This morning, we’re going to continue our message series entitled ‘Break Free!’. In it, we’re learning how to break free from various prisons that keep us from sharing the good news of Christ’s salvation with others.
18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail (for teaching others about Jesus). 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”
Just as God set the apostles free here in Acts so that they could tell people all about the new life that Jesus offers, He desires to set us free from these various prisons so that we are able to tell others this good news!
A few weeks ago, we learned how to break free from rejection by valuing the acceptance of God above all else. Last week, we learned how to break free from unThankfulness by choosing to give thanks in all circumstances. This week, we’re learning how to break free from deceit.
We’ll begin by understanding a little bit about deceit; what it is and what it is like. After all, we don’t want to be deceived when it comes to deceit. We may soon find out that many of us, however, are exactly that.
Deceit is not a lie.
Deceit is not contradictory to truth.
Deceit does not deny truth.
Deceit speaks truth word for word.
Deceit is logical.
Deceit is reasonable.
Deceit bears witness with our flesh and desires.
Deceit is self-serving.
Deceit amplifies benefits while cloaking its cost.
Each of us are easily deceived.
If we disagree with this statement, we’ve already been deceived.
Those who are deceived are also already deceiving others.
Deceit defined is either concealing or misrepresenting the truth.
From the beginning to the end of what scripture records about our enemy; Satan, the devil, the ancient serpent, the many names that he is known by, is that he is a deceiver. Deceit is the choice tool of our enemy and one that he has gained great mastery of. At one point in time, scripture reveals that he will even be worshiped as God and gain power over all nations and unite them to wage war against Jesus, Himself, all through simple deceit.
From the fake hand off in a Sunday afternoon football game to the camouflaged animals in the nearby woods to the conversation you just had this morning, deceit surrounds us daily in many forms. Some deceit is malicious such as identity theft or counterfeiting currency, some of it is accidental such as misquoting someone from a poor memory or keeping a surprise birthday party a secret, and some of it is innocent such as an electric fireplace or plastic Christmas tree.
The prison of deceit which we’re focusing on this morning is the malicious deceit from the enemy which keeps us from all that God has planned for us. The deceit which causes us to fall into sin, the deceit which hardens our heart toward others, the deceit which divides the body of Christ, the deceit which puffs us up in pride, or the many other results of deceit which all keep us from sharing the good news of Christ’s salvation with others.
This deceit of the enemy is also a root of many of the poor decisions that we make and often how we mistakingly walk off of the path and away from the purposes that God had planned for us all while believing that we’ve never departed from them. We can live our entire lives believing that we’ve accomplished all that we were created to do and find that we’ve been deceived and missed it being lead astray from God’s plans and purposes one ‘good’ work at a time. We can even live our lives in a state of blatant and obvious sin all while having reasonable justification provided abundantly by deceit.
So, if we are so easily deceived, so unaware when we’ve been deceived, the enemy is so good at deceiving us, and the results can be so tragic, what is the solution? Is there any hope for us at all?
Praise be to Jesus, there certainly is!
The best way to be able to detect deceit is to know the real thing. The best example of this in our natural world is counterfeit currency detection. Although the secret service are familiar with the many creative methods in which thieves counterfeit currency, their primary task in detecting a deceitful note is to be intimately familiar with a real note. They know the properties of a real note so well that they are able to quickly detect any discrepancies or changes no matter how insignificant they may be to the average person.
For us, it is critically important that we know God intimately and personally. To know who He is, what He is like, what His plans and purposes are, and to maintain strong, healthy, and constant communion with Him.
In this way, when the enemy comes along and tries to imprison us in his deceit, we’ll be able to pick up on it right away. We’ll know regardless of the form that the deceit may take, that it is contradictory to God’s word, His character, or His plans and purposes. Although the deceit may very much so look like something from God, we’ll be able to quickly pick up on the discrepancy and handle it from there.
So, how do we get to know God this well?
1. Know His Word
God reveals Himself and His plans and purposes through His word. It keeps us on the path that God has planned for us.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
God’s word teaches us truth, knowledge, and wisdom. Through it, God reveals who He is, His plans for us, how to live this life that He has given us, and how He interacts with us.
It is critically important for us to read and study God’s word daily. This is the primary way for us to know God and detect deceit. It is the primary way for us to stay on God’s path for our lives and to keep ourselves free from the many traps of deceit that the enemy sets out for us.
When detecting deceit, it is also important to consider not only the immediate decision at hand, but also the long-term impact and results from this decision. Both the immediate decision and the fruits produced from that decision need to be in alignment and agreement with the word of God. If either of them stray from it, then we know that this is not the will of God and is a deceitful snare of the enemy.
2. Live Out His Word
21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
So here we see that the word of God is like a mirror that we can look into. The word of God will reveal the chains of the deceit of the enemy so that we can break free from them and walk in the freedom of the Lord! However, when God’s word reveals these chains, we must be very careful not to be deceived by leaving that mirror and continuing to live with those chains.
If we read and study the word of God and it remains lodged in our minds and never flows down into our hearts and out through our actions, then we have already been deceived. If we read the word of God and we are not driven by compassion to reach out to others with the good news of Christ’s salvation, then we have been deceived. If we read and study the word of God and it causes our hearts to harden toward sinful people and cause a separation between us and them, then we have been deceived!
Over and over again, we are called to reach out to the lost and the defenseless and to come to their rescue. The #1 commandment that God has given us and the only way in which we know that we are Jesus’ is whether or not we 1 Corinthians 13 love God and others. Jesus said that if we simply do this, then we are fulfilling all of the law and prophets and prove our love for Him.
This type of deceit causes us to walk away from the one, true, living God. This is the same deceit that the Pharisees, Sadducees, elders, and teachers of the law were filled with in Israel when they looked the living word of God face to face and called Him a drunkard, a glutton, a friend of sinners, a demon, and a blasphemer. This is the deceit that caused them to hate the King of Kings and Lord of Lords that they swore they were giving their lives to serve. This is the deceit that caused them to murder Him and arouse a nation to turn against Him.
They knew the written word of God better than any of us sitting here in this room this morning and yet their hearts had become hardened. The written word of God filled their minds, but their hearts were far from God and therefore their words and actions were far from God’s plan for them. We cannot allow the enemy to deceive us in the same way!
The truth of God’s word will have a threefold impact on our lives as revealed through the life of Jesus.
A. It will give us a passion to honor and worship God
B. It will give us a hardened heart toward sin and deceit
C. It will give us a softened heart of compassion toward the lost and needy
If we’re not continually and constantly growing in these two areas in our lives, then this is clear evidence that we have been deceived!
3. Listen to the Holy Spirit
Unlike most books that we read, we have an incredible advantage when we read the Bible. We won’t meet most of the authors of other books that we read, however, we have the Holy Spirit living within us (if we’ve accepted Christ’s salvation) who authored the Bible. As we read, the Holy Spirit will help us to understand scripture and throughout life, the Holy Spirit will remind us of what we’ve read and will speak to us to help guide and direct us throughout life.
Although it is critical to know scripture and to read it daily, we’re well aware that the enemy’s deceit often also comes in the very form of God’s word. Satan tempted Eve by quoting God and misrepresenting what He told her and he also tempted Jesus by quoting scripture. This clearly reminds us that we need to not only know God’s written word, but we also need to listen to God’s spoken word by means of the Holy Spirit within us.
7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested and tried me,
though for forty years they saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”
12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
So just as we have been clearly warned, if we have that gut feeling and sense that the Holy Spirit is cautioning or warning us, then we must remain sensitive to that and follow His lead. We cannot harden our hearts toward Him as so many have before. We have to make for sure that we do not have a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. It sounds harsh and very few of us would admit to having this type of heart, however, that’s exactly how the prison of deceit operates. It uses justification and even the very word of God to justify ourselves.
So this morning, let’s:
1. Know His Word
2. Live Out His Word
3. Listen To The Holy Spirit
This will keep us free from the prison of the enemy’s deceit and keep the compassionate desire to reach out and share the good news of Christ’s salvation with others alive and well. This week, get out there, be free, and share all about this new life that you’ve been given!