Sunday, 16 June 2019
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. James 1:16
There are certain means of conveying an idea which permeate any culture or society. The words here show that this is the case with those at the time of James. The reason this is so is that the same type of general statement is made by both Paul and John elsewhere. One example of this would be –
“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, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 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.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
The same pattern follows in 1 Corinthians 15:33, Galatians 6:7, and a similar pattern which is seen in 1 John 3:7. In each of these examples, there is a thought expressed which is understood as a certain truth. After the words, “Do not be deceived,” comes a thought which corrects an opinion or idea which is false.
As you can see from the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 6, the first statement is that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. Then comes the “Do not be deceived.” This is followed by a list of people who will not inherit it. James is doing that now.
James has defined the process of sin and how it comes forth. He will next relay a correction of someone’s idea that God is the source of sin by showing what He is actually like instead. Paying attention to cues such as these will help correct faulty thinking which may exist in one’s mind.
James then closes the verse with, “my beloved brethren.” He is ensuring that his words are taken as they should be. They are given in a spirit of love and fraternity towards those who are in Christ and may simply need a correction of an incorrect impression about such things.
Life application: James’ words, “Do not be deceived,” remind us that when temptation comes it may appear alluring, right, acceptable, or even useful at first. This is no different than the temptation at the fall –
“Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” Genesis 3:4, 5
This temptation – the way it was presented – surely made disobedience seem right, acceptable, and even useful. Certainly it was alluring. However, it was a deception which led to agony and sorrow for the world’s fallen children. This is how Satan works to this day. Think carefully about the things happening in your own life which seem so very right on a multitude of levels, but which you know deep inside are wrong. The end never justifies the means if it involves disobedience. Your deception will lead you to sadness and pain for yourself or others, and to a loss of fellowship with God. Because of God’s great love for those who are in Christ, forgiveness has already been obtained, but the consequences of the action will follow through regardless. Be wary and do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
Yes Lord, Your divine hand of wisdom is needed in our lives. The deceptions we face are often hard to discern, and temptation is hard to avoid. But grant us a spirit of understanding and give us the ability to choose the obedient exit rather than the door which is open to disobedience. This we pray in the name of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus. Amen.