposed. He is intelligent, but he mistakes his intelligence for true wisdom. Christ may even have given him gifts for ministering to the church in some way, but he mistakenly judges them as grace toward salvation. He is blind yet has the light of God's truth in him—remember, this is written to converted people—but the light is turning to darkness. How great that darkness must be!

To be wretched describes life when everything one owns has been destroyed or plundered by war. Here it describes the Laodicean's spiritual destitution and pitiableness before God. He is being devastated in the spiritual war against Satan, even though to all outward appearances he may look well-clothed, well-fed, and vigorous in carrying out his daily, secular responsibilities.

How careful Christians must be in this time when the world and Satan are pressing their distractions upon us as never before! We cannot allow ourselves to be deluded into negligently or carelessly cheating ourselves out of so great salvation (Hebrews 2:1-3).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part Two: Poor in Spirit


 

Revelation 3:17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Just as with Sardis, those in Laodicea are completely self-deceived (Jeremiah 17:9). Their view of their spiritual state is diametrically opposed to that of Jesus Christ. Laodiceans think they are okay; they generally do not know they are Laodicean. In most cases, they think they are still Philadelphian and thus in good standing with God. They believe everyone has been asleep but themselves, yet Christ says, "They all slumbered and slept" (Matthew 25:1-13)!

One of Laodiceanism's major characteristics is utter self-deception. Each of us must look carefully into the Word of God for a true test of our spiritual condition (James 1:22-27), not presuming our evaluation of ourselves is the same as our Savior's. He is the ultimate Judge.

Staff
The Seven Churches: Laodicea


 

Revelation 3:17-19   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Laodicean's problem is that he does not even grasp that he is one, nor does he seriously consider the possibility. He really believes he is Philadelphian. He is blind to his nakedness and instructed to salve his eyes so he might see. This should cause anyone who considers himself a Philadelphian to take a long, hard look at himself in the light of Scripture. Could we be deceiving ourselves about our true state? Jesus Christ says so. It is somewhat paradoxical, but in this day of scattering and chastening, if we think we are of Philadelphia, we are probably Laodicean. If we think we are Laodicean, we may be waking up and beginning to see our faults. If we do something about them, we will be donning garments of true righteousness.

Staff
The Seven Churches: Laodicea


 

Revelation 3:20   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Laodiceanism is not the end of the world. It can be overcome. Those who wake up to what Christ is saying here, who really hear Him, will overcome this spiritual blindness, nakedness, and self-deception and sit with Him on His throne in His glorious Kingdom!

Staff
The Seven Churches: Laodicea


 

 




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