The Deception of Progress: A Harmful Illusion

“If you want to change the direction of our country, vote.”  And in doing so, what are we advancing?

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (liberty).  (2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV)

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

In referencing the above New Testament scripture, I’m attempting to draw the clearest line, paint-by-numbers directions for this world to obtain true freedom instead of the counterfeit freedoms they currently pursue.

Liberty: the pursuit of it underpins our democratic society. Indeed, voting is important to register your voice in how our government should operate in serving our interests and preserving our freedoms.

But when such exercises compromise or disregard God’s laws for the sake of “progress,” we’ve not grasped the unprotected turmoil we’ve therefore brought upon ourselves. We’ve grieved God and incurred His judgments.

So why are many baffled by the decay our country lies in today?

“The irony of America’s quest for happiness lies in the fact that she succeeded more obviously than any other nation in making life “comfortable,” only to run into larger incongruities of human destiny by the same achievements by which it escaped the smaller ones. Our very success in this enterprise has hastened the exposure of its final limits.” – Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History (1952)

Though Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian, ethicist, commentator on politics and public affairs, and professor at Union Theological Seminary, penned this quote 64 years ago, his message still rings truth today.

America has sought greater liberties to make people “comfortable” with their immoral lifestyle choices. Ironically, in pursuing such liberty, perfect harmony is yet to be achieved.



The irony is that the immoral have gotten the liberties they’ve pushed for, but oh, it comes with so much more. The disappointment of the “so much more” is concealed until you get the package home, unwrap it, celebrate its novelty and then realize it is bundled with unwelcomed outcomes.

The duplicitous nature of such progress masquerades itself as a solution to accommodate our self-interests—absent of critical thinking, absent of considering the future ramifications. The only advancement in this type of progress is to advance gross deception within the recipient. This is a harmful illusion. The lesson in this is be careful what you ask for. You just might get it and other things along with it you didn’t ask for. This is the trickery of ungodly progress.

How Do We Obtain Authentic Liberty? 

“Liberation is not found in escaping or manipulating what God requires of us, but it is found by embracing and being faithful to God’s ideals.”- Charles “Chuck” Colson and Nancy Pearson, How Now Shall We Live (1999)

In Niebuhr’s words, our culture has hastened the exposure of the limits of what worldly progress/liberty can bring. There are far too many deceived in these last days.

Lord Jesus, we pray that those deceived would have the veil removed to clearly see that their freedom rests in You alone. May those pursuing ungodly progress be quickened in their hearts by hearing Your Word and be led to repent and recognize that true progress rests in our obedience to You, rooted in love for You. Jesus, You alone remain our intervention and deliverance from temporal and eternal ruin. Life in You is how we transform our country and our very lives.

Are you advancing decay or true liberty through Christ Jesus? The integrity of God and His Word are impeccable. Be very clear: God will not violate His integrity nor His Word. Those who seek liberties outside of His will are grossly deceived.

Why Are We Telling You This? 

At Voices Against the Grain, we present God’s Word to: 1- bring clarity and restoration so you can navigate successfully out of and away from deception, 2- to educate and equip you in God’s truth for abundant living—so you can truly live free as God designed, 3- to encourage you, and last, 4- to love you as we’re telling you the truth. Our platform messages, primarily geared for the Believer, also serve to educate the unbeliever.

We are grateful for our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ who are advancing God’s Kingdom alongside us and within their communities. Thank you for exposing deception with truth and transforming one heart at a time in the love of Jesus Christ, so that those transformed are empowered by the Holy Spirit to help transform others. This is progress.


Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.


Your and My Self-Interests is Why We Need a Savior

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. -Romans 7:21, New International Version, Paul said

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13, New International Version

“Since it is impossible to count on enough moral goodwill among those who possess irresponsible power to sacrifice it for the good of the whole, it must be destroyed by coercive methods and these will always run the peril of introducing new forms of injustice in place of those abolished.” -Reinhold Niebuhr, author of Moral Man & Immoral Society, theologian and political philosopher

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.”– Romans 3:10, New International Version

Ugh. That last scripture in Romans 3:10 is sobering. Not even one is righteous.

All of the aforementioned quotes and scriptures boil down to one, crude fact: As human beings, much of what we do is driven by self-interest. Always thinking how we’re gonna get over, even if it risks another’s demise. Because we’re dependent upon various needs to preserve our physical life (ex: food, money, clothing, shelter, relationships, community, status) if left to our own devices, we may carry out unspeakable acts to secure these items should one or more be threatened. God knew this in creating us, even with the fall of Adam and Eve and mankind’s sinful nature revealed. A cunning serpent enticed the two that they could know more than God by eating fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. Though God had instructed them to not eat from the tree, to think God might be keeping something good from them, stirred their self-interests to be all-knowing like God.

jesus to be crucified

God sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ to live and die as the Savior of mankind. We are driven to satisfy the thirsts and urges of the flesh and physical needs. Such appetites not under control have driven many to kill, steal from others, oppress others and inflict injustices upon others. Without a heart transformed by Jesus Christ, even the most naturally goodwill-intentioned people would be corrupted by others’ untamed self-interests. Seeing their rights infringed on in such scenarios, even the most altruistic person void of a relationship with Christ would say, “the heck with it,” and seek measures at all costs to preserve their interests. Peace nor justice will ever be obtained in this manner.

In short, Jesus as our Savior, protects us from ourselves. As Savior, He replaces our propensity for evil with the desire to love and serve others above ourselves. He promises that in HIM we will have peace. In HIM we will have justice. In HIM we will have life and have it to the full. In HIM will our needs be met. He atoned for the inevitable evil in which we’re capable of committing, taking on the punishment we deserved. By inviting HIM into our hearts and lives, thankfully, in HIM, we are made righteous.


Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.