Summary: Self-Deception is rooted in our thinking, and visible in our activities. Or, if we look at it in reverse – what we do, or how we act is in reality a product of our belief system – ie: what we believe. So, if our believing is wrong then our acting will b


1 Corinthians 3:18-23

INTRODUCTION: Just recently, our area has been exposed to an unusual sight – a beluga whale. He has been meandering up and down the river, between Burlington and Trenton. Lots of people have gone to the river’s edge in hopes of catching a glimpse of the white whale. And several have questioned why would the whale be here. I would think that just about everyone is convinced that having a whale in the river is an unusual thing.

Well, this portion of Scripture is one of those unusual things. It does not naturally fit with either the context before it, or the context after it. IT is one of Paul’s digressions, one of those – “Oh, yeah, before I forget” passages. Too important to leave out, but an epiphany in the flow of the letter.

And to tell you the truth, I have had a hard time dealing with this passage, and not only me – several commentators and biblical scholars have also struggled with these 7 verses. Paul definitely considered them important enough to include, and important enough for us to consider!

TRANSITION: Self-Deception is rooted in our thinking, and visible in our activities. Or, if we look at it in reverse – what we do, or how we act is in reality a product of our belief system – ie: what we believe. So, if our believing is wrong then our acting will be wrong. If we have been deceived and are thinking wrong as a result of that deception , then we need to adjust, re-set, and refocus areas of our thinking that have been subjected to deception. Replacing them with truth, and ultimately seeing the conformation in our actions!

I Self-Deceptive Wisdom

A What We Have At Our Disposal – (A look at the Corinthian Church)

1 The Corinthian church had tremendous access to the Scriptures

a Availability of the Bible.

b Apostolic teaching and writing

2 The Corinthian church had freedom of worship

a Did not have to worship in secret

b Did not have to worship underground

c Had no fear of persecution

3 The Corinthian church had a pedigree of preachers

a Paul had founded the church

b Apollos had continued the ministry in the church

c Peter and his teaching had been referenced

4 The Corinthian church was highly gifted

1 Cor. 1:7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.

B What We Choose To Use – (What the Corinthian church chose to do)

1 The Corinthian church developed their own “wisdom”

a Disregarded God’s Word

1 Cor. 3:1-2 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly--mere infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.

1) Should have been ready for heavier stuff

2) Instead, were still involved in the basics

3) At issue here is the level of the Corinthian believer regarding his relationship to the Word of God

2 The Corinthian church put man’s wisdom ahead of God’s

a Looked at man’s wisdom and thought it wise

1 Cor. 4:6 Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.

b Looked at one teachers instruction above another

c Ultimately, they would were exalting man’s wisdom over God’s ideas for them

When God’s ideals take a back seat to man’s wisdom, we get into trouble …………….

Let’s take the “GOD’S IDEAL FOR YOU TEST”

Now give yourself a point for each ideal you do

ü Do you read your Bible daily?

Joshua 1:8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

ü Do you memorize God’s Word regularly?

Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

ü Do you pray daily?

1 Thes. 5:17 pray continually;

ü Do you attend church regularly?

Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.


ü Do you tithe?

Malachi 3:8-10 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, ’How do we rob you?’ "In tithes and offerings. 9You are under a curse--the whole nation of you--because you are robbing me. 10Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.


ü Did you help someone in need?

Matthew 25:37-40 "Then the righteous will answer him, ’Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40"The King will reply, ’I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

ü Did you come here today angry with another believer?

Matthew 5:23-24 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

We have to be careful that our Christian thinking does not get in the way of God ideals for our life. (Show mpeg video on “The Family Outing)

II Self-Deceptive Worship

A The Unbeliever And Life

1 The person who does not know Jesus as Lord is simply carried along in this life.

2 Life has only a superficial meaning for them.

a Based on things – What do I have

1) If things are really so unimportant, just cancel all those catalog subscriptions you have

b Based on emotions – How do I feel

1) If you are not affected by your emotions, watch what you do the next time you are exposed to negative emotions

c Based on perceptions – What do other think

1) Do, I really have to go here? Just remember the V-8 commercials

d Based on positions – How far did I go

1) The next time your overlooked for a job well done, or a promotion

Now, I am NOT saying that these are not significant areas, or import areas in our lives. What I am saying is that these are the only areas of life available to the unbeliever – the person who does not know Christ as Savior. But the believer has a whole other dimension of life to consider

B The Believer And Life

1 The believer understands what the purpose of His life is

a We were planned for God’s pleasure

b We were formed form God’s family

c We were created to become like Christ

d We were shaped for serving God

e We were made for a mission – to tell others about Jesus

2 The believer is able to use life to accomplish his purposes

a Not just carried along by life

b But controlling life

It is sad to say that the church has lost much of its zeal in this area of purpose. Even here, we were so upbeat concerning our purpose as we went through the 40 days of purpose, yet, where are we now?

Richard Halverson wrote, “Evangelism never seemed to be an “issue” in the New Testament. That is to say, one does not find the apostles urging, exhorting, scolding, planning, and organizing for evangelistic programs … Evangelism happened! Issuing effortlessly from the community of believers as light from the sun, it was automatic, spontaneous, continuous, contagious.

1) The church – yes, our church has lost its way

2) Living life God’s way has somehow fallen to living life our way

a) Commitment has become convenience

Perhaps we have settled for what the Corinthian church settled for, a …………….

III Self-Deceptive Confidence

A Content With Better

1 Looked at what they had and said – we’re OK!

2 God calls man’s thoughts futile, vain

a selfish

b self-centered

c self-seeking

d centered on this world

e centered on the flesh

f centered on this life

B Bringing the world’s solutions to the church.


1 The world’s wisdom is superficial – God has already told us that His ways are not our ways, and the His way are far superior to ours. In other words when God tells us something, He tells it to us because from His omnipotent perspective it is important for us to know and do!

2 The world’s wisdom is not true wisdom – IT is centered on a corrupt system. In other words it is skewed away from God.

3 The world’s wisdom is foolish to God – the word carries the meaning of sluggish, never having what it takes to get you where you need to go.

Now, by being satisfied by only the better, it left the Corinthian church …

C In The Dark About The Best

1 The Corinthians were content to boast and get excited about men and their thinking

a The Corinthian church was ready to divide itself based on men

b God said, to stop boasting about men

1) What he meant was to not lower yourself to only having a boast about men

2) There is so much more to be proud about

2 God has much more worthy of our confidence

a Putting confidence in God gives life

b Putting confidence in God removes death

c Understanding that we are “in” Christ opens us up to all that God is preparing for us

Now, we can go about our lives, getting excited about things that really do not matter, or we can get on board with the things that really do matter – God’s ideals and plans for us.

A Powerpoint presentation is available for this message, please email for file