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Charles Stanley - The Great Deception




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The title of this message is, "The Great Deception". Now, to deceive somebody is to lie to them; mislead them; misinform them, that is, to lead them astray. So, ask yourself the question, Have I ever been misled? Have I ever been deceived? Have I ever been betrayed? Because all of us at some point in our life have been lied to, maybe even misled someone else, betrayed someone else, or even some false information; whatever it might be. And it's interesting that when you open the Word of God, right up front, right up front, God intends for us to learn a very, very important lesson.

And you would think, Well, these lessons should be somewhere else in the Word of God, right up front. You have the account of the creation. And then we come to the creation of man and woman. And then we get into a deception that has affected every single one of us, and will affect us all the days of our life. And it happens to be one of Satan's tactics that brings into our life guilt, fear, shame, and loss. That's what deception does. Very important message because it's very clear in Scripture what the Bible says about deception; and to deceive someone else.

And so, in the second chapter of Genesis, beginning in the sixteenth verse, and just going through a couple of verses here. Sixteenth verse says, "The Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'From any tree of the garden you may freely eat; But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat of it, for the day that you eat from it you will surely die.'" So, the question is this, What is the great deception? Don't miss this. The great deception is this. You can sin without any consequences. You can sin without any consequences is the great deception. And it works in everybody's life at some time or the other. Believing that we can sin against God and then have no consequences.

You see it in the life of Adam and Eve; and all through the Scriptures. And if you think about all the rest of these pages in the Word of God bear witness to the fact that you cannot sin against God without consequences. No one can. There are consequences to sin. And the devil's lie is, Awwww, that's not what God meant. That's not what'll happen to you. I know it's in the Bible and you can give me a verse of Scripture, but that's not what it's really all about. So, I want us to think about who the tempter is in the Scriptures and give you maybe a little different aspect on it.

And if you look in this third chapter, in verse one, the Scripture says, "Now, the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Indeed,'" watch this now, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'"? That's not what He said. You see, he says, Did God tell you that you can't eat from any tree of the garden? And so, Eve said this, "From the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it, or touch it, or you will die.'" Didn't say that you can eat from any of it, but there's a particular one. And then, listen to what Satan said, "The serpent said to the woman, 'You surely will not die!'" That is, not really.

So, this is a creature that God allowed in the Garden to test and try them; and of course, he got what was coming to him. And is he still around today? Yes, he is. And there's not, listen, there's not anything good that the devil does. Because he's a deceiver. And so, I want us to think about this for a moment because the devil hasn't changed. He's the same. And so, here's the deception. The deception is you can sin, no consequences. That's his lie. That's how he operates. That's the lie he tells. You can sin, no matter what you see, what you do, what you hear, you can sin against God, and there are no consequences. That is absolutely a lie. Ask God. Thou shalt not bear false witness. And the devil is continually doing that.

So, we have to ask the question, Okay, so Satan is the tempter. Now, what was the temptation? They had everything in the world they wanted, everything in the world they needed, I mean, it was just heaven on earth. And so, Satan says, but there's one thing you don't have, you can be like God. You can know good from evil, you'll be like God. Think about this. When Satan tempts us, does he not usually tempt us about something we don't have? We would like to have? Or picture ourselves having? And so, that's the approach. And it's interesting, when she looked at all of this, she said, you know, it looks like it's good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and therefore a wonderful experience. Isn't this the same lie that Satan tells today? It's good for your stomach, um-hm. That is, it's pleasing, and pleasant to look at, and you can experience it.

Think for a moment how many different sins fall under that category. How they taste, how they look, and what you experience. You can go all the way from drinking to sex. You can take all the sins and put them into that category. And this is exactly what Satan was doing. And so, the issue is Satan says, Now, is that really what God said? How many times have you ever been tempted that in some fashion or the other you said, Well, I wonder if that's really what God said, wonder if that's, I don't know where that is in the Bible. I've heard people say it was in the Bible. I've heard some sermon about it, but I don't know that God really said that. That's exactly what the devil told her and that's exactly what he's saying to people today.

So, let's think, we know what the temptation is. Lets' think about his tactics, how Satan works. Satan led her to question the Word of God. That's where it all begins. When you begin to doubt God's Word, you're headed down a track because doubt usually is followed by denial. Well, I really don't believe that. And I think that's no problem there. And so, then what happens, deception really sets in. The Bible doesn't really mean that. God wouldn't do that, He's a God of love. He's not going to let that happen. And then of course, what happens is a person disobeys God. And then there's destruction. And it's just that simple trail over and over and over again; and people living their lives. And then they'll still tell you, Well, I do believe that God is a God of love; He wouldn't dare; He wouldn't dare do that. When the whole Word of God is a testimony to the fact that it is a deception to believe that you can sin without consequences. The consequences are there no matter who you are. If you look in your own life and you will be absolutely honest.

You say, Well, those things just happen. Isn't it interesting that things just so happen, according to what you did? It just so happens according to when you did it? It just so happens it's the thing that in your conscience keeps bothering you, the thing that you'd like to change in life? God hasn't changed. His principles haven't changed. And it's interesting to me and it's very effective, that right up in the very beginning of the Word of God with all these pages; and Old Testament and New Testament, all these pages bear witness to the same thing. Wages of sin is death. There are consequences to disobeying Almighty God. And so, when I think about what those consequences are, and I think about what Satan said to Eve, he said, this fruit will make you wise.

And so, he appealed to the natural desires. And that's what Satan does. For example, you drive down the expressway, and you see a billboard that's advertising whiskey, or wine, or something. You don't see them with a broken bottle. You don't see them with a ugly color. It's as attractive as it can be. And the same thing is true when they are showing people, or whatever they're advertising, they make it attractive to the eyes. Because if you see it, and then you think about it, and you think about it enough, before long, you'll want whatever it is whether it's another man or another woman; or whether it's something to drink, or something to get high on. Or whether it's drugs or whatever, in other words, Satan has all kind of tools.

Watch this. It doesn't make any difference which tool he uses. You cannot deny the principle of Almighty God. The principle is there are wages, consequences to sin. Satan says there's not. A whole lifetime of humanity says there are consequences to sin. So, I want to ask you in your life, before you find yourself doing something that you know is not right; looking where you shouldn't look; doing what you shouldn't do. Do you stop and ask yourself the question, What are the consequences? And the devil will tell you, There are no consequences to that, everybody does that.

Well, have to ask yourself the question, God, what do You think about it? Do you think God would ever say, "It's okay"? It's going to kill you but it's okay. It's not good for you. No, He's made it very clear in the Word of God how absolutely serious it is, because it's a trap. It's impossible to sin against God without consequences. And so, you have to ask yourself the question, when you're tempted to do anything, do you ask yourself the question, What are the consequences for this? You see, when the Holy Spirit is in your life, He's going to bring you to ask yourself that question, because He's a protector as well as a giver of truth. Lord, what are You saying? And if you've been a Christian for a little while, you know what's right and wrong. You know what's good and what's evil.

And you see, those things, and you see, people who are living a righteous life, a godly life, that doesn't mean it's perfect. But their goal is to be obedient to God and they're living that kind of life, they don't have to wonder whether a thing is right or wrong or not. They know whether it's right or wrong. They know whether it's sin or not. And God's people need to live holy, godly lives, and what happens? It makes an awesome impression, not to impress people, but it says something to people who are living in sin. First of all, they don't like us, sometime. And they'll do all kind of things to undermine what we believe, trying to do so. But the truth is still there; that sin always brings consequence which the Bible tells us here.

So, let's think about this for a moment. Think about the tragedy that really takes place. For Adam and Eve, they heard the truth and what did they do? They listened to; they heard the truth, listened to Satan's lie. Their innocence, remember they were perfectly innocent, turned to shame. Not only did they find shame instead of joy in their life; but listen. They began to experience guilt, shame, fear, and being found out. Think about in this perfect garden, fear, shame, guilt, being found out. Can you imagine what they must have thought when they heard God coming? Heard the footsteps of God, we would say. And then a voice that they would never forget. Adam, where are you? God was not asking for information.

Watch this. He could say that to you today. He could call your name and say, Where are you? If you're living in sin, He probably has said that several times in several ways, but you didn't know it was Him. But you felt that in your heart, where are you? Why are you where you are? And so, He asked him, He wasn't asking for information. He wanted them to see where they were because they were separated from God, hiding in the bushes, and trying to cover up their naked body. We can't even imagine what kind of terror must have gone through their mind when they heard God coming, knowing that they'd sinned against Him and knowing that they were naked, unlike they had been before, facing a God who had loved them enough to give them everything imaginable, and they threw it all away over one deception, you can sin, and there are no consequences.

And all you have to do is to sit down and listen to some people who have taken that route. They've lost their family. They've lost their relationship. They've lost their job. They've lost everything because of deliberate, willful sin in their life. And what did the devil say? God doesn't mean that. You'll be okay. Listen to me. There are consequences to sin. Therefore, because there are consequences to sin, and you're no exception. You think, Well, but you know what? You look at all the money you have and the position and all the things; and how attractive you are, and how popular you are. God isn't impressed with any of that. There are divine consequences to sin in a person's life.

And how many times have I heard somebody say, Well, I don't know why God did this to me. Well, God didn't do it to you. It's your action. It's your disobedience that brought it on. The wages of sin is death. The gift of God is eternal life. Which do you choose? So, when you look to see what happened, they wanted to blame each other. And I'm going to give you a list of things that happened to them, And so, number one, they lost their innocence. They were perfectly innocent; they could be absolutely naked, and everything was fine. Now, they've got to wear clothes. What kind of clothes? Bush clothes. They had to find something that they could cover up their naked body with.

So, first of all, the loss of innocence. Secondly, they lost their relationship with God. That's why they were scared to death when they heard Him coming. The third thing they lost was their home in the garden. And notice what happened to them, they were driven out of the garden, into a world to make it on their own. And I don't know whether you remember or not, but Adam lived to be about over nine hundred years. Think about this. He was in the garden with everything and when he was cast out, he lived say, some nine hundred years in a world of loss, of wickedness, of all the things that were going on in that time. How many times did he stop to think? And he must have said to Eve, We had it so good in the garden. Oftentimes that's what people say when they walk away from God.

Well, the next thing is this. Driven out of that home in the garden, they were driven out. All humanity for time and eternity were affected. You know what? We're being affected by what they did. And then lastly, we experience pain, suffering, hardship, shame, and loss as a result of God's judgment. Think about it. So, this message is just in one statement. Sin against God, there are inescapable consequences. It's a choice we make. You say, But what about all the sin I've already committed? If you're willing to acknowledge that, you're willing to come to the Lord Jesus and ask Him to forgive you for the mess you've made, don't cover it up. Well, God, I've made some mistakes. No, you've done worse than making mistakes. Don't try to cover it. God, I've sinned against You. I have disobeyed You. I have objected to your laws. I've caused other people to fall. I, Lord, I've just been wicked. I've been sinful in my life and now I'm asking You to forgive me and to cleanse, clean me up, just help me, God. I need You, Lord.

You need to acknowledge it, ask Him to forgive you for it, not because you're going to do this, that, and the other, and you're coming to Him through the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross, shed His blood, that was the payment that Jesus made for, in order for us to be forgiven. If you leave Jesus out of the equation, what's the basis of your salvation? You couldn't ever be good enough. It's only through the blood of Christ, shedding His blood at Calvary, that paid your sin debt and mine in full. And no matter what you've done, where you've been, and with whom or whatever, if you're willing to genuinely with all of your heart, ask Him to forgive you and repent.

What does that mean? That means that you've been walking this way and repentance means you're going to turn around and head in the other direction because now you're going to follow Jesus. It just boils down to something simple. I'm either going to believe that He will forgive me or not. And I'm going to know in my heart and believe that it's because of what Jesus did that I'm accepted. If you're listening or you're watching or you're here, you're hearing the truth, so you cannot excuse yourself before God. Ask Him to forgive you, to cleanse your life. Surrender yourself to Him. Watch Him do a marvelous work in your life. Amen?

Father, we thank You that You've never turned anybody down who came to You, confessing and repenting of their sin genuinely, meaning it with all of their heart. So, I pray that every person who hears this message will look at themselves, not somebody else, ask themselves some very personal, pointed questions about their life. And when they've finished, acknowledge their sinfulness, their unworthiness, their disobedience; even their wickedness of heart. And surrender their life to You, forgiving, loving God that You are, we know that You'll forgive them. In Jesus's name, amen.

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