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The Great Deception

• Greg Boyd

In this sermon, Greg Boyd focused on the part of John’s vision that no one is worthy to open the scroll. The reason is due to the fact that humanity has been deceived and therefore does not align with the character of God. Greg ties this passage to the deception of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 and then he provides spiritual practices that can break this pattern of deception.

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The scroll represents the true nature of God’s character and way of defeating evil. In John’s vision, an angel asks, “Who is worthy?” However, no one has the character of God, and therefore no one is worthy. John weeps in response. It is obvious that something has gone terribly wrong in the throne room of God. There is trouble in paradise. It is an allusion to the fall of the first man and woman in Genesis 3. In that story, the serpent asks, “Who is worthy to be trusted?” Then the serpent questions the character of God and challenges whether God can be trusted. The first couple are deceived to think a lie is truth and truth a lie. The story of the fall is the story of humans deciding the serpent was worthy of our trust and allegiance rather than God. It’s the story of how this false picture of God has kept us from knowing the true God.

As a result of this deception, the character of humans becomes corrupt, and no one is worthy to open the scroll. Only someone with the character of God can know God’s character because like is known by like.

Deception is the central problem Revelation is focused on. Every sin that we commit is rooted in deception. We are led into this deception by the deceiver who is formally introduced in Revelation 12:7-9:

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

The deceiver says that we cannot trust God and therefore cannot align our lives with God’s will. We end up trusting lies that lead to destruction. We pursue power to dominate and control others rather than using our influence to serve others and encourage them. Instead of humbly submitting ourselves to God’s leading, we assert our own will for our own advancement. This is the character that is demonstrated by the deceiver. We read about this in Isaiah 14:12-16:

How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
on the heights of Zaphon;
I will ascend to the tops of the clouds,
I will make myself like the Most High.’
But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the depths of the Pit.

The battle that rages throughout the book of Revelation is the battle between truth and lies. Ultimately, it’s a battle between what kind of power wins in the end. Is it the power of the dragon that rules through force or the power of the lamb who gives up his life for the sake of all, including his enemies?

There are four practices that can help us find freedom from this deception. The first is to pray that your eyes will be opened to the reality of the truth and the lies. Secondly, strive to think and speak only truth. Third, ask “What story do I live in?” Is it a story of my will be done, or is it a story that is about God’s will be done? And finally, question the “normal” of the world.

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Topics: God's Will, Satan, Sin

Sermon Series: Good Heavens!


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Focus Scripture:

  • Revelation 5:1-4

    Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.

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