January 8, 2016
16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
Don’t be deceived.
The big problem with deception is how deceptive it actually is. A person who is deceived or who is in the process of being deceived has no idea that it has or is happening. Deception’s greatest power is its ability to hide itself from its intended victim.
Look at the interchange between God and Eve in the Garden after the fateful act of rebellion.
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:13.
Deception works through preying on our undiscipled desires with all manner of enticement. Remember our text from yesterday?
Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:15.
Now, watch the contrast with today’s text. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
In contrast to the shifting shadows of sin, God is light and, as John put it, “In him there is no darkness.” Rather than the copulation of deception and desire giving birth to sin, our God sovereignly gives birth to his people through his “word of truth.” Truth cuts through deception like light cuts through darkness. Sin works through isolating us in our desires. God works to disciple and sanctify our desires through the gifts of his word, his Spirit and his people.
So, how does one steer clear of deception? To try and suppress or destroy desire is futile. Our desire must be given a better object. We must invite the Holy Spirit to teach and train our desires to delight themselves in the Lord. The Spirit will bring us back and back and back again to the Word of Truth through which God has given us birth.
Now, about this firstfruits business. A firstfruits offering is just what it sounds like. It means to bring forth the first portion of the harvest and make it an offering unto the Lord. A firstfruits offering is a sign of the promise of the rest of the harvest to come. The amazing thing in today’s text is the way it reverses the firstfruits offering. We aren’t making an offering of firstfruits to God. God is making an offering of firstfruits to the world. The firstfruits of the harvest is not grain. The firstfruits of the harvest is us—those whom he has given birth through the word of truth. We are God’s firstfruits offering to the world. Through us, God is revealing to the world the power of his promise for all who believe.
What do you delight in? Where do your desires lead you astray?
1. Is it possible that you could be deceived about some area of sin in your life?
2. If you responded to the prior question with a no, then you are likely at risk of being deceived in some area of your life. Consider this word from the prophet, Jeremiah: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” 17:9-10.
3. Is it possible that you could be deceived about some area of sin in your life? What would it look like of you to open your heart to the gracious search of the Holy Spirit. Try this prayer: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24.
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.