Summary: Today as we look at James we will uncover 5 things that if we are not careful we can deceive ourselves about - and if we do , the end results can be deadly (Real faith For The Real World - part three)
"Quit Kidding Yourself"
She woke up early and decided to take a walk. The air was clear and brisk, the birds were singing to one another in the trees. She stopped for a moment to say hello, and pat a mother deer and her 2 babies. The morning sun was just beginning to sneak over the horizon, turning the morning sky into a symphony of brilliant colors. O’ how she loved her life with Adam in the garden.
As she was walking, she realized that she had walked into the middle of the garden. And there standing with great splendor and power was the tree of "the knowledge of good and evil." It was a truly magnificent tree, it’s limbs were broad and strong, stretching out into the garden, bearing it’s divine fruit.
Suddenly, she perceived that she was not alone, she turned and looked behind her and saw The Serpent. The serpent agreed with Eve, that it was a truly magnificent tree, and then he began to entice her, with his shrewd words of deception. "Did God really say that you can’t eat from this tree? Surely you won’t die, if you eat from it. God just doesn’t want you to eat from it because he wants to hold you back, He doesn’t want you to be as wise as he is. So go on take a bite, you’ll see, it won’t hurt you, doesn’t it look delicious, come on take a bite, you know that you really want to, besides Eve you deserve it, you owe it to yourself."
As Eve pondered what the serpent said, it began to seem more & more reasonable to her. And as she reached her hand towards the fruit a strange and eery silence fell over the entire garden, it was as if the garden itself had taken a deep breathe, in fear & unbelief at what was now taking place.
The dark tides of deception had been set in motion, it’s waves are powerful and forceful, and they strive to pull men in (like a mighty undertow), moving them along with ever increasing force, until they bring their prey crashing against the rocks of self-destruction.
As Eve bit into the fruit she experienced the full blunt of the blow, she suffered and stands as a testimony to the "Agony of Deceit," to the Dangers of kidding ourselves.
Tragically, we know (many times from personal experience), that deception did not end in the garden. People still deceive, and are being deceived by both strangers and loved ones. The winds of deception are still blowing and the waves of self destruction are still crashing.
This week as I sat down to study our text - I wasn’t sure what I was going to talk about. At first I just saw a lot of good things, but I saw nothing that really pulled the passage together, then I noticed these 3 phrases; one in verse 16, 22 & 26.
"...Don’t be deceived my dear brothers..." (16)
"...and so deceive yourselves..." (22)
"...he deceives himself..." (26)
You know, It does not seem the least bit out of line -for James after talking about temptation to talk about deception. The words used here carry the idea of being led away into danger like a wandering sheep...
Remember last week we talked about temptation, we said part of the process is that a bait is dropped that looks good to us, appeals to us, interests us...
When you fish, you try to deceive the fish into biting the hook by using a bait that attracts the fish... a fisherman presents something to the fish that is intended to trick the fish - and cover up the fisherman’s true motives... Many hunters also use decoy’s to deceive their prey.
Now, there our many outside sources that seek to deceive us, sources that present something in a way that appeals to us - but in reality is far from the truth...
(How many times have you seen news shows - w/people who $1,000 in a scam)
But perhaps the most dangerous deception of all is self deception, when we deceive ourselves. When we kid ourselves and paint our own picture of reality.
Sometimes we are like the little boy who was overheard talking to himself as he strutted through the backyard, wearing his baseball cap and toting a ball & bat. "I’m the greatest hitter in the world," he announced. Then he tossed the ball into the air, swung at it, and missed. "Strike One!" he yelled. Undaunted, he picked up the ball and said again, "I’m the greatest hitter in the world!" He tossed the ball into the ir. When it came down, he swung again and missed. "Strike two!" He cried.
The boy then paused a moment to examine his bat & ball carefully. He spit on his hands and rubbed them together. He straightened his cap and said once more, "I’m the greatest hitter in the world!" Again he tossed the ball up in the air and swung at it. He missed. "Strike Three!" "Wow" the boy exclaimed, "I’m the greatest picture in the world."