I remember once speaking with a man who had owned a liquor store while professing to be a Christian. I asked him whether selling alcohol, which ruined lives, and being a “Christian” seemed to be a conflict. He insisted that there was no conflict because it was a great opportunity to witness to people.
Have you noticed how easy it is to deceive yourself? I must admit, it is true in my life as well. I have shared in previous Dad’s Corners some examples of times I have deceived myself. The consequences for being deceived can range from minor to terrible.
Perhaps the greatest and most disastrous deception is a man believing he is saved when in fact he is headed for hell. He may be thinking he is going to heaven because he once, without really meaning it, repeated a prayer someone told him to pray, or is religious, or goes to church, or considers himself to be a good person. However, this may be the reality: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23). Without repenting from sin and placing faith in Jesus, a person is bound for hell. “And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). I would encourage every dad reading this to go through 1 John and evaluate whether you are in Christ. It is too important to take a chance on being deceived.
As dads, it is our responsibility to lead our families down the path the Lord has set before us. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Therefore, it is vitally important that we do all we can to protect ourselves from deception. Jesus warned about leaders who have a problem: “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14).
First, I have to say that I believe it is unlikely, if not impossible, to embrace truth in every aspect of our lives. As long as we have a wicked and depraved heart, we will be susceptible to believing a lie. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14). Feeding our families may be difficult too, but is that any reason to give up, letting them go hungry? Of course not. We must fight the fight, lean not on our own understanding, and rest in the God of our strength. “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalms 19:14).
As the leaders of our families, how does protecting against deception begin in our own lives? Self-examination becomes difficult because, if we are deceived, we likely aren’t going to be able to see it in ourselves. That is why the truth of God’s Word and the affirmation of His Spirit is critical. Are we having a quality personal time in the Word and in prayer every day? Please don’t consider something like listening to a preacher while driving to work a quality personal devotion. “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:6). We should get in a quiet place, with no distractions, and focus on the Word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts. Next, are we leading our families in a family time of reading the Bible together every day? God’s Word is a mirror to our souls, and it will point out the sin in our lives. (If you aren’t sure how to have family devotions with your family, or you are struggling with being consistent, we would strongly encourage you to consider our audio resource called Feed My Sheep: A Practical Guide to Daily Family Devotions.)
Are we forsaking the sin that we know is wrong? May we never, never accept sin in our lives because the consequences, for if we do, will be far-reaching. As an example, we often receive an e-mail from a wife who tells us about her husband who is enslaved to a “private” wicked sin, and this desperate woman is crying out for help and encouragement. The husband’s life is bound to his sin, and he is poisoning his family with it, even though he has deceived himself by thinking it is a personal sin that affects only him. His sin yields the bad fruit of violating his marriage, his sons becoming enslaved to the same sin, plus other consequences as well. Normally this man is an angry man because of the internal conflict raging in his heart between his depraved sin and the knowledge that it is wrong. His anger then spreads throughout the family, making family life a cauldron of contention. “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul” (Proverbs 22:24-25). No matter how secure the chain that binds us to sin, we must yield it to be broken by the power of God. To receive God’s power, a man must begin with confession and repentance to his Lord and then to anyone he has offended. It may be that another man is needed to come alongside and help with accountability and support. In addition to a brother’s help, walls of protection might be needed to help guard against the pull of the flesh. May we be zealous for leading upright lives and not excuse sin in our lives.
Another important aspect of avoiding deception is obeying the truth that God has given us. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:6). The way we live our lives must be consistent with the truth that God has revealed to us. If it is not, we are choosing to walk in darkness. We can be encouraged because God will give grace when we repent. We set a positive example for our family by confessing, repenting, and obeying. If we know the Lord Jesus, we will obey Him. “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3).
Fellowship with other believers is also important in avoiding being deceived. Brothers need to exhort one another in the truth. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). When is the last time you loved a brother enough to ask him whether he was in the Word daily himself and leading his family in a daily Bible time? If you have not done this, why not? We are to exhort one another, and that is what God intends to happen within a fellowship. I know it is becoming more and more difficult to find like-minded, conservative churches. We must persevere until we find where and how the Lord would have us to worship. Truly, may we seek to obey the Lord Jesus in all areas.
Are we committed to walking in the truth and leading our families accordingly? Let no man deceive himself. What is sown shall be reaped. Next month we will look more deeply at deception and helping our families avoid it.