In a recent chapel message, Rev. Tom Lorimer presented the following message as to how not to be deceived in light of fake news:
Has anybody heard anything about fake news recently? Well, if you’ve been reading the news at all or are paying any attention you know this is a big deal. It is important that we not be deceived, and yet there are people who are doing whatever they can to deceive us.
Recent Fake News
For example, just from this last October which happens to be one of the biggest from 2016: the claim that President Obama banned the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in the schools. This was published by a fake news site. It was made to look like ABC News. It generated more than 2.1 million shares at the end of last year with all kinds of comments and reactions on Facebook alone.
Or how about this one from January 31: this was a Fox Affiliate station out of Detroit that reported that this local business owner flew to Iraq to bring his mother back to United States for medical treatment, and she was blocked from coming home because of President Trump’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations. While she was waiting for approval to fly home she died from an illness. It took off big-time. The Huffington Post alone had 9,000 shares with the story being copied and shared over 123,000 times. The only problem was that it wasn’t true. It’s a lie.
Fake News isn’t New
Well, we are facing that kind of issue today, but it is not a new problem. In fact, if we go back to 1912. The picture is called the Piltdown man. It was supposedly found in the English County of Sussex. Archaeologists claim that the fragments there were fossilized remains of a hitherto unknown form of early man. This is one of the missing links, and the British museum reconstructed the skull and proposed that this was an evolutionary missing link between ape and man. There it is you can see! In 1953, 41 years later, the Piltdown man was finally exposed as a composite forgery. It consisted of a human skull of the Medieval Age, a 500-year-old jaw from an orangutan, and then some chimpanzee fossil teeth that had been put together. The identity of the forger was never discovered, but it was not true.
How about it 1938, October 30th: Orson Welles, based upon the H.G. Wells classic novel War of the Worlds, performed it on the Mercury Theatre of the air as a Halloween special. The live broadcast frightened many listeners into believing that an actual Martian invasion was in progress. In fact it’s been called the single greatest media hoax of all time although it was never intended to be a hoax. It was just entertainment, but contemporary newspapers reported that panic ensued – people fleeing the area, others thinking they could smell the poison gas, or see the flashes of the fighting in the distance. Several people rushed to the scene of the events to see if they could catch a glimpse of what was going on including a few astronomers from Princeton University who went to see the meteorite that had fallen near the school – false news.
In 1976, British astronomer Patrick Moore announced on BBC Radio that at 9:47 a.m., a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event was going to occur that listeners could experience in their very own homes the planet Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, temporarily causing a gravitational alignment that would counteract and lessen Earth’s own gravity. Moore told his listeners that if they jump in the air at exactly 9:47 in the morning, they would experience a strange floating sensation. When 9:47 a.m. arrived, BBC received hundreds of phone calls from listeners claiming that they felt the sensation. One woman even reported that she and her eleven friends had risen from their chairs and floated around the room. It was all a hoax.
Bible warns of Fake News
Well, these are modern situations and instances where things have been put out, and people have been deceived, but it is important that we not be deceived. How long of a problem has this been? How long has it been around? Well, we can go right back to the Bible. In fact, there are many places in the Bible that warn us to not be deceived. We are warned to be very careful. In the Gospels, for example, Jesus warns us not to be deceived by false Christ that would come. There a number of other places in the Bible that warn us and tell us to not be deceived. The word means to be led away from the truth. So these places would help us to know what truth is.
Seven Warning Passages
Let us take a look at seven warning passages from the scripture that warned us to not be deceived, to not be led away from the truth. We’re going to handle this inductively. We’ll take a look at the passages and then see what we can conclude from them.
1. Do not be Deceived: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Let’s go to the first passage which is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 verses 9-11. … Here’s what it says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
There’s one thing that’s pretty evident from this passage of scripture, and here it is: sinners don’t go to heaven. Don’t be deceived. Sinners will not inherit the kingdom of God. Sinners don’t go to heaven.
2. Let no one Deceive You: 1 John 3:7
Let’s take a look at the second passage. Here, we’re going to 1 John 3:7, “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin because he has been born of God.”
Now, there are some things that we notice here, too, in this warning passage. People should not be deceived. This is what we know: those who practice sinning are sinners. Is that pretty clear? Then those who practice righteousness are righteous. Fourth, Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Now, this is what this passage has to say, “Don’t be deceived.” This is the truth. Already we can make a couple of conclusions. One of them is this: God’s people are not sinners. There is no sinning religion. Don’t be deceived – that’s not the truth.
Second, there must be a way then from being a sinner to being righteous. The answer is Jesus. Really! That’s the answer.
3. Do not be Deceived: Galatians 6:7-8
Let’s go to a third passage, Galatians 6:7-8, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
Here’s the truth that comes from that: you reap what you sow. Don’t be deceived; you reap what you sow. If you pretend that you can continue in sinful actions and that it won’t affect you, you are deceived. If you think that you can continue in sinful actions and go to heaven, you are deceived.
I grew up in the West, in Chicago. I was a city boy. Then when I was in high school, I moved to Iowa – farm country. I learned some things from farmers. I ask a farmer one time what he was planning to grow in his farm. He said corn. I said, “Oh, okay, what are you going to plant?” Know what he said? “Corn.” Astounding! That farmer thought that if planted corn, he would raise corn! I know; I’m doing this for emphasis. It astounds me though, that people think they can plant sin and raise righteousness. If you think that way, you’re deceived. God’s not mocked. What you plant is what you sow. You think that you can just play the game somehow, and well, you’re deceived. That’s not the truth.
4. Do not be Deceived: 1 Corinthians 15:33-34
Let’s look at the fourth passage: 1 Corinthians 15:33-34, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’ Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.”
What do we learn from here? We learn that you can have victory over sins: “awake to righteousness, and do not sin.” You are expected to have victory over sinful actions in your life. Isn’t that what it says?
5. Do not be Deceived: James 1:13-17
Let’s go to the fifth passage, James 1:16, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” What is he talking about? Backup – verse 13, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” God is not going to lead you into sin! God is holy! “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
Wow! What do we learn from this? We learn that God does not tempt you nor lead you into sinful action. God is not responsible for sin. Who is responsible? You are. That’s what the scripture says, and we need to admit it. The only way to victory is to admit our responsibility. In this passage a little earlier, if we were to back up to verses 7-8 of chapter 1, we find out what the problem is: “For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
There’s a problem here with being double-minded – a word which literally means “two souls,” “trying to go in two directions at the same time.” It’s someone who is trying to live for Jesus and then disobey him and go the opposite direction at the same time: the problem being double-minded. By the way, James has the answer for that. It’s found in James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
This also helps us to realize, then, that the solution to this is heart purity. We need to have our hearts purified to not be double-minded.
6. Don’t Deceive Yourself: 1 John 1:5-2:1
Let’s go to the sixth passage. This is found in 1 John, down in verse 8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
If we back up a little bit to verse 5, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
It’s interesting … this word right here, “If we say we have no sin.” This is singular in contrast to the plural in the early part of the passage. In other words what it is talking about here is a sin nature. If we say that we have no sin nature, 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. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.” It is written that you may not commit an act of sin. “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
This is a longer passage. What are some things that we note out of this? We’re not supposed to sin. As we see there in 1:2, these things are being written so that we do not commit an act of sin. So we’re not supposed to sin. If we say that we have not or never sinned, we are not truthful. If we confess our sins, he will forgive us, but the real problem is the sin nature. If we say that we have no sin, if we say that we have no sin nature, we are merely deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. Verse 7 helps us to know that the blood of Jesus cleanses from all sins. Not just some sin and not just sins but all sins. Jesus is the answer to the heart problem. That’s pretty much where we started back at the beginning.
7. Don’t be Deceived: Deuteronomy 11:13-16; 10:12-13; 30:6
Let’s go to the seventh passage. Old Testament – Deuteronomy chapter 11 verse 13, “‘And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul …’” Then the passage lists a number of God’s promises, then in verse 16 it says, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them.”
So we’re not to be deceived. We are to love God with all our heart and soul. Now that reminds me of when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was. The first commandment, he said, and he quoted from Deuteronomy. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with soul, with all your strength, and these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.”
In Deuteronomy 10, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you.” What does God require of you? … “but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?”
Or in Deuteronomy 30:6, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”
The Solution: A Circumcised Heart (Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11)
We have seen that we’re not to be deceived. We are to love the Lord Our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength. As he mentions this now in chapter 30 of Deuteronomy, he’s telling us how this could be possible through a circumcision of the heart. The Bible tells that if we’re going to keep this first commandment, the greatest commandment Jesus said, we will need a heart circumcision.
Now that idea here in Deuteronomy is also found in the New Testament – because it is God’s truth. In Romans 2:29, “But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” Or Colossians 2:11, “In Him, you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.”
What is this telling us? Well, a couple of things are very important. First, we must love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to do so, there must be a circumcision of the heart.
Fifteen Truths from God’s Word
If we take all of these and put them together so we can see them, we have taken the passages here from God’s Word that have warned to not be deceived. We have come up with these fifteen truths that come from these passages.
- Sinners don’t go to heaven. Don’t be deceived.
- Those who practice sinning are sinners. Those who practice righteousness are righteous.
- Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. What are the works of the devil? Sin
- You reap what you sow.
- You can have victory over sins in your life.
- God is not the one who is tempting you or leading you into sinful action.
- We need to be heart purified to not be double-minded
- We’re not supposed to sin, to commit an act of sin.
- If we say that we have not or never sinned, we are not truthful.
- If we confess our sins, he will forgive us.
- The real problem is a sin nature that’s driving it.
- The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. Not just some sins but from all sin.
- Jesus is the answer to the heart problem.
- We must love the Lord our God with all of our heart, our soul, our mind, and strength.
- In order to do that, there must be a circumcision of the heart.
Following the Warnings to the Conclusion
If we take these fifteen ideas that come from these passages and put them into conclusions, it looks like this: God’s people are not sinners. There is no sinning religion. Second, then there must be a way to get from being a sinner to being righteous, and Jesus is that way. Third, we find this grace through a circumcised heart as a result of our consecration at faith.
That very evidence brings us to the key of a circumcised heart. What are we talking about? Well, it’s been called a lot of different things, and you’ve heard it called a lot of different things: entire sanctification, full-salvation, and so on. That’s what deals with the heart issue, and it is the heart issue that pushes us into sinful action – not God. We’ve got to deal with the root of the issue if we expect to have victory in our life and if we expect to live victoriously. If we don’t expect to live victoriously and yet go to heaven, we are deceived. It’s fake news.
We have to have victory in our lives, and the ultimate key and answer to that victory is a circumcision of the heart done by God in us. How do we accomplish that? We refer to a consecration to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s a matter of turning our inner being, our inner self, who we really are, over to the lordship of Jesus Christ – completely committing ourselves to Christ. Not halfway; that would be double minded but all the way, single-minded for Jesus. Then trusting him to purify our hearts by faith as it says in Acts 15:9, God does the work of cleansing. It is God who does the circumcision of the heart. We can’t do that to ourselves, but He can do it in us.
We’ve just followed these passages that have warned us to not be deceived. There are people in our world today as there have been people through the centuries including in the Bible times, who have said there’s a different way. Today, we are told that there is a whole bunch of different ways: maybe through meditation or maybe through a different route, a different religion, or a different something else. The Bible tells us, “Don’t be deceived.” This is the central issue right here. We need to deal with it in our own lives.
The Key Question
I guess the question then in obvious. Have you had a circumcision of your heart? Have you come to the place where you have fully committed yourself, your inner self, who you really are to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Have you come to Him for a circumcision of the heart where He cuts away carnality, the body of sin that leads us away from Him so that we can be single-minded for Jesus? That’s the question.
Attending special services like our revival services next week is a great thing, but that’s not what sanctifies us. It is to Him we come. It is to Him that we present ourselves. That can be done anytime. I want to ask you, have you come to Him for your heart to be circumcised and to be made single-minded for Jesus?
Father, as we bow in your presence right now, this is your truth. You gave us your word. You warned us not to be deceived. Boy, Satan tries to deceive us. He tries to get us to think that there’s another way: maybe extra discipline or maybe more meditation or whatever it may be. These things may not be wrong, but what we need is a heart circumcision. We need the working of Jesus in cleansing our hearts from that root of sin. Lord, those gathered here this morning, the ones who want to serve you. They’re going to graduate from here. They’re going to move into our world that desperately needs this message because it is the only solution. Lord, they need it in their own hearts first. We praise you that many perhaps have come into that experience. We rejoice in that, but, Lord, if there is anyone here this morning who has not come to that place of a full consecration, a full commitment, and prayer for a circumcision of the heart; I pray that you would help them to see it is the truth. It is what they need. I pray that you would help them to become a seeker until they find it in the grace of God. Lord may your spirit so fill us and this place that we are what you want us to be in the power and grace of God. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.