But encourage one another day after day, as long as it still called, “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13
Deceitfulness - Since the Greek word apate means anything that is deceptive or seducing, we should easily be able to identify these things, right? I mean, how hard can it be to discern actions and attitudes that are ultimately harmful to me and offensive to God? Easy, right? Well, maybe not quite so easy. After all, if sin were so obvious, then we wouldn’t call it seductive, would we? The problem with sin is that it comes disguised as something you want. Sin never presents itself as terrifying, horrible, repulsive or mortally dangerous. If it did, we would run away as fast as we could. No, sin comes clothed in splendid garb, surrounded by wonderful wishes, promising fulfillment of your desires. That’s why it is deceitful. We think it will benefit us.
The word apate is associated with riches (in the parable of the sower), lusts (Eph. 4:22), intellectual sophistry (Col. 2:8), lies and the works of Satan (2 Thess. 2:10) and unrighteous pleasures (2 Peter 2:13). Since alarms would sound whenever we confronted such behaviors, how can these still be deceptive? The answer is found in us, not in the behaviors. We have a great capacity for believing that life should be the way we want it to be. As soon as we take our eyes off the eternal perspective of God’s purposes, we discover innumerable attractions for self-sufficiency. They resonate with that deep-seated temptation to take control of life. The deception is not external. It is internal. We have lived so long under the authority of a heart determined to have its own way that it takes only the smallest incentive to renew the craving. Sin is self-delusion. It makes us think we are able.
Think about those sins that keep coming back in your life. Aren’t they ultimately tied to some part of your soul that wants things to be different? Perhaps it’s an emotional issue. Maybe it’s about your reputation or your social position. Maybe it’s about your self-evaluation or your need for ego strokes. Somewhere in the labyrinth of that psycho-physical-spiritual being (the Hebrew word is nephesh), there are dark recesses of unresolved needs. They must be brought into the light before the throne. Many are not evil. They’re just needs. But whenever we begin to think that we can take care of them ourselves, the trap door of deception springs open.
Sin is not what you think. It’s not being a terrible person, a moral lecher, a mass murderer. It’s simply doing what you need to do to take care of yourself. It’s doing what God knows is insane and thinking the action is perfectly reasonable.