Church of God, New World Ministries

Can You Deceive Yourself?

The Apostle James tells, “Be doers of the word, and not hears only, deceiving your own self” (James 1:22).

How many times have we used this verse to prove to someone that God’s law should be obeyed? But let’s take this verse and apply it to ourselves, individual members of the Body of Christ.

Remember, this verse came direct from God through His Apostle James.

We have all heard the phrase, actions speak louder than words – because it really doesn’t matter how much knowledge we have concerning God’s plan of salvation, if we don’t act according to that knowledge we have.

We (members of God’s True Church) know that the world is going to end in catastrophe as revealed in our Bibles and doing nothing to insure our safety from this destruction is very dangerous.

God has revealed to us concerning this end-time turmoil and His coming Kingdom as a warning.

Believe it or not, this knowledge – these things that are coming-- is a passport to safety and freedom. The knowledge we have is the incentive to shock us into recognition of reality and an understanding that we personally must change our lives and our daily living.

Yet many times we kid ourselves, we accept the outstanding changes that God requires of us, such as Sabbath keeping, clean and unclean meats, Holy Days, tithing, etc.  But how many of us go beyond that surface to change completely to renew ourselves by the very way we think.

Self-deception is a subtle and bitter enemy!

In other words, we think we are doing well, because of the knowledge we have, this is a dangerous prelude to Laodicean thought and non-action.

Knowing the schedule of prophetic events, we may sometimes enjoy smugly talking to our friends and warning them of what is going to happen in Europe and the downfall of the United States of America.

We are like a man standing in the middle of a railroad track telling the people that they need to get off the tracks. An express train is coming. Some people listen to him, most don’t.

He then says: Just wait, you’ll see who was right when the train does come through!

Then the train comes with sudden fury, 100 miles per hour; this man is frozen in his tracks, despite the fact he knew the train was coming and he tries desperately to get out of the way but it is too late. His actions were too little and too late, he dies under the relentless onslaught of the train, though he knew the schedule.

This man had knowledge the train was coming, he believed in this knowledge, he was convinced of it. He tried to tell others, to warn them to get off the tracks, but he himself refused to budge.

Back in the days of the old Worldwide Church of God a minister reported about his congregation:

“Some of the members are beginning to exhibit a comfortable we’ve found our niche attitude. Good habits of prayer, Bible study, and church attendance, coupled together with faithful tithing – things that have been established. Yet, the expected change in their lives is not evident. They appear to feel that once they have fulfilled the letter requirements, they can then proceed to worldly pursuits such as acquisition of material goods, obtaining social status, and catering to the physical senses. They need to be jolted into realizing the letter requirements are only the basis for desirable growth in the fruits of the Spirit.”

As members of the Body of Christ, we know that this world is deceived by Satan the Devil.

Millions today are following the different ideologies in this world, but consider themselves to be the ones who are living correctly.

Those of us who have been called out of this world by God’s Holy Spirit have had this deception removed from our eyes. We can’t be deceived into thinking that any other way but Gods’ way is the right way to live.

But that is just the first step. If we allow the pulls of human nature to deceive even us – if we just bear the good news of God’s Kingdom, even if we understand and believe that we should live our lives by God’s standards and yet do not change. We will end up in the same destruction prophesied for the deceived world.

God warns us “Wherefore let him that thinks he stand take heed lest he fall” (I Cor. 10:12).
The person who is going to enter God’s Kingdom is the one who implores God for power to overcome, the one who is shocked by his or her on weaknesses and by crying out to God to help him or her to battle his or her own carnality, this deceived world and Satan.

Notice what this carnal man by the name of Andrew Jukes wrote in his book “The Law of the Offerings.” He was studying the offerings in the Old Testament – this is what he wrote:

“How much less perception is there of sin that trespass; he (the individual) had done this evil, or that evil, or the other; he has scarcely learned as yet that in himself he is evil. Since we are just that way, of ourselves, we desperately need God’s Holy Spirit actively working in us continually every minute of every day, and we will never be able to say it is done, until we stand born as God’s very own divine spirit beings.”

Our human minds tend to lull us into the false security that we are all right, that we are not too bad. What this does is it puts us in a lackadaisical obedience, an attitude that grieves God and the Holy Spirit.

Let’s take a trip back in time during the time Christ walked on this earth as a man. When Christ hung on the stake in agony after long hours of physical tortures and mental anguish. Can you see yourself taking a spear and violently thrusting it into the side of our Saviour?

Women could you picture yourself as a harlot, a prostitute, selling your body to make a living? Of course, you would say, I would never do anything like that!

Do we really understand the enormity, the horror of our personal responsibility in the death of our Saviour Jesus Christ? Do we understand the extent of the filth and the mire in which we all sunk?

That God Almighty redeemed us from it, washed us of our sins and accepted us before His throne as His children through the blood of Jesus Christ?

Turn to Acts 2:36 and notice what the Apostle Peter said: “Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom you have crucified both Lord and Christ.”

Peter, here was talking to more than 3,000 men, many of them devoutly religious, coming to Jerusalem to keep one of God’s Holy Days. How many of them was Peter speaking to who had personally said “crucify Him, crucify Him?

Not all of these men were personally responsible for his death, none of them personally took a spear and ended Christ’s life. None of them helped nail Him to the stake. None of them whipped Him within an inch of His life. Yet Peter said to them: “whom you have crucified.”

Would not that same message apply to us today, nearly 2,000 years later? Because we didn’t personally crucify Christ it doesn’t excuse us from our responsibility for His death.

We have been just as much a part of His death as was Pilate, the Sanhedrin or the Jewish mob or the Roman soldiers who thrust Him through with a spear!

We must come to understand this: by the action of placing our sins on Christ, of accepting Him as our personal sacrifice, we put him to death.

Sin is the transgression of the law (I John 3:4) and the penalty for sin is death. That same law that says “thou shalt do no murder” – also says” remember the Sabbath to keep it holy”.

That same law that says – “thou shalt not commit adultery” – also says” honor thy father and mother”. One sin requires the same penalty as another.

Because we are human, we tend to look upon Sabbath-breaking as far less an accusation against our character before God than murder.

How about spiritual pride as a means of self-deception? “Do not be overly righteous nor be overly wise, why should you destroy yourself” (Ecc. 7:16)?

The Pharisees must have missed this verse. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day had added 65 dos and don’ts to the keeping of the Sabbath. These people thought they were so spiritually wise, they had reduced the spirit of keeping the Sabbath only into carnally understood and physically defined laws of their own.

This is why they got all stirred up when Jesus went through a wheat field and picked a few ears of wheat. Now, you could take one ear, but not two, that was reaping and therefore work which was banned on the Sabbath.

It was because of this show of righteousness of theirs, they really got bent out of shape when they saw Christ eating and talking to Publicans. How in the world could a holy man associate himself with sinners?

Of course, Jesus had an answer for them: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).  That is, those who recognize that they are indeed sinners.

Our natural minds that we are born with causes us to have self-righteous tendencies even in God’s Church today.

We tend to equate the righteousness which comes by God’s Holy Spirit to righteousness that we can understand physically. In other words, we begin to reason with our carnal mind and leave God out of the picture.

Our carnal minds lead us to think about the minister and his speech rather than the minister and his message.

One thing that the carnal mind will say: “I’m just misunderstood, or you just don’t understand.”

The one thing God will never be satisfied with is the excuse – “You just don’t understand.’

The Apostle James tells in James 1:22-26 what God considers pure religion, but the last part of verse 27 God says to the Body of Christ: “we must keep ourselves unspotted from the world.”

This is a battle of overcoming in this total war of becoming perfect (Matt. 5:48).

Just about everything in this world, its society, its’ ways of thinking, and pulls it has on us, is to distract us from our goal, to keep us from becoming the born sons and daughters of God.

We need to recognize this enemy in order to be able to fight it with God’s power in a way that will make us more than conquerors.

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