BEWARE OF SELF-DECEPTION!
By Rodney W. Francis
This message is one that we do not hear very much about these days. Yet it is perhaps more important than ever that we consider what the Bible has to say about it. Self-deception comes as a result of our not doing rather than that of doing something. It is linked into what we fail to do with that which we hear from God.
The key to Christianity is in our ability to hear and recognize when God is speaking to us, personally. Without that ability we will never grasp the principles by which God works in our lives. Yet, far too often, there is such a negativity taught about hearing God’s voice, and such doubts that flood in as a result, that many Christians remain ignorant to the amazing benefits of hearing from God in a personal way. In this Faith Message I want to share with you some prophetic principles that are taken from James 1:19-27 . In these verses we see how important it is to hear God’s voice. It commences by saying, “Let every man be swift to hear . . .”(v.19). Hearing from God is so vital and necessary if we are going to fulfil His will in our lives. Why is this so? The answer is quite simple, really: If we do not hear, recognize and know God’s voice when it comes to us, then we will not be able to become “doers of the word” He speaks! The doing or the fulfilling of our obedience to what He says comes only after we have heard what He has said. Verses 22-24 develop this principle:
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.”
What is the Scripture saying here? It is telling us that our responsibility before God is to “hear and do.” We cannot “do” if we do not “hear.” This is the principle of born-again, Holy Spirit-filled Christianity! We are also being warned that it is not enough just to “hear.” “Hearing” must be followed by “doing.” Doing what? Doing whatever the voice of God says! If “doing” does not follow the “hearing,” then we deceive ourselves (and we do not even need anyone else to help us)!
In Luke 6:46-49 , Jesus taught us the difference between a “doer” and a “non-doer”:
“But why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.
“But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”
What a very clear statement. The difference between success and failure is in our ability to hear and to do. Notice that both the doer and the non-doer (of the word of Jesus) were active in building a house. But it was only the one that built his house according to that which he heard from Jesus who was able to see his work withstand the storms of life! That is why this message is so important ~ we must hear and do (act upon) that which we hear! Only Jesus knows the way ahead for us, and if we choose to ignore what He says to us (through our unwillingness to obey) then we are setting ourselves up for failure and disaster ahead.For the follower of Jesus there is no other “final authority” than what He says. If we are unable to commit to what He says, then we are demonstrating that we are still trusting our own thinking and ability, rather than trusting ourselves in love to Him and His Word to us. And that is self-deception.
In these verses, Jesus makes it clear that “storms” will and do come beating against every one of us at some time or another. There is no escaping that. How we weather the storms is all dependent upon our ability to “hear and obey Jesus!”
If we read through John 14:15-31 , we see that Jesus taught that the proof of our love for Him is our obedience to what He says. We cannot ignore what He says and expect to keep walking in His blessings. That is deception . . . self-deception!
It is quite tragic that in much of Christianity today we have been taught to be “so careful and cautious” that we have become passive in our believing and faith ~ we just sit and absorb rather than “hear and do.” This has caused us to miss out on so much of the supernatural of God, because we do not have confidence to believe that we can hear from God for ourselves. We cannot ignore the importance of “hearing and doing,” for if we do, then we finish up in self-deception.
We hear very little about the perils of self-deception today. The tragedy of self-deception is that we do not know when we are self-deceived! (It would not be deception if we knew). Self-deception, if not dealt with through personal obedience to God, will continue to deceive us and take us on a downward spiral of decay. The word “deceiving” (as recorded in James 1:22 ) means: “to reckon wrong, misreckon, miscount; hence, to draw false conclusions; then to cheat or deceive by false reasoning, hence, to deceive” (Bullinger’s). When we are drawing (or coming to) false conclusions, we are cheating ourselves of the knowledge and the power of truth. That then causes us to live in a state of deception . . . self-deception.
I remember a good friend made this statement: “All deception finishes up in immorality” (if not physical adultery, then it will be spiritual adultery). Why is this? Deception ~ whether it be self-deception or otherwise ~ always takes us away from the truth of the Holy Spirit revelation. Without that Holy Spirit revelation working in our lives we will fall to the level of the dictating of the flesh-life. Therefore, it is imperative that we follow the clear instructions of the Lord by developing the “art of listening” to Him. It is only through our ability to hear and discern the voice of God that obedience can be activated. If we listen, we will hear what He has to say. And when we hear what He has to say, we then need to follow through on what He says to us with a physical action. That physical act of obedience to the voice of God demonstrates that we believe the voice of God more than our own doubts, fears, and what others might say about us, if we do something out of the ordinary.
WHY IS “DOING” OR OBEDIENCE SO IMPORTANT?
Why is “doing” so important? It is our practical obedience to what Jesus says to us that releases His hand to fulfil whatever He has said to us! It is when we act upon, or do what Jesus says, that enables us to capture what He has said in such a way that we get the benefits of what He says to us. If we do not obey what He says, we soon forget what He has said. We lose the benefits of the voice of God to us personally. If we are only passive hearers, then we are like the person who looks in the mirror, turns away, and then forgets what has been said to him. That precious moment in God (when He speaks to us) is lost because we fail to capture it, and then translate it into an act of obedience!
When God speaks, it always pays to capture what He says by recording or writing it down as soon as possible. We cannot rely on our memory to retain what has been said unless we capture it in such a way that we can revert back to it, and then obey it accordingly. A disobedient Christian is a fruitless (useless) Christian when it comes to pleasing and obeying God. If we do not obey, we will never enjoy the fruit of what God said to us in the first place!
“But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (v.25).
If we do not continue in that which God speaks to us, we quickly become forgetful. A forgetful Christian becomes a disobedient Christian. And a disobedient Christian becomes self-deceived. He/she enters into self-deception ~ without anyone else to help him or her get there!
A prophetic person is always seeking to hear the voice of God, and out of a heart of love for Jesus, to seek to obey whatever He says. That is how the nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit function ~ as a result of our listening to the Holy Spirit, and then releasing and obeying what He tells us. If we receive a word from the Holy Spirit, and do not deliver it, then we are causing “a break down” in the purpose of God for you and the other person(s) you were meant to speak and/or minister to. I have learned this: the sooner I can obey God after I have heard from Him, the sooner I am released to see it come to pass. Often my obedience to God opens a new avenue of service that I could not dream up on my own. There are often what I call “follow-up consequences” that come into play when I obey. That can mean the start of a chain of events that sees (in some cases) thousands more people blessed because I took the time to be diligent to capture what God had said.
Another thing I am learning is seeking to obey as quickly as possible: God does not ever ask us to do anything we cannot do. He says what He means and He means what He says. And when He says for us to do something, then He knows we can do it. If we make excuses and say we cannot do it, then we are arguing with God Himself. When we are committed to hearing and obeying the voice of God, there is no room for any excuses ~ at all. Excuses are a means of telling God there is something wrong with our love relationship with Him! Making excuses means that we are more self-conscious than we are God-conscious or people-conscious. Excuses will take us into self-deception. When God speaks ~ and we obey ~ there is always someone waiting on the other side of our obedience! There is always a blessing in obeying God!
If we do not quickly obey the voice of God, we will quickly forget what He has said – especially if it means doing something different to the norm. If we do not capture what God is saying to us, then even “praying about it” will cause us to finish up “forgetting” what He has said. The end result is self-deception.
When God speaks, faith is released in us to do what He has asked of us. Faith is a prophetic word that “comes by hearing and hearing by the word (“rhema” ~ “the now, present tense word”) of God” (Romans 10:17 ). Faith is an action; the releasing or doing of that which God speaks to us. So many opportunities in life are missed and wasted because we fail to act upon that which God has spoken. Let us not be deceived any longer. Be committed to act upon that which God speaks, and you will see good fruit come out of it ~ every time!