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Know Who You Really Are and Be Free from Deception
CedarS Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on:

Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced
November 25—December 1, 2013

By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S.  Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Bartlett)
craig.ghislincs@icloud.com

[A note to let the need be known: CedarS is 40% of the way toward meeting
a year-end, $25k Maintenance Musts Challenge Grant… about $15k to go]

In two of the last three previous Lessons, we’ve had references to Eve being beguiled by the serpent.  Beguile is another way of saying deceive. This week’s Lesson focuses on how to avoid being deceived. According to The Student’s Reference Dictionary, to deceive means simply “to mislead the mind; to cause to err; to cause to believe what is false, or disbelieve what is true; to impose on; to delude.” Deception is the stock and trade of what Mary Baker Eddy terms, animal magnetism.

Nobody likes the idea of being deceived, but for one reason or another everyone gets fooled at some point. For all intents and purposes, we’re all deceived by the claim that we live in matter to begin with. But even within this larger deception, we still run into many smaller ones, as we go through our experience. Sometimes, we are completely fooled and have no idea we are believing a lie. At other times, we willingly leave the door open just enough to allow ourselves to be deceived. But we’re only vulnerable to deception if we don’t know the truth. If we know the truth about something, we can’t be fooled by any lies about it, no matter how convincing they may seem.

The warning in the Golden Text is thought by commentators to imply that the danger of being deceived lies within our own characters. Corruption of our own hearts makes it difficult to know who we really are and therefore, we are more likely to fall for falsehoods. This passage is also a warning not to think we can deceive God. I recall a practitioner telling me years ago, when I was working on avoiding an unsavory circumstance that “I could lie to myself, I could lie to him, I could lie to others, but I couldn’t lie to God!” I needed to be true to my God-given nature and sincerely strive to express it. If I was, I wouldn’t be fooled by false attraction.

Sometimes people tend to think that life is an obstacle course designed by God to try us; and if we get it all right, we’ll work our way back to heaven. But as the Responsive Reading shows, God doesn’t set obstacles in our path. Wisdom is readily available to all, calling to man to use it for his salvation. It teaches us to be watchful, and able to discern between the false and the true, the questionable and the reliable, the dangerous and the safe. Wisdom, or awareness of the truth, gives us the power of discernment and enables us to be strong against the attacks of evil. We don’t have to be afraid of the evil in the world.

When we really know who we are, we can’t be drawn into conflicts either. It often seems to human sense that we have to fight fire with fire, but we’re cautioned not to return evil for evil. Mrs. Eddy wrote one of her students, “Never deal with evil as evil deals with you” (Advice to Healers Volume 2, p.11 available at The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity). Theologian Albert Barnes points out that to “provide” things honest, means “to meditate on beforehand.” That way we’re deciding ahead of time not to be carried away by the emotional fluctuations of the moment, but choosing in advance to stick to what’s right. When we know our true nature we will not be fooled into getting down to evil’s level, but we will remain uplifted and overcome evil with good.

Section 1: Don’t Be Deceived—Stick with God and Forsake Everything Else
Turning away from God makes us susceptible to deception. Therefore, we are warned to stay on course (B1). Holiness arms us against deception (B2). Young king Josiah was known as one of the best Hebrew kings due to his firm devotion to God. He turned a corrupted nation back to the worship of the God of Israel. When the book of the law was found (B3) the king himself read the law to the people. He abolished all idolatrous practices and brought the nation back to righteousness. His reputation for piety was such that the scriptures say there was no “king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might…” (B4). Notice that this king was only eight years old when he began. That’s just a year older than some of our youngest campers at CedarS. It’s never too early to understand and adhere to the path of righteousness and devotion to God.

The psalmist says the “workers of iniquity shall be scattered.” That means they’ll disperse in haste, and flee away; while the righteous flourish like the palm tree—strong straight and tall reaching up to the heavens; and “shall grow like the cedars in Lebanon” (B5). The cedars of Lebanon are magnificent specimens, growing steady and sure, at high altitudes, deep into the rocky, mountainous soil to breast the strong winds, reaching heights between seventy and one hundred and twenty feet, and sending out strong branches that naturally entwine and support each other rather than compete. The wood is full of sap and resistant to attack and decay. These admirable qualities make the lumber from these trees highly desirable. It’s said that the cedars of Lebanon were used in building the Temple in Jerusalem and Solomon’s palace. At CedarS we work to cultivate strength, uprightness, permanency, incorruptibility, and all spiritual qualities in our campers, staff, friends, and subscribers throughout the world. May we all say with the psalmist, “I have chosen the way of truth” (B6).

A belief in material life is a form of idolatry and such beliefs “must go down before Christian Science” (S1). Notice a word that may be a bit hard to understand—theodicy. Theodicy is “A vindication of the justice of God in regard to the natural and moral evil that exists under his government” (SRD). We might more properly say, “that seems to exist under His government.” Christian Science approaches the problem of evil in a different way than others do. We don’t accept the evil things as part of God’s doing. Anything opposed to God is wrong and false (S2). The name Mrs. Eddy gave to this claim of evil is “animal magnetism.” As we’ve pointed out before, animal magnetism is only a belief (S3). Mind is actually never in matter, and evil has no power. This animalistic belief has no foundation, and possesses “neither intelligence, power, nor reality” (S4). All these evils will disappear as we understand that everything is under the control of the divine Mind (S5).

Section 2: Staying True to God, We’re Protected from Deceit
Earlier we mentioned that knowing who we really are, helps to protect us from being deceived by the enemy. Such is the model in this section. The psalmist promises to walk with a “perfect heart”—always trying to do what is right under every circumstance (B7). The phrase “within my house” not only refers to private activity, but also to that which takes place within consciousness. Wickedness has no part in a perfect heart. Psalm 140 (B8) seeks deliverance from those who are violent, evil, and mischievous. Discretion and understanding help us see through the lures of evil and keep us on the right path (B9). The need is to be wise enough to know what the enemy is up to, and to not get taken in.

Mrs. Eddy says the “great mistake” is to suppose that man is “both good and evil” (S6). Here again, we can apply the Christianly Scientific view of theodicy: that God never has anything to do with evil, and man can have nothing that he hasn’t received from God (S7). We read over and over that “evil has no reality” (S8), but we still tend to go along as if it does. Why do we not accept the unreality of evil? The claim that we live in matter and that matter has intelligence and sensation is nothing more than animal magnetism, and it must yield to Truth (S9). Our Leader’s words on this are clear and straightforward. There’s no way to make them clearer. Just absorb their meaning. “God is not the creator of an evil mind. Indeed evil is not Mind. We must learn that evil is the awful deception and unreality of existence” (S10). Remember, a deception is something that misleads us to believe that which is false. The real man doesn’t believe any of evil’s lies and is therefore delivered from them (S11).

Section 3: Don’t Be Deceived into Thinking You Can Do It on Your Own
The warning in Obadiah (B10) was to the Edomites who lived in a series of mountain caves thought to be impenetrable. The warning is against their arrogance and trust in something other than God. As Matthew Henry writes, “Carnal security ripens men for ruin, and makes the ruin worse when it comes.”

The Philistines were coming after Samson (B11) in revenge for a slaughter he’d committed against them—which was itself and act of revenge for their killing his wife and father-in-law. The cycle of vengeance never seems to end. The Philistines make their camp in a place very similar to that mentioned in Obadiah. Samson’s countrymen intend to hand him over to the Philistines and he agrees to surrender himself in order to save his countrymen. When he meets the Philistines he is filled with the Spirit of the Lord. Breaking his bands, he slays a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass. Then thirsty after the battle, he is supplied with water from God.  Incidentally, the words “jawbone” and “Lehi” are virtually the same word in Hebrew, so the story probably means that the water he drank came from a hollow in the rocks, not from the jawbone itself.

So what does this story have to do with being deceived by animal magnetism? Well, first of all, it teaches us not to rely on human strength, intelligence, or circumstances. The revenge cycle is based on animal courage. Mrs. Eddy says we really need “moral courage” (S12, S13). Samson’s strength was in proportion to his being filled with the Spirit. To rely simply on a weapon is not trusting God. Purely physical power is animal—a material belief—coming from human will, not from wisdom (S14). The only real power there is belongs to Spirit. To fight fire with fire, or return evil for evil forever subjects you to its attack. There is no power other than God. If we really want to overcome animal magnetism, we have to realize that God is the only power. We have to throw all our weight onto the right scale—and more than that, we need to realize that there is only one side to the scale. Then we’re working in Science. Goodness is power, and it’s the only power we can ever have.

Section 4: Don’t Be Blinded by False Attraction
As strong in spiritual might as Samson was, he had a weakness for a pretty face. Many of us are familiar with how Delilah entices Samson, eventually wearing him down and finding out how to defeat him (B12). What is there to learn here? Well, I know that there have been times in my life where I thought I was pretty smart; and that I was smart enough to dabble with trouble, but not get stung by it. Oh, foolish boy that I was! Matthew Henry points out that “Satan ruins men by flattering them into a good opinion of their own safety, and so bringing them to mind nothing, and fear nothing; and then he robs them of their strength and honor, and leads them captive at his will.” Let’s not be naïve. We should never play with evil, or allow ourselves to be deceived into trusting those we shouldn’t. Samson thought he could outsmart Delilah but she eventually caught him off guard. Remember evil is deceptive. It doesn’t announce itself as evil; it pretends to be our friend. That’s where we need to be wise. The last two citations in the section (B13 and 14), point out the inevitable danger of being deceived as a result of misplaced trust.

Now even though we say metaphorically that evil is cunning, we don’t want to actually give it power. Otherwise, we’d be constantly afraid of it. We need to learn that evil has neither power nor reality (S15). It talks a big game, but we don’t have to be fooled by it. Error is only fooling itself into believing its own lie. It’s actually a closed system—a lie speaking to itself and believing itself. We don’t have to accept any part of it.

Evil, being a lie, it weaves complicated webs of deceit, but the only way we can truly overcome it is to stick to the fact, that evil has no power at all (S15, 16). Since goodness is the only power, the fact that evil is opposed to good, means that evil has no power. I was once told that Mrs. Eddy said that “error comes to you for life, and you give it the only life that it has.” If we let error get hold of us, we are opening the door to trouble (S17). All error needs is for us to believe it. Evil tries to make us think animalistic tendencies are natural and part of us. But the truths of Christian Science can help us get the victory over these enemies. Every time we do, we are waking up a little more to the reality of our inherent spiritual goodness.

Section 5: Don’t Be Drawn into the Picture of Suffering
Now we turn to the story of the man at the pool of Bethesda (B15). As we’ve noted before, “Bethesda” means the “house of kindness, or mercy.” Where is the deception here? Well perhaps this fellow, who’d suffered for thirty-eight years, was getting used to his condition. It seems nobody was making his stay there uncomfortable. In fact, it appears that every effort was being made to accommodate those at the pool. Do we sometimes start to believe that our sufferings are part of us, and become so used to them that we just accept them as the status quo? Have we stopped trying to be well because past efforts have failed, and we have no real hope in healing? Jesus cut right through that deception and told the man to get up and go home, later warning the man not to sin any more.

Some people might think it’s odd to consider belief in sickness as a form of sin. But Paul’s message to the Corinthians (B16) is enlightening. He warns us not to be led astray by false teachings. He tells us to shake off lethargy and awake to the knowledge that comes only from God. The false teachings we need to awaken from include those that say we live in matter and are subject to sickness. The Jamieson Fausset, and Brown Commentary on the Whole Bible says to awake means to “literally ‘come out of the sleep’ of carnal intoxication into which ye are thrown by the influence of these skeptics.” Animal magnetism tries to deceive us into thinking sickness is a normal part of life, but that’s not true.

Mrs. Eddy writes that sin and disease are cured by the same process (S18). She tells us never to agree with sickness but to dismiss it, and oppose it at every turn (S19). We should, “Rise in the conscious strength of the spirit of Truth” and “Blot out the images of mortal thought.” We never want to calmly accept sickness in any stage, but rebel against it.

Both sickness and sin are deceptions. Anything contrary to God is unreal. While sickness is generally an involuntary evil, sin is voluntary. The more we indulge in sin, the more mesmerized we become, actually working against ourselves, and our own awakening (S20). Mrs. Eddy felt sure that eventually we would wake up from all material deceptions and see that our true being is spiritual. As we said earlier, mortal mind is telling a lie to itself and believing its own lie Our textbook tells us, “The material body manifests only what mortal mind believes…” (S21). The body falsely claims to act on its own, but the body only manifests what mortal mind believes. Whether struggling with sickness or sin, when we “understand that mortal existence is a state of self-deception” (S22) we will be able to see through the lies, and error will lose its seeming power.  When we know how a magic trick is done, we’re never fooled by it again. Just so, when we see the truth, we’ll see through the illusion of sickness and sin, and find our freedom (S23).

Section 6: Expose the Lie
The question Jesus posed to the Pharisees (B17) was the response to the last of a series of challenges brought to Jesus in an effort to trip him up and give a reason to accuse him. All this took place in what appears to have been one day. The Herodians and Pharisees challenged him regarding payment to Caesar; the Sadducees were trying to trap him regarding marital issues; the scribe tried to trip him up concerning the law of Moses, and here Jesus turned the tables on them, and presented a question concerning the Messiah that they couldn’t answer, i.e., “How could Jesus be the son of David and his Lord at the same time?” This infuriated the Pharisees and they tried even harder to stop him. Jesus was alert to their plotting, and withdrew to continue his healing mission (B18). Jesus warned his followers to beware of the scribes (B19). They were clearly deceiving the people by saying one thing and doing another. They liked to look the part of holy men, but their hearts were far from it. Jesus also cautioned that many would try to deceive us pretending to be Christ (B20). Several commentators point out that the Jewish historian Josephus reported many instances of individuals falsely claiming to be the Christ. As Christians, we should be able to tell the difference between the pretenders and genuine Christliness because we know what the real thing is. “To us there is but one God…” (B21).

Our Leader points out the “self-contradictory” nature of Pharisaical practices (S24). Mortal belief is pretty pleased with itself. It has been self-deceived into believing its own lie about its own importance. When exposed as nothing, the human mind becomes “enraged” and lashes out at those who expose it. This, our Leader writes, “is the main cause of the carnal mind’s antagonism” (S25). Jesus exposed the lie, rebuked it, and pointed out the truth. He was never deceived, and he wasn’t shy about setting things straight. If we are to be his followers, we should also gain the victory over material sense and not merely avoid sin, but loathe it (S26). To “loathe” sin is to feel disgust for it, and avoid it at all costs.

Teachers of Christian Science are supposed to instruct their pupils how to recognize the deceptive practices of evil, and teach them how to defend themselves from it (S27). We need to be wise here though, because we don’t want to make so much of evil that we become afraid of it. Evil is powerless, irrespective of how cunning and dangerous it appears to be. I don’t even like using pronouns for it, because evil isn’t an “it” at all—it’s a nothing claiming to be something. Just like darkness is an absence of light and not a presence, error is only a claim that truth isn’t there, and it flees like a shadow from the light in the presence of the Christ (S28).

Section 7: That Big Old Delusion Is Cast Out by Truth
It is clear that unrighteousness is no part of the kingdom of God. Over and over again, we’re warned to not be deceived. Other ways of putting that might be: don’t be led astray, don’t wander away from the right path, or don’t let yourself be seduced into believing a lie (B22). The quintessential symbol of diabolical, deceptive evil is the “great dragon” who deceives the whole world (B23). The power of Truth casts out this liar. As we said from the beginning, when you know the truth about something, you can’t be fooled by a lie. The truth makes you free (B24).

Mary Baker Eddy equated that “old serpent” not only with blatant evil, but with the ancient belief that we live in matter to begin with (S29). Anything that tries to get us to believe we are separate from God is a total deception. It may seem very real, but it’s not. The deceptions of mortal mind are mesmerizing us to believe we’re apart from God, incapable, weak, lustful, fearful, sick, sinful, dying, mortal, and a host of other lies. All of these falsehoods keep us from realizing who we really are as God’s spiritual ideas. Once we start to see the truth, all these oppressive lies are doomed (S30). This Lesson ends with a rallying call: “Citizens of the world, accept the ‘glorious liberty of the children of God and be free!’ This is your divine right.” There is no reason we need to spend another minute allowing ourselves to be deceived. Let’s answer our Leader’s call today. It’s our divine right!


[The above application ideas are from a Christian Science Practitioner who has served as a Resident Practitioner at CedarS Camps. These ideas are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and daily demonstrate the great value of studying and applying the Christian Science Bible lessons throughout the year, not just at camp!  YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP for weekly emails from past CedarS staff of possible ways to share Bible Lesson applications with older, as well as younger, Sunday School classes by clicking the "Subscribe Now" button (lower left) at http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/ ]

[Warren Huff, CedarS Director & editor of these notes & bracketed, italic additions.]

[Please support: CedarS Matched “Maintenance Musts Fund” where $25,000 is needed & will be matched for proper upkeep of mission-critical buildings & equipment; our Matched “Adopt the Herd” fund for year-round horse care; and/or our ongoing FENCING NEEDS for our herd of wonderful horses that serves campers every day. Just write either “Maintenance Musts, Matched” , "Adopt the Herd, Matched" or “fencing for horses”]

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[Additional Director's Note: You can sign up to have these application ideas emailed to you free — by Monday each week in English; or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION: in German, thanks to Helga and Manfred; or in Spanish, thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio, or in Portuguese, thanks to helpers of Orlando Trentini in Brazil.  A voluntary French translation by Rodger Glokpor, a Christian Scientist from Togo (West Africa) has been contributed.  Thank you, Rodger and all translators! Go to http://www.cedarscamps.org/ and click "Newsletters" to sign-up for a free translation into these languages.  This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 13-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "Mets" (Metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  (Ask and look for "Possible Sunday School Topics "and "Possible Younger Class Lessons" in emails to follow.) These weekly offerings are intended to encourage further study and application of ideas in the lesson and to invigorate Sunday School participation by students and by the budding teachers on our staff. Originally sent JUST to my Sunday School students and to campers, staff and CedarS families who wanted to continue at home and in their home Sunday Schools the same type of focused Lesson study, application and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson "Mets "and Sunday School ideas are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way serve as a substitute for daily study of the lesson. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension and background as well as new angles (and angels) on the daily applicability of some of the ideas and passages being studied. The weekly Bible Lessons are copyrighted by the Christian Science Publishing Society and are printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and in a variety of useful formats as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms or online at eBibleLesson.com or myBibleLesson.com. The citations referenced (i.e.B-1 and S-28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "Met" (Metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the Bible (B-1 thru B-26) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (S-1 thru S-32). The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of the Churches of Christ, Scientist.  The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. The Lesson-Sermon speaks individually through the Christ to everyone, providing unique insights and tailor-made applications for each one.  We are glad you requested this metaphysical sharing and hope that you find some of the ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.]

 

 

 

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