by Mike Ratliff
3 “The arrogance of your heart has deceived you,
You who live in the clefts of the rock,
In the loftiness of your dwelling place,
Who say in your heart,
‘ Who will bring me down to earth
(Obadiah 1:3 NASB)
Adapted from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon titled “Self-Deceived”
Human pride is incredibly deceitful. It can so deceive its host that he or she may well believe they are the truly humble. It is true of all proud people, for pride is self-deceit. Some reading this may be proud. In fact, it is those who believe they have no pride who are most likely the proudest of all. Those who are proud of their humility are proud indeed.
Those who are self-deceived believe themselves to by of one character while most people see them as totally opposite. These people believe their position or stance or security is firm. However, they cannot see the truth that they are in peril for holding to their position or stance or believing they are secure because their pride has blinded them. They have latched onto certain leaders who they believe to be wise, but these “leaders” have no wisdom. They have confidence in things and people who are like water in the hands. They have placed their trust in people rather than God. Only God does not fail and anyone claiming to have the truth that is contrary to the Word of God is a deceiver.
Again it was their own pride which deceives them. The proud person believes they hold the truth, when in fact they are trusting in the words of men and their own innate abilities, believing that their conception of the truth is the truth because they believe it to be so. The concept that truth is truth whether it is believed to be the truth by them or not is foreign to them. Pride lays a person open to be deceived. His judgment is perverted by it. His stand is rendered inaccurate. His desires invite flattery and his folly accepts it. This is why it is so dangerous for us to seek the praise of others.
Pride leads its victims into evil ways. They become defiant. They become destitute of compassion because pride is stoney-hearted. Like a pack of wolves, these people gang-up on those they oppress. They show contempt for what is holy. In the early 21st Century those who are seeking to replace the Church with something new, to do away with guilt, repentance, the sovereignty of God, fallen man, to name just a few things, are the self-deceived. They actually believe they are right because they are deceived.
These self-deceived, nominal Christians have secured their ruin. Their defiance has been as a battle flag raised in the face of those who know God and His truth and will not compromise. They have actually cultivated enemies for themselves because they have such contempt for God and His ways. They are actually filling up the cup of God’s wrath against them for their own sins as well as the greater sin of leading others into darkness.
What should our response be to those who proudly proclaim that they are no longer Christians, but are Christ-followers who are not subject to orthodoxy or any doctrine whatsoever? We must hate all pride and humbly rest in God. God knows what is going on. He is in control. He is allowing these blasphemers to do what they do in order to judge them for His glory. We must not look down on anyone in the belief that just because we have not partaken of the sin of the self-deceived, that we are sinless. In fact, the one who believes that he or she is sinless is actually proving that he or she is even more blind than those looked down upon. Think of the Pharisee and the publican in the Temple.
Pride commeth before the fall. As we follow our Lord on the narrow way let us not listen to that deceiving voice that comes upon us all telling us to be thankful that we are not like those prideful people who are ensnared into their self-deception. If we fall for that then we prove that we are just as self-deceived and our pride is not killed and that our humility is still embryonic. Instead of looking down on those in their self-deception we must hurt for them and pray for them to be delivered. Yes, stand firm, never compromise, but always do so from a humble heart that seeks the restoration of all those who have fallen victim to their own pride. They may have been self-deceived to enter the treacherous, rocky path that leads only to the slippery slide into the quicksand, but we cannot be like them in lacking compassion. We must always be ready to offer them the truth, showing them the way out of the mire. Some may indeed harken to the truth because God has given them ears to hear. God be praised if this be so! However, we must also be prepared for their self-deceived hearts to reject the truth and our offer of reconciliation on the basis of their repentance.
Let us examine ourselves carefully to determine if our flesh is being used by our enemy to build up our pride and harden our hearts. If we detect this then we must humbly repent, moving after our Lord again with our eyes on Him and not on ourselves. It is when we have our eyes on things and people and ourselves that we are no longer watching so we can stand firm. Spirit-filled vigilance will keep us armored up and ready for the battle. The self-deceived have fallen for the lie that they can handle the battle without their armor. This is the beginning of their spiritual blindness and their fall into deception proceeds from there. Therefore, let us pray and saturate our lives with the Word of God as we submit to others. This will keep us humble and undeceived and usable.
Soli Deo Gloria!