Self-Deceived Godliness

by Mike Ratliff

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” Revelation 3:14-22 (NASB) 

The number one disturbing attribute of the leaders of Compromised Church is their rock-hard “conviction” that they are doing what God wants them to do in spite of overwhelming Biblical evidence that they are not. The measure of success or failure in business is profitability. It is that bottom line in the company ledger that reveals whether a company is on the right path or not. Unfortunatly, the Compromised Church leaders have taken the ways of the world and integrated them into their method of “doing church.” Church leader success is now measured in how well the church is managed. Is the church growing? If not, there must be something wrong. That church up the street started meeting in the library just a couple of years ago and now they are three times the size of our church. Their new building looks like a cathedral! What have they done right that we have not? We need to find out what their formula is and make it work for us.

Of course, this scenario is going on all over this country. The measure of success for a pastor is numbers and growth. Even a cursory look at the ministries of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel in the Old Testament will show that God measured these men’s ministries by their faithfulness not how “successful” they were in being men pleasers. In fact, the majority of the people they ministered to hated them. Isaiah was most likely martyred by being sawn in two inside of a hollow log. Jeremiah was persecuted by kings and nobles. Ezekiel preached righteousness and was largely ignored and hated by the exiles in Babylon he ministered to. Why? They preached God’s righteousness according to His law and contrasted it against the people’s utter lack of that righteousness. They called for repentance. They did not tell the people that God loved them and wanted them to be rich, healthy and free of trouble. Instead, they simply laid out the Law to them and told the people how they broke that Law in every part of their lives.

Were they successful? In man’s eyes, especially in the eyes of the leaders of the Compromised Church, they were stupid and old-fashioned. They needed to forget all that repentance stuff and start preaching positive and uplifting messages. They needed to become more relevant to where the people were. However, in God’s eyes they were of those of whom the world was not worthy.

1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old gained approval.
3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.
13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; 18 it was he to whom it was said, “IN Isaac your descendants shall be called.” 19 He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type. 20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come. 21 By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.
32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. Hebrews 11 (NASB) 

The marker of those of whom the world was, and still is, not worthy is faith. Those who step out on faith and do what God commands are the faithful who have the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. Yes, their churches may not be Christian Disney Lands jammed with people every Sunday, but their sermons are God honoring, sheep edifying and Biblical.

God has raised up discerning Christians to shine His light of Righteousness into the darkness of the Compromised Church. These Christians suffer much, not only from Satanic attacks, but also attacks from those of the Compromised Church who lash out against the godly rebukes coming from God’s messengers. These deceived “Christian” leaders portray themselves as the persecuted and the discerning Christians who have rebuked them as self-Righteous hypocrites. They say that these rebukes are Satan’s attacks on them. They say that these discerning Christians are being used by Satan to be divisive within the Body of Christ. They say that we should all just get along despite our differences. A light study of what they say sounds right. In fact, if we don’t look deeply into this with discernment, we can become deceived just as they are. However, we are to test the spirits. We must compare what ministries teach with what the Bible says. Any other criteria will result in compromise and confusion. When a pastor compromises his ministry in order to conform to the Compromised Church we must compare what comes from that ministry with clear Biblical teachings.

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 (NASB) 

If any Christian, who is rebuked Biblically, repents and humbly comes back to the truth we should praise the Lord and welcome him or her back into fellowship. However, many will not. Those who will not repent after being rebuked biblically will display one or more of the following markers of the self-deceived.

Not only do they claim that those who have rebuked them are the tools of Satan, but they also flatter themselves in their own eyes.

1 Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart;
There is no fear of God before his eyes.
2 For it flatters him in his own eyes
Concerning the discovery of his iniquity and the hatred of it. Psalms 36:1-2 (NASB)  

This is self-deception through self-justification. They are so sure they are doing what is right that they refuse to listen to the truth. Instead, they tell themselves they are on the right path. Since they are spiritually blind due to a hardened heart, their conscience cannot break through to condemn them of their sin. They see that their moves to grow their church pragmatically must be right because God is blessing their ministry with large numbers and positive church growth. Never mind that they don’t preach about sin and repentance anymore.

This self-deception blinds them spiritually more and more until they are in spiritual bondage to their idol of Church Growth.

13 Another shapes wood, he extends a measuring line; he outlines it with red chalk. He works it with planes and outlines it with a compass, and makes it like the form of a man, like the beauty of man, so that it may sit in a house. 14 Surely he cuts cedars for himself, and takes a cypress or an oak and raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow. 15 Then it becomes something for a man to burn, so he takes one of them and warms himself; he also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it; he makes it a graven image and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, “Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” 17 But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god.”
18 They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend. 19 No one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!” 20 He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?” Isaiah 44:13-20 (NASB) 

Idolatry always produces spiritual blindness which leads to spiritual bondage. Why? God sends a strong delusion, a spirit of stupor, to harden their hearts to give them over to what they really worship. (Romans 11:8) Since they are hardened in their hearts, humility is overtaken with their pride. Genuine humility grows and thrives in the soft, broken-up tender heart. Pride thrives in the hard, rocky, sour soil of the hard heart. Since pride is in control, all of man’s natural tendencies spring into view. They see their work in their churches as their own work. Their pride in their work produces conceit.

3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Galatians 6:3 (NASB) 

A conceited heart combined with a hard, prideful heart that is also in spiritual bondage to the spirit of stupor, produces a level of self-deception that is amazing. Clear rebuke from God’s word is ignored or brushed off with comments such as, “That is just your opinion.” “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.” “You are welcome to believe what you want, no one can know precisely what the Bible really means.” “Doctrine is too confining, it makes people self-righteous and legalistic.”

Do you see how the tables are turned? Those who, by faith, believe God’s Word and test the spirits, rebuke those who are false shepherds and are made to look like they are legalistic and self-righteous. The deceived believe that those who are rebuking them are tightening down the screws on their doctrine too tight. They believe there needs to be more wiggle room. They hear the word, but don’t do it, instead they do as they please.

21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. James 1:21-25 (NASB) 

A doer of the Word is one who hears it, it pierces the heart, and the hearer obeys it. He or she does them because their heart is tender towards God. They are not deceived. They are not in spiritual bondage. They humble themselves before the Living God and obey Him. On the other hand, the self-deceived hears, but ignores the Word of God. He or she, is blind to truth because their hearts are hard. The Word of God does not pierce their hearts. The spirit of stupor blinds them even further.

They start to see themselves in a sanctimonious way. Since they never preach about sin or the need to repent their view of God’s Righteousness, Holiness and Justice does not matter with them anymore. They see themselves as a law unto themselves. God will accept them because, after all, aren;t they doing this great work of God in building the largest church in town? However, this is just another symptom of their self-deception.

 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8 (NASB)

The truth is not in them. They believe they have no sin because their hearts are hard and, therefore, they receive no conviction about their sin. This leads them to ever greater levels of compromise of their ministries. They see the growing numbers and how wonderfully the world accepts them now and start to believe they are rich in God. When they look at the faithful men of God they scoff and call them irrelevant. However, these blasphemers are leading masses of people into blasphemy. They say they are rich, but they are destitute, spiritually, before God.

17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, Revelation 3:17 (NASB) 

Let us agree to pray for the Church. Let’s pray that many of the deceived will be awakened to the awful blasphemy of the Compromised Church. Let’s pray that God will pull many brands from the fire before He pours out His wrath. He will awaken and purify His church or He will judge it. We cannot make anyone believe the truth, but we can stay the course and be found faithful when He returns.

Soli Deo Gloria!

One thought on “Self-Deceived Godliness

  1. Perhaps there should be a new church denomination, and it could be named, “The Alliance of Progressively Compromising Churches,” or APCC. It would, of course, be a “Mega-Denomination,” and I suspect an extremely large number of existing churches and church denominations would automatically become part of such a mega-denomination. And, of course, one of the primary doctrinal platforms of the APCC would no doubt by ecumenism (as they are currently engaging in, specifically with the Roman Catholic church). Why am I suddenly reminded of Revelation 17?

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