Deception 10

Nothing is more common, and certainly nothing more fatal than self-deception. The number who are ruined by false views of religion is doubtless great even when compared with those who perish in avowed infidelity of careless indifference…Many are deceived by mistaking the mere dictates of the understanding for the gracious affections of the heart. This class of persons may be distinguished by the correctness of their sentiments and their opposition to error. Early instructed in the principles of christianity, their minds have become stored with evangelical truth, and they will, perhaps, even “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. The doctrines of entire depravity, of a vicarious atonement, of justification by faith, of regeneration by the Holy Spirit, and of an eternal state of retribution, have their unqualified assent, and constitute most essential articles in their creed. It may be that their speculative acquaintance with these doctrines is superior to that of many humble believers, and instances are not wanting in which unsanctified men have written in defence of doctrines with great ability and effect. (Self-Deception by Jacob Helffenstein)

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 would stand to reason that if nothing was more common and nothing more fatal than self-deception, then people would be very, very concerned if not approaching panic as they searched their own hearts. We know that if people contracted a disease that would kill their bodies (natural life) and it was common and fatal, then these people would go to extreme lengths not to contract that disease. However, if people had any spiritual concerns you would think that the knowledge that so many people were self-deceived regarding eternal things it would awaken even greater alarm. The truth of the matter, however, is that people are dead or fast asleep regarding spiritual things and so this great calamity does not even seem to disturb them.

We must pray and seek the Lord to open our eyes to the facts of the matter. Jesus was very clear in Matthew 7 that many had entered the wide gate and are on the broad road to destruction, but only few had entered through the narrow gate and were on the narrow road that led to life. This should drive us to the conclusion that perhaps even the vast majority of those who attend religious services and think that they are on the road to heaven are in fact on the road to everlasting destruction. This means that perhaps many of our own families and friends and those we attend “church” with are self-deceived. Even more, it may mean that “I” am self-deceived. Our hearts that are so sure about “me” and those around “me” need to realize that the vast majority on that broad road may indeed have the same self-confidence.

The biblical teaching on the depravity of man has much to teach us on this point. Because men are fallen and depraved, they are blinded to spiritual things and don’t see themselves as sinners or at least as very bad ones. They think of themselves as those who make mistakes or make choices that are not the best, but they don’t see themselves as vile, wretched, and obnoxious in the sight of God. They are blinded by pride and self and cannot see their evil nature. They are puffed up with pride which serves as blinders on the eyes to sin and anything which might humble a person.

As the body has reflexes that allow the body to escape harm in certain situations, so the soul is full of self which blinds it from perceived harm. The self simply cannot imagine that it deserves hell and that it deserves hell. The religious person uses religion to convince it that it is okay. The religious person will trust in its creeds and in its religion and morality to convince itself that it is okay. Even those who are orthodox in their external religion have false views of Christianity that blinds them to the reality of Christ. It is not the orthodox teaching of Christ that saves. It is not the orthodox teaching about the Gospel that saves. It is not the faith of the sinner that saves. It is God in Christ by the Spirit who saves. It is God who must really and actually shine Himself and His glory into the hearts of sinners and sinners will only behold that in the face (presence) of Christ. It is not the teaching about regeneration that gives a new heart; it is the Holy Spirit who must actually give a new heart. We must seek the Lord to open our eyes and hearts in fact and reality and not just hear about it.

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