Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.James 1:16(NASB)
We are warned in many places in Scripture not to be deceived.. especially in the area of testing, trials and temptation. We are not to be deceived about the source of sin and its consequences and we are to be particularly careful of being led astray from the truth of God's word into justifying our own, self-authenticated, ungodly acts and lustful pride.. rather than taking personal responsibility for our own words and actions.
Earlier James pointed out that the man who perseveres under trial is truly blessed - for God uses such trials and temptations in life to mature us in the faith.. as we hold fast to the Word of truth, which draws us into ever closer fellowship with Himself. But too often our deceitful enemy uses the trials of life and the circumstances we face to cast doubt on the sovereign character of God by causing us to doubt His Word, question His goodness or blame Him for the difficulties we face in life.
How easy it is to blame God or hold others accountable for the problems we face instead of taking responsibility for our own life and choices. How quickly we can reverse biblical truth to justify our own ungodly acts and sinful propensities.. by making the excuse that we are a victim of our circumstances or a casualty of our heredity or genes - or simply by accusing God of giving preferential blessings to others, while He ignores our need and causes us pain .. as we willingly swallow Satan's deceptive bait.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren, was the warning given by James. Stop being deceived! is its literal meaning. Stop questioning God's goodness because of the suffering you are going through.. This is a grievous slur on the character and goodness of God and is diametrically opposite of the truth that is laid out in Scripture - that God alone is good and every good and perfect gift comes to us exclusively from Him.. and that God Himself cannot be tempted nor does He ever tempt anyone to sin.
And we are also to stop assuming that we deserve God's blessings, because we are such good people. This is also a deception from the enemy and a distortion of the truth of God's word, for there are none that are good, not even one. The plain truth is that none of us deserve any blessings from the Lord - but in His goodness and grace He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places and given us all we need for life and godliness.. and it is all by His grace through our faith in Christ, Who is our life.
James warns us to stop being deceived into believing in a god of our own imagination.. instead of the God that has been revealed in Scripture. He counsels us against fitting the character of God into our own wishful thinking in order to justify our own ungodly acts and our own sinful propensities.. simply because we don't understand the reason for the trials we are facing.
James also wants us to recognise ourselves for what we truly are - guilty, undeserving sinners that are saved by the amazing grace of God rather than pretty people that deserve blessings because we see ourselves as somewhat better-behaved or more deserving than others.
It may not be flattering to realise that when we are tempted to sin we are being carried away by the enemy's deceptive tricks, allured by worldly treats and enticed by our own lustful pride - but how important to recognise the warning from James. How important that we do not hearken to the deceiving enticements of the enemy but hold fast to the truth of God's word and maintain an unshakable trust in the sovereign character and eternal goodness of our good and gracious God - and that we simply trust in His Word of truth.
Heavenly Father, thank You for this sober warning. I pray for wisdom, discernment and honesty of heart so that I am not deceived by the enemy who seeks to distort the character of God and cause me to stray from His Word of truth. I pray that I may endure in the trials I face, in the power of the Spirit.. knowing that You are using all things to work together for good in order to refine my character into the person You want me to be. May I live for Your greater glory, in Jesus name I pray, AMEN.