SELF DECEPTION AND THE HOLINESS OF GOD

 

Read: II Samuel 12:1-13a

 

On the surface it would appear that many people these days are trying hard to believe in God and having no success. They sigh and shake their heads. "I want to believe in God but the harder I try the more impossible it all seems. If God exists, why does he make it so hard for me to know Him?"

 

Poor souls, knocking themselves out trying to believe in God! That's the way it appears on the surface. But be­neath the surface, down inside where men really live their lives, we find that the very opposite is true. Men and women are struggling to erase from their con­sciousness the knowledge that they are living under the eye of the Holy God. They are running to escape the consciousness of God even as they are running to escape the consciousness of their own coming death.

 

The real effort going on in the heart of mankind is not to believe, but to believe not. To blot God from the mind. Even the man who thinks he's trying to believe in God is often working against himself in the secret regions within; trying to deceive himself, to blind him­self to the fact that God is looking down into his heart and holding him accountable for every single thing he does.

 

And the proof that man is trying to ignore the God he already knows is the presence within him of a distress­ing form of spiritual pain known as guilt.

 

If there is no God to whom he has to answer for his guilt

 

- why is he sweating so much down there inside?

- what's he so upset about - if there is no God?

- why is he trying so hard to cover up those stains on his filthy soul if he really be­lieves  no one is going to judge him?

 

He knows there is a God and this knowledge is driving him mad with guilt. So he spends his life trying to escape this guilt and this God the only way he can find… by lying to himself.

 

"I haven't done anything wrong. This woman you gave to me, she gave me of this fruit and I ate. It's not my fault, it's her fault. Well, actually it's your fault God because you gave her to me to be my wife."

 

Adam had himself convinced that his sin wasn't his sin. It was Eve's sin - God's sin - but not his sin! So, began the game which is being played in the heart of the human race down to this very second.

 

When Jesus hung on that cross every person there knew who He was. Don't think they didn't know that this was God. They did!

 

Pilate knew who He was. Why do you think he washed his hands?

Pilate's wife knew who He was. Why do you think she had those bad dreams?

 

Judas knew who He was. Why do you think he went out and killed himself?

 

Why did that crowd stand around and gape?

Why did they watch with such interest?

 

They knew this was no ordinary crucifixion.

 

Yet, if you had walked up to any one of those people and said, "Who is that man on the cross?", they would have answered, "A fool". And if you had asked them, "is He the Son of God?", they would have laughed. But their laughter would have been a lie, not to you, but to them­selves. For they knew what they were doing ... they were trying to blot God out of their consciousness by trying to kill Him.

 

Mind you, it's not just the people out there in the world who are deceiving themselves.

 

- Christians are doing it too.

 

- Many a person reading this is doing it.

 

David was a man of God. He knew God and loved God and worshipped God. One evening David saw a beautiful woman who happened to be another man's wife and David managed to convince himself that it would be all right for him to have this woman anyway. When complications set in he said to himself, "I have no choice. I will have to have her husband killed". And all the while David went up to the temple and said his prayers and solved other people's problems .... convinced that everything he did was reasonable and right.

 

When God sent Nathan the prophet to David with the par­able about the rich man, the poor man and the lamb, David didn't recognize himself in that parable.

 

"What a terrible thing for that man to do!

That man ought to die!"

 

"You're the man!"

 

Up to that point, David succeeded in lying to himself.

 

"I'm a good man. I may have made a few mistakes here and there, but I'm a good man."

 

If Nathan hadn't come along and rubbed his nose in it, and made him see that he murdered Uriah with the sword of the Ammonites, David would have gone to his grave telling himself, "I'm a good man", hiding his guilt under a pile of plausible, pleasant lies.

 

You run away from your guilt the same way David did: by deceiving yourself. And the techniques you use to de­ceive yourself are no different from those used by people since the beginning of time.

 

The first technique we use to deceive ourselves is what might be called the pink mirror.

 

We look at ourselves in that mirror and we say as David did,

 

"I'm a good man ... a good woman.    I may have made a few mistakes here and there, but God knows I mean well."

 

I have known men who have killed in cold blood. Women that have nagged their husbands to death. And every one believes himself to be basically a good person.

 

A world seething with injustice,

                                     violence,

                                     adultery, and every imaginable evil, yet everyone considers himself good.

 

Why? Because in­stead of looking at ourselves in the mirror of truth, the mirror of God's living Word, we look at ourselves in our lovely pink mirrors that lie to us....

 

- and we know they lie,

- and we want them to lie.

 

Mirrors that make every ugly, miserable thing about us look like something beautiful.

 

But this pink mirror doesn't help us with our past. Many things that seemed so pretty and pink, when we were in the midst of them, now as we look back on them, are vile even to us.

 

Whatever made me do a thing like that?

How did I ever get mixed up in that?

 

Now we have to use another kind of lie: the upside-down binoculars that make things look small and far away.

 

"Yes, 1 did that, but that was a long time ago. It wasn't really that bad."

 

But when you stand before God to answer for that sin, nobody's going to be wearing upside-down binoculars.

 

- That sin will be life-size.

 

- It will be portrayed before you exactly as it was.

 

When you stand in a sinking ship those upside-down binocu­lars may make the water coming up at your ankles look farther away but it's coming regardless.

Another technique is to put the blame on someone else. Many a man blames his sins on his wife,

 

"She drove me to it.

 

She talked me into it."

 

And many a woman blames her sins on her husband.

 

How convenient it is to have someone to blame for your failures, and miseries, and sins. And you can always find someone or some group to blame for the mess you've made of yourself. There are men in their 50's blaming their parents for their troubles. As soon as you've found someone to blame, you no longer feel guilty.... he's guilty, not you. Anybody who goes through life forever blaming others and pitying himself simply has a pile of guilt he's trying to hide from his own eyes.

 

There is one more technique: the excuse.

 

"I just can't go with you to visit so-and-so because I have a splitting headache."

 

Some of us are so adept at deceiving ourselves that we can literally bring on a headache, with real pain, so we have to take aspirin ... so we don't have to feel guilty for backing out of an obligation. And when the obli­gation is past, so is the headache.

 

There's one thing about a lie - even a lie you tell your­self - it has only so long to live... then it dies, and the truth comes out - always.

 

There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be made known.

 

You may succeed in deceiving yourself for a while, but sooner or later the God you're trying to evade by lying to your own heart, will destroy those lies and make you face the truth.

 

"You are the man!", God said to David, and David found himself standing there with nothing to cover his naked­ness.

 

I'll grant you there are some people as fast as God tears the lies off, put new lies on top. They will not accept the truth.

 

"That's not me, Lord.  I'm a good man."

They will be pacing the fiery floor of Hell still mum­bling to themselves,

 

"I'm a good man,

I'm a good man".

 

My friend, when God tears the lies off you and shows you what you are, your only hope is to admit the truth.

 

- You're not dealing with some human judge who can be tricked by a clever lawyer or bribed.

 

- You're dealing with God.

 

Your only hope is to confess with David,

 

"I have sinned against thee, against thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight."

 

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves - not God - ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

The place where you meet the living God, the place where you begin to have faith, is that place where you begin to admit your guilt, and confess your sin before God.

 

The man who shakes his fist at the heavens and cries,

 

"God, you're unfair! If you exist, justify yourself!",

will shake his fist the rest of his life, blind to the God who stands over him.

 

But the man who confesses his sin will find God. God will come to him in mercy.

 

The thief on the cross who railed on Jesus saying, "If you're the Christ, save yourself and us!",

 

- received no answer,

- died a condemned man beside the Savior of the world.

 

But the thief who said, "Do you not fear God seeing we are in the same condemnation, and we indeed justly. We're getting what we deserve. We have sinned against God and man",....the thief who confessed his sin re­ceived salvation.

 

"Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom."

"Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise."

 

There is no one reading these words who does not need the grace of God which flows from that Cross. Every single one of us needs it. But the only ones who will receive that grace are

 

- those who come clean with God,

- who confess their sin to Him,

 

and ask for help.

 

If you think you're good enough to make it through this world, and the next, without that grace, go ahead. But if you want God's grace, if you want to stand forgiven before God even this night, there is only one way:

 

- admit the truth,

- confess your need of His forgiveness,

- cry for the mercy of that Cross,

even if it means falling to your knees. Then God will step forth from the shadows and in the person of His Crucified Son will lay His hand on your life and forgive you, and cleanse you, and fill you with His peace.

 

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

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