Greetings, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series, where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has shared many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we seek to understand the difference between faith and self-deception.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
Faith and Self Deception
"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye witnesses of his majesty." Second Peter, Chapter 1, Verse 16
Brothers and sisters, we examine the difference between faith and self-deception. There are those who maintain that faith in God is self-deception. They maintain that the holders of such faith are in fact preventing themselves from looking at reality. They maintain that God is not necessary to explain all of the factors of human nature. They maintain that everything within the human mind is natural. They maintain that no such communion exists between believers and God. They declare that there is no life beyond this one. There is no hell and certainly no heaven. They maintain believers are self-deceived and thus are refusing to adjust to reality accordingly.
So today we endeavor to answer those critics by pointing out the difference between self-deception and spiritual faith. But before beginning, we add this admonition to the skeptics of spiritual faith: It would be wise to attempt to exercise this faith before rejecting it out of hand. If such a benevolent being exists, and we maintain that he does, is it not the better part of wisdom for each individual to seek to know the truth of this claim? The relationship with the Father is purely personal as are all the metamorphoses that occur as a result of having an active relationship with him. This relationship can only be known by experiencing it. Reading about the relationship is not the same as experiencing it and carries none of the changes that occur when worshiping the heavenly Father.
When Jesus began life as a babe, he had no knowledge of his pre-existence. When he became self-conscious, he was only conscious that he was a human being. As he continued to develop, he developed a moral nature as all human beings do. This allowed him to choose right from wrong, and when he made his first moral choice by choosing unselfishness, the Father’’s spirit came to dwell within his mind just as the divine spirit has indwelt countless human beings when a moral choice is first made. He hungered and thirst; he tired and required rest. He hoped and dreamed. He satisfied his human needs just as we all do.
He lived in a Jewish culture and received religious training by his parents and his synagogue. He was taught to pray and worship God. He was given instruction concerning his relationship to God and his responsibilities. Most of us grow up with some form of religious training. There was one significant difference in Jesus’’ prayer life that was absent from his brothers and sisters. He developed a personal relationship with the heavenly Father. After participating in the family prayer, he would insist on having a private talk with his heavenly Father. And this urge to have a private talk came from his guardian angels and his divine spirit. Thus, he initiated first and then maintained a personal relationship with the heavenly Father
As Jesus grew, like all normal-minded individuals, he developed imagination and used it just as all of us would. But during this period, he never claimed to be anything other than a human being. As he grew spiritually, morally, and physically, his faith in God grew, but always he remained a human being. He began to have feelings within himself that he was somehow more than just a man, but not some other person. We all have these same feelings. There is something inside us that tells us we are more than a glorified animal. We feel that we are something special, but we still remain the same person. We never claim to be anything other than the person we are.
As Jesus grew, his character changed. He increasingly became unselfish and grew in his awareness of the spirit Father. But during all of this growth, he still made no pretense of being anything other than a human being. Jesus was gradually becoming conscious of his pre-existence, but it was a purely faith-awareness. Now we divert a moment to consider how self-deception operates
Self-deception grows out of a natural desire to be someone we are not. We all have dreams of who we would like to be or accomplish, but never do the normal-minded presume to be some other person. We may wish that we were somebody else, but never (normally) does this wish progress cause us to assume we are somebody else. We know who we are. And in order to pretend to be somebody else, assume some other identity, we have to lie to ourselves, to make statements to ourselves that we know are not true. And neither do we possess any of the characteristics or qualities of the assumed identity. We may pretend to have them, but they are not projections of our true selves; they are projections of an assumed identity. As such, they cannot be maintained in time and space.
This self-deception is not the operation of faith. Faith never assumes to impart a new identity to a person. Faith imparts qualities that enhance the individual character but never gives a consciousness of being someone else. As Jesus grew from babyhood to an adult man, his faith continued to reveal who he was before he came to earth. But never did this faith impart a consciousness of being someone else. He was the same person, and when he finally reached the heights of spiritual perfection, he was still the same person. All that changed was his final recognition of his identity prior to coming to earth: the Son of man and the Son of God as one personality.
Now that Jesus has ascended on high as God and man, he left behind his Spirit of Truth to allow us to make the same conquest of the human nature and to help us recognize who we truly are. We are the sons of God. The spiritual experience is a process whereby we come to know that we are the sons of God. Now it is true that not many of us relatively speaking fully develop this aspect of ourselves, but that is a personal choice and does not change the truth that the power has been given to us to master our human selves and in the process become conscious that we are the sons and daughters of God. Those who object to faith fail to realize that the examples they give to discredit it and religion do not reflect true spiritual faith and religion. This is why it is so important to get first-hand information, to actually see if a relationship exists between us and the heavenly Father.
True spiritual faith and religion is always a positive reality——always helpful to others and never self-serving. But the greatest of the qualities of true religion and spiritual faith is one dominated by the motive of divine love, the divine spirit. As we continue to pray and worship the heavenly Father, we begin to take on more of his character attributes. We grow from being preoccupied with the concerns of self to the unselfish regard of others. We gradually learn to love God with all of our hearts and souls and our neighbors as ourselves. But the sure proof of spiritual faith is character transformation. Those who do not exercise their spiritual faith may very well be morally and socially conscious individuals, but they don’’t desire to dedicate themselves to serving others unselfishly, and they can never experience the truth that all people are our sisters and brothers. They can never develop a consciousness of the heavenly Father and a hope of surviving death.
A self-deceived person may pretend to be other than he is, but a faith-exerciser never pretends to be anything other than a human being, albeit it he enjoys increasing self-realization. The self-deceived person never acquires any of the actual attributes of the person he pretends to be. He remains the same person despite his assertions to the contrary. He cannot perform like the person he has assumed to be. This is similar to a newborn who develops through all of the stages of life--moving from infancy to childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age, and finally old age. He has gone through many changes, but at the end he still remains the same person. Faith changes the qualities of the person’’s character throughout all these stages but it does not change the person. The person remains the same as he was prior to the spiritualization process, with the exception that he has acquired a character like and consciousness of God. The self-deceived person receives nothing but disappointment as his world of pretense finally collapses on him.
This concludes today's message on understanding the difference between faith and self-deception. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.