Are You Saved or You’re Self Deceived?
The reality is there will be people one day who will stand before the Lord, many of them who will assume that they are about to enter Heaven, only to be told they’re on their way to hell. This is the worst possible illusion that someone can have to be mistaken about your eternal destiny, to be mistaken about your salvation. There is a narrow gate that goes to heaven. And there is a broad road that says heaven but goes to hell. At the same time, most religious people are on the broad road. And there are plenty of false prophets, who are enabling them.
The false prophets, the false religious leaders, the false representatives of Christ, false agents of God, who really are the agents of Satan, they are ministers of Satan disguised as angels of light, leading people on a road that says heaven, but ends up in hell. Of course, it’s a tragedy for Hindus to go to hell, or Buddhists, or Muslims. It’s a tragedy for and the Jews who reject the Messiah to go to hell, it’s a tragedy for anybody to go to hell. But it seems to me that the tragedy of all tragedies is the often repeated Judas tragedy where you hang around Jesus, but end up belonging to Satan. That’s the real tragedy.
There are pastors who fit into this category. They’re not even Christians and churches are filled with people, some “churches” are made up almost all of non- Christians who are deceived about their true spiritual condition. To borrow the words of Paul, “They have a form of godliness…” Without the reality of it, they are self-deceived. There are some things that have contributed to this. And I would say, first of all, is a superficial understanding of the gospel.
We have such a weak and shallow and superficial and trivialized emotionalize, psychologize approach to the gospel, that most people who call themselves Christians couldn’t give you a meaningful explanation of the great doctrines of redemption. They don’t know them nor are they expected to know them because in many cases, the people who teach them don’t know them either.
The church is so ignorant about the gospel, that when you preach the true gospel, you’re very liable to be vilified for it by the church. I tell you to preach the true gospel in the Christian world today is to engage yourself in more warfare than to preach the true gospel in the world. The second contributor to this is a false sense of assurance, a false sense of assurance. The idea is that if you feel good about God, and if you have some emotional attraction to God, which might be called love, if you believe in Jesus, and you want to connect to Jesus, and you want to sort of associate with Jesus and be a part of what Jesus is doing, and you want Jesus to kind of work with you and make you what you want to be, you’re in, and this will be affirmed. You will be told that you just pray this prayer, you’re a Christian, you’ll be certified. In fact, you’ll be built up, you’ll be affirmed regularly.
God loves you, and He loves you unconditionally and all he wants to do is fulfil every dream and desire you have in your life. And you’re here and you’re showing your love for God and that put you in the spot where you’re going to be just blessed. And so both the lack of definition in the Gospel and this overwhelming desire to make everybody feel good and to assure them that they’re okay with God if they just hang around the people who talk about Jesus lures people in and seduces them into the dream that they are right with God.
There’s a third thing, a failure at self- examination. When somebody says to me, I’m not sure I’m a Christian. What should be my immediate response? But well, of course you are. Oh, you’re here, You’re here. Have you ever prayed the prayer? Have you ever gone to the prayer room? What are you talking about? Of course, you’re a Christian, look at you, you have a Bible. What do you mean? But if anybody says to me, I’m not sure I’m a Christian, my immediate responses. The reason you may feel you’re not a Christian is because you’re not a Christian.
It’s much more important to demand an honest self- examination than it is to ride across somebody doubts but that’s not popular. In fact, what are the words that I’m saying right now to you? are words that would be rejected soundly in many, many, “Christian churches” What you are calling into question people salvation? Who do you think you are? And we’re so grace oriented. We want people to feel so good. We want people to like us, we don’t like confrontation, so we don’t want to call people’s spiritual life into question. We don’t want them to feel bad about their sins, we want them to feel happy about God’s love. Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith, examine yourselves. Do you not recognize this about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you unless, indeed, you fail the test?
There’s a fourth matter that I think, seduces people into this delusion. The fixation on religious activity: being in a church, being with people who call themselves Christians, reading “Christian literature”, talking about God, etc. Even being in a Bible study, being a part of some Christian organization, this lulls people into the deception that that’s the equal of being saved. Well, my Christianity is filled with people in all kinds of religious activities.
There’s a fifth feature that I think lures people into deception. I like to call it a fair exchange approach. It usually starts like this. I’m basically a good person. It’s the idea that you believe in God and you’re a good person as over against a bad person. Which means given a 24 hour day, most hours in that day, you’re not committing a violent crime. The way it works, it’s all about stacking up the hours how many hours a day do I commit crime so I it’s a rare day when I do a crime but there are a lot of other days I don’t do a crime. So I’m basically good. We tend to also to balance off our sin with something good, you know, hey, look, I support my family. I know I support my family. Yeah, I know, I stumble once in a while and I’m unfaithful to my wife and I cheat on my income tax. But I’m telling you this I take my kids, you know, to Sunday school, I’m a good dad. Really? Yeah, God wouldn’t keep me out of heaven. After all I believe in God and basically a good person and of course, that’s the biggest lie in religion.
There’s another element in this little list of attitudes that give people a false sense of assurance; familiarity with biblical morality. They say Well, hey, I don’t deny what the Bible says, so, I believe in biblical morality, I’m not pro homosexual, I’m not anti-marriage, I’m not anti-family. I know I agree with that, I think sexual activity should be between a husband and wife only inside marriage and I hold that morality, I must be on my way to heaven. And there are lots of people who fit into this category. You know, take for example, the Mormons and all these things are just a big deception because none of these things have anything to do with your salvation, none of them. The real issue is this, people who are diluted and deceived have failed to come through the narrow gate, they have failed to come through the narrow gate.
What does that mean? repentance for their sin, confession of sin, submission to the Lordship of Christ, brokenness, humility, contrition, obedience to the word of the Lord. Martyn Lloyd Jones wrote; “What our blessing Lord wants, above all is ourselves.” What scripture calls our heart, he wants the inner man, the heart, he wants our submission. He does not want merely our profession, our zeal, our fervor, our works, or anything else, He wants us and the deceive come in several categories: There are the superficial, They are the ones who call themselves Christians because at some point when they were kids they accepted Christ will use that buzz phrase, or they believed in God. They are ignorant and they are uncommitted.
And then there are the deceived, who are not superficial, but the deceived who are very involved. They’re all through the church Jesus called them tears sown among the weed. They know more about the church, they know about the life of the church, they’re involved in the life of the church. They know a little bit about the Bible. They know Bible stories. They know what the new buzz phrases the Jesus narrative to some extent, they know a little bit of theology just enough to be dangerous. But there’s no real humility, there’s no brokenness, there’s no godliness.
And then you have thirdly, the hypocrites. They know they’re not believers, they show up in church on Sunday, and they can’t wait to get out of the place to go back to pornography, illicit relationships and wicked evil behavior. How can a deceived person know he’s deceive? How can we spot someone who is deceived and deceiving? Let me give you a few suggestions. When you’re looking for people who are deceived, look for people who are seeking feelings, blessings, experiences, healings, angels, whatever, that are only interested in the by-products of the faith, not in Christ. They’re not consumed with the glory and the honor and the wonder and the beauty and the magnificence of Christ. They’re not consumed with honoring him, loving him, serving Him, obeying Him, submitting to him, exalting him, proclaiming him, worshiping Him, confessing him, they’re only there for the by-products of that which is attached to him. Give me a blessing, give me spiritual experience, give me a spiritual high, give me good feelings, give me healing, give me prosperity and as john Piper says, the gospel does not offer to the center, what the center wants. What is the natural center.
The Gospel does not promise the sinner what the sinner already wants, it Promises what the center does not want, and that is righteousness, holiness, forgiveness, heaven and dominating all That Christ. Secondly, you can look for people who are more committed to churches than scripture, more committed to “churches and scripture”, denominations, movements, groups because it very likely, is a social thing. They’re more involved in theology as an academic interest than for personal holiness. I hate to say it, but seminaries all over this country are filled with lecturers who have an academic interest in Scripture, an academic interest in theology, who don’t know God at all. And so whatever they think the Bible means is probably not what the Bible means. Since the natural man even though he’s a scholastic cannot understand the things of God.
Another thing to look for in a person who is deceived, is someone who is always stuck on one point of theology. I have run into these people all my life. They deal with only one overemphasize point of theology, and they’re just seeking a platform to expound this sort of wacky view.
Another thing to look for when you’re looking for people who might be in a condition of being self deceived, is that they are over indulgent in the name of grace. Another way to say that is, they lack penitence. With true Christians, there’s just an ongoing brokenness, there’s just an ongoing kind of recognition that they fall short.
And just one last one, look for people who see God as the means to their own ends. I want to get to God because I’ve got all these deals that I want to do, I got all these plans, I got all these dreams, I got all these ambitions and hey, if you tell me God will help me get there; that’s Joel Osteen, he’s a heretic. That’s not Christianity and that is not a church it’s heresy.