Matthew 23:34-35 (The Deceitfulness of Sin 2: Humility, Pride, and God’s Sovereignty)

Recall the self-deceiving and self-destructive nature of sin that makes it so utterly sinful:  Because sin is direct disobedience against the commands God has given for our preservation in His creation, in order to sin one must as an act of his will decide that he knows better than God what is best for himself and so necessarily hardens his heart against the very thing that is for his well-being.  Thus sin by its very nature deceives a person about its real consequences, so that as one continues in sin he becomes increasingly deluded about its end and develops a false security that he is safe and has peace although he walks in the stubbornness of his heart (Deut 29:19).

What does this understanding of the deceitfulness of sin teach us about the importance of humility to our salvation?  Think: if a person does not allow for the possibility that he could be deceived—which is what sin always does—will he ever consider the possibility that he is deceived?  Cf. Rom 7:9-11, Eph 4:22, Heb 3:13, 1Jo 1:8.  What does the deceptive nature of sin also teach us about the great danger of pride as the source of both Satan’s and man’s fall—supposing that we know better than our Creator what’s best for ourselves?  What does it also help us to understand about how God is able to give those who are proud and will not receive a love for the truth by which they might be saved over to believe a lie while at the very same time earnestly desiring their salvation and continuing to extend to them His mercy and grace until the very end?  See Psa 18:25-16, 2Th 2:10-12; cf. Job 18:5-8,18, Nah 1:7-8, and consider that by continuing to extend his mercy to sinners by calling them to repentance, those who in pride refuse to give heed to the truth necessarily harden their own hearts against the only thing that can save them and are driven into darkness; in this sense God Himself is hardening their hearts, as He did with Pharaoh, and giving them over to believe a lie simply by sending them prophets and wise men and scribes to sift their hearts (cf. Mat 3:12) so they may “fill up the measure” of their guilt (Mat 23:32) and so that “all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but took pleasure in wickedness” (2Th 2:12).  Again, what does this teach us about the great danger of sin to our souls, and the importance of heeding Scripture’s admonitions to flee from sin?  Cf. Eph 4:17-19.

How do these things also help us to better understand how God can grant to men and angels the free will to choose according to their own way and yet still remain sovereign over all His creation?  Think: God is God, that being than which none greater is possible, the Creator of all, who holds all truth because He is the source of all truth—which is the basis and importance of the first and second commandments, Exo 20:3-6.  So when a creature within God’s creation makes a deliberate choice against God, which is what sin is, he is asserting himself to be a god himself in opposition to the one and only true God.  And yet he is not God, but still subject to all the laws that reflect God’s truth which govern God’s creation, of which he is a part.  Hence, although the creature may as an act of his will choose against the will of His Maker, and the self-deceiving nature of sin deludes him that he knows what is best for himself as his own god, by sinning against God the creature is by the very nature of sin at the same time hardening his heart against the truth that is for his own well-being as a part of God’s good creation, and by so doing the creature’s self-deceiving sin must ultimately result in its own self-destruction[1].  In this way, God’s will must ultimately prevail within His creation, so that in spite of the free will He bestows upon His creatures by which they may oppose Him, He must ultimately remain sovereign over them[2].  Again, what does this teach us about the self-deluding nature of sin that makes it so sinful?

What does the deceitfulness of sin and man’s free will teach us about the manner in which we must seek to reach the lost, the means by which God is able to grant to them repentance, and why there is uncertainty when praying for such?  See 2Ti 2:24-26; cf. Joh 12:29, Act 2:4,7,12-13, 9:3-7, 22:9.

 


1. It was for this reason that God warned man at the very beginning that he must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lest he surely die (Gen 2:17).  For if man’s eyes were opened to his ability to act as a free agent and make moral choices according to his own will without his eyes being first opened to understand the destructive consequences of sin, God knew that sin’s self-deceiving nature would harden man’s heart against the very things that were meant for his preservation and therefore result in his death.

2. It’s a funny thing about God: He just wants to be God.  Milton Green

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