About Stephen Nielsen

I'm an author, a self publisher, and a painting contractor. I live in beautiful Minnesota, USA . Welcome to my blog site.

Ten Signs of Self-Deception

I have been following the sermons of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. In the last few posts, particularly on Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus has told us straight out that at the judgment day many will be surprised when He tells them, “I never knew you.” Hence, they have been self-deceived probably their entire life. They believed they were Christians but were not. What makes a person think he is a real Christian when he is not? What are the signs of self-deception in this matter? Lloyd-Jones gives us ten signs. I will abbreviate them in my own words.

1. When a person counts on attending church meetings. I don’t understand this point, but I suppose some may think that attending meetings will give them good standing with God.

2. When a person takes an interest in his denomination or fellowship. For some reason a person may think that to be interested in the church in this way, this will make him a Christian, that it puts him high on the totem pole so to speak.

3. When one is caught up in the phenomena of exalted feelings, guidance, physical healing, and so on. One may regard these things as a sign of being Spirit filled, and therefore a Christian; however, even the demon possessed have experienced some of these things.

4. When one is caught up in the social events of the church. I have personally witnessed people who take great pride in certain social activities, and even very worthwhile things, but that in itself does not make you a Christian.

5. When one is caught up in apologetics—the defense of the faith. This is a worthwhile interest and it may for some seem to be a sign of a Christian; but again, this interest will not make you a Christian; it will do nothing for the saving of your soul.

6. To have an interest in theology. The grave danger here is that a person may become so engaged in his studies that he forgets about a need for a personal relationship with God.

7. To have an over interest in prophetic teaching. This is one of my interests, and so, I can see that if one is not a Christian already, it may deceive you. That is, if you have become a student of bible prophecy, it may so build you up in bible knowledge that you may take on a self-pride in yourself where it may be impossible to find true salvation.

8. A person that becomes a student of the bible, but his knowledge is only an intellectual pursuit. One who is highly knowledgeable in the bible may not even be a Christian. In fact, his knowledge may do more damage than good; as his pride is built up, he may at some point turn against true Christianity.

9. A person who has a great interest in various bible translations and in choosing one over another. This is another case of one building up in himself a sort of intellectual bible pride, which may be very damaging to the soul, and in the end, if he is not a Christian he may never be.

10. One who is only interested in grace. This may be a sign that one is not a Christian and is fooling himself. For a true Christian, sin is a serious matter and one’s reaction to it should be of deep penitence. If a person seems always to be restored quickly by grace, his love of the Lord and salvation is questionable.

America, What Can We do?

What’s happening in America and what can we do? I just heard Newt Gingrich on his podcast. He has good things to say about what’s happening. I also listen to Bill O’Reilly and he also knows what’s going on and what should be done. The problem is, no one is stepping up and doing anything. The President needs to be impeached, now. But no one is willing to start the process. Of course, who wants to or is good enough to replace him. We don’t want Harris in there, or Pelosi. So, we may be stuck with who we have. And do we know who is really holding the reins? Do we know who the real President is? I think it is among those who are telling him to “build back better.” It is no doubt a group of globalists. It is the same group that illegitimately got him into office. And make no mistake, they knew he would follow their directives. I wonder how it is all done? What secret dimly lit room do they go to, to get their orders? We need some good spies to check that out! And break it open.

Why Prayer is Necessary: #6 – To Obtain Mercy and Grace

Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, is fully human and fully God.  The human side of Him makes Him able to be sympathetic and merciful toward us, and the God side of Him makes Him able to help us at any time with any of our needs.  What this means to us of course is that when we pray to Him we are assured of His sympathy for our needs and also of His ability to help us.  Thus we can pray with great confidence, even boldness.   Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

This mercy and grace is God’s gift to us—it is free for our taking!  But unless we choose to go to Him in prayer, and unless we confidently pray and ask for help, His mercy will not be obtained and His grace will not be found.

We all are aware of countless individuals (perhaps you) who are badly in need of help.  Some are in spiritual, mental, and sometimes physical misery.  Some grope around not knowing what to do or who to turn to.  Many go from doctor to doctor seeking help, all to no avail.  If they only knew Jesus and knew how to approach Him in prayer they would no longer be without peace.     

He is the Great Physician, the greatest one of all.  All we need to do is call out to Him in prayer and He will quickly come to our aid.  But if we fail to pray in our desperate hour of need then His mercy and His grace will remain on the shelves of heaven.  Pray, my friend, and God will hear you.  Yes, you who are in desperate need, need to pray.  It is the only way, God’s appointed way, that you will receive mercy and find grace.  

Unconscious Hypocrisy

Unconscious Hypocrisy is actually the title of a sermon by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, which was recoded in his book Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. The following is just a few notes I took on that sermon.

Lloyd-Jones began by saying that there are many people who are not aware of the fact that they are not really Christians when they are convinced that they are; and so, they have a kind of unconscious hypocrisy. They think they are good Christians but they are in fact reprobates.

  • They are of the “many” who have passed up the narrow gate and have instead gone down the broad path with most of the world.
  • They are like the five foolish virgins, and like the man who built his house on the sand.
  • They are of those whom Jesus spoke of (in Matthew 7:21-23) who did wonderful works, but yet didn’t know Him.
  • They are people who are praised by men.
  • They are considered as outstanding servants.
  • They are happy about themselves.
  • They are assured of their salvation.

God says of them, “I never knew you.” So, they have been deceived. And they will be surprised at the judgment. Here is the passage that we have been considering:

Matthew 7:21-23

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

I think the most important thing we can do is to list the causes of self-deception to make sure we don’t fall into the same trap that so many have fallen into. Here is the list of six, which I gathered from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermon.

  1. They have a false assurance of their salvation, which they have persuaded themselves to believe. This false assurance is based on a false belief system. A system that says that if I say I believe often enough and strongly enough, that it will take hold. But James says that the Devil also believes this way, and he certainly will not be saved from hell.
  2. They refuse to examine themselves periodically to see if their faith is true.
  3. They live on their activities of good works. They think this will save them.
  4. They balance their good works with the bad. This is a Muslim system, and a system of all false religions, but it doesn’t work.
  5. They fail to heed the plain teaching of Scripture. To take it as their guide.
  6. They fail to realize that the one thing that matters is a relationship with Christ. He wants our heart, our submission, our time; and He wants us.

Why Prayer is Necessary: #5 – To Obtain Fullness of Joy

Jesus said in John 16:24, “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.” 

The teaching here is that when we ask in His name and receive the things we ask for, the result, after receiving those things, will be a fullness of joy.  And I suppose you could say that our joy will come in degrees.  To the degree that we recognize that God has answered our prayers, to that degree we will receive joy. The person who doesn’t realize that God has answered his prayer may have a certain amount of joy just because he has received what he wanted.  But the real and full joy is a joy that comes from knowing absolutely that God has answered our prayers.

R. A. Torrey has said, “When we ask something definite of God, and He gives it, how real God becomes!  He is right there!  It is blessed to have a God who is real, and not merely an idea.”3  Yes, it is a joyful and real experience when God reaches down in love, and gives us what we ask for.  It is the joy of experiencing His presence.

In Psalm 16:11 David wrote, “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; in thy right hand there are pleasures forever.”  Though David here is mainly speaking of the joy that comes after this life, we can know that same joy now whenever we experience His presence—which will surely come to us with the realization that He has answered our prayers.

This I think is the whole point of prayer—to have the joyful realization of His presence.  It is what God intended for us.  Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10b).  He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6).  It is God’s purpose for us to have this abundant life, which is found in Jesus, and can only be gained when we call out to Him in prayer.  Prayer then is the key to obtain this life—life that produces for us a fullness of joy.


3 R. A. Torrey, How to Pray (Chicago: Moody Press, n. d.), p. 16.

Paper Tiger — Ernie’s Musings

The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. (1 Samuel 2:4) Unless you have completely isolated and insulated yourself from the outside world (and I would not blame you if you have; sometimes I wish I could completely detach from the constant flow of bad news), you […]

Paper Tiger — Ernie’s Musings

Those who say to Him, “Lord, Lord”

The narrow way and the broad way

The Bible says that on the judgment day it will be revealed that some who think they are Christians are really not. In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus said,

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

This may seem to you to be a very strange thing, that some people will be so self-deceived, that they think they are Christians when they are not. How can this happen? How does someone not know that he is not a Christian? How does he or she live so much of a life thinking that they are Christians when they are not?

The only answer is that they haven’t really known what a Christian is. They evidently have allowed false prophets to influence them; and they, at the beginning, entered not at the narrow gate but at the broad gate and went down and lived in the broad way—the way of the world. And all along in their journey, they never at any point got to know the Lord and to be changed by Him. What a tragic deception.

But how is it that they are so deceived?  And also, how is it that true Christians are also deceived into thinking that some false Christians are true Christians? Here are a few reasons why:

  • Knowing Him does not mean saying the right words. It is possible for a person to say all the right words, to have a very holy and righteous speech, and yet not be a Christian. A changed language does not mean that there is a changed heart.
  • Some unbelievers may use Scripture and Scriptural teaching as a kind of philosophy, but they don’t really know Christ or are converted.
  • Some may speak and even preach the Scriptures fervently, but it may be entirely of the flesh and not for the sake of Christ.

The test of course is whether a person has the fruit of the Spirt, and also whether they know Him or not. Do they pray and read their bible regularly? Do they have a growing love relationship with Him?