Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.…
Man is both deceitful and deceived; and being so, it is difficult to undeceive him. We have also to do with a deceitful enemy. Moreover, everything around us is deceitful. Riches are so. Favour is deceitful. The heart also is deceitful. Sin also is said to be deceitful; and there is therefore great need of the caution in the text — "Be not deceived."
I. CONSIDER SOME OF THE INSTANCES IN WHICH WE ARE LIABLE TO BE DECEIVED. Men in general have mistaken apprehensions of the character of God. We are also much deceived about our fellow-creatures. We call the proud happy, and regard the poor as miserable: we despise those whom God honours, and applaud those whom He condemns. But, above all, we are in danger of being deceived about ourselves.
1. Those are certainly deceived who entertain lessening apprehensions of the evil of sin, saying of this and the other transgression of God's holy law, as Lot did of Zoar, "Is it not a little one? and my soul shall live."
2. Those are deceived who think that the wrath of God against sin is represented in too strong a light.
3. Those who amuse themselves with the hope of a death-bed repentance, are in danger of being deceived.
4. Those who flatter themselves with the idea of safety, while they continually expose themselves to danger, are under great deception.
5. Those are awfully deceived who think their state to be good when it is really otherwise. Many imagine that they are justified and pardoned when they are in a state of wrath and condemnation.
II. CONSIDER THE EVIL AND DANGER OF SELF-DECEPTION.
1. It leaves us in a state of painful uncertainty. Those who are under the power of it will still be in suspense, and never attain to full satisfaction: they will be continually fluctuating between hope and fear, neither enjoying the pleasures of sin nor the contentments of piety.
2. Remember, God cannot be deceived. He knoweth them that are His, and them that are not so.
3. Those who are deceived will one day be undeceived, and that perhaps when it will be too late.
4. Self-deception discourages from the use of means. Those who fancy themselves safe and right, though they have the greatest need of a Saviour, are not likely to apply to Him.
5. Present deception will aggravate future misery. None sink so deep in hell as hypocrites and self-deceivers.Hence we may learn —
1. The necessity of self-examination.
2. The advantage of a soul-searching ministry.
3. When we have examined ourselves, and have been tried by others to the utmost, still there is a need to prostrate ourselves before the throne, and to pray with the Psalmist, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts!" (Psalm 139:23, 24).
(B. Beddome, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.