The Spiritual Deception of Unevaluated Faith

Today, the Holy Spirit has us continuing in the study of Spiritual Deceptions. Today we are focused on the spiritual deception of unevaluated faith. What is “unevaluated faith”? First of all, it is very personal – your faith, and my faith, that we are focused on. Second, it is a reminder that from time to time, maybe even constantly, you and I need to be examining ourselves, evaluating our faith in Jesus Christ, as we, Philippians 3:14. . . press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Mirrors were created for people to look at themselves; they are means of self-examination of one’s appearance. But we also find other means of self examination, and often self- examinations bring us suddenly into confrontations with reality, as we often find that what we thought just “ain’t what is”, sort of to coin a phrase.

I know that some people, just maybe even someone in this room, have had the experience of cruising down the highway, blithely daydreaming, or in conversation with a passenger, or on the cell phone, or just listening to music or an audio book, and suddenly seeing a radar cop at work on the edge of the road. What do you instinctively do if you are that driver, just cruising through life, suddenly confronted with the speed evaluator, the official with authority to punish speeders? Doesn’t your foot, almost invariably and uncontrollably, come off the accelerator, while your eyes rush to the speedometer? And have you ever had the school experience of turning in an exam or paper and thinking, “Man, this stuff is easy; I’ve got this made with a good grade,” and finding out from the real grade that you had actually had had no idea what was really expected of you?

These examples, as with the mirror, make clear that, often times, our perceptions of reality do not measure up to real reality. You can, and you have the power to, choose to play games in your head with pop-psychology notions that each person has his or her own reality that is in fact only the image of their perceptions. But there are some things that are real regardless of your perceptions, and especially regardless of your false perceptions, like ultimately learned by the absent- minded driver and the careless student we talked about a minute ago.

Here is the real deal: God created reality. We don’t get to create our own perception, or misperception, and call it reality. God has challenged us and called us into a real relationship, a reality relationship, with Him through Jesus Christ His Son. God has called us to eternal life with Him, with Jesus.

This whole reality is summed up in the verse which underwrote Martin Luther’s personal exodus from the Catholic monastery and his return to the real world to minister the split of believers into Catholics and Protestants, the Protestant Reformation: Ephesians 2:8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. That is the reality God created. That reality is, John 3:16, why God gave us Jesus, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Then, in John 17, Jesus, very near the end of His earthly ministry in the flesh, turned in His Job Report, His Post-Action Analysis, to His Father, Jehovah God. Study of this Report, this Analysis, reveals how Jesus understood what He accomplished and how and what the proof of that was, as manifested in the faith, and therefore in the lives, of true believers. In His Report, Jesus provided a detailed description of His affect on the people who had become true believers. Through that detailed description, we find a way to measure the true believer and the true church. It is the same measure Jesus used; what measure could be more accurate?

Thus, In His Report, Jesus gave us the evaluation tools we need to distinguish the true church from the false church (See Revelation 18:4, referring to the Great Spiritual Harlot of Revelation 17: And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you share in her plagues”.)

Because the true church is populated with true believers only, Jesus’ Report defines for us the way (not “a way” but “the way”) to know and understand, on an intensely personal level, how to go about following the mandate of Scripture (II Corinthians 13:5) that we examine ourselves to determine as to whether we are in the faith.

John 17:2as You have given Him (Jesus) authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. {there is a whole discussion available on the authority issue, that has been taught before in this body, and we will hold revisiting of that discussion for another day.}

John 17:3And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

So, these two verses sum up the game plan, they sum up God’s reality that He created. John 17: 6 contains Jesus’ Report of what He did to carry out His job assignment up to that point, on earth: I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours. You gave them to Me . . . .

We now see in the rest of John 17:6, and following, the evaluation tools by which Jesus could evaluate and say in His Report to God that these men were believers, that they had in reality chosen faith in their lives:

John 17:6 (the last phrase): . . . and they have kept Your Word. This is, purely and simply, obedience. See I John 2:3-6 (READ) – to know God and Jesus, is to obey them, and in that obedience, verse 5, “truly the love of God is perfected in (the true believer)”. See II John :6This is love, that we walk according to His commandments.

John 17:7Now they have known that all things which You have give Me are from You.

John 17:8For I have given them the words which You have given Me and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You, and they also believed that You sent Me.

John 17:13: Jesus says He is sharing this Job Report, this Post-Action Analysis, with the world . . . that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.

John 17:14. . . the world has hated them (the believers) because they are not of the world . . . .

John 17:17Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. True believers are set apart, not by their works, but by the word of God, His truth.

John 17:18: True believers, no longer of this world, have nevertheless been sent into just as God sent Jesus into this world.

John 17:20-23a: True believers are called into such unity together and with God and Jesus, that all are one in each other.

John 17:23b: That the lives, the living testimonies, of true believers, consisting of such oneness in the faith, is such a completion, a maturity, a perfection in oneness (See Ephesians 4:11-16, READ.) that even the world will know that God has sent Jesus, and that God, Himself, loves the true believers just as He loves Jesus.

Conclusion: it is time to do some evaluation of your faith on a regular basis. You need to determine if you are really in the faith, if you are really walking in the faith, in knowledge, love and obedience, each day. Recently, I attended a seminar that addressed multi-tasking, something we all do to some degree or another. The problem with multi-tasking is that we often don’t finish everything, or we don’t do any individual task as well as we might if we were just working on one thing at a time. The seminar instructor encouraged each of us to develop tools of self-evaluation, that we might use daily, to evaluate our Job and Life satisfaction, not just our effectiveness and efficiency. You know, we can evangelize, but the Holy Spirit does the convicting. So, the measure of our satisfaction needs to be our love and obedience in speaking the truth of God and Jesus, and the measure is not our effectiveness or our efficiency.

Don’t fall into the snare of not evaluating your faith; don’t be presumptive, complacent, absent-mindedly cruising through life and not paying attention to your conduct on the highway of life. Don’t be careless as a student of life and don’t ignore the mirror of your John 17 criteria, which turn mostly on your beliefs and your resulting conduct.

God bless you and amen.