Navigating Deception Well

As A Christian In Today's Culture, It Can Be Hard To Discern What Is True

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:01] Yesterday we were hosting a Navigators Discipleship seminar upstairs in our building. And as many of you know, there was an eclipse yesterday, and during our break, it was about time for the total eclipse that we would see. My understanding is that we would see about 80% of the sun eclipsed by the moon, and if you're down South Texas, you would see 100% of it. So we went out on the balcony area of the church, and we're looking out. And I did exactly what you're not supposed to do, because in my mind I'm thinking, well, at 11:30, it's 22 minutes away from being 80% eclipse, so it must be about two-thirds eclipse at this point, and how bad can that be for your eyes? So I look at it and I just see the sun, I don't see any eclipse, I just see the sun. And I saw the sun for the next half hour as I took my eyes off of it, and I thought, this is why they said, don't look at it. But there was someone here who had eclipse glasses, I didn't even know that was a thing. And so she let me put on those glasses and I looked at it and sure enough, there was the eclipse, and I could barely see the sun at all, I just saw dark and a sliver of the moon, and I thought later I took them off and I just saw the sun again, and somebody just is in a racket on these glasses. Like, how can I really believe that I was looking at the eclipse, and when I take them off and I just see the sun, I don't see an eclipse? So I think somebody made a lot of money this week on eclipse glasses, and I'm not sure that eclipse really happened. I'm a conspiracy theorist. No, I believe it happened, I don't understand how it occurred because there was so much sun. I do not understand what really occurred yesterday, I really don't.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:12] But the reality is, there are so many things in life today that it has become incredibly difficult to discern from that which is deception and that which is truth. It doesn't matter what your bent is in the media, whatever news source you listen to, there will be some kind of bias around it, there will be some kind of entertainment value behind it, some way that we're being drawn in, and it's difficult to know what is the real and true story. Deception is not new in our world, deception has been around ever since sin entered into the world, but it does find new ways to work its way into the fabric of what we're doing day in and day out.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:58] I was reading this week the culture translator Jermaine and Courtney, who lead our students, encouraged parents to subscribe to this culture translator. And what they do, they're kind of on the ground in our teenager's world, and they're looking at what's trending during the week on social media and music and movies, and then they give help. They'll just lay out the top three things that are going on that week that probably if your teenagers are on any social media, this is what they've been reading, and seeing, so it gives you an idea of what's happening. And then they give help to the parents, here are ways to have conversations with your kids about these particular things. And you just kind of find out, is this what they're reading or listening to?

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:43] For example, what they said this week on Instagram, TikTok, and X, which is the new name for Twitter, I just want you to know I'm keeping up, that that that is the primary news source, this isn't new news to you, that's the primary news source for our kids. But their point was you need to understand that's where they're getting their news. So if you're getting your news from the Wall Street Journal or Jim Dennison or some of those that we recommend where you can kind of sift through and get a biblical worldview, you can know that that's not where your kids are probably getting their news. So it's helpful to know, for example, this week, trending #Israel, 26 million people tapped into #Israel, and 31 million tapped into #Hamas. Wouldn't it be good to understand what your kids were flowing with on TikTok this week? So she might have a conversation and help sort through what's deception and what's truth.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:56] I want us to think about that today in Joshua chapter 9. We'll be in the whole chapter, we'll spend the bulk of our time in the first half of the chapter, we'll spend a small amount of time on the back half of the chapter, I'll summarize it, and that's how we'll kind of go at these 27 verses. You might be new here today, you might have missed some, we've been working our way through the book of Joshua starting with chapter 1, and we're in chapter 9 today. And one of the things that's an advantage when we walk through a book of the Bible, is to catch the flow of what's going on that we might not normally catch if we're just doing a chapter here and there or a verse here and there. For example, if we just took chapter 9 and just went to it without the flow of how we arrived here, we might get something different than what is fully intended. Now, that's not wrong. If you just went and read this chapter, I'm just saying we can get a fuller perspective of the way we're rolling.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:55] So if we just kind of unpack, just a real quick summary. One of the things I've noticed that I probably hadn't picked up before, is just the rhythm of what's flowing through Joshua, and it's really the same rhythm that you and I do life as a Christian. And what we find is Moses has died, and Joshua is now the leader to fulfill and take the people into the land that God had promised the people centuries before. Early on, we find an encounter with a prostitute in Jericho, and we see that God is bringing that person in to be a part of his people. And sometimes we wonder, am I too far gone for God to love me or God to bring me in? And we just see at the beginning of this that God is bringing in people who are immoral, and his grace is on her. And then we continue on, and there's a pause before they take the first victory in Jericho. Circumcision was a sign of the covenant of the people, and that had not happened while they wandered for 40 years. And so they paused and took care of that. Passover was to be celebrated, so when they were delivered from slavery to Egypt, so they took some space and paused and celebrated. And then they won the victory at Jericho.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:16] But we've learned that in Joshua, the theme of Joshua is in chapter 1, verses 8 and 9, "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Well, unfortunately, when they took Jericho, someone didn't listen to all that God had said, and now there's sin in the camp, so there's another pause. There's victory, there's sin, and now we have to pause and take care of the sin.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:58] The sin is taken care of, and now they go on because they've been defeated at Ai because of that sin. Now they go and they have victory against Ai, and they pause again, and they renew who they are as the people of God, and they renew who they are in the word of God. And we're coming off of this powerful time of worship and encounter with God at the end of chapter 8, when we move into chapter 9, and doggone it if things don't go awry again. Now, doesn't that feel like sometimes our lives? It's this really powerful encounter with God and worship with God. And then it's like two hours later. How did everything go off the rails? And then I kind of pause and kind of get re-sorted out, and I'm back kind of centered on what God has. There were some victories, and then all of a sudden it fell apart again. It just appears to be sort of a rhythm that we find in life, so maybe we can find encouragement today even in knowing that throughout these parts of the Scripture in the Old Testament, it really does stimulate the rhythm of which we're living.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:11] And Paul would say to the Romans that when you read the Old Testament scriptures, it's to be an encouragement to you and hope for you. And I want to see in chapter 9 of Joshua today both encouragement and hope, and we learn, we learn today what not to do based on what someone does. Now I think about parenting, when I think about this, and when I was a youth minister, I would tell our students all the time, look, you may not love the way your parents do it. they're more than likely doing the best they know what to do. But you may get an opportunity one day to be a parent, and you can take those things that are good that they did and do those same things. You can take the things you didn't like, and you can do it a different way. And we're going to already own as parents, we're going to botch it probably quite a bit. And by God's grace, maybe that won't ruin you, and we can maybe survive it, but you're going to get an opportunity to botch it with your kids, too. And then your kids are going to like some things you did, and they're going to not like some things you did, and they're going to do it differently, and it's just going to keep rolling like that. We learn what's good from what's bad, and we can learn from both, of how we can walk well moving ahead.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:43] Let's be encouraged today by something that did not go well for Joshua, but we can learn from him. And keep in mind, this is a godly man, and he didn't get everything right. In chapter 9, verses 1 and 2, just an introductory thought here before we talk about the main idea, "Now it came about when all the kings who were beyond the Jordan, in the hill country and in the lowland and on all the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, heard of it, 2that they gathered themselves together with one accord to fight with Joshua and with Israel." Does it sound familiar? Thousands of years ago, the same region of the world that is uniting to fight against Israel today, they were uniting to fight against Israel then, it hasn't changed. Again, this is the beauty of flowing through a book of the Bible.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:46] In chapter 5, verse 1, this same group of people who are in the land that you see, if you're tracking news at all and what's happened with Israel and Hamas, that same land is exactly what we're talking about here. In chapter 5, verse 1, these same people, "Their hearts melted and they had no spirit of courage to go against and fight Israel." What changed? Something changed between chapter 5 and chapter 9. What changed? Perhaps, they saw that Ai, which was one small city, actually defeated Israel. Now Israel came back and beat them, but they did suffer a loss to them. Maybe the other groups of people figured if we all united together, if Ai could beat them, then united together, surely, we can too. So there's a different empowerment now.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:53] Now there are a couple of different ways we can oppose people from this chapter, one is by fighting, but the second way we can oppose people is through deception. And I want us to think about this big idea today with two thoughts under it of navigating deception, well. How do we navigate deception well, when it is rampant around us, how do we navigate deception relationally? How do we navigate it well, when we've been deceived by a spouse? How do we navigate deception well, when we're being deceived by our own kids? We know something's off, but we're not sure what that thing is, that it is, that's off. And then you find out months later and you realize that's what it was, I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew it. What happens when there's deception in the home? What about deception in the workplace, where you've been told one thing and you believe this is how it was going to roll, and all of a sudden this is how it's rolling? Or what about an organization that has particular values and now you start hearing responses to different cultural things and you thought, wait a minute, I thought we were about this, how did we become about that? So how do we navigate, well, deception? How do we know it's deception and how do we navigate it once it occurs? Well, the primary idea, I would say, underneath that today in verses 3 through 15, is to seek and listen to God's counsel. And you say, well, I think you tell them to do that every week. That's because that's how we will navigate this well, is to, on purpose, intentionally, seek God, his counsel, listen to it, and then I should have added, and do it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:58] Let's see how this story unfolds, verse 3, "When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4they also acted craftily". Because they were deceptive, and the way they did it, "They set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended, 5and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled. 6They went to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.” So here we go, they acted craftily, they were pretending to be from a place that they were really not from. They were calculated in this move, they were cunning in this move, they were crafty in this move, and it looks like it's going to work. They were actually from a place probably about 20 miles away from where Joshua and the people were camped. But they come as if they're all worn out, they have all their clothes worn out, all their supplies are worn out, and it's a ruse to say, hey, look, we've come from a far country.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:22] Now, one thing I think we can note about deception today, it's good for us to understand our enemy. They were afraid they were about to get wiped out by Israel, and I wonder if they knew part of the Law of Moses. Which said if someone comes from a far city, a far country to your land, then you are to take them in and then they're to be labor for you, this is exactly how this unfolds. They act as if they're from a far land, and they're coming, and they want to be their servants and make a covenant with them. A covenant is a big deal, when we think about what God's done with us, for those who know Christ today. He's formed a covenant relationship with us, and the word covenant means a promise that's to be kept for a lifetime, it's not to be broken.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:30] I did a wedding the other night, and we talked about this is a covenant relationship, first that you have with God through Christ. But the second covenant you have is between you and your spouse. You're making a covenant, and what God has put together no one is to tear apart. They're asking for a covenant to be made so they can weave in to be a part of the people of God. And the men of Israel said to the Hivites, perhaps you're living within our land, how then shall we make a covenant with you? Now I think it's important to note here Joshua is a wise man. The leaders are wise in what they're doing, and they're asking really good questions. And I would just say today that in the room you're a bunch of smart people, and you will ask good questions in different scenarios. I'd like to believe that when I'm in scenarios, I'm asking good questions. So this isn't about asking good questions, it's about are we actually going to God and asking him the right questions. So they sense something's up, just like that parent illustration I gave, you kind of sense something's up. And so they sense something's here, they're not quite sure what it is. So maybe you're living with [inaudible].

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:51] Something created suspicion for Joshua for these men, but they said to Joshua, we're your servants, we're coming to be your servants. And then Joshua asked a good question, I mean, how many of us, if we had somebody come up to our door and say, hey, I would like to weave in with your family and just be your servant? Not a bad thought. But then Joshua asked a fantastic question. Who are you? That would be a good question before you have somebody come into your home. And where do you come from? And so he's asking good basic questions. Well, they said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the LORD your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt, 10and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth." Now, again we note here, that the Gibeonites are just trying to survive, that's all they're trying to do. And they don't want to fight, and they're just going to try to deceive their way into having spared lives. And they say, we've heard about the fame of your God, and that's why we want to come mix in with you. I think they're probably just trying to spare their lives more than they're interested in the fame and renown of God. However, when people mix in with others who are about God's fame and his renown, and it becomes personal, it's really cool.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:41] In Isaiah chapter 26 verse 8, it says, "Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls." And that might not be your desire today, or it might be your desire, we would want to pray and ask God to make it our desire if it's not. But when the desire of our soul, the very core of who we are, is for God's name and his renown to make it famous, to know him, to enjoy him, to delight in him, there's an incredible transformation that takes place from the inward part of who we are. So if that's not our desire, we beg for God to make it our desire. Now, if I launch that forward today and say, okay, why do people come and gather in a church like this? Or why do people come on Wednesday night with our students? There are probably many of you who saw a girl that you liked or a guy that you liked, and you realized they go to church, you know what? That's a place I can hang out with them. I'm going to go there too. Now, they're not coming for God's fame, God's renown, to exalt and glorify Jesus, they're coming for that guy or for that girl. I love that, because do you know how many times a teenager's heart has been grabbed by Jesus Christ when they came for one reason, what they didn't realize is that God was in active pursuit of them, and their life trajectory changed forever.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:26] This may be you today, and there may be others of you today that you're here because you're tired of your wife nagging you. It's not worth it during the week, and you just figure I can put up with it and I can deal with the hour and a half or whatever they're going to make me stay here, and it's worth it just so I don't have to hear you complain about me not going. But I can tell you story after story about men and women, who came here just to appease their spouses, or came here because they wanted a good moral hour for their kids, only to realize, oh, wow, I've missed it, and God in his grace reached down and grabbed your heart, and you've been changed forever. I like that. Whatever your motive is for being here, I love that you're here, and my hope would be that for all of us, it would be our soul's desire, that it would so reach into our soul, that it'd be God's name, his fame, and his renown that drives me and motivates me.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:37] Here are the Gibeonites are, they're right in the mix of it, they're trying to figure out how to weave their way in, they're deceptively doing it. In verse 11, "Our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey." And in 11 and 12 he just describes exactly what we read earlier, so they are doing it and they're coming and saying, we're going to be your servants. Our bread was warm when we left, it's not warm now, it's dry and crumbled. Our wineskins were filled with new wine, now it's all torn and old. We've been on a long journey.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:07] And then we get to verse 14, which is the turning point of this story. In Joshua's human wisdom, he's asked good questions. But in verse 14 it says, "The men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD." In verse 15, "Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them." Verse 14 is a pivotal piece of the story, it seemed fine, and they looked worn out, another country, take them in, and they'll be our servants. What would be wrong with that? Well, earlier in the scripture, they're told not to make a covenant with other people, that's one thing that's wrong with it. But the primary thing that's wrong here is that they didn't seek God's counsel.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:28] Now here's the danger for us, we can do things for so long and have a human wisdom, and this might be how God worked before in situations, but God's ways are higher than our ways, and he might not want to work in this situation the same way he worked in the last one. What that means is we constantly go to God whatever our circumstances and situations are, and we ask for his counsel. This didn't seem like a bad move. We're faced with decisions all the time and they don't seem that bad, they actually seem good, but it might not be what God is saying or wanting in it, so we seek his counsel. So how do we navigate deception? We navigate it by seeking the Lord's counsel, and we learn from Joshua.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:29] Now, I want to just stop right here and draw the differences in Scripture from deception to truth and just do a scriptural run at it. So when we think of deception, I don't know what crosses your mind. But in Jeremiah 17:9, that's the first thing that ought to cross our minds, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? So when we think about deception, it's easy to look out there and say, well, the media is deceiving me, and the people in Hollywood are deceiving me, they're saying this is a great way to live, but they're on their fifth divorce, it doesn't appear to be going so well. And then this is the best way to do life, and so we look out there and say we're being deceived. No, deception starts in the human heart, in your heart, and in my heart. And the first place we look, when we think about deception, is our own heart. And a song we sang just a moment ago, we are so easily self-exalting. So we look at our own heart, that's where deception starts, it's marred by sin, so we're deceived. And sometimes we think we have it right, and the reality is we're deceived in it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:54] But on top of that, we have an enemy. In John 8:44, Jesus says this, he's talking to a group of people, and he says, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." So we have deceptive hearts within us, and then we have Satan, who is the father of lies, in his very nature he's a liar, he's not even capable of the truth. Yet he understands the truth, and he knows how to twist and put just enough deception with it, so we think it's the truth. So we're prone to deception, he's the liar and the father of lies.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:48] In Second Timothy 3:13, we're told that there will be evil people and impostors that will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. We're being warned all through scripture about deception.

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:05] And how does Satan do it? It all starts in Genesis 3, and it's the same tactic today, did God really say? I just need to put a little doubt in your mind. Did God really say that about sex? Did God really say that about integrity? I mean, its business, you just do what you need to do to get it done. Did God really say? Just create a little doubt. Did God really say? Did Jesus really say that he's the only way to salvation? I mean, look at the rest of the world, surely, did God really say that? They just have to get a little bit of doubt going in there, and then we start doubting the whole thing. A little bit of twisting, mix some truth in there, and the deception is on.

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:19] What are some of those cultural lies today? We've talked about them quite a bit in our Biblical Worldview series, and I'll highlight again three books, two I've said before, and one I want to add today if you have an interest. But Alisa Childers, I think her podcasts are outstanding as well, but her book is Live Your Truth (and Other Lies), and she just identifies, here's some lies in the culture, here's how they're seeping into Christianity, and we take them as if they are. And by the way, the other day I was overhearing somebody talk and they were talking about the scriptures and different things, and they said, you know what the early bird catches the worm. That's not in the scripture. And you know, I don't want to make fun of that, it's just that we want to know God's Word because it's just easy to start grabbing things and twisting it all together and thinking it's all the same thing, but it's not. So Alisa Childers said, you should put yourself first, that's one of the lies of our culture. Jesus said, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow him. We're in this whole self-care, make sure you care for yourself first.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:33] The second thing is God just wants you to be happy, so do whatever you want, no boundaries, no limits, just however you feel, go for it. God just wants you to be happy. Except we can't get appointments with counselors today because everybody has tried to be so happy, and they're so miserable, they're in a counselor's office. I go to a counselor, I'm grateful for them. But God wants you to be happy, it's a lie in our day, that he just wants you to be happy.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:04] And then the third one she talks about, you shouldn't judge. Now, I always like to pause on this because I think it's important in our day because as Christians, that is the way that people try to stop us from talking about truth, Jesus said, you shouldn't judge. It is 12:01, there is no telling how many judgments every person in this room has already made today. Judgments are not a sin, we should be making assessments of what is good and right, and what is bad and wrong; what is safe, and what is unsafe, those are judgments. What Jesus said not to do is to be critical and a faultfinder. So we can assess good and bad, right and wrong, without being a critical spirit and a fault-finding spirit. But our culture has gotten us thinking, we can't say anything, we can't evaluate anything, and we can't critique anything, you just kind of be quiet because you don't judge, those are lies in our day.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:19] Rosaria Butterfield just had a book that came out, I've mentioned her multiple times. She was a feminist lesbian activist in the 90s and a tenured professor at Syracuse University, and I came to Christ after reading the scriptures seven times through, and then just through a family that just really showed hospitality and loved her well. And she has a book that just came out called Five Lies of Our Anti-Christian Age. Here's a couple of them, she says, one is modesty is an outdated burden that serves male dominance and holds women back. So she would say that's one of the lies of our age. And then she would identify a couple of sexual things, which our culture has said sexual identity is our core identity, and that is a lie. And then feminism is good for the world and the church. So if you'd have an interest, this book is written, I think, primarily for women; I picked it up, and I think it would be great for men as well.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:17] Live No Lies, by John Mark Comer, is another one that would be helpful. And then I want to jump to Proverbs 3:25 to think about how the enemy works today. And in Proverbs 3:25 it says, "Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes." There's an onslaught of the wicked. Now, if you've been tracking Israel and Hamas this week, one of the questions was, how did thousands of rockets penetrate the Iron Dome defense system, which is supposed to be one of the best defense systems in the world? And one of the things I read, I don't know if it's true or untrue because I'm having trouble figuring all that out, but it makes sense to me. This is the first time that thousands upon thousands of rockets were launched simultaneously, and it overwhelmed the system. I believe that's what Satan is doing today, he is just launching rocket after rocket after rocket of lie and deception and scheme, and he's just launching them as an onslaught in everything we read, what we watch, everything's woven in, some can look good and then bam, you get hit with something over here and it's right in the middle of it. There's just an onslaught coming at us, that's the strategy, and it's wiping people out left and right. When anxiety and depression are at incredible highs, it's the onslaught of the enemy. I don't think we were ever intended to be able to process all the information that flies at us, especially when a good portion of it is false, we're in constant discernment mode. Let our guard down just a bit, and it's how did I end up saying that? Why am I thinking that? It's an enemy onslaught. That's the deception side.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:15] And then the other way I think he's done that today is through generations. Now, when we came out of Covid, and I don't even know how to talk about if we came out of it or not, but when we got to a better place on the other side, for the first time in my life, I felt like there was a generational gap between me and people younger than me. I never thought that in my life, I've worked with students my whole life, and I stay in the mix of students, I just never felt a gap. And I've talked to a number of people, and they feel the same thing, it's like all of a sudden there's this gap. And what I think it is, because we'll have one generation tell us, we don't think like that, we don't think like you think. And then our generation or generation above me or just below me, we're thinking, yeah, but we think like this, and so you need to be thinking like that. And I think there's a generational idolatry going on that is pure pride, and we all think we know it all, and our generation knows the best way to do it. It's funny to me because the Bible says that older women and older men are to be pouring into younger men and younger women, it seems like the generations are to be interwoven. Psalm 45:17 says, "I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever." He will be thankful when we're linked in our generational relationships, when the link is God Himself and His truth, we're linked by the truth of His Word.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:54] And I want to think about truth for just a moment to counter the onslaught of evil. In Isaiah chapter 9, verse 6, it's a verse that we usually use at Christmas time, but we can actually use the scripture all year long, it's not just like here are Christmas verses, and here are Easter verses. In Isaiah 9:6, "A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." So what Joshua did, he did not seek the counsel of God, but in Jesus Christ, we have a wonderful counselor in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. In Jesus Christ, we have all the counsel we need. And then what Jesus did when he died on the cross for our sins, and then for the fame of His Father's name, and then God raised him from the dead, he ascended to heaven. And every person hereafter who believes Jesus Christ for salvation, every person that believes that, receives the Holy Spirit of God. So Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor, and the Holy Spirit in John 14:26 is the Helper. So we have within us, in the Holy Spirit, a Counselor 24/7. I don't have to go to an office for 50 minutes or pay a fee to be able to have counsel with someone, 24/7, I have the Holy Spirit of God within me. Now again, I go to a counselor, it's nothing about a counselor. I'm just saying we have help in the Holy Spirit, always access to be able to seek God's counsel, no matter the circumstance or decision. How do we know it's the Spirit of God? In John 17:17, Jesus was praying. And he asked the Father, and he said, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth." The Holy Spirit helps us in alignment with the truth of His Word. How do we know it's the Holy Spirit of God speaking? We know it when it lines up with the truth of what His Word says.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:23] For the last few years, God has been speaking to me more during the night. I'm working through Psalms right now, and one of the psalms that I read is Psalm 16:7, "I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night." God is our counselor even in the night as we sleep, He speaks, and it lines up with His Word. I can't tell you how many things God has led me to in helping me through circumstances, and different situations, by instructing my mind in the night. So we fill our minds and hearts with the Word of God, he instructs us day and night. He tells us in Proverbs 3, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Many of us have memorized that, many of us know that, but some of us don't. But I wonder if we quit and we didn't go to verse 7, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil." Trust in the Lord, yes, do not be wise in your own eyes. That means we stay in continual communion with God. It's in the truth and the counsel of God that we're able to counter the deception and to navigate it well.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:08] Here's the part I want to sum up for the back half of this chapter. We can appreciate God's grace when we face the consequences of deception. Every one of us has been deceived at some point in our life, it could have been a big deal, maybe not a big deal, it can be ongoing, it depends on the kind of people we're around. And we've been the deceiver, it could be what we would describe as a lowered degree of deceiving or a higher however you want to do it, but we've been both. There's God's grace on both sides, verse 16, "It came about at the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were neighbors and that they were living within their land." That's that sick-to-your-stomach uh-oh moment, like, now I know what happened and I made the wrong call and it's going to have consequences. Do you ever have those moments? That's what was happening. Well, the grace in this is the integrity of the Israelites because they had made a covenant with the Gibeonites, it would have been more harmful for them to break that covenant than to go in, if they thought instead, you know what, we got deceived, and because we're deceived, we're going to go wipe them out. No, they made an oath before God, and with integrity, they were going to honor that commitment. So their lives are spared. So there's grace on the Gibeonites who deceived, and they're spared from the integrity of the Israelites.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:57] Now, Joshua was not happy about it. So while he spares them, in verses 22 and 23, he curses them. He says, they will be servants, and their job will be to bring the wood and the water, that's what they'll be subjected to from now on. What was the goal of the Gibeonites? To survive, it is all they were after, they said, we're coming to be your servants. Where's the grace of God in this? In verse 27, it says that the way they'll serve with the wood and the water is at the altar in the congregation of the Lord. They will be in the very center of where God is worshiped, and they'll see what happens when God is worshiped.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:50] In Psalm 84:10 it says, "For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness." It would be better to be a door holder in God's house, and that's what they're going to be. But we see God's grace play out in the rest of Scripture. So in First Kings 3, Solomon, when he'll be installed as the third king of Israel, God says, hey, ask whatever you want, and I'll give it to you, and he asks for wisdom, he's in Gibeon when he asks God. In Nehemiah chapter 7, verse 25, the Israelites had been in exile, they're returning back, they'd rebuilt the wall at Jerusalem, and there are 95 Gibeonites that are a part of that first group to return. In First Chronicles chapter 12, verse 4, King David has these mighty men that fight with him, and Ishmael the Gibeonite is one of those men. See over time the Gibeonites, I don't know who believed in Yahweh as their God or not, but it looks like over time they just kind of enmeshed in with Israel, and they were the ones that were leaned into and depended on and it seems they were following after God. See God is about inviting people in that we might not expect would be invited in.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:25] And when we bring this to us today, we've been extended the very same grace of God. In Ephesians 2, we're told that we were formerly in our lusts and our ignorance, that we were objects of the wrath of God, just like the Gibeonites. But God, in his rich mercy and grace, made us alive together with Christ, by grace, you're saved. We are the deceivers, the liars, and the deceived that desperately need the grace of God, and he's extended it through Jesus Christ and Christ crucified. Will we receive it?

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:12] The other night I was at the Texas Ranger game with my brother, game three, it was an amazing game, there are just some games where it's just electric. In the first inning of that game, you could just feel that people were just waiting for something to happen, and if it did, everything would erupt. And sure enough, Corey Seager, second batter, hits a 440-foot shot, 110.1-mile velocity exit, and the place goes absolutely crazy. In the second inning, two outs, and bases loaded, and Mitch Garver comes up and hits a shot down the line, a double, two runs scored, it's electric in there. Adolis Garcia comes up to his walk-up song by Lecrae, Spread the Opps, he gets in the batter's box and cranks a three-run homer, it's electric in the place, everybody was just waiting, and they did it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:11] And the angels are waiting, and we're waiting, day in and day out, for people that don't know Jesus, that are dead in their sin, just waiting to see when you'll catch it, when God opens your eyes, when he stirs up your heart, and you realize it's not just that God's fame that other people are interested in. My soul's desire is for God in His name, and I get it now what Jesus did for me, and I'm all in on that, I believe that, and I'm in on that, and I'm in on following him the rest of my days. And the angels erupt in celebration, and everybody else erupts and celebrates, sometimes we're not that great at it, candidly, but when we realize that people are in darkness and they're brought into the light, that's worth erupting in celebration for. And I don't care today how dark your life is, I don't care how eclipsed it is, because the radiance of Jesus Christ is so bright that it overcomes the deepest of darkness, the worst of shame, the guilt that clouds us, the condemnation that wears us out, the judgment that we constantly feel. Jesus Christ on the cross took all of that, and his light radiates and totally overwhelms and triumphs over the darkness. You can be free today, and you don't have to do a thing for it by the grace of God, that's good news for us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:49:47] Let's pray. Father, thank you for the power and strength of your word today. And I pray, Father, that anybody that's in the darkness of shame, of anxiety, depression, fear, Father, will you give them relief today at the cross? Father, I pray for those who already know you that we're walking in things that are not pleasing to you, today would convict our hearts, and God, that we come with confession and know that you are just waiting to free us up. So I pray for that freedom today. Help us, Father, to not be deceived by false things, with the onslaught of rockets coming at us constantly. And Father, instead, I pray you'll shield us with faith, with Christ, with righteousness, with peace, with truth, with your word, and we'd walk in that truth and that we'd enjoy it, will you make that the desire of our heart today?

Ross Sawyers: [00:51:05] If we could, let's just sit in this a moment quietly, in whatever it is that God's speaking to you. And then if you'd like to talk with someone about it, we'd love to visit with you about whatever those things are. But let's just sit in it for a moment with what God's done.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051