By Raymond E. Harris
In I Corinthians 3:18, Paul wrote, “Let no man deceive himself.” Our English words “deceit and deceive” are translated from two Greek words apate and dolos. Apate means “to cheat, deceive or beguile; that which gives a false impression, whether by appearance, statement or influence.” Dolos means “a bait or snare, to deceive or beguile, to corrupt.”
Obviously it is tragic when someone is beguiled, ensnared and corrupted by the influence of an adversary. However, it is even worse to be self-deceived! James warns, “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22).
To be self-deceived is to “reason amiss.” In 1 Corinthians 3:18, Paul indicates that those caught up in intellectual pride are especially susceptible to self-deception. Hence, even the most highly educated need to be humble enough to be teachable when it comes to God’s Word. And the most learned need to be humble enough to obey the truths of God’s Word.
People who hear God’s Word and do not practice righteousness deceive themselves by making a false estimate of their standing before God. They may enjoy hearing the word preached, or they may read and think that they are serving the Lord; but in the void of their neglect of that word, their religion is vain.
Be not deceived! NO one will be saved eternally just because he read the Bible a lot. Likewise, no one will be saved eternally just because he spent a lot of time in the church building. Be not deceived! Only the obedient and the faithful will inherit eternal life (Matt. 7:21-23).
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 5, p. 136
March 1, 1984