To Be free of Deceit

John 1:47-51 (ESV)

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Jesus knows us. He knew Nathanael, and He knows us. If, while Jesus was on His sojourn to Earth, He knew Nathanael this completely, How well–now that He is back in Heaven–does He know us? I think He knows us completely. The Scriptures tell us that even the hairs on our heads are counted. Not even a dove falls from the sky and dies without God’s permission. So, if we believe that God is Sovereign, and omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, etc., then why do we still fall back on our bad habits and sin?

For me, it is because I am lazy. I stop fighting. And this makes me ashamed. I let my thoughts wander. And rather than as it says in Romans 12:2–Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.–I take the easy way, and the sinful way.

At least Nathanael was consistent, and practiced what he preached, or lived in accordance to the Law as best he could. Jesus commended him for being authentic, and having no deceit in him.

I was assigned to a post to the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, KS in 1995. As the senior enlisted soldier in the Department of Pastoral Care (four chaplains and four chaplain assistants), I had three other chaplain assistants and a work detail of six inmates under my supervision. Shortly after I arrived there, one of the other chaplain assistants, was getting ready to leave, and I was impressed with the comments made by some of the inmates that came up to the chapel services that we had. He was known as an authentic man. The inmates knew that he did not like working there. They knew that he did not really like them, for the most part. Yet he treated them fairly across the board. The inmates actually told him they would miss him, because they saw no deceit in him. I thought to myself at that time, “Wow, what a testimony!” To be known and respected, even by people locked up as a fair and genuine man, is quite a statement about consistency.

So let us consider what we need to do, and be strong and courageous, seeking to be consistent. Seeking to have no deceit in us. Let us be like Nathanael, worthy of praise by our God and Creator and Savior, as a genuine man or woman.

by Virgil Stripes

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