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Be not deceived

Christie Hanzlik, C.S., Boulder, CO
Posted Monday, October 7th, 2019

“Be not deceived”
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real?"
for October 13th, 2019

Prepared by Christie C Hanzlik, CS
ccern@mac.com christiecs.com


It’s a nice confluence of events that I have the opportunity to write this week’s Met and that an article I wrote back in 2007 was reprinted in the “Bible Lens” pullout section of the CS Sentinel to complement the Bible Lesson that asks the question, “Are sin, disease, and death real?" The article, “Seeing through the Illusion,” describes a time in which I was healed of flu-like symptoms instantaneously when I learned how David Copperfield seemed to make the Statue of Liberty disappear, and connected that illusion with how world belief seems to trick us into accepting negative suggestions. (jsh.christianscience.com/seeing-through-the-illusion) To cut the article down to one page, the Sentinel's editors omitted the explanation behind Copperfield’s illusion, but I’ll include a fuller explanation here since its relevant to this week’s lesson.

How did Copperfield make a 151’ statue disappear in front of a live audience and on national television back in 1985? (spoiler alert!) The audience was sitting and facing the Statue, but their seats were on top of a giant lazy susan. When the sky began to get dark, Copperfield had helicopters come to circle above the statue. Then—presto!—he had the lights which had been shining up onto the statue turn off. Slowly, the giant lazy susan rotate apace with the helicopters. The audience was distracted by Copperfield’s antics…dancing girls, music, and the noise of the helicopters. Soon, the audience was facing away from the statue, although the helicopters still circled directly in front of them because they had been rotating also. But now the helicopters circled above a fake pedestal Copperfield had constructed for the occasion. Finally, the lights came on and shined up at….nothing!…the Statue of Liberty had disappeared. Of course, all the audience needed to do was shine a very, very bright light behind them, and they would have seen the Statue of Liberty standing right where it should be. I've simplified the description, but you can find more about this illusion on the Internet and even see the original broadcast (for example, www.youtube.com/watch?v=823GNH4Rczg)

I’d like to think that none of us would be fooled by Copperfield's illusion. After all, we know its not really possible to make a 305 ft. statue disappear into thin air. But then again, we’re now armed with the knowledge of how his trickery happened. In the same way, as we arm ourselves with knowledge of how false suggestions about us try to sneak into our thought to turn us away from a clear view of perfection, we can “be not deceived” and focus instead on the correct view. (GT) Let’s see how these ideas connect with this week’s Bible Lesson that asks the question, “Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real?"

Golden Text (GT)

The GT is the theme…”Be not deceived.” In other words, be not turned away from Truth. The GT also introduces the word “grace,” a word that I find useful to define each time I see it. For me, “grace” is when we feel God’s love even when we don’t think that we deserve it. With this definition in mind, the second part of the GT could read, “Brethren, the [feeling of God’s love even when you don’t feel that you deserve it and that was taught by] our Lord Jesus Christ [is always] with your spirit.” (GT) Connecting the two parts of the GT, it could mean that we should be alert so that we are not deceived, but that even at times in which we are deceived, God’s grace always brings us back to the comfort of true home.

Responsive Reading (RR)

The RR offers more instructions on not being deceived: “Let no man deceive you with vain words.” Copperfield’s illusion was a deception (aka vain words). The next line of the RR reads, "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.” In other words, as we walk in the light of the Lord, we won't be deceived because we are never in the darkness of thought that allows for illusion. In the Copperfield example, darkness kept the audience from seeing that the Statue had never disappeared. Light shines and truth is revealed. The “light of the Lord,” is, of course, metaphorical, and we can bask in this light even while it’s nighttime.


The RR also reminds us not to have "fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Truth’s light is what does the re-proving…"all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.” If we apply this concept to the Statue of Liberty illusion, shining a light on the original statue is all that it would take to re-prove that it was still there. Likewise, when we seem to get turned away from good health and vitality, we can turn back to Truth (repent), and allow Truth’s light to illuminate our true being. The facts of our being are proved and re-proved with Truth’s clear light.

We may sometimes feel drowsy and let our thought get turned like that audience was turned. But it’s never too late to wake up. The Christ-light startles us awake, and says, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead [aka stagnant thought], and Christ [aka our awareness of Truth] shall give thee light.”

As we walk in the light, it is no longer a laborious chore to "be not deceived," rather it is like a sweet melody that carries us with joy and song. We can all be "Speaking to [ourselves] in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in [our hearts] to the Lord.” Walking in the light of Truth is joy. Amen!


Section 1: “Be not deceived"

Section 1 gives us a list of instructions for not being deceived. Don't let other gods turn you away and deceive you. (B1) Don’t be turned. (B1) Don’t be deceived by false prophets and diviners (aka advertisements and fear-based stories) that are all around you. (B3) Instead, listen to your divine Parent who is always reminding you of the truth of your perfection. (B4) When we’re afraid of being deceived, or don’t know which way to turn, we can call out to our divine Parent, and say, "Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation.” (B5) Our divine Parent never deceives us. In truth, even when we feel as if we’ve been turned in the wrong direction, we are truly dwelling in the secret place (hid from any deceivers) in "the shadow of the Almighty.” (B6)

In the related passages in Science and Health, we find that God/Spirit dwells in infinite light…so there’s no room for the darkness of deceit. (S1) The Statue of Liberty seemed to disappear when the audience was turned. Similarly, we may seem to get turned away from harmony and health, but prayer startles us and awakens our thought until the "Science of man's eternal harmony breaks [the] illusion with the unbroken reality of scientific being.” (S5) Using the metaphor, prayer does not make the statue appear. Prayer reveals that it has always been there.

You know, even if everyone in the audience got really scared that the Statue of Liberty disappeared, it was inevitable that the truth of the illusion would be revealed. After all, the sun was going to rise and eventually everyone would see in the light of day that the statue had never disappeared. This is true in our experience too. No matter how dark our experience may seem to be, the light of Truth will inevitably reveal our true being, our true existence, as the offspring of the perfect Parent, the ideas of perfect Mind, the sheep of the omniscient Shepherd, the rays of the perfect Sun, the beloved love of Love. We could think of “error” as being turned away from truth. So, to correct error (like correcting the illusion that the statue had disappeared), we only need to turn toward truth. Even if we didn’t turn back toward truth; however, it is still inevitable the the light would reveal reality—its inevitable. Ultimately, as the light of dawn arrives, "The eternal Truth destroys what mortals seem to have learned from error, and man's real existence as a child of God comes to light.” (S6)

Section 2 “Be not deceived” into accepting sin

The second section specifically corrects the error of accepting sin as normal. One way in which we could think of sin is as the belief that we’re unworthy of love. Sin is the belief of unworthiness, and sinning would be actions that make us feel unworthy. Thoughts that make us feel unworthy are sinful thoughts, and those thoughts are not from God; those thoughts are not from us either. We are inherently worthy, treasured, and cared for.


Are we ever actually unworthy? No! And there is no true origin to sin. Sin is being turned away from the solid truth that we are inherently worthy of love. You are worthy of love. Putting this definition into the context of the lesson, “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our [feelings of unworthiness], for thy name's sake.” (B7) Divine Love will deliver us from the false belief of being unworthy. [B8] Christ Jesus was so tender in his reminders that we are worthy. He addressed his followers as “little children,” and said, "Little children, let no man deceive you” (B10) “Little children” are inherently worthy. Just because we have to shop for car insurance or buy toilet paper or take care of a myriad of so-called adult responsibilities—this does not mean we are not children. We are still children, worthy of our divine Parent’s affection. We are still children, with a divine Parent who rejoices in our very existence.

What is it that would make us feel unworthy? Sometimes its some kind of inner chatter or inner voice that says self-deprecating things…”I’m not good enough” or “I haven’t done as much as I should have.” or "I’m not as good as other people.” or “I no longer have a purpose.” But this is not our voice. And it is not God’s voice. You would never say this type of thing to someone else, so if we hear an “inner voice" saying this, we can know it is not our voice. We can make the separation between the deceiver’s (serpent’s) voice and God’s voice. If it isn’t loving, it isn’t Love's voice. And if the negative suggestions come from someone else, it still isn’t God’s voice, so it still isn’t true. The Shepherd is never cruel. The Shepherd treasures each sheep, and would never abandon even a single one.

"

One of my favorite sections of Mary Baker Eddy’s writings is from Rudimental Divine Science in which she states, “The emphatic purpose of Christian Science is the healing of sin; and this task, sometimes, may be harder than the cure of disease; because, while mortals love to sin, they do not love to be sick.” (Rud. 2:22–2)

If we were to use some word substitution here, this could read….”The emphatic purpose of Christian Science is the healing of [unworthiness]; and this task, sometimes, may be harder than the cure of disease; because, while mortals love to [feel sorry for themselves and [punish themselves with feelings of unworthiness], they do not love to be sick.”

In other words, it seems to be our own voice that would deceive us into feeling unworthy (aka sinful), and at the same time make us feel like its pleasurable and that this is the normal and natural state. But we can turn this around, by listening to Christ Jesus, who said, "Take heed that no man deceive you.” (B9) No one can deceive us into feeling less than worthy when we’re alert. Christ Jesus warned us that false suggestions seem to be all around us, and "many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” But he didn’t stop there. He reminds us that it is inevitable—just like the light of dawn—that we discover our full worthiness. As he stated, "he that shall endure unto the end [until the sun rises], the same shall be saved [see the light].” Of course, those of us who understand that the earth rotates and the sun doesn’t actually go anywhere at night can see that we have constant dawn….the sun is always there….its just that the earth must rotate for us to see the morning dawn. This is similar to the Statue of Liberty example…the statue was always there. It never disappeared. But the audience would have to turn to see it. And, to reiterate the point of the dawn light…even if the audience never thought to turn and see that the statue had never actually disappeared, as soon as the sun rose the next morning they would see Lady Liberty standing tall with her torch.

We know that false suggestions of sin/unworthiness do not come from God, our all-loving Parent. Why would negative suggestions come from an all-loving Source? "Does divine Love commit a fraud on humanity by making man inclined to sin, and then punishing him for it?” (S8) Would our Shepherd tell us we are unworthy sheep and then get upset at us for feeling unworthy? No! Ridiculous. The Shepherd cares for, watches over, and protects us. Our Shepherd treasures us and rejoices each moment we take a step forward.

As we grasp the impotence of false suggestions, they cannot touch us, and we find victory. As Mary Baker Eddy (MBE) states, "Only those, who repent of [the belief of unworthiness] and forsake the unreal, can fully understand the unreality of evil.” (10) As we do this, we’re wearing “the armor of divinity” that protects us at all times. As MBE writes, "At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good. Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil.” In short, we can wear the armor of divinity—the light of Truth—and never be deceived or turned away from a clear sense that we are worthy of our Father’s dear love.

Section 3 "Take heed lest any man deceive you” into accepting sickness and discord

Like the other sections, the third section reminds us to be alert, "Take heed lest any man deceive you.” (B12) The third section answers the second part of the question in the subject of the Bible Lesson—is sickness real? There seem to be many false suggestions that would trick us into accepting sickness as the norm. But harmony is the fact of our being, our existence. In truth, no plague, or inharmony, can come near our house, our consciousness—"Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” (B13)

The story in this section is about the woman of Canaan who asks Jesus to heal her daughter. At first Jesus seems to ignore her—“he answered her not a word.” But as she declares her worthiness to receive at least the “crumbs" of his affection, he states, "O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” And her daughter is restored.

It is interesting that the woman’s worthiness was established first. Every true healing I have witnessed in myself and in others ultimately occurs as the patient is filled with a greater sense of worthiness. The physical healing happens as a result of overcoming a latent or overt sense of unworthiness. In other words, we may believe that the issue that we’re facing is physical, emotional, financial, psychological, etc., but it is always about deepening our sense of worthiness. A deep and calm sense of worthiness resolves regret, remorse, fear, hatred, envy, etc. Heal sin first, and the rest follows immediately. The Bible Lesson lists sin, sickness, death, with sin listed first. Perhaps this is because this is because it is what we should handle first.

We often get sidetracked to focus on physical healing primarily, but Christ Jesus first established the worthiness (sinlessness) of those he healed, and then the physical/psychological issue resolved immediately. In other words, "Jesus healed sickness and sin by one and the same metaphysical process.” (S11) Here is some word substitution for citation S13 to help us think about this concept in a fresh way: “[Accepting a wrong view of], [unworthiness], [discord], and [the belief of a stopping point to good] arise[s] from the false testimony of [limited and distorted] sense, which, from a supposed standpoint outside the focal distance of infinite Spirit, presents an inverted image of Mind and substance with everything turned upside down. (S13) This sentence reminds me a lot of Copperfield’s illusion since, after the audience was turned/deceived, the Statue of Liberty was “outside the focal distance” and the audience saw truth turned upside down.

Section 4 “Be not deceived” into accepting a stopping point for life

The fourth section answers the third part of the question in the subject of the Bible Lesson—is death real? Once again, the section starts out with the reminder to us to “be not deceived.” (15) The whole section is telling us not to get turned away from the truth of Life to think that there could be an absence of life (aka death).

As always, its important to define our terms carefully. Mary Baker Eddy offers this definition of death: "DEATH. An illusion, the lie of life in matter; the unreal and untrue; the opposite of Life. Any material evidence of death is false, for it contradicts the spiritual facts of being.” (S16) I think of death as the belief that there’s a start and a stop to life—its a distorted and inverted and limited understanding of our full being, a narrow view of our expanded existence. Physical scientists cannot explain the first moments of life in the universe. There is not a reasonable explanation for how the first spark of life began in the universe. There was no beginning to life. There never was a moment in which there was no life anywhere, and then—presto!—life started. No. Life always has been, and never has had a beginning. Life has no beginning…life is eternal. This is true for life generally, and life individually. There is no physical-science explanation for the very first moment of an individual life, no explanation for the start of a new consciousness. There never was a moment in which an individual life starts—it always has been. It always has been because its an expression of infinite and eternal Life. There is no starting point to Life. There is also no stopping point to Life. There is no end point to Life, and no endpoint to live-ing, which is the be-ing of Life.

“In Christ [our full awareness of God’s presence] we are made alive.” (B16) In other words, Christ animates man. It is our awareness of Christ that makes us different than, say, a chair, because a chair is inanimate. The chair inanimate because it is unaware of Christ. Our awareness of Christ gives us life. We feel a deeper sense of Life as we are more and more aware of Christ, our awareness of infinite good. Paul the Apostle connected with Christ-awareness in a deep and practical way. In this section, we find the story of how Paul raised Eutychus from death (the belief of a stopping point). Eutychus fell asleep during Paul sermon, but Paul was not upset with the boy. Paul was not distracted by the scenario. He saw clearly that the boy’s life—his understanding and connection with Christ—could not be taken from him. (B18) This is true for us too. To the degree that we understand Christ, we are unaffected by death (the belief of a stopping point). As MBE states, "Jesus said substantially, 'He that believeth in me shall not see death.' That is, he who perceives the true idea of Life loses his belief in [a stopping point].” (S17)

[W: To hear this from the viewpoint of "The Mother of Eutychus" written by Ken Cooper and read by Sue Cooper click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVcAHBJxsc4]


We should never give in to the belief that there is a stopping point to life. Life has no stopping point. Life is deathless. To the degree that we are clear on the eternality of life—it has no beginning and no end—we are free from the belief of death. In Mary Baker Eddy’s words, "We can, and ultimately shall, so rise as to avail ourselves in every direction of the supremacy of Truth over [deception], Life over [the belief of a stopping point], and good over evil, and this growth will go on until we arrive at the fulness of God's idea, and no more fear that we shall be [inharmonious] and [end].” (S18)

Copperfield could not have deceived us into thinking that the Statue of Liberty had really disappeared. We know that is impossible. We would not be worried about the statue, or go into a panic that we would never see it again. Instead, we would affirm the truth—it could not disappear. It could not end. Let’s be even more certain about the continuity of eternal life. Even when it seems as if we have witnessed death, we can know that Life is the law of being and cannot be stopped.

We don’t need to be deceived by the belief of a stopping point to Life and Life’s idea. There is no end to life. Death may appear like an end from a limited vantage point, just as the statue appeared to vanish when the audience didn’t have the full view. But, to the degree that we understand eternal life, we will have a more and more unlimited sense of Life and see its endlessness. To the degree that we are clear on the eternality of life, the belief that it could end will not shake our foundation in truth. We will not be deceived and the belief of a stop to life will have less and less of an effect on us. We will find ourselves free of grief, free of fear, and able to express life more freely.


Section 5 the gift of Christ is the grace that frees us from deception.

The fifth and final section reasserts the word “grace” which we first saw in the Golden Text. Grace is the feeling of God’s love even when we may not feel that we deserve it. Grace is feeling loved even if we think we’re unworthy. Grace heals because it corrects the false sense of unworthiness. Grace heals because it removes sin. Here’s some creative word substitution to make the Bible citations in this section connect with the story of the Statue of Liberty: “Unto every one of us is given [a deep sense of our worthiness] according to [our awareness of ever-present Love]. Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a [worthy] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more [gullible audience members], [rotated on a lazy susan], and [turned about by illusions and false suggestions], by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness , whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” (B21) Oh! And here the Bible citation even mentions “liberty”….”whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (B22) We have liberty. We have freedom from being deceived.

It is not enough for us to just know that illusion isn’t real. We have daily opportunities to be alert to deception and “be not deceived.” As Mary Baker Eddy writes, "Every day makes its demands upon us for higher proofs rather than professions of Christian power. These proofs consist solely in the destruction of [unworthiness], [inharmony], and [the belief of a stopping point] by the power of Spirit, as Jesus destroyed them. This is an element of progress, and progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil.” (S20)


Fortunately for us, we have specific instructions for how to make progress in overcoming a belief in sin, sickness, and death. Mary Baker Eddy writes, "Let us (1) accept Science, (2) relinquish all theories based on sense-testimony, (3) give up imperfect models and illusive ideals; and so (4) let us have one God, one Mind, and that one perfect, producing His own models of excellence." (S21)

Mind produces "His own models of excellence"—models of excellence are even better than a mere statue! These models are truly permanent. They can never be removed. They cannot disappear. Mind’s complete power is the only true power that there is. "Let us rejoice that we are subject to the divine 'powers that be.’” (S21)


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