by Rayola Kelley
One of the greatest challenges in Christianity is honestly examining where we are with God. It is easy to con, flatter or deceive ourselves about our life before Him. We con ourselves by our deeds, flatter ourselves with religious words and platitudes, and delude ourselves with doctrine. However, the real test of our spiritual lives comes down to our fruit (Matthew 7:16-20)
Fruit is not just a matter of good deeds, it involves the spirit in which we do something. Spirit is reflected in our disposition, manifested in our attitudes, and revealed in our approach to a matter. People think as long as they do good deeds, God will be impressed, and others will see their goodness. However, God refutes such a concept.
To King Saul, who wanted to feel good about disobeying God by offering Him some sacrifices from offerings already rejected by God, these words were spoken: “Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).
In the case of Isaiah, God was tired of all of the children of Israel’s religious activities that lacked true devotion to Him, and this prophecy was given: “Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed” (Isaiah 6:10). Jesus best described this type of heart in Matthew 15:8, when He stated that such people draw near with their mouths, but their hearts are far away from God.
For Hosea, these words were spoken to the people of Israel in regard to their lack of love for others: “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:7). Jesus would quote this very statement in Matthew 9:13, but added these words: “…for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
When are believers going to learn that it is not our deeds that distinguish us, rather it is our attitude towards God and others? Deeds that lack the right spirit are nothing more than a con game. We are simply trying to create a false reality about our life toward God, and our relationship with others. We may be throwing sacrifices at God, but they are meant to simply keep Him off our backs. We may be tossing empty promises at those around us, but it is just to create a false impression of our “so-called” goodness, to receive adoration and worship. Is it any wonder Psalm 119:104 and 128 tells us that God hates every false way? In other words, He hates the conning and the flattering that goes on. He hates it because it means man is coming into delusion about himself and the life he is living.
I wanted to understand the face of flattery. After all, the children of Israel tried to flatter God at various times (Psalm 78:35-41). Even in spite of their flattery, God would show them mercy.
As I pondered how these people tried to flatter God, I had to consider how many of us are trying to con God with flattery. By looking up the Hebrew meaning of “flattery” in the “Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance,” an interesting picture immerges. It begins with a smooth tongue that is trying to actually set a net for a person to become entangled (Proverbs 29:5). The purpose of this net is to divide from truth, separate from reality, and place one in a slippery place of destruction.
Can you imagine a person trying to divide God from the truth, separate Him from reality, and place Him in a place where he or she will come out on top? Yet, there are those who attempt this, as well as trying to ensnare His people.
No doubt there are people trying to change our perception. We have laws against calling certain sins, sin. In fact, we are considered hateful if we stand on God’s Word about such matters. Talk about trying to divide God’s people from the truth! We have entertainment that attempts to separate us from reality, and heresy that wants to put us on a slippery path of destruction.
It is important to realize that people are being conditioned to prefer the ways of flattery to truth. They want to hear only that which appeals to their pride and their way of thinking. In other words, they prefer lies to truth. We certainly can hear such lies and false presentations coming from the mouths of many politicians. In fact, the world is wrapped up in lies that include false promises of peace, of happiness, and of establishing a perfect world. It goes on and on, but the harsh reality is that many are attracted to such flattery because they do not want to face reality.
As you study flattery in Scripture, you begin to realize that it is contrary to the ways of God. Flattery comes from lying lips that are hiding a double heart. A heart this is divided is full of pride. Pride lacks faithfulness or trustworthy character. Ultimately, flattery hides hatefulness (Psalm 12:2-3; 5:9; 36:2).
When you consider people that flatter others, it is because they hate their life, so they try to change their reality. They hate truth, because it will not bow down to them. They hate those who play their game because they cannot trust them anymore than they can be trusted. They hate those who refuse to play their game because they could expose their deceitfulness at any time.
You might wonder why I chose this subject. Have you been watching the events around Israel? From all appearances, we are living in the last of the end days. It appears that if the tide does not change in the Middle East, Christ’s coming could be very soon. As I consider the escalating events, it would be a perfect time for a world leader to step on the scene to bring the much desired false “peace” the world is clamoring after (1 Thessalonians 5:2-6) It will be a false peace because only Jesus reigning as King and Lord can establish the true peace of the soul and the world (John 14:27).
According to the Word of God, the last world leader will obtain the confidence of people by way of flatteries (Daniel 11:21, 32-35). The environment we live in has set the trap for many to buy the flatteries of this leader. This trap is clever, but as Christians we must discern the days we live in, guard our hearts against worldly entanglements, and stand sure on the Immovable Rock, Jesus Christ. Daniel 11:32b summarizes the key to standing in such a time: “…but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”
What about you? Are you operating in flatteries? If you are operating according to flatteries, know that you are only deceiving yourself. You will not only fall into your own traps, and experience ruin, but you are being cut off from truth, hope and deliverance (Psalm 12:3; Proverbs 26:28).