Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 31, 1968
NUMBER 26, PAGE 4,6a

Editor I A L

"Be Not Deceived"

Hoyt H. Houchen

"But let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Gal. 6:6, 7).

Paul was disturbed over the condition of the Galatian churches. They were changing from what they had been, and Paul expressed his dismay when he wrote: "I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel." (1:6). This changing condition was brought about by Judaizing teachers. They were imposing circumcision upon Gentiles as a matter of faith, making it necessary for their salvation, and they were discrediting Paul as an apostle and preacher.

Self-deception is the most common phase of deception among men. The Galatians were self-deceived; being duped by the Judaizing teachers, they were led into error. Throughout the epistle, Paul pointed out to them that they were being deceived and he appealed to them to return to the truth. "Ye were running well; who hindered you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion came not of him that calleth you." (5:7, 8). But they were also warned to not be deceived with regard to the support of faithful teachers. The matter of remunerating faithful gospel preachers and others worthy of support is emphatically taught in the word of God time and time again. "But let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." They were not to be deceived in this matter as well as that of circumcision.

There are many ways by which men today are self-deceived. Some are following the devil when they suppose that they are following God. We have never denied that denominations are composed of many good people, zealous, and moral in personal conduct, but they are deceived — they have been led into believing that their denominations, their worship, their dogmas and creeds, are all in harmony with the will of God. They are self-deceived.

Brethren who substitute human wisdom for God's arrangements are deceiving themselves. They have been led to believe that "orphan" children, aged persons, and widows must be cared for by institutions to be financially supported by churches of the Lord and some have been "brainwashed" to the extent that if any brother should dare raise his voice in demanding scriptural authority for churches to maintain these operations out of their treasuries, he is branded as one who opposes a good work and does not believe in helping the needy. Brethren who are "sold" on the idea (and what a job of selling has been done) that churches contribute to a common treasury (a collecting church) to do their preaching, and that churches can promote themselves by providing "fellowship" gatherings for eating, fun, frolic, and youth camps, youth conferences, youth centers, youth programs, are self-deceived. Never has there been a time when more human wisdom has been displayed but the churches which have been gulled by it have become spiritual weaklings. Churches once considered to be stout truth-wise, are now weak, no longer distinguished for preaching sound straight-forward gospel sermons, the kind that will disturb and shake the denominational world, but they are now given to a program of appeasement, entertainment, and promotion that identifies them with the denominational world. Their spiritual power is lost and their identity as once strong Bible-respecting churches is gone.

Brother David Lipscomb made this observation: "The church of Christ, which is his temple, is defiled, and it is growing weaker under the addition of these human organizations and helps. They are parasites that sap life from the church, while for a time seeming to add to its verdure and life...There has drifted into the churches an amount of unbelief in the scriptures. All disposition to bring human organizations into the work and worship of the church comes from a feeling of worldly wisdom which is foolishness with God. It is a manifestation of unbelief, and this must be thrust out of the churches before they can be blessed of God...Be not deceived as to these; God is not mocked. When a man or a church turns from God's appointed ways to man's he turns from God to man. But this falling away is no new experience in the church." (A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles, II Corinthians and Galatians, Vol. 3, by David Lipscomb and J. W. Shepherd, pgs. 281,282).

When brethren suppose that they can march in stride with the denominations by erecting costly buildings for pomp and show, they are deceiving themselves. The desire to have the most expensive building, often referred to by the liberals as a "plant," and to have the largest membership in the city, reflects an attitude, it is the inclination to place confidence, not in God, but upon the strength of numbers. Too many of our brethren even in the conservative camp are making a game out of numbers. Our concern should be to please the Lord and when brethren have this as their aim, they will attend Bible classes and services and the numbers will take care of themselves. The ambition to have the most costly building and the largest numbers is an expression of worldly pride and it is that attitude that has and always will be responsible for every innovation into the organization, work, and worship of God's people.

Man can be deceived with regard to his character and hope for eternity. The so-called "good moral man" who has never obeyed the gospel of Christ is deceiving himself when he imagines that he can go to heaven without ever becoming a member of the Lord's church. Brethren deceive themselves when they think that they can live like the devil wants them to live, dance, gamble, curse, have an ungodly influence upon those around them and then expect to go to heaven. And, elders are only deceiving themselves when such sinful members are left alone without any disciplinary action, apparently supposing that sin will automatically leave the congregation or that by some sort of a "hocus-pocus" wave of the wand it will disappear. A sinful condition in a church is not cleaned out by wishful thinking, hoping that the ungodly members will leave. Sin has to be dealt with and we are only deceiving ourselves when we think otherwise.

Neither are we to be deceived into believing that we can sow one thing and reap something else. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Gal. 6:7). Parents who allow their daughters to attend dance schools to acquire charm and popularity are only asking for trouble further down the line and the reaping will be of what has been sown. When the little boy or girl is sowing his or her wild oats, wild oats will be reaped.

"God is not mocked." He cannot be imposed upon. He knows our character. Properly, the word "mock" means "to turn up the nose in scorn; to mock, deride." (J. H. Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon, pg. 419). The idea is that God cannot be treated with contempt.

May we all heed the admonition: "Be not deceived." (More to follow).

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