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People can delude themselves into believing whatever they want.
For example, before I became a Christian (when I was 21), I was out driving my truck when I needed to turn around and go back to where I left. When I did so, I backed into a street sign and scraped up and dented my truck. Of course, I thought I would get in trouble for this, so I invented a story saying that someone hit my truck in the Wall-Mart parking lot. I had repeated this story that I knew was false so many times over the following months that it got to the point that I actually believed that it happened. Whenever I would talk about, it would become second nature, like this is really what happened. The cliché is right that says that if you repeat a lie enough times, you are going to believe it. You can deceive yourself into believing what is false.
Self-deception is a common thing that happens in some way to all of us, especially when it comes to trying to justify or rationalize something that we want to do that may be contrary to the will of God. This is even more true when it comes to those who claim that they do not believe in God. I have been spending a lot of time recently studying atheism lately and ways to refute atheists. As I have studied things that they believe, and as I have been learning things in school about what "science" teaches about the origins of the world and of life, I have seen one thing really clear, "Some people will put in a ton of effort to reject God, and when you do this, you are willing to believe almost anything so you can suppress the truth that God so clearly shows all of us about His existence in His creation and in His word.
This is so clearly seen in .
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever … 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them (, ).
God says in this text through the Apostle Paul that sin is very deceptive. Those who love it and do not want to give it up will do all that they can do continue it. They learn to worship and serve themselves. They suppress the truth in their unrighteousness (21, 32) and reject the God that they know exists (21). The end of such a path is vanity. When people reject God, they walk in darkness and in the futility of their foolish minds (21). When people profess to not believe in God, what I have seen when you press the issue a little bit is that their rejection of God is not an intellectual one, but a moral one.
Why does call the one who says that there is no God a fool? The reason seems clear to me. It is because they are suppressing what God has made so clear. They are suppressing all of the treasures of wisdom and truth that are found in Christ to live in futility. But Paul makes it clear, they are without excuse for denying our God who has made Himself and His power so clear.
This is what our sin will lead to if we don't take care of it. Sin can have a hardening effect on our lives.
We Are NOT Exempt!!!
We ourselves do not realize at times just how terrible sin is and what it can do to our hearts. Just little by little, sin can drift us away from God. It will harden our hearts. it can be like yeast that leavens the whole lump of dough.
Let's take Israel for example. They had seen so many amazing miracles in Egypt. The plagues, the parting of the red sea. They received deliverance from bondage. They time and time again were taken care of in the wilderness. But in spite of all of these things, their desires for the good thins the had in Egypt led them into rebellion. Their attitudes led them to deceive themselves into beleiving they had it good in Egypt; that they would have been better off staying in slavery than having to be taken care of by God inthe wilderness. They had even deluded themselves into worshipping a golden calf as the god who had delivered them from Egypt. They did not trust God in spite of the gracce the received daily. Their hearts were hardened and deceived. The Hebrews writer, after discussing the rebellion of the Israelites in the wilderness, encouraged our brethren not to fall into this same trap:
"Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
We need to understand that just because we claim to be believers does not mean we are exempt from the danger of self-deception. Sin can do the SAME thing to us!!! Sin can lead to a downhill slide in us, even to the point where we love our sin so much that we will not only do whatever we can do in our minds to justify it, we may even be willing to suppress the truth of God's existence. Sin is this corrupting. it is destructive to the mind that becomes enslaved to it.
James makes this same kind of point in :
"But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does."
We can delude ourselves into believing we are just fine with the Lord when we really are not! Just the fact that we are coming here and acting like Christians when we are here does not in any way fool God if we are not listening to His word outside of these walls. We may deceive others. We may even deceive ourselves. BUT WE WILL NOT DECEIVE THE ONE AND ONLY GOD OF HEAVEN! Those who suppress the truth to accept lies and to live in sin need to remember this one fact: If they continue on this path, there may come a point of no return where even God gives you up to do what you want. He will "give you over" to your desires and sins (, ), and He will send upon us a strong delusion so that we would believe the lies that we are holding to so we can be rightly judged for our lack of love for Him and His truth ().
Guarding Ourselves
So how do we guard ourselves against self-deception? Here are a few pointers:
• Believe what God says;
• Remember that we serve the certain God, not a God that “probably” exists;
• Love the truth;
• Approach God’s word each time with a desire to know what He says no matter what you may believe about that topic
• Delight in obeying God for His glory;
• Remember that there is NO EXCUSE for rejecting God or anything that He teaches us in His word;
• Submit our minds to Christ. Bring every thought in subjection to His Lordship ();
• Don’t let what is called “knowledge” in this world lead you to doubt the God of knowledge and wisdom;
• Repent of the masks that you are wearing. Be transparent and genuine.
• Remember that just because we can “justify” or “rationalize” something in our own minds does NOT mean that God approves of our justification.
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