The Subtlety of Self-Deceptions
Matthew 3:9
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say to you…

The Jews always were, and still are, remarkable for their pride of race; for their confidence of acceptance with God on the simple ground of their Abrahamic relations. And there was a certain amount of reasonable ground for such pride. The Abrahamic was a privileged race; it did stand in a special covenant with God. But, in a subtle way, this merely outward relationship had come to be used as an excuse for neglecting personal piety. Their relation to God was secure for this life and any other, and therefore all anxiety was removed, personal religious concern came to be regarded as a work of supererogation. Illustrate by the deceptive influence of antinomian tenets. How easily they take on a garb of supreme piety, and yet hide out of sight negligences, and even permitted moral evil! In many subtle ways men try to deceive themselves into the idea that race-relations, formal connections, will suffice to secure their eternal safety. In so many forms men say, "We have Abraham to our father;" all is well. Men are glad to get away from the searching spiritual, from that personal Word of God which is "a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." They can do with general and official relations with God; they cannot do with personal relations. There is a thrill of fear if prophets abruptly say, "Prepare to meet thy God." So they are willing to be deceived. This deception, which John Baptist deals with so scornfully, put on a semblance of piety. Who could take exception to it? And yet the relationship was not necessarily a spiritual one. They are the true children of Abraham who inherit Abraham's faith. This the classes John reproved did not care to see. Spiritual relationships are the only important relationships. Work out two thoughts.

I. Religious self-deceptions provide BODILY OCCUPATIONS AND RELATIONS in place of spiritual ones. Routines, ceremonials, relationships.

II. Religious self-deceptions put MAN'S AUTHORITIES IN PLACE OF GOD'S. Ministries of helpfulness man may provide; "dominion over faith" even the great apostle steadfastly refused to claim. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

WEB: Don't think to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.

The Axe At the Root
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