Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Discipline of Delusion (part 1 of 3)

For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.  (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, NASB).

I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.  (Isaiah 66:4, KJV).

The discipline God uses to perfect the image of His Son in us is as myriad as circumstance, and the most profound and elemental circumstance is that of being saints who sin just like sinners do.  Until we learn to habitually walk in our sainthood we stumble, fall, and fail often; the disillusionment that follows this experience must be corrected properly if we are to be ultimately successful.  But disillusionment might just as likely correct misconceptions as lead to further disillusionment and eventual delusion.

Too often disillusionment becomes the seedbed of delusion; and delusion is insidious because the process of disillusionment should expose the underlying bedrock of reality and uproot any attempt by us to save ourselves.  Despair over ourselves and our dilemma is a normal and healthy realization as long as we do not also despair over God’s ability to save us from ourselves.  Delusion is flowered disillusionment, or said another way, an entrenched illusion.  Disillusionment makes everything fuzzy; delusion snaps it back into focus, but in an abbreviated and false way.  

Oswald Chambers, in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest (July 30 entry) said this under the heading “The Discipline of Delusion” (yes the title of this essay is taken from him):
Disillusionment means that there are no more false judgments in life. To be undeceived by disillusionment may leave us cynical and unkindly severe in our judgment of others, but the disillusionment which comes from God brings us to the place where we see men and women as they really are, and yet there is no cynicism, we have no stinging, bitter things to say. Many of the cruel things in life spring from the fact that we suffer from illusions. We are not true to one another as facts; we are true only to our ideas of one another. Everything is either delightful and fine, or mean and dastardly, according to our idea.  The refusal to be disillusioned is the cause of much of the suffering in human life. It works in this way—if we love a human being and do not love God, we demand of him every perfection and every rectitude, and when we do not get it we become cruel and vindictive; we are demanding of a human being what he or she cannot give. There is only one Being Who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Why Our Lord is apparently so severe regarding every human relationship is because He knows that every relationship not based on loyalty to Himself will end in disaster. Our Lord trusted no man, yet He was never suspicious, never bitter. Our Lord’s confidence in God and in what His grace could do for any man was so perfect that He despaired of no one. If our trust is placed in human beings, we shall end in despairing of everyone.

Delusion is like Alzheimer’s disease: the ones that have it are unaware that they have it, and the weight of the responsibility of their persons ends up being laid upon others.  The only difference is that those that suffer from Alzheimer’s are presumed innocent and to be pitied, whereas the deluded are those that have spurned the Truth and are to be rebuked.  If we maintain a false image of God even in light of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, we will eventually be given over to our caricatured version of Him.  There will be no deliverance from this monstrosity of your own making “till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing” (Matthew 5:26, KJV); eventually we reach the limit of our imagination and when it does it invokes insufferable malaise.