Presented, February 22, 2009 pm
Let No One Deceive Himself
1 Cor. 3:18-23
In our text this evening, we find what is described by many as a summary of what Paul has said thus far. And it is! Because of that we will briefly examine the text and then make some applications.
a. (18a) Paul reminds these brethren to not be deceived by those with worldly wisdom.
anyone among you seems to be wise IN THIS AGE (i.e. following the ways &
wisdom of the world) let him become a fool so that he WILL become wise.
Paul is noting that the world WILL see as foolishness the one who
follows the ways of God (over the ways of the world).
I think of passages like, 1 Peter 4:4 where, “they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.”
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with (before) God.
As we noted in chapters 1 & 2,
God’s “foolishness” is wiser than man’s wisdom (1 Cor. 1:19-31,
esp. 25). In our text, Paul
quotes two Old Testament passages that bear this out:
“He catches the wise in their own craftiness” (Job 5:13 – spoken by one of Job’s friends whose overall reasoning was flawed, but the point stated is true).
“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile” Psalm 94:11, a psalm dealing with the judgment of God. Both texts put us on notice that you cannot fool God.
d. (21) Therefore, let no one boast in men or put your confidence in the ways of men. It’s produce was seen in the way it affected the church at Corinth. Man’s ways always leads to death.
e. (21b-22) For all things are yours. Paul in reality here is turning their wisdom around. Remember how they boasted that they were of Paul and Apollos, etc? (1:12-13) Also, remember how in our last lesson we noted that Paul and Apollos were simply planters and waterers (i.e. servants)? Now Paul lets them know, “all things are yours.” He is saying we are here FOR you to serve you, NOT to be served. Furthermore, all that we have around is provided for us by God and thus to be received with thanksgiving.
f. (23) Finally, Paul notes that while he is their servant, they ARE servants as well – of Christ and God. That is his point.
a. We need to guard against being deceived.
i. The word deceive in this verse means, “to beguile thoroughly or deceive wholly.” (Vine’s) It is found also in Romans 7:11 speaking of how sin deceives us, 2 Cor. 11:3 speaks of the serpent beguiling Eve (also 1 Tim. 2:14), & 2 Thess. 2:3 which is similar to our text.
describes one who has allowed HIMSELF to be convinced that the
wisdom of men is better than the truth that he has been taught.
Notice where the accountability lies! 2 Cor. 5:10 says that we will ALL appear before Christ in judgment and be rewarded according to what we have done.
Paul told the Galatian brethren, “do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Gal 6:7)
2 Thess. 2:9-12 speaks of the fact that God will allow those who do not receive the love of the truth to be deceived and be condemned. We better be careful when it comes to the truth!
iii. Taken to its extreme, the one in our text reasons that the strife and division that has been caused is not that bad. Sadly there are many who are willing to destroy churches to get their own way. Consider 3 John 9-10, Romans 16:17-18.
do you prevent deception?
The only way is to study the word of God for yourself! 2 Tim. 2:15 – notice how this verse says, “to show YOURSELF approved unto God…” You have to do it. You CANNOT rely on others to tell you everything you need to know!
1 John 4:1 calls for us to test the spirit whether they are of God. We test them by putting their teachings and actions to the measure of the word of God.
It also helps to be sober and vigilant – Satan takes advantage of those who are asleep. So do false teachers – 2 Peter 2:1-3
1 Peter 5:8 tells us to be sober and vigilant. Also 1 Thess. 5:6, “Therefore let us not sleep, as other do, but let us watch and be sober.
In the end, YOU have to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12)
b. You can’t deceive God.
i. The two O.T. passages quoted in vs. 19 & 20 point this out.
amazing how so many think that they can hide from God.
At least that is the way they act.
In the Old Testament – Adam & Even hid from Him after they sinned, Cain buried the body of his brother Abel whom he murdered, David tried to cover up his sins with Bathsheba and against Uriah her husband, Saul lied to Samuel about why he spared some of the Amalekites, etc.
Ezekiel was told in 8:12 to see what some of the leaders were doing in Jerusalem. They were worshipping idols and saying, “The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.” David knew this when he said, “Where can I go from Your Spirit. Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (Psa. 139:7)
Jonah figured it out as he ran away from God getting on a ship to Tarshish. God knew EXACTLY where he was.
In the New Testament Ananias and Saphira tried to lie to the Holy Spirit. Peter played the hypocrite when Jews came to visit him in Gentile territory.
It would do us well to NEVER forget that God sees all things and knows all things – even the “thoughts and intents of their hearts.” (Heb. 4:12)
It doesn’t matter what you do, “Your sin will find you out.” (Num. 32:23)
tries to dismiss the message of God’s word and replace it with his own,
he will NOT get away with it.
He can DECEIVE himself into thinking he is right.
He may even know he is not right, but deceive others into
following him – intending to do good things.
But the truth is that the TRUTH DOES NOT CHANGE.
When you refuse to obey God, don’t expect Him to accept it. Don’t expect Him to save you on YOUR terms. That is the wisdom of man and it divides and it damns souls to hell.
As we noted in Galatians 6:7, “God is not mocked.”
c. Let us be careful when we turn to men for guidance.
i. We all need the wisdom of godly men to help us at times. The wise in our midst are a blessing and a resource that can help us and build us up. I believe that is part of respecting our elders (both the Shepherds and the elderly). That is why teachers are told to teach.
put the teachings of man ABOVE the word of God!
And realize that they ARE men! Consider this with commentaries as you study His word. I am a strong advocate of commentaries. But I am an even stronger advocate of weighing their words with what the Bible says. And the Bible must always come out on top.
iii. There is a way that seems right (Prov. 14:12, 16:25).
consider this as you determine the consequences of standing for what is
right. In other words, are
you willing to be “thought a fool” as you stand for what is right? How
many of us make our decisions based upon what men will think of us?
Do we ever let the consequences of men keep us from defending the
truth? There are things for
us to think about.
And don’t forget Peter who told the Lord, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be…If I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” (Mark 14:29, 31).
And thus we can see where the wisdom of man leads. It is not where we want to be. Instead, let us never forget as Paul told these brethren, “And you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s” Do we always act like it?