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Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

Ephesians 5:6

Deception seems to be all around us. People on different sides of any argument speak with great power and authority about the same topic but use very different information. Their goal is to convince us that the other side is wrong and that they are right.

But there is deceiving that’s more important than any political deceiving. More destructive than anything on cable news or the internet. And that’s deceiving people about who God is. That’s what’s going on in the Ephesian community of Jesus followers.

The deceiving isn’t something in the past or somewhere way off in the future. No, the deception, delusion, and distortion are going on right here and now. It’s not an accidental error, not a simple mistake. Its purpose is to move opinions and the people tied to those ideas.

And how do they accomplish their deception? With empty words. All kinds of meaningless words: written words, spoken words, recorded words.

Their words are empty and hollow, not based on Gods’ truth or reality. Their words might sound ok, reasonable, believable. But behind the curtain, the people and their words are a lie. They are empty, contain no truth. and are used to bully others.

It’s just like that famous scene when The Wizard of Oz is revealed[1] for who he truly is. He’s not the all-powerful, larger than life projection. No, he’s a small man hiding behind technology and a curtain. Or, as the Scarecrow called him, a humbug[2].

The deceptive, empty words, being used here had one goal in mind: to transform what God said was sinful and evil, and make it something that was acceptable, even good. Over time, the deceivers want to change what was once clearly evil vices and move them to be at least neutral, if not healthy and good. They wanted to explain away the evil, transforming it to wholesome and beneficial.

In case you were wondering, God has an opinion of them.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Isaiah 5:20

When God says woe, it’s not an idle threat. When God says woe, he’s got something in mind for them. When God says woe, it means that they have Gods full attention. When God says woe, there’s a guarantee that they are going to receive.

In Matthew 13[3], Jesus reserved his harshest words for the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. Yes, they were starting from God’s word, but then they went off the rails, using it for their own purposes, power, possessions, prestige.

And what’s at the end for the people that deceive who God is: wrath. But not just any wrath, Gods wrath. His personal wrath. The kind of wrath that only God can perform. He’s been patient, waiting, longing for people to repent and turn to him.

Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9b

I don’t know what kind of home you grew up in, but my parents didn’t have this kind of wrath. They had the “fly-off-the-handle” kind of wrath. The kind of wrath where they lost control.

God’s wrath is more of a last resort kind of thing. But there will come a time when he gets up and strike the deceivers. It will be a controlled release of his punishment.

I don’t know about you, but that’s one group that I definitely don’t want to be part of. And I bet you don’t either.

We have a couple of choices.

  • Deceivers – Will we be people that God calls deceivers? We all speak for God in one way or another. Will we be on his side?

  • Deceived – Will we let the deceivers move us? Or will we know the truth and stand on it, no matter what the consequences in this life?

These are two groups that I want no part of. How about you?

Noodling Questions

  • How easy is it for you to be deceived? Why do you think that?

  • What kinds of people easily deceive you? How do they get away with it?

  • How real do you think God’s punishment and wrath are?

[1] [2] [3]


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