November 17, 2012

“Watch Out That No One Deceives You” (Mark 13.5)

In the Collect we ask God to “Free us from all that darkens and ensnares us.” The Readings remind us of the spiritual dangers of this life. Eli the priest is not paying attention when he accuses Hannah of being drunk when she is praying (1 Sam. 1.14). In the Hebrews Reading (10.11-25) “those who are being made holy” are encouraged to persevere. Let us focus on the Jesus warning and consider:
·         How are we deceived?
·         How can we protect ourselves from being deceived?

11.  How are we deceived?
a.    There is a deceiver – the Bible names him as Satan, the father of lies
                                          i.    Satan whispers temptations in our ears and hearts
                                        ii.    Satan gives us assurance it is ok – “You will not certainly die” (Gen. 3.4) - die spiritually
                                       iii.    Satan even quotes Scripture to Jesus
                                       iv.    When we give in to temptation we are accused
                                         v.    Think of Satan as head of quality control on Earth
                                       vi.    Many people dismiss as superstition - are vulnerable
                                      vii.    Others can get paranoid or blame Satan for own foolishness
                                     viii.    Need balance of awareness and vigilance

b.    Jesus warns us “many will come in my name – clergy
                                          i.    Clergy are Just as vulnerable to being deceived
                                        ii.    Enlightenment questioned the authority of Church as based on superstition
                                       iii.    Biblical Criticism deconstructed the Biblical as a reliable source of religious truth
                                       iv.    New Liberal theology was developed which questioned the supernatural worldview of the Biblle -Healing miracles, Virgin Birth, Resurrection of Jesus
                                         v.    Reason and intellectual debate replaced Biblical authority – literal vs allegorical meanings
                                       vi.    Church councils / synods replace Scripture, Tradition and Reason as the authority for determining truth

c.     Culture of inclusiveness that excludes true truth
                                          i.    Inclusiveness has become the new authority
                                        ii.    Inclusiveness is not a Biblical value
                                       iii.    Inclusiveness is a secular political value
                                       iv.    Inclusiveness excludes the possibility of truth
                                         v.    My experience is my ‘truth’
                                       vi.    Ended up with ‘my truth’ and ‘your truth’ as equally valid – no religious authority (only political)

d.    On the Psychological level we deceive ourselves
                                          i.    Our minds have a built-in protection mechanism
                                        ii.    Information which causes stress or emotional discomfort is filtered out in our subconscious
                                       iii.    We hear but we do not really hear – Biblical
                                       iv.    Example of Eve – believe the lie, does not ask for clarification on what Satan means by “die”
                                         v.    Eve assumes relationship will not die
                                       vi.    My experience with Red Deer Public Library Board
1.     Did not hear their concerns
2.     Assumed they were satisfied
3.     Contract was terminated
4.     Researched self-deception and discovered that this is a scientifically valid process

2   2.  How can we protect ourselves from being deceived?
a.    Read the Bible as the basic standard to test truth
                                          i.    Christianity flourished in England because each family had a Bible they could read at home
                                        ii.    Contrast with France and Italy where there was no effective Reformation and little Bible reading
                                       iii.    My experience of reading the Bible – and being angry that nobody had taught me the truth
                                       iv.    Daily Bible reading is our best protection
b.    Invite the Holy Spirit to teach discernment
                                          i.    Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth – guides us
                                        ii.    Knowledge and wisdom come from the Spirit
                                       iii.    Daily prayer and listening time protects us
c.     Do self-examination in preparation for Confession
                                                      i.    Need to “Renounce all things that draw you from the love of God”  (Prayer after Communion)