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Two serious deceptions
- Jacob Ninan
The Bible warns us about being deceived and deceiving ourselves. We get deceived because our understanding is limited. When someone presents us with certain arguments in an authoritative or impressive way we tend to agree with him either because we are not aware that there are other sides to the issue, or we have not really looked at the issue in an overall sense. There are two common deceptions that affect our spiritual life.
A large number of people who imagine they are children of God are not. The only way for all of us who have been born naturally into this world with a sinful nature (Ps.51:5) to become a child of God is to be born again (Jn.3:5). The way to be born again is only through faith in Jesus, when we go to Him admitting our sins, turning away from a life of sin and being adopted By God as His children. The deception is to imagine that one is a child of God after bypassing this process by merely asking Jesus to come into one's heart. The way to test if we have really become God's children is to see if God has begun to make some drastic changes in our heart. Our heart which was earlier inclined towards sinful desires now directs us away from sin (1Jn.3:8,9), towards doing things right (2:29), and towards loving one another (4:20). If God hasn't made this change in our life, we shouldn't assume we belong to God.
The second deception is connected with this. That is to assume that once someone has become a child of God, he continues to be so irrespective of how he lives. The argument is that once a person is born again, he can't be unborn! In other words, once saved, always saved! But our new birth is not like our physical birth. Our physical relationship as a child of our parents is irrevocable. But our spiritual birth is based on our relationship with God through faith (Ro.11:20). If we give up that faith, we will also lose salvation. But people think only about the promises from God's side for eternal salvation without looking at the many places that warn us not to take salvation for granted but to see it through. We need to reckon with our human free will which makes us responsible to God. We are able to accept or reject the offer of salvation. By this same free will, we are able to give up our salvation even after we have received it. Two common reasons why people reject salvation are when they don't want to give up the pleasures of some sin, or they get disillusioned with God because they didn't get some answer to their prayers.
1Co.10 warns us to be careful how we live after we become children of God, using what Israel did after they were brought out of Egypt. Paul points out that most of them perished, after figuratively experiencing salvation from sin, baptisms in water and the Spirit and being led by the Spirit. He tells us that these things are written for our warning (v.11). We can't take our salvation for granted, not bothering about idolatry, immorality, going after pleasure, etc.