Jump Start # 2430
1 Corinthians 3:18 “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise.”
Our verse today is set in the larger context of what the world considers to be wise and what God considers to be wise. The two are not the same. In fact, the world thinks believing in a resurrected Savior is foolish. The world has no patience, nor any room, for faith, righteousness and goodness. It’s all about self and it’s all about now. To be wise, in God’s way of seeing things, then one must embrace and follow the steps of the Savior. I think of a young man who devotes his life to preaching. What a waste the world thinks. He could make more money in business than he ever will in preaching. He could skyrocket to the top, have a nice home, fancy cars, wear designer clothes and be the envy of his peers. He could, but he won’t. That’s all selfish, vain and of little good. He’d rather preach the pure message of Christ. He’d rather strengthen brethren and save souls. Outside of the fellowship of believers, he won’t be known. His clothes, his cars, his home will reflect the humble heart that he manifests. And, when this ole’ world is over, he will be rewarded by God for being “wise” in Heaven’s perspective.
That’s the message of our verse. It begins with the expression, “Let no man deceive himself.” Deception isn’t nice. It means to trick, fool, or be dishonest with someone. More bluntly, it means to lie. It is to make promises that one cannot deliver on. It means to hide the reality and the consequences of choices. It is hurtful, wrong and dangerous. Our eyes must be wide open. We must be watchful and on alert. Eve was deceived by the serpent. He didn’t just hand her the forbidden fruit. He played with her mind. He got things jumbled up in her thinking. He lied to her. She was deceived.
The point that stands out in the expression from our verse today is “self” deception. Here’s a person who has deceived himself. It wasn’t a serpent. It wasn’t a false teacher. It wasn’t a corrupt friend. He did it to himself. He talked himself into things that are not true. He lied to himself and he believed those lies. He paints a picture that is better than what things really are.
In marriage: here is a person that wants to believe that his marriage is solid, strong and fine. Yet, the communication between husband and wife is shallow and infrequent. The addiction to porn supplements the lack of intimacy. Every night, they sit in chairs staring at the TV in silence. Both are hurting and lonely on the inside but nothing changes. They live and even believe the lie that they are presenting to others. Everything is great, but it’s not.
In congregations: here is a church, much like we read about in the book of Revelation, that believes it is strong, solid and doing well. In Revelation, the curtain of deception was pulled back to reveal that the church was dead. But the folks don’t believe it. Nothing ever changes. Week after week, it’s the same. Lifeless sermons. Empty prayers. Shallow conversations. Little direction. No shepherding. No plans. People shuffle in and after an hour, they shuffle out. Unchanged. Unmoved. Indifferent. Playing church and telling themselves that all is fine.
In our hearts: here is someone who has deceived himself. He doesn’t see himself as a former sinner who is daily in the need of Jesus Christ. Faith doesn’t really drive his decisions. His world is filled with the here and now. His conversations are totally secular. Ballgames. Eating. Politics. Money. Those topics dominate his thinking, his conversations and his world. Outside the church building, you won’t find this person talking about Jesus. It doesn’t cross his mind. Once in a while, he’ll open his Bible, but usually because of guilt not desire. He doesn’t guide his family spiritually, because he doesn’t think spiritually. He is convinced that all is good, because he goes to church on Sunday mornings. But his life is missing so much. He only has one toe in the kingdom.
All three examples illustrate how a person can deceive himself. He believes his own lies. He fails to see things as they really are. And, the worst part of self deception is that such a person will never see the need to get help, improve or change. Why should he? All is fine. Just ask him. But the components of faith are missing. There is no evidence to support his deception. It’s all fog and smoke. Truth isn’t on his side.
There is a real danger of deceiving ourselves. How do we keep it from happening?
First, look in the Scriptures. Read. Develop humility. Pride stands with deception and pride keeps one from being honest and from changing. Read aloud passages. Listen carefully to what you hear.
Second, drop the excuses. Excuses are nothing more than deception in a pretty box. We justify ourselves by excuses. I’m too busy now. This isn’t a good time. I’ll get to that later. Those excuses keep us right where we are and they keep us from being honest and from growing. Reading Scriptures and then examining ourselves ought to begin an honest journey back to God.
Third, stop being satisfied spiritually. Stop thinking Sunday morning is enough. It’s not. It’s not intended to be the totality of our spiritual journey. Sunday worship is not a vitamin that provides 100% of my daily spiritual needs. It’s not meant for that. It has a place. It has a purpose. But my faith and my Lord need more than just Sunday morning. Like that deer that pants for the water, or, like that hungering and thirsting for righteousness, long for more. You do that when you put your mind to it. Think about things spiritually. Be curious. Ask questions. Dig deeper. Lower the nets. Have a passion for God. What more could you be doing?
Those things will help you overcome the lies that we tell ourselves. They will help you to be honest, true and pure before the Lord.