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OVERCOMING DECEPTION WITH LOVE AND TRUTH

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

AND

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

7 FEBRUARY 1993

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Exodus 32:19
            34:1-7
Deuteronomy 5:20
2 John 1-9
Revelation 7:13-17

So often, when we look at the world around us through our newspapers, radio, and television, we get the feeling that everything is up side down, that evilness and deception prevail, and that things are getting worse rather than better.

This is mostly true for those who shun the love and truth of the Lord our God.

But those who whole-heartedly seek the Lord our God, and receive His love and truth and the wonders of His creation and the promise of the peace of heaven to come, find that they have eyes to see beyond that which is common here on earth; and thus, they can have peace.

This set of circumstances is nothing new, for it has been going on for thousands of years.

Such was obviously the case when the apostle John wrote a short but encouraging letter to a wonderful woman and her children.

Please turn with me to 2 John 1, and following.

1. The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth,

2. for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever:

3. Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

From the way John begins this letter, it is obvious that this chosen lady of God has been going through quite a struggle in her faith and witness of the ways of the Lord.

It is also quite likely that this woman has been ridiculed and emotionally hurt by the evilness and deception of the people of her community, and John is writing this letter to her to encourage her, so that she doesn’t become depressed.

What John is saying to her, and to us, is that if we know the truth and have the love of God within us, we are not alone in our struggle to overcome the deception of Satan and those who follow in the footsteps of their father the devil; for everyone else who has this love and truth knows what we are doing is of God, and they are with us in spirit.

Love and truth does overcome deception.

Moses had a similar struggle.

He was doing everything he could to serve the Lord, but the people’s heart was not in the same direction.

Do you remember what happened when he came down from the mountain with the tablets the first time?

Take a look at what we are told in Exodus 32:19

19. And it came about, as soon as Moses came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses' anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain.

Moses had constantly interceded for the people with the Lord, and still they were full of deception. They did what they wanted to do, and not what the Lord wanted them to do.

Moses' love was stretched to the limit; thus he symbolically broke the covenant of truth between God and the people.

Feel in your heart what Moses felt; and you can, if you have the love and truth of the Lord within you.

Neither God nor Moses really fell out of love with the people, and God tells Moses to cut out two more stone tablets like the former ones and go back up upon the mountain, but to keep the congregation and their animals away (Exodus 34:1-3).

1. Now the Lord said to Moses, “Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered.

2. “So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain.

3. “And no man is to come up with you, nor let any man be seen anywhere on the mountain; even the flocks and the herds may not graze in front of that mountain.”

Now let's continue the account with Exodus 34:4-7 which shows how the Lord's love and truth overcomes the peoples deception.

4. So he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand.

5. And the Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord.

First of all, the Lord's love reached out to Moses to comfort him, for he also felt the people’s rejection.

Secondly, the Lord's love again reached out to the people by restoring the Ten Commandments, the truth of our covenant with Him.

6. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;

7. who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations."

To those who realize the error of their ways, the Lord will grant forgiveness and healing; but to those who continue in their deceitfulness, He will allow their evilness to be passed on from generation to generation.

Evil will befall those who are evil.

But for those who have love and truth in their hearts, an unlimited love and truth that extends to every person and every animal and to the whole o creation, there will also be the entire kingdom of God.

By his effort in providing a new set of tablets for the people, Moses overcame their deception with love and truth.

The evil that they did, they would bring down upon their own heads; but Moses and the Lord kept showing them the truth in love.

This is what John is telling this chosen woman. Let's go back to 2 John and pick up our message at verse 4.

4. I was very glad to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father.

5. And now I ask you, lady, not as writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.

6. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.

John is encouraging this woman and us to continue to live and walk in the love and truth of the Lord, no matter what evil is being exhibited by others, and no matter how deceptive they are. We are to walk with the Lord.

7. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.

8. Watch yourselves, that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.

Let's pause here for a minute and note what Deuteronomy 5:20 tells us:

20. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You cannot bear false witness against your neighbor if you have love and truth in you, for a false statement has no love or truth about it.

Such people do not walk in the Lord's commandments.

They know who they are, and so do those who walk with the Lord.

So, we are to walk with the Lord anyway.

Note 2 John 9:

9. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.

For our part, we are to overcome evil with good.

For our part, we are to overcome deception with love and truth.

For our part, we are to walk with the Lord, for our reward is great.

Listen to a part of John's Revelation, 7:13-17.

13. And one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and from where have they come?"

14. And I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me,

"These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15. For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them.

16. "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat;

17. for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes.”

Have you “washed your robes in the blood of the Lamb?” Or saying this another way, have we wrapped ourselves in the love and forgiveness of the Lord to such an extent that we extend it to the whole of creation.

Then keep your heart and mind and your eyes and ears upon this vision of John's, that it becomes your vision too.

Let the deceivers of this world do what they are doing, and don't worry about them, or what they are doing.

We are to live in love and truth, even if others don’t, as a witness to the world.

We are to walk with God, when others don’t, in the hope and prayer that one day they will join us.

For we have overcome!

Amen.

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