16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. (NIV)
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. (ESV)
Today's verse is a short, but powerful one.
We saw yesterday that sin is a process. It begins in the emotions when we desire something, maybe even something good, but we desire it to excess or in a twisted way. It then moves into our minds when we rationalize the sin. It then moves into our will as we design a plan to carry out our sin. And then it ends in the actual act of sin.
What's the most effective way to deal with our sin? The earlier the better, of course!
At what point then in our lives do we deal with sin? Out here at the level of behavior? No. Way back at the level of what? Of desire. It is the person who is able to control their emotional responses that is going to deal effectively with sin. Or, the person who if feeling those emotional responses has a mind that is sanctified. And when it gets from the emotions to the mind, it is halted at that point. If it makes it to the will and something is conceived, it will be born. A child conceived is a child born. That child's got to come out.
And so, in dealing with sin in our lives, we don't just deal on the end of the line effectively, we've got to go way back to the beginning. If the emotions are allowed to be exposed to the baited hook, you've got problems. And, you know, everything in our evil society will work on your emotions. All the dramatic things, all the movies and television and books and music and clothing and all the alluring sights and sounds and things that attract our attention are all designed first to capture the emotion. There's all a facade that is intended to allure us....
A woman puts on perfume and leaves a trail. That is not for your intellect. We need to guard at the level of emotion and secondly, at the level of mind. And so the mind is to be brought into captivity to Christ. Isn't that a great truth? Bringing everything in the mind into captivity to Christ. An unprotected, uncontrolled, unyielded mind is going to be filled with evil images. So I have to control my emotions. I have to control my mind because that's where the thing gets started. So I want to be sure that my emotions are given over to the things of God....
You cannot expose your emotions continually to things which lure you away from the things of God. You can't do that without paying a dear price.
And the mind, it's very simple, you need the mind of Christ. You need a renewed mind. You need a mind that is set on things above and not on things on the earth. You need a mind that is saturated with the Word of Christ dwelling in it richly. You need a mind, Paul says in Romans 12:2, that is transformed and not conformed to the world. You need to, can I put it simply? love the Lord your God with all your mind. What's in your mind? What's in your mind? If your mind feeds on the Word of God, then you're going to stop sin way back. If your emotions are under the control of the Spirit of God, and your feelings have been brought captive to Him, you're going to stop sin back where it starts. If you let your emotions go and expose them to everything the world is throwing out and you let your mind be an open door for everything to fly in and out and it's not cultivated and plowed deeply with the Word of God, then you will conceive sin and you will bring forth the child....and the child turns out to be a killer. Sin is a killer. The wages of sin is what? death. Spiritual death separating the soul from God, physical death separating the soul from the body, eternal death separating the soul and body from God.
And he's not here particularly talking about Christians or non-Christians, he's just saying all sin ever produces is death. Even for a believer, can be physical death, as 1 Corinthians 11 and 1 John 5:16 demonstrate. All kinds of death flows out of sin. So the idea that you're bringing some satisfying behavior to life is a lie. All you bring is sin and all sin brings is death...
Stop being deceived....Know where the trouble is, he's saying, don't be deceived. Stop blaming God and start blaming yourself. And start looking within and don't go blindly through life just accepting what is and then blaming God. Realize that you have within you an enemy and that enemy is your own fallenness and your own lust and that enemy must be dealt with. You cannot expose your emotion to everything that lures you. You cannot let your mind become captive to those things. You've got to know where the problem is, not be deceived about it, go back there and deal with it at that level. Stop it at the start. Fill your mind with the things of God so that they can never mate with your feelings and conceive sin in your will.
If your emotions are controlled or if your mind is controlled, either one, leaves the other without a mate to conceive sin.
Even as believers - perhaps, especially as believers, we need to take sin seriously. We serve a holy God. Yes, we serve a merciful God. Yes, we serve a gracious God. Yes, we serve a loving God. But we serve a holy God. And that makes His mercy, grace and love even more amazing. We need to take sin as seriously as God takes it.
We need to deal with it at a grass roots level. We need to be proactive. We cannot expose our emotions to the things we know lure us - and only you know what that is for you. It's not the same for everyone. And then, we cannot allow our mind to become captive to those things.
The best way to deal with it is both positively and negatively. Yes, remove the evil temptations, and don't allow yourself to be exposed to the things you are susceptible to. But also purposefully fill your emotions and mind with things that are pure.
A great companion verse would be Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Think about these things.