Don’t be Deceived

We’re all familiar with the Parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke chapter 15 in which Jesus tells His listeners of a wealthy man with two sons, and how the younger son one day went to his father and demanded his inheritance right then and there. He had no desire to wait until after his father had passed away. He wanted everything he had coming to him…immediately. The father complied with his son’s wishes and afterwards, the younger son packed up everything he had and left. Jesus said he went to a far off land and proceeded to squander all that he had on ‘wild living’, as it’s phrased in some translations. I like the way it’s stated in The King James version. It says he wasted it all on “riotous living.”

After the money was gone, things only got worse. The land where he resettled experienced a severe famine, and the young man’s situation became so dire and so desperate that he had to hire himself out to a pig farmer who sent him out to tend the pigs. Now I want to stop there for a moment and point out how Jesus used this and other parables to paint a word picture for His Jewish audience. According to the Law of Moses, a pig was an unclean animal. And since the Jews were not allowed to eat pork chops or ham sandwiches, they had no reason to raise pigs. The only people who kept and ate the meat of pigs were Gentiles. So the people standing there listening to Jesus tell this parable would have had a picture in their minds of just how unclean and how filthy the young man had become. He worked for a Gentile tending pigs. For Jewish people in that time, it couldn’t get any worse than that.

So he’s tending pigs for a Gentile and he’s slowly starving to death. Eventually though, the young man has a moment of clarity. Picking up at verse 17, the word of God tells us, “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.

In his ongoing battle to keep people from embracing the saving grace of Jesus Christ, Satan uses an arsenal of lies and deception. He’s a liar and the father of lies, but there are two in particular that seem to be especially prevalent today. And I must confess that I fell for both of them at various times in my own life. The first lie is, “There’s no hurry. You have plenty of time to accept Jesus. Do it later. Today, live however you want. There’s no hurry” The young man in Jesus’ parable is depicted as someone who wanted to live by his own rules with no thought to the future and no consideration for God or for the consequences of his choices. He indulged in wild living. The same can be said of any number of people in our day and time as well. They live for themselves, indulging in “wild living”, and if they do give any thought to God at all, they tell themselves they have plenty of time, that they can follow Jesus…..someday. After all, what’s the rush? The real truth is, none of us know how much time God has given us, so the notion that accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is something that can be put off until later in life is a lie straight out of the mouth of Hell.

Then there’s the other lie. When the father in the parable ordered his servant to bring the best robe and put it around his son, what jumped out at me was what Jesus did not say. Jesus did not make any mention of the father sending his son to the nearest body of water to take a bath! Wallowing with pigs would tend to make a person very dirty and very smelly, don’t you think? The kid would have stunk to high heavens! Yet there is no mention in the parable of the son having to clean himself up before putting on his father’s best robe. And that is the second lie Satan uses to keep people from Christ, that you are too dirty to approach God, and that before you can even think about accepting Christ, you must first get rid of all the filth in your life. You have to get out of the inappropriate relationship or give up that way of life. You have to stop fussing and cussing and drinking and using drugs and get rid of all sin in your life BEFORE you are worthy enough and clean enough to approach God, Otherwise, God could never possibly forgive you. Well, that too is a lie because we can never get clean enough.

But, it is true that a Holy God cannot look on sin. So then, how can you approach God? If God cannot look on sin and on your own you can never clean yourself up enough to approach God, how can anyone be saved? When the father in Jesus’ parable covered his son with his best robe, he did not see the dirt. All he saw was his son wearing his very best robe. The dirt and filth were covered. In the same way, when a person invites Jesus Christ to be Lord of his or her life, God covers us with His very best robe, the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And when we are covered with Jesus’ righteousness, that’s all God sees. It was no accident that Jesus made no mention of the father giving instructions to have his son cleaned up before putting on the robe. Jesus illustrated the love of the father which in turn, illustrates our Heavenly Father’s love for us. For God so loved the world, He has covered our sins with the blood of His son Jesus Christ, that is, if we choose to accept the free gift of grace. We can never get ourselves clean enough to approach God, so we must allow Him to cover us with Jesus’ righteousness. When you are covered by the righteousness of Christ, God no longer sees the sin. He only sees His Son.

The evil one can lie to you and bombard you with temptation, but you still have the freedom to choose. Satan cannot force you to turn your back on God. He cannot prevent you from asking Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior. He will tell you there’s no hurry. That’s a lie. He will tell you that you have to clean yourself up first because if you don’t, God cannot forgive you. That’s a lie. The decision to accept Christ is your decision to make. There’s no gray area there. We can choose life with or without Christ. And that my friends is the choice between Heaven and Hell, life and death. I urge you, don’t be deceived by the lies. Choose life. Allow God to cover you with the righteous robe of Jesus Christ, while there’s still time. As Paul said to the Corinthians, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. If you have put off accepting Jesus Christ till “someday”, don’t wait any longer. Your eternal life depends on it.

As a footnote, these devotional messages are read by believers and non-believers alike. If you are a Christian, I hope this will give you another tool you can use for evangelism. And if you are reading this on WordPress or elsewhere and have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior but you’re checking out the Christian faith, I hope I’ve given you something to think about.

Have a blessed week in Christ!