What I do speaks volumes. To others that is. Can I learn from my own actions during the day? I can convince myself of glorious intentions and many sacrificial acts of love I have performed, (that no one knows about!) and feel pretty good about myself. But is that wise?
Self deception is rampant is this day and age, where we are encouraged to abandon long held cultural standards, and to tell ourselves anything that is pleasing to our heart and mind. Our culture will tag along and actually force others to comply with our delusion, to reinforce our self styled righteousness, that may be utterly against not only the eternal Word of God, and age long ethical norms, but even recently accepted societal standards.
Let’s Consider the Bible and a short passage in the book of Acts that may provide some guidance, but first some background. The church has been preaching in the nation of Israel for a few years now, and the political masters were stepping in. King Herod actually jailed James, and martyred him, with a reaction that may have surprised him, but I am getting ahead of myself.
Let me introduce “the Jews”. “The Jews” (a term often used for the political/religious ruling body of Israel) were the purveyor of all things God to the people, supposedly mirroring God’s actions on earth. They knew the Scripture and the key message of who God is, and of our proper response to Him of love to Him and our neighbor.
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. – Mar 12:28-34 ESV
“The Jews” were the icons of righteousness, the religious leaders of all Israel, those who held the keys and had the knowledge. They often got together and reinforced this thought amongst themselves during their meetings and social affairs.
Now this has been a bit of an introduction, but suffice it to say, the Jews during the first century, and some religious groups in our current time, were self deluded. And as I have been listening to the Book of Acts in my morning drive to work, a passage popped out that helped me to recognize this and look at my own heart.
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. Act 12:1-3
What? This passage has nothing to do with self delusion Carl.
Hang with me for a moment. Note the phrase .. When he (King Herod) saw that it please the Jews… What pleased the Jews? The killing of James, an Israelite man who followed Jesus. This killing pleased the Jews. “The Jews” knew of their responsibility to love their neighbor. But the killing “pleased the Jews”
They spoke of their love of God. They spoke of their dedication to God. They spoke of their faithfulness to God. They showed their heart in the death of a fellow Israelite.
Where was their heart? This is simply a continuation and reoccurrence of the religious heart that crucified our Savior. Religious hearts have been killing for God for millennium.
If you haven’t heard the phrase “religion kills”, take a few minutes and consider what that means. How that phrase may apply to you.
Are you religious? If you claim you are a believer, and yet reveal a pleasure in something that is against God and His commandment to love Him and your neighbor, check your thoughts at the door. That pleasure meter may actually be the equivalent of a flashing red alarm to help you know where you stand.
Don’t be self deluded.
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