Some times people look at sin differently than God does. Sin is not only violating rules. Sin is doing anything that separates us from God. People like to quote Romans 8:31-39 and talk about how nothing can separate us from the love of God. This is true, but if you look at the things listed here that cannot separate us from God, they are all external - either outside adversities or outside influences. This passage does not negate our own ability to choose to separate ourselves from God through sin. Sin still separates us from God (Is 59:1-2). It is not that sin is more powerful than God. It is that God will not override our will. It is also that God is holy, and will not commune with sin. God is love (1Jn 4:8), but before He is love, He is holy (Lev 11:44-45, 1Pet 1:16). The nature of God is holy, so He does not and cannot love everything. His holiness directs His love. In fact, we need to understand that He hates sin (Deut 12:31, Deut 16:22, Ps 11:5). We cannot afford to take this lightly like most people do. We need to read the rest of Romans 8 where Paul writes of walking in the Spirit as contrasted to walking according to our lusts. We should also read Romans 6-7 which lead into Romans 8. Context is always essential to sound Bible study.
Playing with sin is a deadly game, not just in this life, but in eternity (Rom 6:23). Sin has many dangers, not the least of which is deception (Rom 7:11). Not only do the devil and sin attempt to deceive us through our lusts into sinning in the first place, but when we sin we begin a cycle of self-deception that only the grace of God and repentance can stop and reverse. Sin has a built-in component of deception; and since sin is built into our fallen nature, our own hearts are gullible to it (Jer 17:9-10). We can learn to play mental gymnastics in our minds, ignoring God and conscience, justifying ourselves instead of God (Job 32:2), and deceiving our own selves (Jam 1:22). The book of Judges is a study of what happens when people do what is right in their own eyes instead of God's (Jud 17:6, Jud 21:25). God is not deceived, nor is He mocked. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Gal 6:7)." We only fool ourselves. At first we are fully aware of the game, but as we head down this road, we can actually start to believe our own lies. As Adam and Eve did in the garden, we can become our own gods, determining right and wrong based on our sinful, deceitful nature instead of the truth of the word of God (Gen 3:1-7). It must be said again - sin is a liar. We blame the devil, and he is to blame (Jn 8:44, Rev 12:9, Rev 20:3 & 8 & 10). However, we also bear responsibility because if we did not choose to sin, it would never be able to deceive us. The devil only has the power over us we give him, especially after we are born again. However, we should understand that though we choose truth or lies and righteousness or sin, we do not choose the delusion that comes with sin. God does.
1. He hardens hearts
a. Pharaoh - Ex 7-14 (14x)
b. Sihon – Deut 7:30
c. Israel – Is 6:10, Is 63:17
2. Midian – Jud 7
3. Micaiah - 1Ki 22:22-23
4. Moab sees water as blood - 2Ki 3:20-24
5. Syrians hear noise - 2Ki 7:6
6. The deceived and the deceiver are his – Job 12:16
7. I will choose delusions - Is 66:4
8. Thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived – Jer 20:7
9. If prophet deceived, I have deceived – Eze 14:9
10. I gave them statutes that were not good – Eze 20:25
11. God gave them up – Rom 1:18-32 (vs 26)
12. God shall send strong delusion – 2Thes 2:9-12
We see this played out in the life of king Saul. He started out in the anointing of God and the leadership of the prophet Samuel. Samuel prophesied a series of events that would play out for Saul which would lead up to a great victory over the archenemy of Israel, the Philistines (1Sam 10:1-8). Saul was to wait for Samuel to arrive just before the battle started so he could offer a sacrifice to God. Saul did not wait, but presumptuously offered the sacrifice himself (1Sam 13). Samuel arrived immediately after. Instead of confessing and repenting, he made excuse and attempted to justify his error. It cost him his kingship, and started him down a road from which he never recovered, although he was given several chances.
Saul's son Jonathan initiated a great victory over the Philistines, but during the ensuing battle, Saul gave a foolish order that none of his army was to eat anything (1Sam 14). Jonathan was not there when the order was given, so when he found some honey he ate it. Saul was going to kill his own son who had brought great victory to the people of God, but his soldiers talked him out of it. Samuel later sent Saul against the Amalekites (1Sam 15). He told him to destroy them utterly and leave nothing. Saul kept their king and the best of their cattle alive. When Samuel confronted him, he lied, justified himself, made excuses, and blamed the people. He was rejected by God.
Saul once again faced the Philistines in battle (1Sam 17). The Philistine giant Goliath issued a challenge to Israel, and everyone was afraid to accept including the largest man in Israel - their leader and king (1Sam 9:2, 1Sam 10:23). Saul promised that he would give whoever killed Goliath 3 things - great riches, his daughter for his wife, and freedom from taxes for his family. David killed Goliath, but Saul did not keep his promise (1Sam 18). Saul gave his oldest daughter to another man, and when David was later offered Saul's younger daughter, David said he was too poor to even pay a dowry. Purposefully breaking a promise is the same as lying. After David killed Goliath, Saul acted like he did not even know who David was, even though he had performed music in his presence many times before this, and was his armorbearer (1Sam 16:14-23, 1Sam 17:55-28). This could be at least in part because Saul's sins had opened the door for an evil spirit to trouble him. He even prophesied by that evil spirit (1Sam 18:10). Not every spirit is the Holy Spirit (1Jn 4:1). Saul promised his son Jonathan that he had no intention of killing David (1Sam 19:6). Yet he had already tried it 3 times, and would go on to try it at least 17 more times. He falsely accused David of being his enemy (1Sam 19:17). He falsely accused his son Jonathan (1Sam 20:30-33), his daughter Michal (1Sam 19:11-17), and the priest Ahimelech (1Sam 22) of conspiring with David against him. He attempted to kill Jonathan for it, and had Ahimelech, the priests, their families and their town destroyed. Saul later turned to a witch when he could no longer hear from God (1Sam 28). He lost his life, and brought defeat and death to his family and his people (1Sam 31). None of this had to happen. It was his unrepented pattern of self-deception that caused it.
Truth is a precious commodity, and we need to treasure it dearly. Truth and righteousness are inseparable Siamese twins. Truth and righteousness are defined by God in the Bible, not by us. God did not give us the authority to make up our own version. The path of self-deception seems like the easy way at first, but the consequences are terrible. Sometimes embracing truth and standing for it is not easy, but it always yields the best results in the long run. We must pray and ask God to deliver us from the deception of sin and our own gullible hearts, and to fill us with the Spirit of truth, also known as the Holy Ghost (Jn 14:!7, Jn 15:26, Jn 16:13, 1Jn 4:6). We must be lifelong students of the Bible. His word is truth (Jn 17:17). The whole world is deceived by their own sins, which will lead it into the deception of the antichrist (2Thes 2, 1Jn 5:19, Rev 12:9). We have the opportunity to know the true Christ. There is no greater miracle than for us to have truth in our hearts. "Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom (Ps 51:6)." "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Ps 139:23-24)."