Even as I am writing this article someone is possibly writing the same thing about me only in reverse. We could go round and round for hours with no resolve. As someone long ago stated, The problem with deception is that it is so deceiving. To this I am reminded of the scripture that says, let God's Word be true and every man a liar. My opinion means nothing in the end, nor does anyone else's for that matter, what God says is established.
“Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.”
With this in mind, let us look at the root of deception. What are it's causes? Does it have any benefits? Who does it benefit? How does one know they have been deceived?
How can it be avoided?
Deception may begin with an urge to stretch the truth. It may seem harmless, even more to the point, the truth may seem to be harmful. In this case, however short-lived, deception has benefits, sparing someone's feelings can seemingly produce peace, however, the Bible gives strong warnings about those who tell lies. How many lies must one tell before they become a liar?
“...and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”-Revelation 21:8b
Could there be another way to spare a person's feelings without the lie?
Would it not be wiser to find that way, in order to spare not only their feelings but your own?
Flattery has it's advantages, seemingly, as it is a pretty big pitfall for so many people. Yet it still begs the question put forth by Jesus, who said, What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?
Flattery and the desire to be liked in general is a temptation, but, it is one of the lighter matters, let us move on to some deeper things. Where are most people vulnerable to deception? not by desires to be liked by the outside world but rather by our inner circles. Our families, our close friends these are the ones who will lead us astray.
Many of us cannot bear to think of being separated from them. Yet, at the same time, we cannot read the Bible plainly without a question arising about the salvation of so many of them. The Bible says faith without works is dead, it follows that contemporary Christianity which claims no need of works is Biblically dead. Do we accept the lie to settle some part of our heart in the face of our rebellious family? Does it profit us ultimately to lie to ourselves in the face of blatant sin?
“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”-Romans 6:23
Have we that gift? Have we received eternal life? In order to answer these questions maybe we should first answer another question, are we abiding in God's will?
“...the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
-I John 2:17
The people at the church of Ephesus had many works, yet Jesus told them in the letter contained in the book of Revelation, to repent. So, if we can be deceived with or without works what is the point being made in the Bible?
Let us look at what is being said in Revelation 2.
“I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.”-Revelation 2:2-3
How careful we must be when people with so much going for them can find themselves in danger of hellfire! What did Jesus find against them?
“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.”(v.4)
There are those right now doing many 'good' works, all the while, deceived, having not the love of the Father and out of His will. Know of a certainty, as God has told us, His ways are not our ways. There are many questions one could ask of our works that would guide us out of deception. God is eternal: is the ministry we are serving eternally minded?
“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”
-I Corinthians 13:3
What good does it do to feed a person's body, while neglecting the weightier matters of his soul?
Love is a misunderstood matter. We have already covered a few of the ways it can deceive us. Consider Peter, who meant to keep Jesus from the cross. Jesus replied, calling him Satan. Sometimes our own affections can hold our loved ones back from necessary hardships in the same way. This why we must have the love of God; brotherly love or even the love we share with our family is still short.
It is my experience, that many have underestimated their need to differentiate and distinguish between the two. Also many believe they have the love of God automatically because they are saved. However Peter names this attribute as something possessed by a mature Christian. No wonder we are lacking in so many ways. When a church will often hear a profession of faith from someone and automatically place them doing some service in a ministry. Peter on the other hand warned us to make our calling and election sure.
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
And beside this, giving all diligence,
add to your faith virtue;
and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance;
and to temperance patience;
and to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness;
and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”-I Peter 1:4-9
There is something important in this scripture, godliness comes before charity. Holiness comes first; “blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”, “...holiness without which no man should see the Lord”. The first step in keeping ourselves from being deceived is allowing ourselves an honest evaluation of who we are.
“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”-James 4:8
What good does it do to tell people about the great liberty of God, if in our actions we contradict this liberty and show ourselves still yet bound? There are many things that could deceive us, still the beauty of holiness brings a defense against deception. I Corinthians 8:1 tells us that knowledge puffeth up, we can create great swelling words according to Jude. These build up our pride our ego and put us in serious danger of idolatry. Still the same verse tells us that charity edifies. It is the love God to help one another to overcome temptation.
True grace leads to holiness.
True humility begins when one realizes he doesn't know everything. Wisdom comes from realizing you don't need to. Paul said all he determined to know was Christ and Him crucified. I would say, likewise, I only want to know what will enable me to live a crucified life. We have been given a promise.
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” -I Peter 1:3
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
-I Peter 1:10-11
“..ye shall never fall”
Some fall for everything because they have never stood for anything. Many will lose the loved ones they have sought so desperately to keep, because they have never truly considered the One who created all things. The only ones, as a matter of fact, who hath part in this promise are the ones who keep the precept being described. This is godly humility, that is having a clear and honest view as to where you stand in the presence of God. If you have this you should never be deceived.
On the other hand, idols will destroy your walk with God, as He is a jealous God:
“For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:”
Many write this off with their own humanistic logic. They believe idolatry is only the making of a statue, bowing and worshiping it. This is one form of idolatry to be certain, but only one form. It is what most people refer to when they justify their own form of idolatry.
We must be very careful before we write these things off. Yes, it is true that dumb idols, have ears but can't see, ears and cannot hear (Psalm 135:15-18). That said, the devils behind these idols see just fine and devour people's lives.
“What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?
But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.”
-I Corinthians 10:19
These devils have done so much damage to the faith of so many, keeping them bound up in deception. Deceived by the very nature of idolatry they are not even aware of their danger. There is a simple principle that Jesus taught that will keep us from deception and idols. He said,
“He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”-John 12:25
This precept is repeated in every Gospel (Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24). In the end, this is the key to keeping ourselves from deception. We must, as Christians live ready to put anything on the altar of God and be ready to sacrifice it. What is worth defending more than our faith in Christ?
If something is questionable is it not better to be done with it, than to hang on to it in doubt?
“And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”- Romans 14:23
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”-Hebrews 10:31
“But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;”- Hebrews 10:32
“...knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.”
So if you are convicted that any thing may be an idol, knowing the fear Of God and the deception of the world let go of it swiftly. Knowing that this chastisement brings confidence to the hope that you are in fact God's child and not a reprobate.
“Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it
rather be healed.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:”
- Hebrews 12:12-14
I am only a brother...
Can I tell you about my elder brother Jesus?