Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
Today, in this segment of our program, we’re going over selections from Dave Hunt’s out-of-print book Beyond Seduction. And if you’re not familiar with the book, it was Dave’s follow up to The Seduction of Christianity, which was published nearly 20 years ago, and most of the issues we addressed back then are continuing (that's sad to say, Dave) to do damage in the church today. In fact, many of the prominent false teachings of two decades ago, though less obvious today, have become a part of the thinking of today’s generation, which was not yet born, or were at least very young at the time.
So last week we were going through chapter one, which is titled “A Return to Biblical Christianity.” And, Dave, I want to pick up this week in that chapter, “Confronting Self-Deception.” You write that “...the reaction of the overwhelming majority of humanity has always been to reject the Bible’s message.” Now, that seems like a contradiction, because the Bible is, volume-wise, the most popular book…
Tom: …ever written.
Tom: I mean, there are more copies of that than any book in history.
Dave: Yeah, Tom, I guess you could say, “Never has a work that people don’t like been given so much popularity...”
Dave: Say, lip service. The Bible puts it well. God said, “You honor me with your lips, you draw nigh to me with your mouth, but your heart is far from me.” So I guess it’s a status symbol, you know. "Oh yeah, we’ve got a Bible at home,” you know - gathering dust. It isn’t opened very often, if ever, in some homes. But they have a Bible! And that means they - you know, they’ve kind of got themselves pointed in the direction of heaven…
Dave: …by their way of thinking, anyway. They’re not bad - they’re good people. “We have a Bible.”
But, Tom, I think I could speak to my own heart and to each true evangelical Christian. How often do we study the Word of God really seriously? “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path. I have sworn, I will perform it. I will keep your righteous judgments, Lord.”
The man who is blessed, in Psalm 1 it says, “In his law doth he meditate day and night.”
Jeremiah said, “Thy words were found, I did eat them. …They were unto to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.”
“We don’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Could we honestly say that that is true in a practical way, in the lives of most people…
Dave: …who attend most evangelical churches and call themselves Christians?
You know, God isn’t trying to win a popularity contest with mankind. God is not bending down on His knees trying to get us to give Him our attention; you know, maybe we could give Him a little bit of our lives, we might give Him a little honor, in some way or another. He’s going to try to persuade us that He’s not such a bad God after all.
And, Tom, the Bible is not intended to reinforce man’s self-centeredness...
Dave: …or his selfishness. It’s intended to correct us. We’re the creature; God’s the Creator. Something went wrong back there in the Garden of Eden, and that is taken care of in the first three chapters of the Bible. All the rest of the Bible is, "How is God going to bring man back?" But on His terms, not changing His standards - God is not going to lower His standards, in order to accommodate man.
And that’s why the Bible is not a popular book. You can find some verses - Robert Schuller wrote The Possibility Thinkers Bible. We try to make the Bible out to be a psychological self-help book that’s going to build up your self-esteem and make you feel good about yourself. That is not what the Bible is.
Tom: Dave, you bring up two interesting points. One: the world, maybe from a prestige standpoint, or maybe just something to say, “Oh yeah, I’ve got the Bible,” but in terms of arguing against it, or rejecting what it says... And you can understand that, because, as you said, the Bible does correct things in a person’s life, and if that’s offensive to people, they’re not going to go for it.
But, Christians... You also talk in this chapter about people who are sincere, yet interpret it from their own bias, their own selfishness.
Tom: What about that?
Dave: Well, Tom, let’s take a look at seminaries. I think we could say - and I don’t like to use the word “most”; my wife always x’s that out when I’m writing something - well, how about many or some? I think we could say most seminaries today have turned to liberalism. You know, Harvard, Yale, Princeton - they’ve been what we call “liberal” for decades.
Tom: And they were started by the Puritans!
Tom: These were incredibly - you know, incredibly is not the right word, but these were absolutely Christian schools…
Tom: …to begin with.
Dave: So what does that entail? "Well, you see, we’re not going to reject the Bible entirely. And I do like the prestige of being a pastor of a church. It gives you a certain honor in the community and being a seminary professor. But, you know, there are things in the Bible that couldn’t possibly be true, because they rub you the wrong way. And, you know, modern man doesn’t want to hear that sort of thing.”
So we begin to pick and choose what we are willing to accept from the Bible. And then we justify it by saying, “Well, you understand that the Bible contains God’s Word, but it’s not all God’s Word. You know, there are certain errors that crept in,” and on, and on it goes.
Pretty soon, the Bible isn’t God’s Word anymore at all. And yet these men, Tom - and I really feel sorry for them; I’ve met many of them: pastors, seminary professors - they kind of honor the Bible a little bit.
Dave: But it doesn’t run their lives. They don’t believe it’s all true, it’s all God’s Word, but they still want to keep teaching it. Why do you keep teaching from a book that isn’t really all God’s Word? And if it isn’t all God’s Word, who decides what parts of it are?
“Well, that’s up to how I feel about it.” I mean - so finally, man becomes the determinant of what is true and what isn’t, what is God’s Word and what isn’t. God’s Word is intended to correct man and bring him back to himself!
Dave: But man is like a horse that’s difficult to discipline. It’s fighting against the bit and bridle.
Tom: Dave, this self-deception that’s in everyone’s heart—you quote Psalm:139:23-24: “Search me, O God," this is David crying out, recognizing his own duplicity, "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.”
If I’m going to read the Bible, that’s where my heart has to be: wanting God’s correction, wanting to see things from His perspective.
Tom: But that’s really hard, isn’t it, Dave?
Tom: I mean, it’s not impossible, and God will have us do it, but it’s still difficult for a self-centered individual like myself, and many others, I suspect.
Dave: Well, it’s difficult depending upon your outlook on life. If you recognize that God is smarter than you are, that He really loves us, then you know His way is best.
I just went to the doctor yesterday, for example, [for] my annual cardiac checkup and, by God’s grace, it’s doing well. But, you know, when the doctor says...in fact, we were talking about a procedure that he’d recommended for me about - what was it, three or four years ago - and it involved going to a hospital in Portland to a specialist, and they went in and mapped my heart, you know, and induced a flutter, which he said I had, and they found out where the flutter was coming from, and they zapped it.
Now, I didn’t say, “Well, doctor, now that just doesn’t appeal to me, that idea. Isn’t there some other way we can approach this? Couldn’t I take some pills or something? Well, doctor, I tell you what. Wait till I have gone to four years of medical school, and four or five years of specialization, and I really understand exactly the concept behind this….”
I have to take the doctor’s word for it. You know, and I often illustrate it: the doctor writes out a prescription in a hand you can’t even read; you hand it to a pharmacist, who puts together compounds - you wouldn’t even know what they were even if he told their names, and you ingest it. Okay? Because you have to trust people who know what you don’t know and can do what you can’t do. I don’t look over the shoulder of the pilots in the cockpit. Of course, they wouldn’t allow you to do that these days anyway. They’ve got a heavy door on there, and no one’s allowed even to get close.
But then, since God created me, and the Bible is the manufacturer’s handbook, shouldn’t I…
On the one hand, you say, and rightly so, “It’s tough, difficult. We don’t like to.” On the other hand, it ought to be easy for me to put myself in the hands of infinite wisdom and infinite love and say, “Lord, please, just guide me. Search me, O God! Know my heart, show me - I’ve got wrong ideas - and point out to me my false thinking and my selfish interests that are leading me astray, and, Lord, just guide me.”
We quote Charles Colson, and he suggests that, “Millions of Americans, [and he says] myself included, pray fervently for revival, but we must ask ourselves whether we are asking God to save our society, ourselves, or our souls?”
Do we want a better life? Do we want a more prosperous economy? Better jobs? Or are we concerned about eternity?
Dave: And he says, “The real trouble is that we Christians are not willing to accept the gospel for what it is.”
So, Tom, we’re not the only ones who are trying to say this. It doesn’t tell us how to save anything but our souls, and that’s worth considering.
Tom: But, Dave, the thing that keeps getting in our way, then (which we started out addressing this), is self. Self is the problem here, certainly, for the lost as well as the believer.
Dave: You’ve lived almost two decades less than I have, I think. I’m 78 now. You must be approaching 60.
Tom: I am, I’m 60, Dave.
Dave: You just hit 60, okay? The big 6-0. And you look back on your life - how many people do you recall who really loved you if you would tell them they were wrong? [Chuckling] Husbands and wives don’t like to be told when they’re wrong.
Dave: Isn’t it true that we have to kind of couch our language in a way that won’t offend somebody? I want to - look, “The guy’s really got a foolish idea here, and what he’s doing isn’t right, but if I come right out and say it bluntly, he’s not going to like it. That’s going to ruin our friendship, and furthermore, he’s not going follow the advice, anyway. Is there some way that I could kind of ease my way into this? Compliment him, you know, and tell him what a great guy he is, and so forth. And somehow, get a little bit of correction in there, in a way that will be palatable and that he will accept.”
Now, Tom, I’m asking you, isn’t that the way human beings really are?
Tom: Dave, we’re practical beings. We know - and we don’t want to confront things, normally.
Dave: But we’re very proud and we don’t want to be corrected.
Dave: And Solomon says, “You reprove a wise man, he will love you.” Well, the Bible has got a lot of reproof in it. The Bible was not written by Dale Carnegie, you know, in a way that would somehow make people feel good about themselves while being corrected gently.
Tom: Dave, the psalmist writes, “Let a righteous man strike you. It will be as an anointing.”
Dave: Yeah. Jesus said, “You fools!” That was to His disciples…
Dave: …after the resurrection! “Slow of heart to believe all - all - that the prophets have spoken.” Most people don’t even know all of what the prophets have spoken. Maybe we better study it a little more.
Okay, so that’s the point that I was trying to get across in these few pages. And the major human problem is pride - unwillingness to be corrected.
Dave: Not many children, Tom - we had four; you had five. We had two boys and two girls, and they’re good kids. I love them. But not many of them, if you corrected them, would say, “Oh, thank you for correcting me!” That must be our attitude: if we have an understanding of who God is, and the issues that are involved - eternity! - I must say, “Search me, O God! Please help me!”
But that is not the way of the world, and, unfortunately, it has come into the church through Christian psychology (that we get into a little later), but we deal with it briefly - self-esteem. Let’s build up their sense of self, make them feel good about themselves. That is the wisdom of the world, but it does not bring correction. That would be one reason why the Bible is bought but it isn’t read...
Dave: ...or only certain parts of it are read. “I’ll read the Psalms. Oops! Just the comforting Psalms. There’s some really comforting Psalms there, but I don’t want to get into that other stuff.” This is the attitude of many people.
Dave: And it’s because that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked - God said, “Deceitful above all things….” What is the most deceitful thing you can find in this world? I’m sorry, [it's] the human heart. We can deceive ourselves.
Tom, I’ve been an employer. I was general manager of some corporations. I’ve had several hundred employees that most of them I knew personally. There are some employees - you’re not going to help them by correcting them. You’re better off to fire them. Just get rid of them, and get someone else who will listen to instruction.
Dave: There are some people have their own ideas. I mean, they’re not experts on this at all, but they think they are. And, you try to tell them how it should happen, what they should do on the job, and they get really upset! “Who are you to correct me? Now, wait, this is the way I want to do it.”
So, Tom, I have seen it across the board, okay?
Now, the Bible recognizes that. We are proud creatures not wanting to be corrected. But, Tom, it’s deadly, and really deadly! You know, if I go through life as a fool - this is what the Bible calls it. It says, “You can grind a fool in a mortar and pestle and his foolishness will not depart.” And when you find that a person can’t be corrected, well, just leave them and go on your way. Go to someone who can be.
Now, God, of course, pleads with us. He doesn’t do that. He pleaded with Israel over and over and over, “Don’t do this abominable thing that I hate. I don’t want to punish you.” And yet they persisted.
So the Bible tells us that our problem is self. We’re self-centered, and yet the world says - and that has come into the church through Christian psychology - “No, no, your problem is you have too low a view of self. You need to build up your sense of self, your self-esteem, your self-image, and so forth."
Tom, I could take you in any bookstore and you know…
Dave: …I’m not telling you anything you don’t know - and we can go right down the line on the shelves of a Christian bookstore, and this would be one of the largest departments, as it would be in almost any secular bookstore.
Tom: Dave, what you’re saying is an absolute fact. But it's still - it’s still stunning. If God’s Word says something - and it’s God’s Word, so it’s absolutely perfect, it’s absolutely true, and so on - yet men come along (Christians, professing Christians and true Christians, I’m sure) and they give you an interpretation that’s just the opposite of what God says.
Tom: I mean, that’s something all of us have to look out for, because sometimes we’re sometimes in the flesh when we’re reading through God’s Word. Yes, we have the Holy Spirit, but we can let the flesh override the Spirit here, and give an interpretation that’s not what God has in mind at all.
Dave: That’s pleasing to myself.
Tom: Exactly. Yeah, we want to understand it from our selfish standpoint - from where our heart is, as you’ve just mentioned. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”
Dave: Tom, it’s many years ago since I read it - believe it or not, I have read most of the books sitting on my shelf; there are hundreds of them - it was titled Inside the Criminal Mind. I'd be hard-pressed to remember the authors, but I think there were two. I think one was a psychiatrist; the other was a clinical psychologist.
Dave: They studied intimately, for years, 200 criminals to get inside the criminal mind. They said they had to throw out everything they learned at university and medical school about psychology. And they discovered that they could not find one criminal who thought he was guilty. They could not find one criminal who was willing to bear the responsibility for what he had done. They all blamed their parents, their childhood, society, the breaks - bad breaks that they’d had. And, in fact, one of the things that really affected me - I couldn’t believe it - even on the way to commit a crime, they were justifying themselves.
Now, I think some pastors who are trying to butter people up, make them feel good about themselves, slip in the gospel in a way that wouldn’t convict anyone of sin. See, the gospel is not offered today as a rescue from hell...
Dave: ...to rescue guilty sinners, who are rebels against God and who are worthy of nothing but judgment. You don’t hear much of that. There’s no conviction - I shouldn’t say no, Tom - there is very little conviction of sin, in the popular, large churches today. They’re not bringing people in by telling them they’re sinners; not bringing people in by telling them that God’s judgment is going to fall - they’re on their way to the lake of fire unless they repent, unless they come humbly as guilty sinners and accept God’s pardon and acknowledge that Christ really had to die for them. There was no other way that they could be saved because they were guilty, and this is what they deserve.
You don’t build a big church that way, and that’s a tragedy. And I wish that some pastors could read some of these books - Inside the Criminal Mind…
Dave: …recognize that it’s not going to help a criminal if you build up his self-esteem. It will only add to his delusion.
Somehow, I’ve got to recognize I am dealing with the God of the universe, who created this universe. I don’t negotiate with Him. I don’t make a deal with God. I accept His terms.
Tom: And, Dave, isn’t that - if there’s true conviction of sin, Dave, isn’t that a wonderful thing? That once I understand and recognize…and if you’re honest - and it’s tough to be honest with ourselves - but once you come to that point of honesty, of recognizing, you know, how…talk about self-worth, how unworthy we are...
Tom: …and the condition that we’re in - yet, God would become a man, die on a cross, pay the full penalty for our sins….
Tom: …the reaction to that should not only have us cry out to God in thankfulness for what He’s done, and that’s a heart that’s changed.
Tom: It’s turned from self to Him for all that He’s done.
Dave: It’s a big relief, Tom. It’s a heavy load to try to build up myself and make out that I’m worthy of all this. One way of looking at it is the Bible talks about pardon. It’s a pardon. It’s God’s mercy.
I remember a famous case - I can’t remember, I think it was in Maryland - but the man was on death row, and the governor offered him a pardon. He would not accept it. It went all the way, at least, to the state Supreme Court, if not the US Supreme Court, and the judgment was, "You can’t force a man to accept a pardon." You see, there are certain conditions to accepting a pardon. This is not just saying, “Okay, we’ll let you go.” This is a pardon! Now, for there to be a pardon, it’s not overthrowing the ruling of the court. A pardon means you must admit you were guilty and you deserve the judgment that was meted out to you.
Dave: But now, you’re being graciously pardoned from that, and this man would not accept the pardon. Now, we have to accept pardon from God on those terms. It entails acknowledging, “I’m guilty. There’s no way I could escape God’s judgment, but Christ paid the penalty. And only on that basis can God pardon me by His grace.” And it’s a humbling process, Tom, but it really brings great relief, and I don’t have to carry this big self around any more.