1Co 3:18-19 “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.”
Deception seems to be a way of life. There are so-called leaders in the world that daily try to make people believe that evil is good and unrighteousness is just. There are religions that teach Christ in a way that portrays Him as being inadequate to finish the work He came to do. Retailers deceive us every day with advertisements that are overstated and sale prices that supposedly are saving us thousands of dollars. However, the worst deceptions are the ones we sell ourselves on.
Self-deception was at work in the garden. Even though the Serpent beguiled Eve and she took the forbidden fruit to Adam, they deceived themselves. They convinced themselves that God did not really mean they were going to die if they ate that fruit. Once they transgressed, they deceived themselves into thinking they could hide themselves from God in His own garden. They thought they were wise, but the fall proved otherwise.
We jump ahead to Paul’s day, and we find people who (like our forefather, Adam) knew God and knew something about God. Yet, they thought themselves wise in their own strength. Some had apparently decided that it would be advantageous to trace their faith and hope back to Paul, while others insisted that Apollos or Peter was who they would rely on. Even though Paul, by determination, had preached to them only Jesus Christ and Him crucified, they had deceived themselves and as a result were chasing after men.
Sadly, we still have the same problem today. After hearing the gospel of God, we persuade ourselves that it is ok to go to church on Sunday and run after men the rest of the week. We still believe that we can hide ourselves from God even while dwelling in His kingdom. We still attempt to build on the foundation of Christ with the leftovers of our lives.
To think that our worldly wisdom could ever teach us the things of God is self-deception. To think that our worldly wisdom has outgrown the wisdom of God is self-deception multiplied a hundred fold. Relying on our own understanding only seems to be wise. Only when we become a fool to the world and worldly wisdom becomes foolishness to us do we begin to be wise.
God has blessed us with the foolishness of preaching to demonstrate to us how foolish this world is before Him. Our experience of faith teaches us that God is real and He is able. It is not the devil that deceives us (though he does tempt us); it is not the hype and the slick sales pitch that deceives us; it is not the charm of man that deceives us. We deceive ourselves, and Paul’s admonishment that we should not instructs us that this does not have to be the case.
Long before the days of Jesus, the scripture instructs us that God is not impressed with man’s wisdom. Job declared in his day that God ensnared the wise of this world in their own trap. How often have we seen God turn the snare of the wicked back on the one who would set it? To be rid of self-deception, we cannot be afraid of what the wisdom of this world is going to think about us.
May God make us happy to be fools in the eyes of the world that we might be wise in the courts of God!