There is a spirit of deception that is rampant in our society at large, but it also easily infiltrates the lives of Christians. It is a very sly spirit, and it is very sinister. It can creep in and slowly turn your heart, alter your thinking, and change your very character while you convince others and yourself that nothing is wrong. You see those impacted by this powerful spirit not only deceive others, but they also deceive themselves.
2 Timothy 3:13 (NKJV)
13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
2 Peter 2:13-14 (NKJV)
They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children.
We see men’s susceptibility to deception in the Garden of Eden. The original sin was a sin of deception. The snake deceived Eve. The devil is still called a liar and the Father of lies. He still wants to deceive. He lies to us about what will make us happy. He lies to us about what is important. He lies to us about God’s plan for our lives. He lies to us and convinces us to doubt instead of believe.
The scripture says that we are not ignorant of the devil’s devices, and yet how many times have we lent an ear to temptation, bitterness, unbelief, and condemnation.
Paul wrote to Titus and stated that those that are foolish, disobedient, and serve lust and pleasure are deceived. However, deception does not stop at committing sin. It is not enough for the enemy to shoot fiery darts as we try to stand for what is right. Like a filthy arrow, sin leaves an unclean wound that begins to fester. It spreads like infection. The real damage usually is not the enemy deceiving us to sin, but rather the lasting damage is the way that deception begins to overtake us.
Falling for deception spawns committing deception. Sometimes the enemy’s greatest weapons are our shame, stubbornness, and pride.
Adam and Eve were feeling anger, hurt, and shame upon committing the first sin. Immediately after being deceived by the tempter, they began to act like him.
“We can’t let God see the depths of our sins. We must hide our sins. We must hide our nakedness. Maybe he won’t see through it all.”
God called, “Where are you?” I can almost see Adam, looking at Eve, “Shh, act like you aren’t here.”
Deception never cures deception, but we still respond this same way today. We tell ourselves, “Act like everything is okay. Don’t let anyone know. Smile and hide it. I’ll come to church and do my best to cover up the sin that is eating my soul. Maybe even God won’t notice.”
Why didn’t Adam and Eve see that God was merciful when He came looking for them after their failure? Why didn’t they run to him? Why hide in the shadows?
John 3:19-21 (NKJV)
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
Maybe the story would have been different if they had simply confessed, but instead God condemned them. Just as Jesus promised, condemnation comes when men try to keep their evil deeds from being exposed.
We have an amazing ability to justify our bad behavior. Even after the Lord found Adam and Eve, they still could not completely acknowledge their sins.
Adam: It was the woman that You gave me.
Eve: It was the snake.
They were hurting each other and blaming God. What caused this? What today causes peoples’ relationships with their family, friends, and God to suffer? The culprit is still the same, foolishly and selfishly hiding sins.
We’ve all experienced it. We all know what it is like to get caught. We can choose responsibility, humility, and confession, but all too often we elect to continue the charade. When we are called on something that we’ve done, we respond with arrogance and an air of self- righteousness.
“I would never do that!“
“I can’t believe you would say that or even think that about me.”
“Who are you to accuse me? Don’t judge me. You aren’t so holy yourself.”
Sometimes we play the victim, “You are supposed to be my friend. Now I know that I can’t trust you.”
Does any of this sound familiar? It is the power of deception.
"I’ve sinned. I’ve left the truth. What if someone finds out? What will they think about me? I don’t want them to know about me. I will be so embarrassed. They will think poorly of me. I can’t be exposed."
With all those I’s and me’s in our minds and hearts, is it any wonder that we act so selfishly? We can lie. We can hurt those that love us. We can hurt innocent people. We can do anything necessary to preserve ourselves and keep our evil deeds out of the light.
There are chains of darkness. Soon we are prisoners of shame. We are prisoners of our image. We are prisoners to self. We are prisoners of pride. We are prisoners to stubbornness. Our hearts are hard and our ears can’t hear truth any longer. We are chained out of the light as we try to hide our faults and failures.
Are you struggling with sin?
Proverbs 28:13 (NKJV)
13 He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
You have to come to the light to follow Christ. You have to confess your sins. You have to be willing to expose them and forsake them.
We have preached grace so strongly that people don’t confess any more. People don’t linger and pour out their hearts. They refuse to acknowledge what they have allowed themselves to become. They just come to church and continue hiding the darkness that they carry everyday. This should not be.
Shame is not always bad; the impact that it has in your is dependent on your response. There is a great ministry in God given shame. It can compel us to repent. It can compel us to change. If we allow Godly sorrow to work, it will restore life in us. Too often we mislabel conviction as condemnation.
2 Corinthians 7:10-11 (NKJV)
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Today, men want to come to Christ and never accept responsibility for who they are or what they have done. You can’t expect to be set free while desperately clinging to the chains of deception as you fervently try to hide your sins. You shouldn’t expect victory if you are sneaking around doing things that you would not want your pastor, youth pastor, parents, or friends to know about. If you are different at school than at church, if you are going places that you don’t want anyone to find out about, if you are going to web sites that you don't want anyone to find out about, if there is a church you and a secular you, don’t expect God to bless your double minded ways.
James 4:8-10 (NKJV)
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
You must draw near to God in mourning and Godly sorrow. Confess, cleanse yourself, and humble yourself before the Lord. One of the beautiful things about serving the Lord is that you are actually victorious when you surrender. He will lift you up.
Those moments when you feel God calling for you, those moments when you feel conviction, those moments when you promise God, “I will never do that again” are most likely wasted moments of God’s grace if at the same time you are trying to hide your mistakes, cover your tracks, and save your pride. Are these the actions of one that has died to self, or are they the actions of one that is still hiding in darkness while desiring the light?
1 John 1:6-9 (NKJV)
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
He is faithful to forgive us. Stop the deception. Refuse to live a lie. Get that sin out of the dark. Quit hiding your struggles. Step into the light. Confess your sins. With the help of Godly leaders, parents, brothers and sisters in the Lord, and Jesus Christ, you can be set free.
2 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV)
2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
The intention of this post isn’t just to encourage you to repent. I want to encourage you to come completely clean.
“I can’t hide things anymore. I can’t be sneaky anymore. I can’t deceive anymore. I want to manifest the truth. I want people to see who I really am.”
I once counseled a young person that had really been struggling for an extended time. This young person’s spiritual life, family life, and general demeanor were deteriorating. Finally, the truth came out. As this teenager began to confess, the relief was evident immediately. I’ll never forget these words at the conclusion, “I don’t know why I hid that for so long.”
James 5:15-16 (NKJV)
And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Great healing and forgiveness is possible when you are finally willing to acknowledge weaknesses. I want my pastor effectively praying over me. I can’t hide my struggles or who I really am from him.
God understands mistakes, but He asks us to be honest. David and Saul both committed sins against God. The difference was that David was willing to confess to God and to the man of God in his life.
Psalm 51 (NKJV)
Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight—That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
David’s prayer of repentance has had a profound influence on my understanding of God’s expectations for me. God desires truth so that He can have mercy, blot out transgressions, purge, wash, create a clean heart, renew a right spirit, and restore the joy of my salvation. It all starts with truth.
There is really no hiding. God sees you. He knows you. Most importantly, He loves you.
Hebrews 4:13-16 (NKJV)
And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
He stood in our place and sympathizes with our weaknesses. There is plenty of mercy and grace. How long will you be content to stay chained in the dark? Step out brother. Step out sister. Humbly approach His throne and find the help that you desperately need.