David, the shepherd boy made king, was what God described a man after His own heart. God was the one saying this so we know that it is true. If we looked at some of the outward actions of David, it would seem natural to say, “If David had a heart after God why did he take another man’s wife and then set it up to have him die in battle?”
This blog post is part 11 of the series Eight Steps to Experiencing His Victory
One of the amazing things about David is that when he was confronted by God for sinning he was always willing to admit it. He also was miserable when he sinned and spent nights tormented because of what he had done. Despite all of his failings, David had a heart after God.
David knew that God was aware of everything that took place in his life. He made it clear in Psalm 139 when he said:
1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
5 You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it. (Psalm 139:1-6)
David knew that God knows everything and still tried to hide things from Him. It is so easy to deceive oneself when we don’t want to face the obvious. Just place it in the very back of one’s mind and it doesn’t exist. But it does and so does the consequences.
The Deceitfulness of Sin
The author of Hebrews warns about the deceitfulness of sin. He says:
But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrew 3:13)
Why would the author of Hebrews say that sin is deceitful when it is not an actual living being? It’s not alive, but it does have a pull on us when we are enticed by our own thoughts or the words of others. The deceitfulness of sin is that it always seems to be a good thing, but, in the end, it produces death.
Never forget this sin always brings forth death. There is no getting around the consequences of sin. Even in the lives of believers, sin brings forth death. We see it in hundreds of ways as we chose our own ways over God’s ways. Sometimes purposely choosing to disregard God’s word. Sometimes out of not being aware that what we are doing is sinful.
Paul makes it clear in Romans 7:11 says, “for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and though it killed me.” I am definitely not saying that every sin in a believer’s life will lead to eternal death. I am saying that we cannot expect to live life as God intends it to be if we allow known sin to continue long-term in our lives.
The Christian walk is a journey in which God is constantly helping us know the things that are holding us back from experiencing the life He has for us. God knows we are in process and helps us to grow and mature in Him.
We can never excuse or make light of sin because Jesus Christ died on the cross to free us from sin. We are no longer slaves to sin. We are in the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. We have the Holy Spirit empowering us to live as overcomers in this world.
Why is Sin so Deceitful?
I think that sin is so deceitful because in our minds we actually want what it seems to offer. Without a desire in us for what is promised or seems to be promised, there would be no temptation or pull from sin.
It is our desires or the dreams that we make up in our own minds or learn from others that make us think that sin will bring forth life rather than death. You have heard it said that the grass is greener on the other side. We think that sinning will make things better and satisfy us in some way that following God’s word cannot do.
Most people are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. God commanded that they do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We know that she was aware of the command because when the serpent came to tempt her she told him that she was not to eat from the tree. She even added that she could not even touch the tree, something God did not say (see Genesis 3:2-3).
This lets us know that Eve was not ignorant of God’s command. So when the devil told her she would not die if she ate from the tree and that her eyes would be opened and she would be like God, knowing good and evil, she willfully chose to believe the devil and and break God’s command by eating the fruit.
Look at how the Bible describes her thought process and the words she thought as she viewed the fruit and the statements the devil told her. It says:
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate (Genesis 3:6).
The following words leap out of the text to show that Eve felt the fruit was good. it was good, a delight, desirable, and make one wise. Eve was deceived because she wanted to be like God knowing good and evil and was willing to reject God’s command and warning of death.
Eve believed there were benefits from doing things her own way. Let’s look at a list of possible thoughts that Eve had based on the verse above:
- This tree is good for food. I wonder why God is withholding it from me?
- This fruit looks so delightful. It must taste fantastic.
- This fruit will help me be like God. I will know good and evil like God.
- Why doesn’t God want me to have this knowledge of good and evil? Is He jealous, fearful, or stingy?
- Is God trying to scare me with threats of death just so I won’t eat from this tree and grow wise?
- God is holding me back from being all that I can be. It’s not right.
- God is so loving and good, I can’t image that He really means that we will die. After all, I am just trying to better myself.
We do know one thing for sure, Eve did not believe that she would die. That is the deceitfulness of sin. As eve and Adam both learned that their actions would change the world forever. Through one man’s sin death entered the world (Romans 5:12
How We Deceive Ourselves
The first step in deceiving ourselves is to believe that God will make a special exemption for me. I know God said “__________”, but . . . It is when we say the word “but” that we get ourselves in trouble.
The second step in deceiving ourselves comes when we start going through the benefits that we will reap from sinning against God. Like Eve, we think things will be better, not worse, if we have what God forbids.
The third step in deceiving ourselves takes place when we begin to say things like God wants me happy” or “God knows my heart. He knows I love Him.” We convince ourselves that God wants us to have the very thing He says will harm us.
The fourth step of deceiving ourselves is when we step out and begin to do what God has said not to do. We have so convinced ourselves that the things we are doing are right that we have no feelings of guilt or shame. The sad thing is that we have become hard-hearted toward God and don’t even realize that our conscience is seared.
The fifth stage of deceiving ourselves is when we ask God to bless the sin that we are doing. We not only think God does bless our action, but we encourage others to follow our example.
A Perfect Example
Bill and Barbara (not real names) have three children. Barbara is very spiritual and knows the word of God backward and forward. She believes her husband is not very spiritual.
Bill is a great husband and father who loves the Lord. He also is a super-funny guy. We would sit around at events or before and after church and have fun laughing together. Barbara would just roll her eyes and look fed up with us.
From time to time Barbara would tell me that she wished her husband was more spiritual. I am not sure exactly what she wanted him to become, but he was a wonderful man and a willing servant in the church.
They moved to another area of the country. They found a church where Barbara found a very spiritual pastor. Both of them decided to divorce their spouses and leave their families so they could be together and serve in the ministry.
Can you see the deception? Barbara was never satisfied with her husband’s spirituality. She finally finds a man that she feels is spiritual. They decide that the best thing is to leave their spouses, who had done nothing immoral or wrong in the marriage (I’m not setting these spouses up to be perfect, but they had done nothing wrong spiritually for the divorce to take place).
I’m not sure of the exact thoughts that went through Barbara’s mind but I can make an educated guess. She thought:
- Oh, I wish my husband were more spiritual. He is always goofing of and kidding.
- Why can’t he get more serious with God and spend the time I do in the word.
- My husband never seems to pray or seek God like I do.
- I wonder what it would be like to have a godly husband?
- Oh God, I wish I had a husband that was more spiritual and serious about the things of God.
- Wow, my new pastor is such a spiritual man. I wish that Bill was more like him.
- Pastor is such a godly man. He spends hours in the prayer and in the word. His sermons and prayers have such depth.
- I wonder what it would be like to be married to pastor. His wife’s not very spiritual.
- To be married to pastor would be so wonderful. Finally, someone to pray with and talk about the deep things of God.
- God, I believe you are telling me that I married Bill by mistake. It was in youthful ignorance. I didn’t know what I was doing.
- God, I believe that pastor is my true soulmate and you want us to be together.
- We are going to have such a great ministry. Thank you, Lord, for bring pastor into my life.
- We will leave our families and serve you in a much greater way.
- Bill, God told me to leave you and marry pastor. Goodbye.
That is how deception works. I’ll break God’s commandment about divorce so I can get a more spiritual husband. Let’s ruin two families so that we can make a third, more perfect family.
It’s tragic and happening regularly in the church. There are believers clearly violating the commands of God because they have convinced themselves that God will make an exception for them. That is why it is so important for us to know the whole word of God and not allow our desires to rule our hearts and minds.
Search Me O God
Let’s get back to King David. He made some very wrong choices in his life. He knew of his tendency to make decisions that caused himself and other great harm. He decided to do the wisest thing of all, that is, ask God for revelation. He wrote:
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24)
In order to steer clear of deception, we must be very sensitive to the Holy Spirit of God. He will graciously shine His light on areas of our lives that need to be changed. He does it out of love. He wants to save us from the destructiveness of sin.
God gives us a conscience to let us know when things are right and when they are wrong. When God comes to us and shows us something that He wants to change and we ignore it, we are hardening our hearts toward the Spirit and we become less sensitive to what God is saying.
If we ignore the voice of the Spirit for an extended period of time, we will harden our hearts and stop hearing the voice of the Lord speaking to us. Then, we will begin to think our own thoughts are what God is saying to us, even though they clearly go against His word. This is deception.
Teach Me Your Ways
David asked God to lead him in the everlasting way. The only way to true life, the kind God wants us to experience, is to do things the way God directs. Over the years I have had many people come to me and tell me how terrible their spouse is and are looking for me to tell them it okay for them to divorce their spouse.
I have had others that come and tell me that God wants them to do something that is clearly forbidden by God. Paul warned Timothy about this when he said:
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires (2 Timothy 4:3).
This is definitely not the kind of response we want to be involved in.
The only safe place from deception is to be utterly truthful with yourself and ask the Lord if there is any hurtful way in you. He will gladly show you the areas you must change in order to walk in His ways.
Once God shows you an area, thank Him, repent of it, and received God’s forgiveness and freedom to walk in His ways.
Thank you, King David, for your willingness to show us how you cried out to God for revelation. Thank you, God, for being gracious and willing to speak to us the truth that will lead to everlasting life.
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