Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s (2 Corinthians 10:7, NKJV).
Paul opposed and exposed the error false teachers spread against the truth of the gospel (2 Cor. 10:3-6; Gal. 1:6-12; 2:4-5). Unwilling and unable to withstand the truth Paul spoke, these “false apostles” and “deceitful workers” resorted to ad hominem arguments to blunt the force of the Spirit’s sword (2 Cor. 11:13). They attacked Paul instead of the truth he preached. We can hear their accusations against Paul as they tried to diminish his effective teaching and influence among the Corinthians. “Paul is bold in his letters but weak when in your presence” (2 Cor. 10:1-2, 10). And, “Paul is a former persecutor who never was with Jesus. He is an upstart unqualified to be an apostle – do not listen to him” (2 Cor. 11:5-6). They tried to gaslight the brethren, projecting onto Paul what they were doing as they “walked according to the flesh” (2 Cor. 10:2-3). This diversionary tactic is used when false doctrines are indefensible from the Scriptures. “Fool!” “Ignorant!” and “Pharisee!” are among the ad hominem responses against Christians who oppose and expose sin and error from God’s word. The Lord’s servant does not resort to ad hominem to bias his audience. It is a ploy unworthy of Christ’s disciple (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Reacting against reasoned biblical teaching with ad hominem responses diverts attention from the word of God. It is a carnal attack that fails to persuade while exposing the weakness and error of the one using it (2 Cor. 10:3-4). Do not be deceived.
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:7–8, NKJV)
Jeremiah said the human heart is deceitful (Jer. 17:5). Indeed. Since our hearts can deceive us, Paul’s warning is for us all. God is not mocked; we do not deceive God. We will reap what we sow. Like Israel (who sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind, Hos. 8:7), we will reap the results of the life we choose. With this sober reminder, Paul begins to conclude his exhortation to walk in the Spirit and not the flesh (Gal. 5:16-6:10). Fulfilling the lust of the flesh produces the works of the flesh and results in eternal corruption (Gal. 5:16, 19-21; 6:8). But, walking in the Spirit bears the fruit of the Spirit that results in everlasting life (Gal. 5:16, 18, 22-25). Helping one overtaken by sin is sowing to the Spirit (Gal. 6:1-2). Envious conceit and self-promotion sow to the flesh (Gal. 5:26; 6:3). Sharing in all good things with our teachers is sowing to the Spirit, but refusing to do so is a trait of the flesh (Gal. 5:20; 6:6). Paul’s broader context bears out this principle. Those who tried to be justified by the law failed and forfeited being led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:3-4, 18). We are accountable to God for what we sow in life (2 Cor. 5:10). When judgment comes, will we reap sorrowful tears or joyful glory? Do not be deceived.
If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. (James 1:26, NKJV)
This warning from the inspiration’s pen is penetrating, straightforward and universal in application. It strikes at the very heart of self-righteousness and the hypocrisy it so readily breeds. No one is so greatly deceived as he who thinks he is something when he is nothing (Galatians 6:3). James is telling us that what we think about our personal piety does not make it so. Being actively religious does not insure one’s usefulness and acceptability to God. The heart is deceived that thinks the fruit of its lips have no bearing on its virtue. The tongue that wags with backbiting gossip, profane innuendos or contentious murmurings exposes a heart that is not devoted to God. Such language reveals a heart that is devoted to itself. The heart from which such language spews shows it is willing to hurt others (while justifying itself). We must bring our tongues under control by bringing our hearts under control. We do that by looking into the perfect law of liberty and being doers of the word (James 1:22-25).
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–11, NKJV)
The Lord has spoken plainly and sin and its deadly effect. Sin keeps souls out of the kingdom of God. The enemies of the cross obscure this truth, deceiving blinded minds about this simple fact. Immorality prevents one from inheriting heaven. The gospel has power to save sinners of every stripe and sort. Every sinner must be convicted of the reality of his sin and its eternal death in order to come to Christ for salvation. “Do not be deceived” into thinking you can live as you please in the indulgence of the flesh, refuse to be “washed,” “sanctified” and “justified” from your sins, yet still have God’s eternal blessings. “And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). Will you? Or, will you be deceived?
Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. (Psalm 19:12, NKJV)
Sin is deceptive. Sin deceives us. It is so deceptive that often we do not know our own “secret faults,” even though others can see them clearly. The faults of which David wrote are sins that he did not understand were in him. So, David prayed that he would be able to know his errors and be cleansed of them by God. And, even though you may not see your sin, there are many who do. Of course, God knows your sins: “You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your countenance” (Psa. 90:8). Everything is laid bare before the Lord God (Heb. 4:13). Your parents know your sins. Parents know the reality of sin and the dangers it presents to their children. Listen to your parents when they warn you of sin. Other Christians know your sins. They hear your words and see your actions that reveal the presence of sin. So, how can you understand your errors? By implanting God’s word in your heart and being “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (Jas. 1:21-22). Look into God’s word, the “perfect law of liberty,” and be a “doer of the work” (Jas. 1:25). God’s word exposes sin so that we can know our errors and obtain God’s cleansing and salvation.