Do Not Be Deceived

Do not be deceived.By R.E. Olsen

“And so the first demand which is made of those who belong to God’s Church is not that they should be something in themselves; not that they should, for example, set up some religious organization or that they should lead lives of piety, but that they shall be witnesses to Jesus Christ before the world…. If this testimony ceases to be given, that is a sign of the inner corruption of the congregation, just as the absence of fruit is the sign of the decay of the tree.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics

Do you attend church on Sunday, participate in Bible study on Wednesday, and volunteer in the nursery every other week? How often do you go out and witness to strangers? What’s that, hardly ever? Why not?

Some churches today are more like religious “clubs,” keeping the congregation busy with lots of activities and special events for their members – with very little effort spent on reaching out to non-believers. However, it’s supposed to be the other way around. The church’s testimony before the world should be the main focus, with the leadership equipping believers for truly fulfilling The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

Do not be deceived.

God commands his people to go out and teach everyone about the gospel. “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). “Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people” (Psalm 96:3). It’s not just a job for overseas missionaries. We are to be Christ’s witnesses in our churches, communities, cities, states, countries, and anywhere else God sends us.

We are to make disciples while we are going throughout the world and while we are going about our daily activities. If you’re a Christian and you’re not doing that, then you’re not obeying God. Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22). Be a real Christian, not a pious imitation.

It’s easy to become wrapped up in a multitude of minor attractions that divert your attention away from the main message. Satan loves it when we get so caught up in this life that we pay no heed to eternal realities. “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13).

Do not be deceived.

Think of all the things that deceive the human eye. Here are just a few examples:

  • The mirage of what looks like “water” on the road on a hot day.
  • The sun rising and setting, when it’s really the earth that turns, giving our senses the impression that the sun is moving.
  • The illusion that the sky is blue, when it actually has no color.

These kinds of sensory perceptions don’t really matter, because they don’t have any serious repercussions. However, people can be deceptive too, and that’s a more serious matter, “because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). “For these false apostles are deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).

Do not be deceived.

Did you know that there are some deceptions that millions of people fall for every day? They are the work of the master illusionist, Satan, who is called “the father of lies” (John 8:44). He has been tricking people into disobeying God since the beginning of time, and he is an experienced deceiver. Have you fallen for any of Satan’s illusions?

  • Illusion #1: This life is all that matters.
    • The Bible says, “But what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
  • Illusion #2: If it feels good, do it.
    • The Bible says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8).
  • Illusion #3: There is no Hell.
    • The Bible says, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell” (Matthew 10:28).
  • Illusion #4: You can earn your way into Heaven.
    • The Bible says, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses [good works] are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
  • Illusion #5: You’re not that bad.
    • The Bible says, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

All of the above illusions are serious deceptions, and they culminate in the mistake that people make when they think that they – or anyone, for that matter – can get into Heaven on the basis of their own goodness or by their good works.

Do you believe that? If you’re mistaken, wouldn’t you want to be told, or would you prefer to remain ignorant when it comes to such an incredibly important matter?

Do not be deceived.

The truth is, no matter how good you think you are, no one can live up to God’s standard of righteousness. Do you think you are a good person? Go through this short checklist to see if you are good enough to get into Heaven:

  • Have you ever told a lie?
    • The Bible warns that the fate of all liars is “the lake of fire.”
  • Did you ever take anything that didn’t belong to you regardless of its value?
    • That’s stealing and it makes you a thief.
  • Do you ever use God’s name as a cuss word or take His name in vain?
    • Like saying “OMG!”
  • Have you ever hated someone?
    • Jesus said that’s the same as murder in your heart.

If you have done these things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, murderer at heart. Will you be innocent or guilty on Judgment Day?

Do not be deceived.

God gave us ten rules to live by: The Ten Commandments. If you break even just one of His commandments (we’ve only looked at four of them; see Exodus 20), then you are guilty of sinning against a great and mighty God.

The Bible warns that if you are guilty on that day you will justly end up in Hell. “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is always good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Yet God made a way for humanity to be forgiven. He sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross for guilty sinners. The Bible says, “God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

We broke God’s Law, but Jesus paid our fine. This means that God, a righteous judge, can legally dismiss our case. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Jesus rose from the dead and defeated death. He can also commute our death sentence and let us live. But we can only get to Heaven as a free gift of God’s grace. ”For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Do not be deceived.

Watch out for false prophets. Don’t fall for Satan’s illusions. Turn to God and put your faith in the One you can trust—Jesus Christ! Please repent (turn from sin) today and trust alone in Jesus. You will never regret it. Then read your Bible daily and obey it (see John 14:21).

P.S. Take heed: the phrase “do not be deceived,” or something like it, occurs several dozen times in the Bible – which means it’s pretty important.

About the Author: A homeschool dad of three young men, R.E. Olsen takes his role of spiritual head of the household seriously. He also seeks to impart God’s truth to anyone who will listen.

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