Discerning the Danger of Deception
What makes deception dangerous? It does not force control or push its power. It slowly and subtly uses an ingenious way to make us believe we need what is offered. Without giving serious thought, we “buy into it.” We accept all its promises and benefits not knowing what the end will be. It is like Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
We even deceive ourselves into thinking if a deception came in obvious ways, we would easily see the attempts and resist. Are we that bold and discerning? Can we see deception “from a mile away?” We need to understand the support of every effort of deception comes from Satan. In case you have forgotten, beginning in Genesis 3 through Revelation 20, Satan has spoken but one language - deception. He has set up a system of falsehood few recognize. It covers everything from morality to doctrine to relationships to media to politics. Most people never see it in many cases because they hear and enjoy deception more than they read and know the truth. It is just like what 2 Thessalonians 2 describes. People were easily deceived because “they received not the love of the truth...but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (vv. 10,12).
With the existence of so much deception in the world, people are more uncertain than they are certain about so many things, even the Bible. It is hard to believe all it says. Has God really said Jesus is the only way to the Father? Did God really say those who reject Christ will suffer eternal judgment in a lake of fire? Is it true God said marriage is a permanent, lifetime covenant between a man and woman, regardless of what the Supreme Courts in our states may say to the contrary? Has God really said sex is beautiful in marriage, but not to be participated in outside of marriage? Has God really said there is one church? Did God actually say women are to be in submission and men are to be leaders? Did God actually say the rod gives wisdom? Di God actually mean singing, not instrumental music, in worship?
When deception feeds our understanding, all the above seems so strange, outdated, unfair, or narrow. As suspicion and unbelief settles deeply into the hearts of millions, God’s word and his authority are questioned more than they are believed. Therefore, Satan intensifies his campaign to provide a deceptive philosophy like “How can it be so wrong when it feels so right?” “It feels so good to be accepted just the way you are.” “It does not matter what we do as long as we get the desired results.” The longer these thoughts exist in the mind, the less likely people will believe they are accountable to God and truth.
Who are the candidates “most likely to yield” to deception? 2 Timothy 3:1-5 discusses the character signs of the last days, and in vv. 6,7, speaks of women as a target - women who are “silly” or “weak” (ESV). It is not that they were weak-minded or incapable of understanding. They were weak spiritually and not grounded biblically.
Another target is those “laden with sins” or “burdened with sins” (v. 6). Their lives are weighed down by one sinful act after another. Sin has been woven through every part of their lives. They carry a baggage of guilt with them everywhere they go.
Then there are those who are “led away by various passions.” With these people, there is always a lust for something. It could be power, control, attention, pleasure, or personal ambition. These people will most likely find teachers who will train them in how to fulfill those lusts (2 Timothy 4:3,4).
There are more people we could add to the list of those “most likely to yield to deception” - Busy people, worried people, young people, casual people, and lazy people.
The way to eliminate the possibility of being a target of deception is to listen to the Spirit of God. Have a passion for good. Read the truth. Know the will of God. Pray for understanding in order to distinguish between truth and error and not be tossed about with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). “Test everything; hold fast to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Apply the good you already know. Practicing truth keeps your heart from being deceived. Remember the words of Paul to the elders at Ephesus: “And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you the inheritance among all them that are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). May this ever be our desire.