What’s the greatest deception of our time? What’s the one thing we, like the frog untroubled by the ever-increasing temperature of the pot of water he’s luxuriating in, are not troubled by? The pendulum of popular doctrine in our nation today has shifted so far from “works-only” theology (salvation through works–something God does not teach) to “belief-only” theology (salvation through mere mental assent–something God likewise doesn’t teach) that many of us have actually come to believe we can be saved and continue doing wrong with no consequence. The New Testament church battled this heresy, called antinomianism, and regardless of what we call it, it’s killing us.
“So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)
I believe one of the reasons our culture is currently on a down-turn rather than an upswing is because we’re collectively rejected the idea of our accountability–both now and ultimately–to God. It isn’t that folks haven’t heard of the Gospel–between Billy Graham and the multiplicity of other ministries, it’s difficult to find someone here in the U.S. who hasn’t heard the call to accept Christ at some point of his life–it’s that far too many have come to believe the Gospel says something it doesn’t.
Yet, the antidote to error always has, and continues to be, knowing the whole counsel of God’s Word–not just bits and pieces. Jesus taught, “..many are called (invited and summoned), but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14 AMP) Many are called but few are selected…what does this mean? Could it be that not everyone who has heard the call of Christ is genuinely born again–that we have conveniently turned a blind eye to what the Gospel truly says?
James does an excellent job of addressing what is present in the life of a genuinely converted person:
“What is the use (profit), my brethren, for anyone to profess to have faith if he has no [good] works [to show for it]? Can [such] faith save [his soul]? If a brother or sister is poorly clad and lacks food for each day, And one of you says to him, Good-bye! Keep [yourself] warm and well fed, without giving him the necessities for the body, what good does that do? So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead). But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have faith, and I have [good] works. Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith…the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as make a man’s hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]!..You see that a man is justified (pronounced righteous before God) through what he does and not alone through faith [through works of obedience as well as by what he believes].” (James 2:14-19, 24 AMP) It is no more sufficient for us to simply believe what Jesus teaches is true without practicing it than it is for the devils!
Jesus put it even more succinctly:
“…every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:17-23) Notice that every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire! Evidencing your faith through obedience is not peripheral to faith–it is intherent to it. Neither is it optional.
So, what’s the greatest deception of our time? I believe it is a misinterpretation of faith and a false complacency–a refusing to turn away from wrong-doing to godly obedience to the teaching of Scripture while there is still time–that comes with it.
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived.” (Corinthians 6:9a)