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Three Deceptions that Keep You in Bondage to Sin

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Intro: God loves us, but He hates sin and our tolerance of sin. A lot of scripture is about getting free from the power of sin in our lives. Unless you see, unless you perceive and understand these 3 deceptions, most likely you are operating in one of them and will stay in bondage to sin and not get free. Yet these 3 deceptions are very common and so John wrote an epistle to expose these sins. Paul said that we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices. One of the ways we undo Satan’s advantages and ability to deceive is by exposing his lies by the truth of God’s Word.

1John1:1-5That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” John is saying, I was with him, I ate with him, I saw him in every emotional experience in his life and walked with him for years and he was and is the word of life and the one thing I want to tell you is that God is light and in Him there is no darkness.

The first thing John is dealing with is an error that many have. Though this is not one of the 3 deceptions, it is something many struggle with. One of the first things that we must believe about God is that He never makes a mistakes, never misjudges, never miscalculations and is perfect in everything He does and is never late, He is always on time. For us to think otherwise of God is to attack his character and bring His integrity into question. To say or think that anything God does is anything less than always perfect is to make a judgment again Him. To do so is from the pit of hell. It is a very unwise thing to indict (make accusation against) the character of God.

God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. 1John 4:16 says God is love. All that comes from the hand of God is an expression of His love, always. Nothing ever comes from God that is not from a heart of love. You say what about all the evil in the earth. God is not the creator of evil, but He gave His creatures a free will and they choose to rebel against God.

Evil originates in one of 3 ways. First, evil is never God’s will, it was created as the result of an act of free will by a created being. Second, evil also comes from a demonic perpetuation of free will. Third, evil comes from the nature of a fallen creation, so much so that Romans 8 tells us that even nature is groaning and travailing in pain, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God.

All of creation is under a curse because of sin. But Jesus, through His death on the cross, broke the curse of sin.  This redemption from the curse is so complete that both Peter and John in revelation speak of a new heaven and a new earth. 2Pet.3:13 tells us that it is the place where righteousness dwells. Not a new planet, but a place where righteousness dwells. Something that has not existed since before the fall in the Garden.

I. The first of the 3 deceptions that continue the grip of sin in our lives is given in 1John 1:6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” The first deception is self-righteousness. If we say that we walk in fellowship with God and yet walk in darkness, we are living a lie and not walking in truth. What it amounts to is that you believe that you can be close to God with unrepentant sin in your life. We are saying that we can be close to God and not deal with the sin in our lives. By continuing to live in sin and think we are okay with God, we are living a lie.

Psalm 66:18 If you want to remain comfortable in your sin and remain in your self-deception of self-righteousness, don’t look at this verse. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.” Not only will the Lord not answer your prayers, it says He won’t even hear you if you regard iniquity in your heart.

God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. To think we can be close to God with unrepentant sin, is the root of self-righteousness. God will not hear us if we regard iniquity in our heart. If you are hanging onto sin in your life, refusing to repent and turn from sin in your life, loving sin, then if you get an answer to prayer, know that you are not probably not hearing from God.

So, if God will not hear your prayer and you are praying, then who are you talking too? Not the Lord. And if you receive an answer to your prayer, who has answered you? Not the Lord.  The only prayer that the Lord will hear from one walking in willful sin is a prayer of repentance, because God is light and in Him there dwells no darkness. It’s a lie that we can be right before God while we justify, rationalize and excuse sin.

In case you are not convinced here is a confirmation of this spiritual principle, Isaiah 59:1-2. “Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” God hates sin and sin justifiers. Do you want to know the heart of God toward someone who rationalizes, justifies and excuses sin in their life? Here it is in God’s own words.

Isaiah 1:11-14To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.  When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.” God said even the celebrating of the feasts that God commanded them to keep was an abomination to Him because of the sin in their lives. God is saying He hated their keeping the feast of Passover, the feast of the Day of Atonement, the feast of Tabernacles and all the rest because they would not repent of their sin.

Isaiah 1:15-17aAnd when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment…” Can you see the heart of God here? He is saying, “don’t come to me with your religious hypocrisy, your traditions, your form or godliness, it is spiritual garbage and I hate it. 2Tim.3:5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” It all looks like God, sounds like God, but it isn’t God. To go before God with sin in our hearts is to go with empty religion, in darkness and deception.

Isa.1:17-20Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” If you believe God means what He says, that He says what He means and that God doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6) and he’s not a man that he should lie (Numb.23:19), then you can’t ignore what He speaks here in the first person.

Self righteousness is what some call the spirit of religion. It’s believing that you can be close to God with sin in your life that you are not dealing with. This is not talking about us being sinless or reaching sinless perfection which is impossible. It is an attitude of the heart that presumes against the grace of God and says, “God doesn’t see my sin. God won’t deal with my sin. God accepts me in my sin and I don’t have to repent and try to stop this sin that I love.” This spirit is many times manifested in unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment and judgment.

Many think they can have a close relationship with the Lord and remain bitter in their hearts toward another person. They believe they can be close to God and hold resentment and unforgiveness in their hearts against another person. But that is darkness and God is light and if we say we walk in light and fellowship with God and walk in darkness we walk in a lie and not the truth. This spirit of religion, a term not in the Bible, because in reality it is a perverse spirit of self righteousness and deception, causes a person to believe they can have unforgiveness in their heart and still walk close to God and be right before Him. This is spiritual darkness…

1John 2:9-11He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.” Can it be any clearer than that? Need confirmation?

1John 4:20-21If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” This deception is the root of dead religion; it’s to think that you can have a relationship with God and judge your brother. That’s what resentment is, it’s to judge another.

I never watched it much, but some time ago there was a TV program called “the twilight zone”, a kind of grey zone. There are so many religious people who have gone into a spiritual twilight zone. Imagine a cave explorer going so deep into a massive cave that they can’t ever find their way out. Certain people make a choice to judge someone and to hold resentment against them, to become bitter and then persuade themselves that they are justified in this and they put on an act and seem so sweet around the person they are bitter against. Have you every known someone like that or been the one someone was bitter against. They put out this warm gooey religious jargon, of how they love you but they are in a spiritual twilight zone because they believe they can continue with a close relationship with God and not be open and honest with their brother.

What is God’s solution? 1John 1:7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Your closeness to God is directly proportional to your willingness to love others, especially the unlovely and unlovable. That is why when you’re moving in that direction, it brings things up from within you. The blood really begins to work in our lives when we are trying to walk in fellowship with others and love those hard to love, when your trying to have an honest relationship with God and your brother, spiritual garbage, resentments, bitterness, unforgiveness will come up in your life and it is so it can be cleansed and removed by the blood of Jesus.

II. The second deception is given in 1John 1:8. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” The second deception is self-deception. It’s believing that you’re not capable of certain sin or that you’re above sin. If we say that we have no sin. Here is the sin principle. Not the actions, but the heart that says “I’m not capable of that, or I would never do that.” When you hear of someone having sinned you say something like, “How could they do such a thing. I would never do that.” That is a good way to find out one day.

There is sin and there is the sin principle. Sins are immoral or wrong things that you do; your actions and deeds. There is a difference between the principle of sin and sins your commit. There is a difference between the old man of sin and sins. Sins are dealt with by the blood. But the sin principle is dealt with at the cross. When you commit sins, you go back to Jesus to be washed in the blood. But until you deal with the sin principle, the sin issue, you will continue to commit and walk in sin.

Let’s make an analogy. Let’s say that a state makes a prohibition of alcohol. With the beginning of the prohibition, the state goes through the places that sell liquor and breaks all the bottles. But the factories keep making more and so they have to keep going back and breaking the bottles. If they never deal with the source of the liquor, the factories, they have to continue to go back and find and break the new bottles that are continually being made. The sin deeds are the bottles and the sin principle is the factory producing the bottles. You have to dismantle the factory to stop the output of new alcohol. Does this make sense?

Self-deception is the result of people confusing the sin and the sin principle. Because they have not committed a particular sin deed, some think they are above it. Well, I never did that, but they don’t understand that their sin nature is capable of it. One who says, Well, I have never committed adultery, or stole or done such and they meet someone who has, they judge them.

They feel superior to others who have committed such sins. They say, “praise God, I’m not like other men are. I’m not an adulterer, murderer, thief. I fast twice a week, I tithe of all I make.” Starting to sound familiar? It is such a subtle deception; that says because I have not committed a particular deed that we are above sin. But our sin nature makes us all capable of those same sins. It is only by the grace of God that our sin factory hasn’t produced the bottles of that sin deed. But the capability is there. It is very dangerous to think you are above or incapable of something. Romans 2:1-3Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

1John 1:8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” As soon as you think you are above a sin and judge others for committing that sin, you are setting yourself up for a fall. The greatest indication of someone being under this deception is being judgmental of others. They may not say such things as “I know I’m not capable of such sin” but the way you know they are deceived in this regard is a sense of superiority and being judgmental against others.

Both thinking that you can walk in willful sin and still have a close relationship with God or thinking because you have not committed a certain sin that you are above it and judge others for doing so are deadly traps. You have to hate sin and if you fall into sin, jump up and run back to the blood. Don’t look at a sin you committed and then start walking in self pit and feeling sorry for yourself. That can be a worse sin than the sin you committed in the first place. It is a sin of unbelief not to go to Jesus and be forgiven, but instead to continue to beat yourself upon the head for the sin you committed.

To receive and listen to guilt and wallow in it is sin. It is adding sin unto sin and now your sin is bigger. This sin is denying the power of the cross, the power of the blood Jesus shed to cleanse and wash away your sin. Your first sin may have been yielding to the flesh, but now you are looking at the cross and saying within, “that isn’t good enough to take away my sin and cleanse me. That blood wasn’t good enough to wash away my sin, so I have to beat myself over the head to make myself worthy.” That’s pride. If you see someone who is judgmental of others, pray for them because they don’t have a clue to what they are setting themselves up for. If you judge others, you are setting yourself up.

I have seen this happen again and again over the years. One person rises up in self-righteousness and judges another for a sin and then somewhere between 3 to 5 years, they find themselves committing the same sin. It is a spiritual principle. John 20:23Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” Retained - that means that they become your sin and will one day become manifest in your life. When you judge others, it is like you inflict a curse upon yourself. Or when you stand in self righteous indignation or in your own self-pity, you set yourself up for a fall.

Ecc.8:11Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” It’s the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. God is always trying to woo us and reason with us. Isa 1:18 says; “Come now, and let us reason together.” The Holy Spirit tries to reason with your mind but many of us are unreasonable in our minds. Some are so stuck in on own perceptions and world view and our own righteousness and locked up that the Holy Spirit can’t find a way in. Sometimes men stay locked in self-deceit because they hold onto it so tightly, and the Holy Spirit just waits for the right moment that our thinking turns direction the right way and He can speak to us –

to try and reason with us and bring conviction that we might be brought to repentance. He is so patient and loving, waiting for the opportunity to speak to us. He looks into the depths of our hearts and He knows us better than we do. We try to hide things from God, but we can’t. You can’t surprise God. The problem is we don’t want to face truth.

III. The third deception that keeps us in Bondage. 1John 1:10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” This is the deception of unreality. “I’ve not sinned.” It refusing to admit and deal with your sin to the point that you deny that you have even sinned. This is not the principle of sin; but the deeds and actions of sin. Hiding your sin like Adam tried when his sin was exposed.

This sin is the result of repeated sin after much forgiveness. When you sin and are forgiven, again and again, before you know it, there is no longer a bite of conviction and what would have once shocked you now no longer has any affect. Jere.6:14They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” They gave a superficial band-aid when what was needed was heart surgery. V.15Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.” God is talking about a time when won’t even blush because there is no shame for sin. What once sorely grieved you now hardly brings any conviction.  What the mere thought of once grieved your spirit, now is nothing because the heart has been hardened. If you tolerate sin, it will snowball. You can’t play with sin and get by with it. This third deception causes you to think you can hide or ignore sin. It’s thinking you can mock God and He won’t be mocked.

Most believers don’t want the real thing because it involves walking away from sin and sin tendencies and deceptions. When the kingdom of God comes it will bring a sword in our souls. It all comes down to holiness. God said the way of the transgressor is hard. As long as something in you wants to retain the right to sin, your way will be hard. When the Spirit moves in power and conviction in the church, many will leave. When Jesus was on the cross, how many of his 12 disciples were there beside him? One, John.

God wants us to blush again. That we be quickly grieved by sin. Habbuk1:13Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” God wants us to be sensitive to His spirit. That’s what it is to be backslidden, desensitized by sin. Scripture defines the backslider as someone who is filled with his own ways, with himself, rather than denying self. If we are not doing all we can to discipline ourselves to overcome sin in our life then we will drift from tolerating sin, to I have not sinned and then from this deception to the first one of self-righteousness. That is thinking you can have your cake and eat it too. You think you can have a relationship with God and continue to sin.

The problem is that because God’s love and mercy is so great that we can come to the place of taking His mercy for acceptance. We will mistake His mercy and grace for His acceptance of where we are spiritually. So we think because of God’s mercy that we are walking in righteousness before Him, that He is pleased with us and nothing could be farther from the truth.

It’s His goodness trying to melt our hard heart and lead us to repentance. I think it begins with deception three, hiding our sin, then goes to deception one, I can sin and still walk with God, and then you end up in deception two, when you actually begin to believe your not capable of the very sins you are committing and then you start judging others for the very thing you are doing.

That is Satan’s masterpiece. That is when Satan can pull the cover off his masterpiece of a fully deceived person who was once a Christian, but now only in name. One who is living in willful sin, denying he is sinning and judging and despising others for the same thing in their own heart. Many believers today are such a satanic masterpiece.

The sword of the word is to divide, expose and deliver. 1Jn 1:9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

This is the answer. Simply an honest acknowledge and admission of tendency and capability of the deeds and actions, of the motivations of sin and bringing it to the light. John 3:21 says, He that practices truth comes to the light. Stop lying to yourself and bring it to the light.

These three deceptions are really three lies. Self-righteousness is lying to others, self-deception is lying to yourself and unreality is lying to God. Admit the truth, bring it to the light and be healed. When you do it will bring immediate mercy. The problem is that sin is like a poison in your system. It’s like weeds in your garden. Their roots wrap themselves around other roots. It’s the little foxes, the little sins we presume as nothing, that spoil the vine.

Psa.51:1-4Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” You can sum up these three deceptions with the phrase, justifying yourself. Repentance is justifying God. You justify God by taking His side against yourself. You justify yourself by taking your side against God or someone else. But you justify God by saying, your word is correct. I agree with you and I believe you and I repent. It is then you will find release.

We all have blind spots where we don’t see our faults. Deception begins with us, not with the devil. He just takes advantage of our self-deception.

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