How Deceit Destroys
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When reading a familiar passage in Matthew 13, one might stop and reflect on what the Lord said in verse 22: that the deceitfulness of wealth chokes out God’s Word. Is wealth deceitful (misleading), or is it just a simple tool used in deception? Obviously, the answer is that material possessions are not problems themselves; they are the reflection of problems. Deceit is an external, visible expression of inner spiritual flaws.
No one is immune to the temptation to deceive, particularly when money is concerned. Larry Burkett recalled clearly that when he was an unsaved businessman the temptation to deceive was a constantly nagging problem. Quite often it was not a desire to lie but, rather, just simply to omit a few pertinent facts about a product to a potential buyer. After all, he would tell himself, "What they don’t know won’t hurt them." Sometimes that old cliché is right and sometimes it’s wrong, but invariably he found the one that it did hurt was himself. He felt guilt and a loss of honor each time. When he became a Christian, he naturally assumed such weaknesses would never tempt him again, especially as he became more familiar with God’s Word. He soon realized that the one way to fail is to deceive yourself into believing you’re too strong to fail.
- Deception destroys trust
"The perverse in heart are an abomination to the Lord, but the blameless in their walk are His delight" ( ). The Christian walk is a way of life. The purpose of God’s Word is to give us guidelines for making decisions in spite of our normal reactions. God wants us to be able to trust Him, regardless of the circumstances around us.
- Deception leads to hypocrisy
"A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise" ( ). There is nothing more personally devastating to a believer than looking spiritual and living in defeat. The immediate consequence is the loss of esteem in the eyes of family and close friends. Children are rarely attracted to a weak, watered down version of Christianity that says one thing and does another. If they see Mom and Dad put on their "church" faces on Sunday, they will believe that’s what Christianity is all about.
- Deception leads to a critical spirit
"Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you" ( ). When believers are living lifestyles that are contrary to God’s way, the step from hypocrisy to a critical spirit is a short one. It is the desire to cut others down to their level that brings about the critical or judgmental attitudes. Every small flaw in others will be amplified and expounded on in an effort to justify the flaws in their own attitudes.
- Be accountable
"Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed" ( ). We need to be accountable to others, so that when we stray off the path someone will correct us. The best accountability comes from the home, especially between husband and wife. If they have an open and honest relationship, one will detect the other’s deceptions quickly. Correcting must be done gently and in love or the result will be bitterness. Always remember that the purpose is to restore a loved one to the right relationship with God, not to accuse.
- Quick confession
"He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion" ( ). Whenever you detect a deception in your own life, large or small, stop what you’re doing and confess it immediately. This means not only to God but to the others who are involved as well.
"Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering" ( ). This literally means that if you must suffer a financial loss to correct an earlier deception, do what is necessary. The most important relationship is between you and God.
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