Deception 5

There are many people in both evangelical and reformed churches today who are self-deceived. This self-deception is at the deepest level and in the most important area of life—their eternal soul. The people I am talking about are not the open hypocrites, but those who seem to be very religious. They may be church members, some of the most regular attendees, elders, and even pastors. These are people who, by outward appearance, seem to be godly, but they are not genuinely converted. They have never been deeply convicted of their sins or humbled in any way; their pride has not been broken, nor have they submitted to the true demands of the gospel. Quite simply, they are religious people who are on their way to hell and they do not realize it (Self-Deception by Jacob Helffenstein, from the Intro by William C. Nichols)

The most deceived man of all is he whose mind is influenced by the Evil Spirit and yet he believes that he is besought by the Good Spirit (Sermons by the Devil, W.S. Harris)

1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,

1 John 2:26 These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.

Ephesians 4:22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,

We live in a world that is far different than our senses tell us. We are attacked and set on by deceptions from all places, even in our own hearts and minds. While men and women go on glibly living what they think of as good lives and even as religious lives, they are under a great deception. People speak of the “good” that they are doing, as indeed they think of it as good, and are completely unaware that they are not following Christ. They are doing nothing but what comes from the self and their own pride.

As noted in the second quote above, the most deceived person is one who thinks that s/he is under the influence and even power of the Holy Spirit and yet that person is really under the power of the evil spirit. The evil spirit is not opposed to working with morality and religion in order to deceive people by that, and indeed he does seem to deceive a lot of people by it. The evil spirit does not seem opposed to and perhaps even works through professing churches and even professing preaching. It would seem that gullible people who are deceived are deceived even more by the religion they are practicing and the “preaching” that they are hearing.

We can easily see the great dangers of attending a place where a conservative religion is taught and a conservative morality is taught and yet the Gospel of free-grace alone is not taught in reality. It may be that this place will teach and preach what they think is justification by faith alone, but the content of that preaching and teaching is quite far removed from what the Reformers taught and of what the Bible teaches. Those who were involved in that would think that the Holy Spirit was moving and teaching and yet it could be nothing more than the evil spirit deceiving. This is perhaps more common than we think. After all, the Pharisees were very religious and they were conservative. The Pharisees were very moral and even strictly moral. However, despite all of their orthodoxy and despite all of their seeming holiness, they were the enemies of God and were very deceived.

Paul told us very clearly that we were to examine ourselves to see if Christ was indeed in us. He did not ask people if they had prayed a prayer or walked down the aisle, he asked them to see if Christ was in them. He did not ask people if they believed some facts, he told them to examine themselves to see if Christ was in them. He did not ask them how often they attended church or how often they read the Scriptures and prayed, he asked them if they had examined themselves to see if Christ was in them. People can do all of the outward things and do them strictly and do them well (in a sense), but they can do them in the power of the flesh rather than the power of the Holy Spirit. How utterly deceptive it is to think that we are so religious and so prepared for eternity when the very things we trust in are being used to deceive us.

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