Deception 7

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 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,

It is hard to imagine the depth of the disappointment of those who run for high office and do not get it. Far worse, however, is trying to imagine the depths of despair in the soul that thought it was on the road to life and yet lifted up the eyes in hell. We cannot imagine the depths of despair of the soul that lifted up its eyes in hell and the stark realization that it was there for eternity. That soul would with the greatest of horror realize that it had been deceived. It would remember all the deception of the people who deceived him or her with heresy about God and the awful deceptions of sin. The soul that lifts up its eyes in hell will know as it is known, which is to say that God will open the eyes of that poor soul and show it how utterly despicable it is in His sight.

The soul that lifts up its eyes in hell will know with utter horror that it was not only deceived by sin and by others, but it was self-deceived. This soul, in the light of God showing it the truth about itself, will see how it was deceived by its own pride and self-love. This soul will see that it wanted to blind itself and it wanted to be deceived. This soul will sink into the depths of despair and it will have utterly no hope as it recognizes that it was deceived, but it was also self-deceived. While God will wipe away every tear from the eyes of His people, He will open the eyes of sinners to their own sin and their own guilt and they will weep and gnash their teeth at the sight of their own filthy souls.

Let us not think of deception as in intellectual topic alone. This deception is very, very real and it has eternal consequences. We cannot approach this as just another topic with the goal of scratching our intellectual itches. Every soul on this planet is being deceived to some degree or another and all unbelievers live in a state of perpetual deception. They are being perpetually deceived by their religion, their preachers, their sins, and their own hearts. Yes, they are deceived by Satan. Their wicked hearts are also hardened by God and they are turned over to sin and that is also being turned over to a deceptive heart as well.

In an effort to be as clear as I can be, which is still not going to be very clear at all if anyone is deceived, the professing Church and the professing ministry of our day is being used to deceive sinners. This is not to say that each and every local church and that each and every minister is an agent of deception to eternal souls, but it is to say that this vast deception is spread very widely throughout our land. The professing Church is asleep and is content to give nice little lectures or nice little talks about what it thinks is the gospel, but it is not. The people in the pews are being deceived by those nice little talks and the little speeches that pump them up to go out and evangelize, though indeed the Gospel is going begging.

The people in the pews strive for an outward form of holiness by the strength of their flesh and they may even strive to control their thoughts and desires by the strength of the flesh. Religion will save no one though it is being used to deceive multitudes into the pit of hell. All of the nice little religious stories and holidays are being used to deceive people into thinking that they are surely converted, but that deception leads to a great fall. We must plead for the Lord to remove the scales from our eyes and give us a true sense of the weight of eternity. We must plead with the Lord not to give us hardness of heart but to give us a true desire for Him and the true Gospel. We must plead with the Lord to show us the reality (truth) that will pierce the clouds of our deceptions. We must plead with the Lord to show us our inability to do one spiritual thing apart from His grace. Deception is a horrible thing when our religion (even true religion in the sense of the theology of it) is being used to blind and deceive us.

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